This quick and easy vegan mascarpone cheese is so creamy, slightly sweet and just a little tart. It makes for a great dairy-free substitute you can use in either sweet or savory recipes. Healthy, refined sugar-free and can easily be whipped up last minute.
I thought it was time for another vegan cheese recipe to join the vegan cheese club!
It is so hard to cut on the cheese, isn't it? Cheese is so addictively delicious and makes everything more melty, stringy, creamy, rich and with flavors that are difficult to replace. Have you heard of cheese being the 'dairy crack'? yup, this is what I am talking about.
I have been using my vegan parmesan, vegan feta, vegan white cheese dip and vegan ricotta cheese regularly to cheese up many dishes in a healthy way, but now was ready to take on the vegan mascarpone challenge!
And what I love so much about this mascarpone cheese recipe is how it goes amazingly well with either sweet vs savory recipes. Use it as a dip for fruits, in tiramisu desserts or even use just the same as whipped cream. But also, use it to top your pizza or make your pasta or mashed potatoes heavenly by adding a generous dollop. It has that hooking cheesy little something that makes us go for more.
What is a mascarpone cheese
Mascarpone is high-in-fat classic Italian soft cheese. It is made by curdling or coagulating heavy cream using an acidic agent, such as lemon juice or vinegar, which explains its naturally tart flavor. It is traditionally used to make the classic Italian tiramisu layered dessert, but also, with cream being its main ingredient, it is generally used to enrich many dishes like risotto, pasta, soup, etc.
It has a very spread-able and smooth texture similar to a cream cheese, but in a thinner consistency. It might also remind you of a ricotta cheese, although slightly sweeter.
How to "veganize" a mascarpone cheese
To reach that rich and velvety texture, then a source of fat was included in this recipe.
I used naturally high in healthy fats raw cashews (you know how much I love cashews), but also a few scoops of additional coconut cream (you won't taste it much).
You can buy coconut cream in a can like this coconut cream from 365, but what I actually do is I scrape off the top solid portion of the coconut cream you can find in cans of coconut milk. Just be sure to chill your can first if the weather is warm and don't shake your can too much before opening. Also, look for a full-fat coconut milk. And don't discard the remaining coconut water from the can after using the coconut cream, store in the fridge and use in your smoothies or make pineapple slush using it!
The combo cashews + coconut cream is what gave me the best creamy and rich mascarpone consistency I was looking for, but I also made a few tests using only cashews, which worked great too.
Vegan mascarpone ingredients
This is a simple 5-ingredient recipe that all comes together in the food processor.
- Raw cashews
- Coconut cream
- Maple syrup
- Lemon juice
How to make it
Step 1- Prepare the cashews
Simply cover your cashews with plenty of fresh water and let them sit overnight or for at least 4 hours.
I will often do a quick soaking method where I cover them with boiling water and only let them soak for 30 minutes, which work well too.
Drain very well so you don't add extra moisture to your mascarpone spread.
Also, if you are making this mascarpone in the middle of the summer and your house is very hot, then transfer your can of coconut milk in the fridge at the same time you start soaking on your cashews (it is easier to get the top solid portion when chilled).
Step 2- Measure the coconut cream
Open your can of coconut milk and using a scoop, scrape the top bright white solid portion into your ½ measuring cup.
Step 3- Process
In a food processor, combine the drained cashews, coconut cream, maple syrup, lemon juice and salt. Process until very smooth, taking a few breaks to scrape the walls with a spatula and process again. I must be doing the stop-scrape-restart cycle about 8 times before I reach the desired consistency, so take your time and be patient!
Step 4- Taste and adjust
There is a lot of flexibility when making this mascarpone. Add more or less lemon juice, maple syrup and salt depending on what you are looking for.
Also, feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons of water if you want it runnier, keeping in mind that it will solidify slightly after being chilled in the fridge.
Watch how to make it
Can I use a blender to make it?
Yes you can, but like in any low-volume thick mixture, you will have to blend longer with many breaks to scoop the mixture back towards the blades. I also think you will have better results if using a high-speed blender, since a regular blender could leave you with a grainy texture.
Can I skip on soaking the cashews?
