This surprisingly simple Meyer Lemon Vegan Cheesecake is a creamy, no-bake dream! Made from just twelve ingredients, cashews mingle with the mellow citrus flavor of Meyer lemons to create a crowd-pleasing cheesecake perfect for holidays and special occasions. Gluten-free.
This is the first cheesecake recipe I'm sharing on the blog, which is kind of sweet because this was the dessert I made for Mark's birthday last month. He loved it. I loved it. Friends loved it. And I think you're going to love it, too! If you've never made a vegan cheesecake before but have dabbled with the traditional, baked, dairy version, you're going to love how fuss-free vegan cheesecakes can be.
Cheesecakes and I go way back...
And unfortunately I'm not talking about the vegan kind. Nearly two decades ago (wow, that long?), I was quite the proud cheesecake baker. Searching for recipes online wasn't really a thing yet, so the main recipe I used was from a Betty Crocker cookbook. Some of you might remember the one I'm talking about, with its huge binder rings and red and white hard cover.
I remember studying the tips provided in those glossy pages, mainly about how to avoid the dreaded cracked cheesecake! I played by all the rules - cream cheese brought to room temperature, water baths, avoiding sudden temperature changes, letting the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door cracked. And I guess my cheesecakes were about as successful as they could be.
Now, here I am all these years later, making a vegan cheesecake and typing up my own tips to share with you. But here's the fun part....
You barely need any tips! If you make this cheesecake I guarantee it will be smooth, gorgeous, stress-free, crack-free, bake-free, dairy-free, egg-free, cruelty-free, and cholesterol free! You'll get the rich and creamy filling you desire but without the HEAPS of saturated fat found in dairy cheesecakes. It also won't leave you with the infamous dairy-induced stomach ache. It's a win on so many levels.
How to make Vegan Cheesecake
The process looks like this:
- Soak: quick soak the cashews in hot water for about 30 minutes, then drain.
- Process: use a food processor to make the crust, then press the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan.
- Blend: combine the filling ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
*If you don't have a high speed blender, try blending the filling in batches to achieve the smoothest consistency possible. I haven't tested this but am keeping my fingers crossed you will still get a satisfactorily smooth texture. Another trick: try substituting raw cashew butter. Britt over at Leaves of Kale explains how to make the swap. It's worth a try, right?
- Freeze: pour the filling into the crust and freeze until set.
BOOM! You just made a gorgeous vegan cheesecake!
Ideas for Decorating Your Meyer Lemon Cheesecake
Apparently, I was feeling fancy the day I took these photos, which is how I came up with the citrusy whipped aquafaba, but you can top this cheesecake however you like. Try whipped coconut cream (which, honestly, is far more delicious than aquafaba), fresh berries, powdered sugar, toasted coconut, non-dairy Reddi Wip or So Delicious Coco Whip. Basically, any fruits, nuts, seeds, edible flowers or herbs that you think would pair well with Meyer lemon can be used to decorate your vegan cheesecake.
How To Freeze and Thaw Your Cheesecake
Before I wrap up, I guess there is ONE tip worth discussing. After you freeze the cheesecake for several hours (and definitely if you freeze it overnight) it will be VERY firm, like so firm you can't slice it. So be sure to allow 20 to 30 minutes for the cheesecake to soften at room temperature before serving.
You can also transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator about an hour before serving, and it should end up at the perfect consistency. Keep in mind, thaw time completely depends on how frozen the cheesecake is. So I recommend using your common sense and checking on the cheesecake, wherever it is, if you've made this for a special event and need for things to be perfect. Moving it to the refrigerator even earlier might be a good idea in that case.
If you decide to use the silken tofu listed, versus going with 100% cashews for the filling, a considerable amount of moisture is added (for the record, I used silken tofu in mine, so that's what you see in the photos). The water content of the tofu combined with the large amount of Meyer lemon juice means you've got a surprising amount of liquid inside this dessert. This is why it freezes so solidly. If it had a higher fat content (for example, if we'd used coconut cream instead of silken tofu), it wouldn't get quite as hard in the freezer. When you slice into the cheesecake it might even appear a tad icy in the center if it's still frozen. But don't worry! If given a few more minutes to thaw the iciness disappears and the overall texture is smooth and creamy.
If you make this Meyer Lemon Vegan Cheesecake you know I'd love to see a photo! Snap a pic and tag @myquietkitchen on instagram. You can also rate the recipe and leave a comment below to let us know how it turns out.
Cheers to gorgeous, dairy-free cheesecakes!
More delightfully creamy vegan desserts:
Meyer Lemon Vegan Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 1 cup pitted medjool dates, about 9 large (160 g)
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
For the filling:
- 3 1/4 cups raw cashews (16 oz)
- 1 pound silken tofu, drained (or omit and add an additional cup of cashews)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
- 1/2 tsp Meyer lemon zest
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla
Optional aquafaba topping:
- 1/2 cup liquid from one can of unsalted garbanzo beans (aka aquafaba)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar, adjust as desired
- 1 Tbsp Simply Delish Orange Jel Dessert, optional (primarily used for color)
- whipped coconut cream or other non-dairy topping
- Meyer lemon zest
- toasted coconut
Quick soak the cashews:
- Place the cashews in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Soak 30 minutes to 1 hour, then drain and pat dry.
Make the crust:
- Combine the dates, almonds, coconut, coconut oil, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the ingredients are a uniform, coarse crumb texture. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.
- Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (leak-proof) springform pan. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan, packing it down firmly. Refrigerate crust until the filling is ready.
Make the filling:
- Combine all of the filling ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth. **If you don't have a high speed blender, try blending the filling in batches, or see note above in post about substituting raw cashew butter.
- Taste for sweetness and lemon and adjust as desired. Pour onto the prepared crust. Freeze, uncovered, until completely cool. Then cover and freeze several more hours or overnight.
- Straight from the freezer the cheesecake will be very firm. It needs to soften before serving. Let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes or in the refrigerator for an hour.
Make the aquafaba whipped topping:
- Just before serving:Combine the aquafaba and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar one spoonful at a time. Then add the vegan jell-o, if using. Spoon the whipped aquafaba onto the cheesecake just before serving. See Notes for tips on working with aquafaba.
- If left to stand at room temperature, moisture will weep from the whipped aquafaba. This is why it's best to dollop it onto the cheesecake just before serving or onto individual slices, just as you would with whipped cream.
- Avoid freezing the whipped topping.
- Leftover cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or re-frozen for a longer period.