Dairy alternatives don’t always hit the mark, particularly when something cheesy is the goal. But vegan cashew cheesecake is one of those decadent treats that many people proclaim is better than classic dairy cheesecake. And this is a favorite no-bake version. It has a remarkably rich dairy-free consistency, perfectly sweet and tangy flavor, and all the indulgence you could hope for.
This Vegan Cashew Cheesecake is a Truly Decadent No Bake Dessert
Many years ago, there was a wonderful little company called Laughing Giraffe. They made healthy raw macaroons and granola. We loved their products, but like so many small companies, they couldn’t gain enough distribution to survive. Fortunately, they shared some of favorite recipes with us before retiring, including this vegan cashew cheesecake.
We originally posted this recipe more than a decade ago, but have since updated it with more information, easy options, and answers to some top FAQs.
Can I Use a Graham Cracker Crust Instead?
Definitely! You can make your own. You can also use a premade dairy-free graham cracker pie crust. There will be excess filling, and the filling might even fill two pie crusts. We haven’t tested the amount to confirm.
Can I Substitute Almond Flour for the Almond Meal?
The original recipe actually uses half almond flour and half almond meal. The almond meal adds a little more texture, while almond flour is finer grind more like ground graham cracker. It’s really up to preference. You can use just almond flour, or grind some almonds in your food processor or spice grinder until ground into a meal texture.
Where Do I Get Date Paste? Is there a Substitute?
There actually are brands of date paste that you can buy. But I simply mash a couple really soft pitted dates. If your dates aren’t soft enough, you can use a date paste recipe. I find Deglet Noor dates to be softest, but medjool can work well with the recipe. If you don’t have any dates, you can substitute nut butter (less sweet, but will help with the cohesiveness). Or you can stir the other almond crust ingredients together, sans dates, and then add just a little more maple syrup, as needed. Usually, about 1 tablespoon more is enough to get the crust to come together.
Can I Omit the Nutritional Yeast?
Technically, you can omit it. It doesn’t affect the structure of the cheesecake in any way, since it’s such a small amount. But if you have some on hand, use it! It’s just a seasoning that helps to mimic a cream cheese vibe in this recipe. It will not overwhelm the taste in any way.
What Can I Substitute for the Agave Nectar?
If you aren’t strictly vegan, honey works great. Other vegan alternatives include coconut nectar, golden syrup, or brown rice syrup. We don’t typically use maple syrup in the filling, as it doesn’t meld quite as well. In a pinch, you can even use plain old sugar.
I Don’t Like the Taste of Raw Vanilla Extract. What Can I Substitute?
Neither do we! For no bake recipes, we prefer to use natural vanilla flavoring, which is real vanilla, but in an alcohol-free base, like glycerin. Other options include vanilla powder, vanilla bean paste, or simply the seeds from 1/2 to 3/4 of a vanilla bean.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Cashew Cheesecake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
- 4 cups almond meal
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons date paste (see post above for alternatives)
- 3 cups cashews, soaked in water for 4 to 6 hours and drained
- ¾ cup melted coconut oil
- ¾ cup agave nectar (see post above for options)
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup lite coconut milk, milk beverage, or water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ vanilla bean, scraped (or ½ teaspoon additional vanilla extract)
- ½ teaspoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal and salt.
- Add the maple syrup, oil, and date paste, and stir until combined.
- Line a 9-inch springform pan or 2 6-inch springform pans with plastic wrap.
- With moist hands or a piece of plastic wrap, press the crust mixture into the bottom and up the side of the pan to your desired thickness.
- Refrigerate the crust for 1 hour.
- Add the cashews, coconut oil, agave, lemon juice, coconut milk or water, vanilla, vanilla seeds (if using), nutritional yeast, and salt to your high-power blender or food processor, and puree until smooth.
- Pour the filling into your prepared crust and freeze for at least one hour to set.
- Store the cheesecake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Release the side of the springform pan, and serve topped with garnishes like coconut and fresh fruit, if desired.