This vegan cheese ball uses cashews as a creamy base, and adds cranberries and chopped pecans for delicious flavor and satisfying crunch. Prefect for the holidays!
Growing up as the only vegetarian in a big family of omnivores was pretty rough. Most of my holiday meals involved a plateful of sides, appetizers, or just hanging in there until dessert.
My family has changed quite a bit since those days, and so have I. For one thing, I learned to cook, which means I always have a dish in hand and will never go hungry again at a family gathering.
For another thing, my diet has narrowed even more, so now in addition to being meatless, dairy is almost completely out as well. (Heck, I even wrote a vegan cookbook!)
But of course, the holidays call for a cheese ball. And so I present to you - the vegan cheeseball.
If you're here planning your holiday menu, don't miss our new Vegan Christmas and Vegan Thanksgiving cookbooks. They're packed with all my favorite holiday-worthy recipes for a plant-based feast.
Make a Vegan Cheese Ball
This particular vegan cheese ball is actually a vegan adaptation of a childhood favorite.
The "cheese" base is made with blended raw cashews, which make a great vegan cheese on their own, but when you add in some dried cranberries you get a perfect sweet-tart and creamy mixture that you’d never guess was vegan.
Adding a bit of oil to the blend gives the cheese a smooth texture. For this recipe I went with coconut oil, which solidifies when chilled, so after a few hours in the fridge your vegan cheese mixture is easily shapeable and perfect for rolling into a ball.
And of course, you can’t have a cheese ball without some kind of crunchy coating, so the last thing I did was roll the vegan cheese ball in a mixture of pecans and cranberries.
The pecans give it the perfect crunch, while the cranberries add just a touch more sweetness and zing.
Whatever you’ve got planned for ringing in the holiday season, and whoever you’ll be spending time with, I’d bring one of these along. Vegan, vegetarian, or whatever, I think this would be a hit with just about anyone.
Tips & Tricks
Be sure to use raw cashews for this vegan cheeseball, not the roasted cashews that you find in the snack aisle. They must be raw in order to blend up into that creamy consistency.
The cashews will need to be soaked for at least 4 hours, but preferably closer to 8 hours, before using them. I typically just throw mine in some water the night before I plan to use them, so they're ready when I am.
If you forget to soak your cashews, you can cheat a bit by boiling some water and then soaking them in the boiling hot water for 30 minutes. I don't think the consistency is quite as good this way, but it works in a pinch!
More Holiday Recipes
If you love this vegan cheese ball, be sure to check out all my favorite vegetarian holiday appetizers, and these other delicious plant based ideas:
- My Vegan Thanksgiving and Vegan Christmas Cookbooks (new!)
- The Ultimate Vegan Stuffing
- Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews soaked in water 4–8 hours, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup coconut oil melted
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ tbsp water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries divided
- ½ cup pecans chopped
- Place the cashews, coconut oil, lemon juice, water, and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add ¾ cup dried cranberries. Process just until cranberries are finely chopped and incorporated into the mixture. This should take about 15 to 30 seconds, depending on your food processor.
- Transfer the cashew mixture to a sealed container and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours, until it's firm enough to shape.
- Stir the pecans and remaining ¼ cup of cranberries together in a small bowl. Remove the cashew mixture from the refrigerator and use your hands to shape it into a ball. Press the pecans and cranberries into the surface of your cheeseball, rolling it in the mixture if you'd like.
- Transfer the finished cheeseball to a serving plate and serve immediately, or place in an airtight container and chill until ready to serve.
Emilie @ Emilie Eats says
First, I'm sure this is absolutely delicious. But second, it's absolutely gorgeous! I'd love to put this out on the table at a party or dinner.
Thanks Emilie! I actually ended up doing just that and serving it at my family's Christmas celebration. 🙂
You have a great site! I enjoy reading your recipes and look forward to trying them, esp. as my New Year's resolution is to act on my healthy interests.
Re: This recipe ... I do not have a processor. Would using a blender give acceptable results?
Thanks very much, and Happy New Year. ~ D.
Thanks Dee! I think so. I've made similar recipes using a blender, and it sometimes requires a bit more time and stopping to scrape down the sides, but it generally works out. Hope you enjoy and Happy New Year to you too!!
I'm putting this on my list for parties with vegan & gluten-free friends. I'd eat it, too!
Awesome! Hope you enjoy! I took it to a holiday party all of the non-vegans that ate it didn't even realize it was vegan. 🙂
Question, can you use something other than coconut oil? I made some dessert bars with coconut oil and it didn't agree with my digestion. I assume it was the coconut oil since it was the only thing in the recipe that I don't normally eat. Thanks. I love your blog.
Hi Lisa! The coconut oil helps firm the mixture up so it's shapeable. I don't know of any other oils that will give the same result, but there is an ingredient called agar powder that might do the trick. It's typically used as a vegan gelatin substitute. You might need to play around with it a bit to get a feel for how it works though. The other option would be to just serve it as a spreadable cheese, which would still be tasty - I was actually considering whipping up some more of the cranberry cheese mixture to put on a bagel. 🙂
Linda I says
I made the vegan cheese ball and it was delicious. only change I did was use smoked almonds crushed on the outside with the cranberries. I will definitely make this again.
Awesome! Smoked almonds sound like they'd be delicious with this. I might try that myself next time. Thank you, and glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Oh this looks absolutely lovely! Love the idea of cranberries! xx
Thanks Michelle! The cranberries were my favorite part. 🙂
Scott Jasper says
Yum, cashew cheese recipe. Delicious 🙂 I really enjoyed it
Awesome! Glad to hear it. Thanks Scott!
Looks great and based on reviews is obviously delicious. My plan is to serve it without mentioning that it's vegan, unless someone asks.
How far in advance could one make and keep this chilled and still taste its best?
You can keep it in the refrigerator for about 5 days. You could also seal it up nicely and freeze it for much longer - I'm guessing up to three months or so. I hope everyone enjoys it!
This looks delicious. Do you use refined coconut oil or regular? I usually always use regular but am wondering if it will add too much of a coconut flavour.
Thank you! I used unrefined and I didn't mind the coconut taste -- it was pretty subtle. If you're serving it to anyone who particularly dislikes coconut, then you might want to go with refined.
I added a dill pickle, a little cayenne and a jar of pimento instead of cranberries to make Pimento Cheese. LOVED it!