This quick and easy vegan mascarpone cheese is so creamy, slightly sweet and just a little tart. Made with raw cashews and coconut cream, it makes for a great dairy-free substitute to a classic Italian mascarpone you can use in either sweet or savory recipes. 100% vegan, healthy, soy-free, refined sugar-free and can easily be whipped up last minute.
If you enjoy vegan cheese recipes, then I know you will LOVE this vegan mascarpone cheese!
I have been making these vegan parmesan, vegan feta, vegan white cheese dip and vegan ricotta cheese regularly to add a cheesy flavor or a creaminess to many dishes, but I think I love this mascarpone even more: it is ULTRA creamy and rich with a perfect balance in sweet and tangy flavors. SO delicious!
Plus, you can whip it up last minute within 15 minutes without much effort. You can soak the cashews ahead of time (overnight), but I usually soak them in boiling water only for 5-10 minutes for a super speedy recipe. Then, they are blended with a little cashew cream (easy to find in grocery stores) and a few common seasoning ingredients. It is a simple recipe, but so tasty and satisfying.
And what is so great about this homemade mascarpone is that it goes amazingly well with either sweet or savory recipes. It is actually similar to a vegan cream cheese with its nice tart flavor and its easily spreadable consistency, although it is a little sweeter.
You can use it as a dip for fruits, incorporate in tiramisu desserts, or use it to garnish any baked goods for more layer of texture. But also, use it to top your pizza or make your pasta or mashed potatoes heavenly creamy by adding a generous dollop. It adds a mild cheesy flavor and richness that will really bring your recipe together.
Let me know how you like it ❤️
Why you'll love this recipe
- Easy and made using only 4 simple ingredients
- Great for meal-prep
- Highly customizable and so versatile
- Ideal dairy-free alternative to regular mascarpone
- Perfect to pair with both sweet or savory recipes
- Ultra creamy and rich texture that's easily spreadable
- Fully vegan, plant-based, soy-free and naturally gluten-free
What is a mascarpone cheese
Mascarpone is a 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 or cheesecakes, but also often served as a garnish for tarts, cakes or pies and used as a frosting. Also, with cream being its main ingredient, it is generally used to enrich many savory dishes such as 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 make a mascarpone cheese that's vegan
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, 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 of coconut milk 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 as you can store it in the fridge and use in your smoothies or to make pineapple slush!
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.
Ingredients you will need
This is a simple 4-ingredient recipe that all comes together in the food processor.
- Raw cashews: make sure they are unsalted and unroasted so they blend really well to a creamy mixture.
- Coconut cream: you have 2 choices here: either use the top solid part of a can of full-fat coconut milk OR even better, use unsweetened coconut cream from a can of coconut cream (they are usually smaller cans right beside the cans of coconut milk at the grocery store)!
- Maple syrup: just a little bit to turn the mascarpone slightly sweet.
- Lemon juice: responsible for the tart flavor of the vegan cheese.
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.
That being said, I will often do a quick soaking method where I cover them with boiling water and only let them soak for 5-10 minutes (or even better 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 ahead of time (it is easier to get the top solid portion when chilled).
Step 2- Measure the coconut cream
If using a can of coconut milk, then open your can and using a spoon, scrape the top bright white solid portion into your ½ measuring cup.
Or, simply measure the ½ cup from your can of unsweetened coconut cream.
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 do the stop-scrape-restart cycle about 5-8 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 recipe. 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 chilling in the fridge.
Watch how to make it
- If your mascarpone cheese end up being too thin for your liking, then you can squeeze the extra moisture using a cheese cloth or a nut milk bag.
- It might take a few minutes to reach a smooth texture, so take your time, keep blending and it will eventually turn fully smooth and not grainy anymore.
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.
We love it the most as a dip for fruits (especially with an extra dash of vanilla extract). Also works well layered in fruity overnight oats, as a garnish for sweet pies (like on this vegan lemon pie), or try making a chocolate mascarpone by adding a little bit of raw cacao powder and layering with fresh strawberries and coconut flakes.
This vegan mascarpone also makes for an amazing creamy garnish for many baked goods, such as this vegan plum cake, buckwheat pancakes or these banana brownies. It would also make for an amazing creamy filling recipe to use when making this vegan black forest cake!
This rich cheese spread is also wonderful 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. Or try using it when making this vegan baked spaghetti for such an amazing flavor.
Also, use similarly to a cream cheese and spread over bagels or simply toasts and top with sliced fruits. You can add some mashed potatoes (try in these mashed purple sweet potatoes!) and include in vegan lasagna dishes just the same as using a bechamel sauce. And add a dollop of mascarpone over pizza after it is out of the oven to replace the dairy cheese, so delicious!
Store this mascarpone in an air-tight container in the fridge for 5-6 days. Stir well before using as the top sometimes 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.
This vegan mascarpone can also be frozen, but you will need to process/blend again after it thaws to recreate a creamy uniform texture.
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.
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 or soak them in boiling water for a shorter period of time.
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 and add extra maple syrup to soften the flavor.
Other vegan cheesy recipes you might like
- Vegan spinach quiche
- Vegan Hawaiian cheese ball
- Almond parmesan
- Vegan powdered cheese
- Tofu-feta cheese
- Vegan white queso
- Lemony cashew ricotta
- Sunflower seed cream cheese
- Vegan cream cheese
- Squash mac and cheese
- Vegan cheesy baked ziti
- Vegan baked mac and cheese
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
- Food processor
- 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 - or any sweetener
- 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 10-30 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 5-8 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 little bit after chilling. 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.