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.
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
- 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.