While tofu ricotta is a popular and delicious way to make a vegan cheese dupe fast, this recipe follows the more traditional method of heating milk and separating the curds using acid, a little more closely.
This method does take a little more patience, I promise you it makes ALL the difference to the texture and taste of your vegan ricotta cheese. Similar to my vegan mascarpone recipe, most of the effort is just waiting time while your ricotta strains overnight!
The name ricotta translates to "recooked" in Italian. When making cheese, normally a mixture is separated into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). Most cheeses are made from curds, whereas ricotta is often made by reheating the whey a second time. (ref: Bon Appetit)
Now, I did try and follow this process using non-dairy ingredients during recipe trials, but I found it to be unnecessary in the case of this particular recipe. In fact, heating the mixture twice made the "curds" almost a little too solid and slightly tough. So the end result was a ricotta substitute that was a little on the dry side and not the soft fluffy consistency we were looking for!
So while this is in no way an authentic ricotta recipe, I do think the end result gives a pretty convincing flavor and consistency, without dairy or the added steps found in traditional ricotta.
📖 Recipe Overview
- Ultra Creamy Consistency - It resembles a grainy consistency similar to classic ricotta, which when spread or stirred becomes lusciously creamy and smooth.
- Made With Only 6 Ingredients - And I'll bet you probably have most of them already lying in your pantry.
- Quick & Easy Preparation - As mentioned there is a bit of waiting time to ensure that your ricotta strains and becomes a beautiful spreadable cheese round. In reality, you only need about 30 minutes of active prep time though!
🧾 Ingredients Needed
As promised, you only need 6 simple ingredients to make my homemade vegan cheese recipe from scratch:
- Soy Milk - This is the closest plant-based milk in terms of protein to dairy milk. Soy milk has 7g of protein per cup (cow's milk comes in at 8g ref: Mayo Clinic) which makes it the perfect milk for making homemade vegan cheese.
- Vegan Yogurt - In this case, you want a thick Greek-style non-dairy yogurt or Skyr. My absolute favorite to use in vegan cheese recipes is Alpro Greek-style protein yogurt. It has a neutral taste and a slightly tangy cultured flavor.
- Cashews - These add richness and a hint of cheesiness.
- Lemon Juice and Apple Cider Vinegar - These work together to help curdle the ricotta cheese mixture. It's a similar process to making vegan buttermilk.
🥣 How To Make Vegan Ricotta Cheese
You'll be surprised how easy it is to make classic tasting ricotta without dairy in just a few simple steps. Here's how:
Before you get started, soak the cashews in water to help make it easier for blending. Also, prepare the straining vessel which consists of a large mixing bowl, underneath a colander with a cheese mold sitting on top.
Step 1: Blitz the soaked cashews, soy milk, vegan yogurt, and sea salt into a high-speed blender for about a minute until smooth.
Step 2: Heat the mixture in a large frying pan or saucepan until it reaches 90°C (194°F). This will take about 20 minutes.
Step 3: Stir in the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, and let the mixture sit undisturbed for 20 minutes, as it curdles.
Step 4: Scoop the "curds" from the cashew ricotta mixture and place them into a cheese mold placed on top of a straining device.
Step 5: Fill the cheese mold all the way to the top with the vegan cheese mixture. The liquid will drip out of the mold and into the bowl underneath.
Step 6: Stir the mixture to help release some of the liquid, so that you can add the remaining curds to the mold.
Step 7: Refrigerate the vegan ricotta cheese for 8 hours, or overnight. Most of the liquid will have drained into the bowl - reserve this!
Step 8: De-mold the strained ricotta cheese by carefully holding the top of it with a clean towel and turning it out onto a serving board. You can also transfer it to a sealed container and refrigerate it until ready to use!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
My favorite way to enjoy this vegan cashew ricotta is on a slice of crusty baguette with a drizzle of agave, maple syrup, or vegan honey. But here are some more ideas:
- Vegan Cannoli.
- Lemon Ricotta Pasta.
- Baked Stuffed Pasta Shells.
- Whipped Ricotta Dip.
- Smear on Toast and top with Cherry Tomatoes, Pesto, or Herbs.
- Savory Tarts.
- Fold into Scrambled Tofu.
- With Fresh Fruit and Berries, or Grilled Peaches.
I haven't personally been able to find one in Europe yet, although there seem to be several brands offering a substitute in the US. I'm convinced that you'll be making your own after trying this recipe though!
I did attempt this vegan ricotta without cashews during my many recipe tests and while it does work, I just found it to be lacking that slightly cheesy flavor and richness from the cashews. That being said, it's still possible!
I did try using oat milk, but this lacks a lot of the protein content found in soy milk, and the flavor just wasn't where it needed to be (in my opinion).
If you are going to attempt this recipe with another plant based milk, just try to go for one that has a high protein content without an overpowering taste. I would personally try cashew milk over any other non-dairy milk. Note, I can't stand over the results of any other alternative milks.
Absolutely! This non-dairy ricotta can be used in any way you would use standard ricotta cheese.
🥛 More DIY Recipes
- Add the soaked and drained cashews, soy milk, vegan yogurt, and sea salt to a high-speed blender and blend for about a minute until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a large deep frying pan, wok, or deep saucepan and place on low-medium heat. Heat the mixture until it reaches 90°C (194°F), then cook it at that temperature for 1 minute, stirring frequently. This will take about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for 20 minutes, as it curdles. (*see notes)
- Place cheese mold on top of a colander over a large mixing bowl to catch the liquid. Use a small sieve to scoop the mixture from the saucepan into the cheese mold. Fill it up to the top, then carefully stir the cheese mixture in the mold to help release some liquid and make room for the remaining "curds". Fill the mold with the remaining cheese curds and place in the fridge for 8 hours (or overnight).After the cheese is chilled and strained, you'll be left with a mixture of water and light cream in the bowl. You can reserve this and use it for other recipes like smoothies, soups, and stir-fries.
- To de-mold the cheese, grab the top with some kitchen roll or a clean kitchen towel and carefully turn the mold over onto a plate or into a storage container.
- Storage: Place the ricotta in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
- Soaked cashews: soak the cashews in water for 4 hours, rinse, and drain. You can also quick-soak your cashews by soaking them in boiling water for one hour
- Reserve the leftover water and cream from step 7 to use in soups, pasta sauces, and stir-fries.
- If for some reason your mixture has not curdled, bring it up to 90°C (194°F) again anD heat for a couple of minutes until it starts to separate, allow it to sit again for 20 minutes.
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