If you're vegan, you know that finding cheese substitutes can be a challenge. But with this easy vegan ricotta cheese recipe, 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 a vegan ricotta cheese 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!
To my surprise, it was straightforward.
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 cheese. To make vegan ricotta cheese you could use unsweetened almond milk, soaked sunflower seeds, make a cashew ricotta recipe (with raw cashews), or make this version outlined here made with tofu.
A Plant-based ricotta cheese will definitely be lighter ricotta, as it doesn't have the saturated fat from real ricotta, but either the nuts of choice, plus the olive oil or sunflower seed oil, contribute to giving it a subtle fat component needed to hold everything together.
This way the vegan ricotta cheese can be used for your other recipes.
The best vegan ricotta cheese recipe is the one that adapts to your cooking intent, i.e. sweet vs savory dishes. This is how I make a decision.
But first, what does ricotta taste like?
That was my starting point. So, yes, it tastes like milk and has a very mild flavor. A good vegan ricotta cheese should have those characteristics. Just as replacing eggs, there is no straight answer for using vegan ricotta in your recipes.
I recommend you ask yourself one question: am I using ricotta on a sweet or savory dish?
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 spinach empanadas, vegan lasagna recipe, or maybe a pasta dish, like stuffed shells (see our vegan stuffed shells recipe), or traditional Pasta alla Norma (adding it to the pasta sauce, made with tomato sauce and salted ricotta cheese), 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 outlines here but taking away, oregano leaves, 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.
My vegan friends who love ricotta: the vegan ingredients that make this gluten-free and dairy-free tofu ricotta recipe perfect are:
- Extra-firm tofu
- Lemon juice
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Garlic powder
- Nutritional yeast
Optional dried oregano and salt.
This tofu ricotta cheese only requires five minutes of your time and a food processor.
First, drain the extra-firm tofu and coarsely crumble it into medium chunks.
Juice your lemon.
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.
Note: if using this vegan ricotta cheese for sweet goods, skip the garlic powder, and oregano. Reduce the salt to half.
Taste the ricotta and adjust, using lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, for more acidity or nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. If using your vegan cheese as a spreadable dish (like cream cheese), you can plat immediately optionally add fresh basil and olive oil.
If you want the vegan ricotta cheese to achieve a tighter consistency, we suggest using a cheese press, or a tofu press.
I actually just picked the plastic press that came with the fresh dairy ricotta, I bought to make the tasting sampling. It comes with a transparent press and cover to see the cheese and is made in flexible material for removing food easily.
To make this dairy-free ricotta cheese look like the real thing, I like doing this extra step.
Transfer the ricotta cheese to the press and with a spoon or spatula, press down the tofu ricotta cheese, then, place the press inside of the container where it came, and fill the container with one cup of water, or until, it roughly 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.
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).
Apart from the suggested variation for using this tofu ricotta in sweet dishes, here are a couple of variations you may find handy.
You can easily replace it with onion powder.
Use more nutritional yeast, if you want a more cheesy flavor. Add one teaspoon at a time.
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.
Same as above, if you are cooking a savory Italian recipe, feel free to add 2-3 fresh basil leaves to the food processor.
Use sunflower or avocado oil instead.
Use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar in place of lemon juice, using the same proportions.
If you want vegan ricotta that is extra soft, instead of the usual crumbly one, you can use silken tofu instead. It also works very well for other dairy-free cheese recipes or even to make a cheese sauce.
Nut ricotta cheese
Replace the exact amount of tofu, for the same weight of soaked almonds (use raw almonds) or blanched slivered almonds to make an almond ricotta cheese. The same goes for using raw cashews or macadamia nuts.
Of course, you should avoid this option if you are allergic to nuts.
How to serve
Use this vegan ricotta as it is, as part of a vegan charcuterie board, along with baked green plantains (tostones), or include it in your spinach empanadas, or any pasta dish that calls for ricotta like stuffed shells and dairy-free lasagna.
More vegan cheese and tofu recipes
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag a photo #ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Vegan Ricotta Cheese Recipe
- 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.
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We sometimes take for granted that we have years (or decades) of cooking experience that the average visitor may not. Add to, or remove from, the list below with health and safety tips.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking points to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
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