If you're vegan, you know that finding cheese substitutes can be a challenge. But with this easy vegan ricotta cheese recipe (nut-free), you'll never have to go without again! This cheese is perfect for lasagnas, ravioli, empanadas, and other Italian dishes. So give it a try today and see how amazing it is!
Learn how to make this cheese alternative that is delicious, healthy, and easy to make! This recipe can be used in other vegan recipes or eaten alone.
How often have you stopped reading a recipe after you got to the list of ingredients and saw… vegan ricotta? I stopped… several times. But it wasn’t until I determined to veganize it. After all, I have fun veganizing recipes and have successfully veganized way more complex ones!
🤔 What is vegan ricotta made of?
The answer is it can be made from different things that help reassemble the taste and texture of real ricotta. To make vegan ricotta, you could use unsweetened almond milk and soaked sunflower seeds, make a cashew ricotta recipe (with raw cashews), or make this version outlined here made with tofu.
Plant-based ricotta will definitely be lighter ricotta, as it doesn't have the saturated fat from real ricotta. Still, whatever your nuts of choice are, plus the olive oil or sunflower seed oil, contribute to giving it a subtle fat component needed to hold everything together. This way, it can be used for your other recipes.
The best vegan ricotta is the one that adapts to your cooking intent, i.e., sweet vs. savory dishes. This is how I make a decision.
- Extra-firm tofu: This is your base, providing the creamy texture that mimics traditional ricotta. It's high in protein and easily takes on the flavors you'll add to it.
- Lemon juice: Acts as a natural acidifier to give the "cheese" its characteristic tang, while also serving as a component for vegan buttermilk when combined with plant milk.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: Adds a touch of richness and ensures the mixture isn't too dry, giving you that spreadable consistency you crave in ricotta.
- Garlic powder: Elevates the flavor profile with a hint of umami and earthiness without the harshness of raw garlic.
- Nutritional yeast: The secret ingredient for that cheesy flavor, and it comes with a bonus of added nutrients like B vitamins.
- Optional dried oregano: While not essential, this herb adds an aromatic touch and a Mediterranean flair to your vegan ricotta.
- Salt: It's all about balance—salt brings out the individual flavors and helps meld them into a unified, tasty whole. Just a pinch will do!
This dairy-free ricotta cheese won't require fancy equipment.
- Blender, food processor, Nutri-bullet, or immersion blender.
- Optional: spatula and cheese press (or tofu press).
This recipe only requires five minutes of your time and a food processor.
Step 1: First, drain the extra-firm tofu and coarsely crumble it into medium chunks.
Step 2: Squeeze fresh lemon juice.
Note: Skip the garlic powder and oregano if you are using this recipe for sweet goods. Reduce the salt to half.
Step 3: Add all measured ingredients and blend using a blender or food processor until you achieve a smooth consistency. You may have to stop the food processor and scrape down the edges. Blend until creamy.
Step 4: Taste and adjust, using lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for more acidity or nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. If you use it as a spreadable dish (like cream cheese), you can play it immediately and add fresh basil and olive oil optionally.
💡 Expert tip
Consider using a cheese or tofu press to give your ricotta cheese that authentic, firm texture.
Here's a handy trick: repurpose the plastic press from store-bought dairy ricotta. It usually comes with a clear press and lid, so you can easily check on your cheese, and its flexible material makes food removal a breeze.
This extra step can make a world of difference in mimicking traditional dairy ricotta. Just transfer your tofu ricotta into the press and gently but firmly press it down with a spoon or spatula. Then, set the press back in its original container and pour in about a cup of water, or just enough to cover the cheese.
Seal it with the lid and let it chill in the fridge for at least 12 hours. You might notice the ricotta absorbing some water, but it loosens from the press, making the unmolding process smooth and straightforward.
Apart from the suggested variation for using this tofu ricotta in sweet dishes, here are a few variations you may find handy.
- Garlic powder - you can easily replace it with onion powder.
- Nutritional yeast - use more nutritional yeast if you want a more cheesy flavor. Add one teaspoon at a time, or find some nutritional yeast substitutes.
- Garlic - if you make vegan ricotta cheese for a more savory and rich recipe like vegan cheese recipes, stuffed shells, or veggie lasagna, you can use fresh garlic instead of ground garlic or onion powder. Just remember to remove the green vein.
- Fresh basil - same as above; if you are cooking a savory Italian recipe, feel free to add 2-3 fresh basil leaves to the food processor.
- Olive oil - use sunflower or avocado oil instead.
- Lemon juice - use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar instead of lemon juice, using the same proportions.
- Tofu - you can use silken tofu if you want vegan ricotta that is extra soft instead of the usual crumbly one. It also works very well for other dairy-free cheese recipes or even for making a cheese sauce.
🥢 How to serve
Use this vegan ricotta as it is, as part of a vegan charcuterie board, along with baked green plantains (tostones), as a cheese alternative.
Include it in your spinach empanadas or any pasta dish that calls for ricotta, like stuffed shells and dairy-free lasagna.
We also use it as a base to make vegan, gluten-free lasagna.
If your answer is savory, this is the recipe for you or as a vegan cheese dip.
If you are using this vegan cheese for argentine spinach empanadas, vegan gluten-free lasagna, or use it on your pasta dishes, like stuffed shells (see our vegan stuffed shells, or traditional Creamy Eggplant Pasta with Tomato Ricotta Sauce, you may want to add an extra pinch of salt and pepper.
On the other hand., if you need vegan ricotta for your desserts, I would use a different version, one made either with nut milk or the version outlined here but taking away oregano leaves and garlic powder and only adding a pinch of salt.
But this is no different from regular dairy ricotta; you can find traditional ricotta cheese and savory ricotta (Ricotta Salata, as it is called here in Italy).
You can also use this recipe straight from the food processor for desserts, but make sure to strip away the garlic powder and oregano.
This nut-free vegan ricotta cheese will be stored well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Preferably, store it in a mason jar.
🧀 More vegan cheese and tofu recipes
⭐ If you try this dairy-free ricotta, let us know! 💬 Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag us @ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Vegan Ricotta Cheese Recipe (nut-free)
- Drain the extra-firm tofu and coarsely crumble it into medium chunks.
- Juice your lemon.
- Blend. Using a blender or food processor, add all measured ingredients and blend until you achieve a smooth consistency. You may have to stop the food processor and scrape down the edges.
- Taste and adjust the ricotta and adjust using lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for more acidity or nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.
- Transfer the ricotta cheese to the press, and with a spoon or spatula, press down the tofu ricotta cheese, place the press inside of the container where it came, and fill the container with one cup of water, or until the water covers the mixture.
- Close the lid and let it rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
- You will find that the ricotta cheese may have absorbed some of the water but also detaches from the press, making it easier to unmold.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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