No! Soaking your nuts not only will make them easier to digest, but also much more blend-able. Even a quick soak if in a rush (especially in warm water) will make a difference when making this recipe. So try to plan ahead and soak your cashews the day before you need them.
How to make a nut-free vegan mascarpone recipe
All of you moms of nut-free school kids, I feel you!
You can make this mascarpone cheese using sunflower seeds instead. This will change the flavor and consistency slightly, but will still be very good. I recommend you soak them first as well and add extra maple syrup to soften the flavor.
You can sneak in extra nut-free mascarpone in kid's sandwiches with veggies. But even better: spread some mascarpone all over a vegan tortilla wrap, then add some fruit jam over the whole tortilla as well (this blueberry chia jam would be amazing!). Then roll and cut in half. Yum!
Variation to the recipe
Depending if you want to use this mascarpone recipe in a sweet or savory recipe, then you can play around with the ingredients to adjust the flavor profile.
For sweet recipes, try adding more maple syrup to sweeten your mascarpone a little more. Also, try adding a hint of vanilla extract, cinnamon and cacao powder for a chocolate version.
For savory recipes, omit or use less of the maple syrup and add more lemon juice for a more pronounced tart flavor. Also, try adding a dash of onion/garlic powder and more salt.
How to use this vegan mascarpone cheese recipe
I feel like I could have a lengthly mascarpone-usage-one-way-conversation over here as it is amazing over so many dishes, but to keep it short, let's just say that I definitively have a weakness for this mascarpone when combined with fresh fruits.
Simply use it as a dip for fruits (maybe add a little vanilla extract to it), layer in fruity overnight oats, garnish sweet pies with it (like on this vegan lemon pie), or make a chocolate mascarpone by adding a dash of raw cacao powder and layering with fresh strawberries and coconut flakes (well, yum and yum).
But let's not forget how wonderful this rich cheese spread is in savory dishes! Next time you make a vegan mac and cheese, be sure to make this mascarpone too so you can add a large spoon full and make your pasta dish even creamier. Also, use just like a cream cheese and spread over bagels. Add some to any mashed vegetables and include in vegan lasagna dishes too. And a dollop of mascarpone over pizza after it is out of the oven to replace the cheese.
This mascarpone needs to be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge. Stir well before using as the top always seem to dry out just a tiny bit. Also, the consistency changed to a thicker spread after cooling down. I actually preferred my mascarpone chilled as it is more spreadable, but if you want it looser, then let it sit at room temperature for a little bit before using.
It will be good for 5-6 days in the fridge. If you are using it in a recipe and are left with some extra, don't discard it and use over morning toasts layered with sliced fruits.
This vegan mascarpone can also be frozen, but you will need to process/blend again after it thaws to recreate a creamy uniform texture.
Other vegan cheesy recipes you might like
- Vegan spinach quiche
- Vegan hawaiian cheese ball
- Almond parmesan
- Tofu-feta cheese
- Vegan white queso
- Lemony cashew ricotta
- Squash mac and cheese
- Vegan cheesy baked ziti
I hope you enjoy this vegan mascarpone cheese as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Mascarpone Cheese
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup coconut cream - the top thick portion of a can of coconut milk, see notes
- 2 tbsp lemon juice - or more if you want it more tangy
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
- Start by soaking your cashews in cold water for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight. You can also do a quick soak of about 30 minutes using boiling water instead. Then, drain, rinse and transfer to a food processor.
- To the food processor with the cashews, add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. Take a few breaks to scrape the walls, I usually stop-stir-restart about 8 times before I reach a smooth texture. Taste and adjust the flavor. If you want a thinner mascarpone, then add 1-2 tablespoons of water and process again.
- Transfer to a glass container and either use immediately or store in the fridge. The mascarpone will set and firm up a bit after being chilled. Keep in the fridge for 5-6 days.
- For sweet recipes, try adding more maple syrup to sweeten your mascarpone a little more. Also, try adding a hint of vanilla extract, cinnamon and cacao powder.
- For savory recipes, omit or use less of the maple syrup and add more lemon juice for a more pronounced tart flavor. Also, try adding a dash of onion/garlic powder and more salt.