For years, people have asked me who makes the best dairy-free cream cheese. I used to have an easy answer, but formulas change, new products come out, and reader opinions are all over the board. So I decided to host a formal dairy-free cream cheese taste test. I gathered every brand I could find and seven willing participants, which included both dairy-free and dairy eaters. Surprisingly, the winner was unanimous. But we have tasting notes and rankings for all of the spreads we tested.
The Best Dairy-Free Cream Cheese: 8 Vegan Brands Compared
We worked our way through the brands one by one. We tasted them solo, on bread or bagels, and with toppings. After the initial tasting, all those in our group who eat dairy tried Philadelphia cream cheese side by side with the alternatives for comparison. So our ratings are based on how good the product is itself (taste and texture), and how good it is as a true cream cheese substitute. In addition to tasting notes, we each rated the products on a scale of 0 (worst) to 10 (best). The number in parentheses is the average rating.
The following products were dairy-free by ingredients at our time of review. All food products are at some degree of risk for potential cross-contamination with allergens. It is up to you to decide what is safe for your needs. Our choice for the best dairy-free cream cheese alternative might not be yours. All of these products have been on the market for a while because some people like them. This is just a guide based on our findings and opinions. You can leave your own review and star rating on each of these products via the title links.
Kite Hill Cream Cheese Alternative (8.8/10)
This was the clear and unanimous winner for the best dairy-free cream cheese. Everyone enjoyed it and agreed that it tasted the most like dairy cream cheese. In fact, our dairy eating tasters tried it side by side with Philadelphia and declared it “very, very close.” It was one of the smoothest options, it spreads well, and the taste has a light, natural-tasting tang.
- “Cream cheesy”
- “Good cream cheese flavor. Just a little sour. The texture is wonderful.”
- “Just like cream cheese!”
Base: Almond Milk
Best For: All-purpose cream cheese alternative. Good for spreading, frosting and fillings, dips, and holds up well in cooked or baked recipes.
Caveat: Kite Hill has had serious molding issues for years. We had to return the first one we bought for the tasting because it had mold on it, even though it was three weeks before expiry. We’re not sure if it’s the mushroom extract, the cultures, or simply storage issues, but they really need to get this problem resolved. Fortunately, the plastic seal is clear, so you can remove the lid to safely check the product inside before purchasing.
Treeline Dairy-Free Cream Cheese (7.8/10)
Although everyone agreed Kite Hill was good and easily the closest to real dairy cream cheese, Treeline was the favorite brand overall for two of our tasters. And all but one of us liked it and would buy it again. Treeline has a slightly different vibe from dairy cream cheese, but it fills the void with a well-rounded, lightly tangy taste and rich texture. It was truly a close second for the best dairy-free cream cheese.
- “Reminds me of homemade cashew cream cheese.”
- “A little gritty, but soft and light, with a very good taste.”
- “Smooth, even flavor, very spreadable. I really like it!”
Base: Cashew Cream
Best For: Spreading, frostings and fillings, dips, and it does hold up well in cooked and baked recipes. We have tested it in mini baked cheesecakes.
Flavors: We also tried flavors of this brand. The Chive & Onion actually tasted garlicky to two tasters, but it was a big hit with most who tried it. One taster said it was the best with smoked salmon. The Strawberry flavor had mixed reviews, ranging from strong dislike, to okay, to a big thumbs up. It’s lightly sweet and infused with freeze-dried strawberries.
Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (5.4/10)
For recipes, this would be our back up option. It has a good texture that’s smooth and fairly close to cream cheese. But, it’s a little lacking in taste. The flavor isn’t bad, which is a plus, but it is a bit bland. For cheesecakes, frostings, and other applications, we would probably add a little lemon juice to mock that cream cheesy tang.
- “A little sweet, nice texture, good for icing.”
- “Best cream cheese texture, but not a lot of taste.”
- “Not much flavor, a little sweet, thick, powdery. I’d use it for a cheap recipe.”
Base: Non-GMO Soy and Oil Blend
Best For: Frostings and fillings (with a little lemon), and it does hold up well in cooked and baked recipes. Okay as a spread with toppings.
Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Alternative (3.8/10)
Here’s where all of our reviewers began to sour on dairy-free cream cheese. This alternative has a smooth mouthfeel, but it breaks off in chunks and has a gelatinous vibe that many couldn’t get past. The flavor didn’t overwhelm, and was considered good by half of our tasting group.
- “Doesn’t taste like cream cheese. The texture is thick, chunky, gelatinous.”
- “Tastes more like cream cheese than some, but has a weird gelatin texture, like glue paste.”
- “Cream cheese texture, good flavor, but not my favorite.”
Base: Coconut Oil and Faba Bean Protein Blend
Best For: Spreading, and could possibly hold up in recipes.
Violife Vegan Cream Cheese (3.6/10)
Did someone accidentally package the butter alternative in the cream cheese tubs at Violife? If we were rating it as a butter, it could have faired better. But thickly spread on a bagel, it was just too much. It reminded me of a tangier version of Miyoko’s vegan butter.
- “Buttery texture, and oily taste.”
- “It was good, but it wasn’t cream cheese, more like butter. The texture is melty like butter too.”
