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  • Writer's pictureEthan Lazuk

Vegan Cream Cheese: Make It, Buy It, Spread It

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Cream cheese is a staple ingredient for many recipes. For vegans, finding a plant-based substitute for dairy cream cheese is important for everything from enjoying bagels in the morning to baking moist cake recipes.

In this article, we explain what vegan cream cheese is, how to make your own vegan cream cheese, popular brands of vegan cream cheese to buy, as well as answer common questions about vegan cream cheese.

What is Vegan Cream Cheese?

Vegan cream cheese and dairy-free cream cheese often refer to the same products. This is because most dairy-free cream cheeses don't contain animal products, which makes them vegan. The ingredients in vegan cream cheese will vary based on the brand. Some plant-based cream cheeses are made with cashews. One of our favorites, Trader Joe's Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative, is made with chickpea protein. In addition to the ingredients being different, the manufacturing techniques for vegan cream cheese also vary by brand. In general, plant-based cream cheese is made by emulsifying fat, liquid, cultures, and salt.

Vegan Cream Cheese Recipes

One of the nice things about being vegan nowadays is that most foods are available to be purchased in plant-based form. Vegan cream cheese is no exception. That said, some vegans prefer to make their own vegan products so they know all the ingredients that went into the process (admittedly, many vegan foods do require a lot of processing).

Here are some of the most popular vegan cream cheese recipes:

Common Questions About Vegan Cream Cheese

In addition to knowing how make vegan cream cheese, many people have questions related to vegan cream cheese. We have answers.

What is a good vegan substitute for cream cheese?

If you're vegan, the easiest replacement for dairy cream cheese is non-dairy cream cheese. Vegan cream cheeses can be made from everything from cashews to chickpeas. Other vegan-friendly foods that can be used as replacements for cream cheese include hummus, almond butter, fruit jams, avocado, non-dairy yogurt, and vegan cheeses.

Does Philadelphia make dairy-free cream cheese?

Philadelphia does make a plant-based cream cheese with an almond and oat base called Philadelphia Plant Based. Regular Philadelphia cream cheese is not vegan as it contains dairy products.

How We Use Vegan Cream Cheese in Our Household

Dania and I always keep our fridge stocked with plant-based cream cheese. We've tried many brands, including from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. The Trader Joe's brand vegan cream cheese has one of the best flavors. It also tends to be a bit cheaper than alternatives.

Ways we use vegan cream cheese include the following:

  • As a Spread: One of our favorite uses of vegan cream cheese is to spread it on toasted whole wheat English muffins. The combination of textures and flavors makes for a fast, easy, and healthy snack.

  • In Baked Goods: Many baking recipes call for cream cheese. In our experience, a vegan cream cheese has similar properties as the milk-based version when it comes to baking, and the result is some vegan-friendly baked treats.

  • In Salads: It's unorthodox, but adding a few small dollops of vegan cream cheese to a salad lends a creamy texture and salty flavor that makes the eating experience more enjoyable.

(More Information Coming!)

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