This creamy, herby, nutty vegan cheese ball is the perfect make-ahead holiday appetizer for entertaining. Coated in pecans, dried cranberries and fresh herbs, it's perfect served with crudités and crackers!
We've said it before, and we'll say it again. This is the time of year for delicious make-ahead appetizers. And this vegan cheese ball is here for you. It's almost guaranteed to be the star of any holiday appetizer spread or cheese board, vegan or not!
I'm not sure about you, but here at Crowded Kitchen, we're really into cheese boards. They're so easy to throw together, and you can add a little something for everyone.
We deal with multiple food allergies and preferences in our family. We always have vegan and gluten free options, as well as nut free, etc so everyone can enjoy their meal.
This vegan cheese ball is so good that nobody will miss the dairy! But feel free to pair it with a regular dairy cheese as well so everyone can enjoy.
This beautiful vegan appetizer does take a little advance planning. All in, you'll need to make the cheese ball a day before you want to serve it. However, most of the prep time for this dish is entirely hands-off.
Once you prep all of the ingredients, you just have to let it sit overnight to come together and harden up.
Soak the nuts
The first step in this vegan cheese ball recipe is to soften up the nuts by soaking them in room temperature water. We love a combination of cashews and almonds for this savory and creamy cheese ball.
However, if you're not a fan of almonds, you can use all cashews. They get so nice and soft, they make the ideal vegan cheese. You should let the nuts soak for a good 4 to 8 hours before starting the rest of this recipe.
Cashews don't have to soak for quite as long (just a few hours is fine), while almonds need a full 4-6 hours.
To soak the nuts, cover them by a couple of inches with room temperature water. Then, simply let them sit out and soften up.
While they soak, the nuts will get softer and may enlarge a little. All of that is totally normal. When they're finished soaking, drain the water and give them a quick rinse before adding to the recipe.
Blend the cheese
Once your nuts are fully softened, you're ready to blend them, along with the rest of our ingredients, into a savory, creamy vegan cheese ball.
Start by breaking the nuts down a few times in a food processor. A high-speed blender may work for this, but you'll need to stop more often to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
Once the nuts are in crumbly little pieces, add the following plant based ingredients:
- Vegan cream cheese. This is a huge textural element. Not to mention creamy! We love Kite Hill plain vegan cream cheese.
- Nutritional yeast is the key to that deeply savory cheese flavor, without any dairy.
- Olive oil helps things smooth out in the blender.
- Onion, garlic and parsley are delicious flavor-enhancers. Yum!
- Optional: if you'd like, feel free to add other fresh or dried herbs/spices.
Wrap & dry
The next step is to dry out the cheese ball overnight. To do this, you'll need some cheesecloth. This is easily found at most grocery stores.
Lay out two double layers of cheesecloth and place your vegan cheese mixture in the center. Use the cloth to form the cheese into a neat little ball.
Then, simply tie it all up and let the cheese rest overnight in the fridge. We use a rubber band or a chip clip to keep it tied up, which helps the cheese ball keep its shape.
The next day, you'll have a lovely, firm plant based cheese ball! Note that a little bit of hardening here and there on the surface is totally normal.
Coat with nuts and dried fruit
Now it's time to decorate that baby!
Line a pie plate or large, flat dinner plate with your favorite nuts, fresh herbs and dried cranberries. Anything from pecans to pistachios to more cashews work as a coating. For extra color and crunch, try toasting the nuts first.
To toast the nuts, preheat an oven to 300°F. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast until they just start to brown, 6-10 minutes, depending on your oven.
Toasted nuts have more flavor, color and crunch. Which makes them pretty perfect to coat your vegan cheese ball.
Also, don't forget to toss in some green herbs. You'll want the fresh taste, color and extra flavor.
And finally, bright red dried cranberries round out those beautiful holiday colors on your vegan cheese ball.
There you have it: a festive, delicious and make-ahead holiday appetizer.
This tasty plant-based cheese ball really speaks for itself. On its own, it's sure to be an eye-catching holiday appetizer.
Of course, we're all about cheese boards and appetizer spreads brimming with options for everyone.
To give this dairy-free cheese ball the accompaniment it deserves, serve it alongside your favorite crackers. We love seedy gluten-free crackers at our place.
Raw crudités are also delicious (not to mention colorful!). We typically opt for a few classics like carrots, cucumber, radishes, etc.
Here's our how-to on assembling a stunning and crowd-pleasing appetizer spread for everyone.
If you're a real planner, you'll have made this vegan cheese ball several days before you're ready to serve. And more props to you! It stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Simply wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or an airtight container.
More Festive Holiday Appetizers
And for the rest of your appetizer spread:
- Smoky Carrot Dip
- Roasted Romanesco Hummus
- Vegan & Gluten Free Stuffed Mushrooms
- Sweet & Spicy Mixed Nuts
- Vegan Jalapeño Poppers for the spice-lovers in the group
- Quick pickle any vegetable for a splash of brightness!
This creamy, herby, nutty vegan cheese ball is the perfect make-ahead holiday appetizer for entertaining.
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup raw almonds*
- ¼ cup vegan cream cheese
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley or thyme, minced
- ½ cup nuts of choice, chopped finely (we used pecans)
- 1 ½ tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
- 2-3 tbsp dried cranberries, minced
- Soak the cashews and almonds for 6-8 hours in room temperature water.
- Rinse and drain well. Add the soaked nuts to a food processor and pulse 15-20 times to break down. Add the cream cheese, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder and process until you have a creamier mixture. It will still have some texture to it.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the fresh herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Layer out 2 double layers of cheesecloth on top of each other, creating a cross shape. Lay the cheeseball mixture in the center and form into a loose ball. Wrap securely in the cheesecloth, making sure none of the mixture is exposed, and secure with a clip or rubber band. Set on a small plate and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Unwrap the cheesecloth and gently reform ball. There might be a slight hardening on some of the outside, which is totally fine and normal. Add all of the coating ingredients to a pie plate or large, flat dinner plate.
- Gently roll the cheese ball in coating mixture, pressing lightly all over so the coating adheres. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator to enjoy later.
*You can sub almond slices with more cashews if you wish.
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Blender
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: vegan cheese ball