- “Ok texture but buttery. Lacks cream cheese flavor and tang.”
Base: Coconut Oil Emulsion
Best For: Lightly spreading, or as a butter replacement in recipes.
Spero Sunflower Cream Cheese (3.4/10)
This unique alternative is thick, but a bit unctuous. Spero is softer than cream cheese, more like a spread, and the consistency is a little grainy, like a homemade alternative. The taste is definitely seedy, which wasn’t a plus for any of our tasters.
- “Tastes like sunflower seeds. Poor texture, and barely edible aftertaste.”
- “Tastes like blue cheese.”
- “Bland, weird texture with a funky paint taste.”
Base: Sunflower Seeds
Best For: Spreading, if you like sunflower seeds, but preferably with toppings. It might hold up well in recipes, but the flavor could overpower.
Miyoko’s Cashew Milk Cream Cheese (1.8/10)
We were all shocked to learn that this extremely tart spread has absolutely no lemon in it. It was simply overwhelmed with sourness. The texture was more like a soft unrefined spread, and a bit grainy, with one taster calling it “weird oily suntan lotion!”
- “Sour, grainy, glumpy. It tastes like someone squeezed whole lemon into it.”
- “Too tart and lemony with a weird texture.”
- “Not good. Lemon, with a strange taste. Too dippy and grainy.”
Base: Cashew Milk and Coconut Cream
Best For: Recipes that can handle a lot of lemon flavor. It held up well in stuffed mushrooms, but even overpowered in those a bit.
Daiya Plant Based Cream Cheeze (1.4/10)
My how the mighty has fallen. I used to recommend Daiya as the best dairy-free cream cheese alternative for sweet recipes. But after numerous reformulations in an attempt to meet every rare dietary need, they’ve ruined it. Everyone gave this brand a solid thumbs down, and three people gave it a zero!
- “Yuck, not edible. I can’t finish this.”
- “Terrible taste. Weird but light texture.”
- “Bland but with some odd sweetness. Creamy but a little gelatinous.”
Base: Coconut Oil, Coconut Cream, and Pea Protein
Best For: Recipes that need a thick, very smooth alternative, but that don’t rely on a cream cheese flavor.
What About Moocho?
You might have noticed Moocho in our picture. We had to push the date for our cream cheese tasting back quite a bit, and the Moocho one was unfortunately expired. There wasn’t any locally for us to replace it. It looked and smelled fine, so a few brave tasters dove in. The reviews weren’t stellar – it was labeled as “gelatin-y” and lacking in flavor. But we have to give them the benefit of the doubt since it was past date. The texture and taste could have easily been degraded.
Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Alternatives we Didn’t Have Access To
- Go Veggie Vegan Cream Cheese – It was a fairly good cream cheese alternative years ago, but recent reviews say it is soft and even runny or watery.
- So Delicious Plant-Based Cream Cheese – I’m still shocked that I’ve never tried this product. It’s just not sold in my area, and I’ve never found it when traveling either. But the reviews from readers are less than stellar.
- Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese – In 2021, this product underwent a big formula change, completely reversing their dairy-free cream cheese customer base. Most who loved it before, hate it now, while prior haters now love it. You can read the reviews for more details.
- Wayfare Dairy Free Cream Cheese (sold under the Earth’s Own label in Canada and as private label Simple Truth in Kroger family of stores in the U.S.) – When we tried this brand before, it had a mild, fairly neutral flavor with light sweetness. But it lacks the natural depth and tang of cream cheese. The texture was creamy, a touch gelatinous, and more reminiscent of whipped cream cheese.
Can’t agree with you at all. Violife is definitely my favorite! Best flavor, for sure. I love it on a bagel. So Delicious is my next favorite. Also great flavor, but not quite as spreadable as Violife. Was a long time ago that I tried Kite Hill, but I hated the flavor. Tofutti is fine for cooking with, maybe, but on its own it tastes like paste. Trader Joe’s will suffice if you can’t find anything else, but I would always whip it with a butter knife, then add a little salt and honey when putting it on a bagel. I initially liked Spero, but after a couple bites felt like the flavor was too strong. Daiya is for sure the wort when it comes to cream cheese though. Nasty. Some of their other products are great though!!!
Of course opinions will always be different, but it sounds like we actually agree on quite a bit! I’m glad you commented on a couple we didn’t have access to, as well (So Delicious and Trader Joe’s). I bought all that I could find locally. As for Violife, most of us technically liked it, but it was more like a butter alternative than cream cheese, which is why the low marks. Probably due to the fact that it’s more of a straight oil-water emulsion, with only starch added for thickening. It also melted in too much, and didn’t hold up like cream cheese in cooking / baking. I must say, I didn’t expect to like Kite Hill. I also bought it a long time ago and did not like it. I think perhaps they reformulated or fixed some prior issue. I always thought it tasted like plastic, haha. But those who could eat dairy, tested the flavors side by side with Philadelphia after the initial tasting, and they were each surprised at how close Kite Hill was.
We have been using kroger brand Simple Truth vegan cream cheese. We used to use Tofutti. Tjst has a chemical aftertaste in our opinion. This one is very close to cream cheese.
Awesome! The Simple Truth one is made by Wayfare. They’re a great company! I need to add Simple Truth in our review section.