Easy Vegan Parmesan Cheese
I should put “Parmesan cheese” in big quotations here, because this vegan version is definitely not cheese. Yet, it tastes quite similar to the real deal! I’m loving this vegan Parmesan cheese recipe and I think you will, too.
This vegan Parm is great sprinkled over savory meals in lieu of real Parmesan. Whether you’re vegan, dairy free, avoiding animal rennet, looking to limit your consumption of animal products, or just plain curious—this recipe is for you.
I’m not the first person to come up with a vegan Parmesan cheese substitute. I’ve tried several recipes over the years, but none quite hit the mark. When I was wandering around Whole Foods the other day, I came across a vegan Parmesan blend in the refrigerated section. It used hemp seeds instead of raw cashews like I’ve used before. I was intrigued.
I didn’t buy that vegan Parm, but the idea stuck with me until I couldn’t ignore it any longer. Hemp seeds seemed like a great choice since they’re tender, nutty, nutritious, and nut free (a bonus for my friends with nut allergies). Hemp seeds are also tiny, which meant that I could simply stir the ingredients together instead of making a mess in my food processor.
So, I bought some hemp seeds on another grocery store run, and came home and started experimenting. Bingo! Meet the best vegan Parm I’ve ever had. You’ll only need five ingredients for this dairy-free wonder.
Vegan “Parmesan” Ingredients
Hemp seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and tender chewy texture, which makes up for Parmesan’s similar qualities. Hemp seeds are very nutritious, offering polyunsaturated fat, protein, manganese, magnesium and more.
I bought my hemp seeds at Whole Foods in the supplement section, but they are less expensive on Amazon (affiliate link).
Nutritional yeast contributes cheese-like flavor and golden yellow coloring. Nutritional yeast is also loaded with B vitamins, which is why just 1 tablespoon of this vegan Parmesan accounts for roughly 50 percent of your daily suggested intake of vitamins B1, B2 and B6 (click the “nutrition information” label below the recipe for more exact details).
My favorite brand of nutritional yeast is Frontier Coop, for its superior flavor and small flake size. You can buy a big 1-pound bag of it inexpensively on Amazon. Another good store-bought option is Bragg’s. Do not mistakenly use brewer’s yeast here—they are not the same thing!
Garlic Powder and Onion Powder
These offer some extra flavor complexity that help make up for all the subtle flavors found in real Parmesan. Garlic and onion powder make this vegan Parm irresistible!
Real Parmesan cheese is quite salty, so salt is an essential ingredient for this vegan version! I used fine sea salt, but you can use regular table salt if that’s what you have.
Uses for Vegan Parmesan Cheese
You can sprinkle this vegan “Parmesan” with abandon all over your favorite Italian recipes, salads, cooked vegetables and more! Use it like you would use Parmesan (however, if you’re baking the recipe, you might want to reserve it for sprinkling until after it’s out of the oven for maximum flavor and presentation value).
You might also enjoy it in place of feta cheese, or any time you need some extra-savory flavor. Here are some ideas:
- Sprinkle vegan Parmesan over marinara sauce and pasta (for heartier options, check out my hearty spaghetti with lentils and marinara and vegan puttanesca with zucchini noodles).
- Omit the Parmesan cheese from basil pesto, then sprinkle vegan Parmesan on top of your pesto dish, to taste. It would be great on my double tomato pesto spaghetti recipe!
- Sprinkle it over roasted vegetables, like roasted broccoli or roasted cauliflower. You might also enjoy it over steamed or sautéed veggies.
- Take your vegan mac and cheese up a notch by topping it with a light sprinkle of vegan Parm.
- You might also enjoy it over homemade minestrone soup, or Italian chopped salad (in lieu of the provolone).
Please let me know how you like this vegan Parm in the comments! I’m excited to hear how you use it.
Easy Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Author: Cookie and Kate
- Prep Time: 3 minutes
- Total Time: 3 minutes
- Yield: ¾ cup 1 x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: By hand
- Cuisine: Italian
5 from 43 reviews
Make this simple vegan Parmesan cheese recipe and sprinkle it over your favorite Italian recipes! This vegan Parm is made with hemp seeds, so it’s nut free. No food processor required—just stir together the ingredients and you’re done. Recipe yields about ¾ cup.
Make this simple vegan Parmesan cheese recipe and sprinkle it over your favorite Italian recipes! This vegan Parm is made with hemp seeds, so it's nut free.
Hemp Cream Cheese (dairy-free)
Dairy-Free Hemp Cream Cheese
Today we are making fabulous subway sandwiches, gluten-free, dairy-free and freaking flavourful. What do you need besides a crunchy bread loaf and toppings is a savoury spread that will take your sub to the next level. That’s what I’m going to share with you today!
Fabulous Hemp Cream Cheese Ready in 5 Minutes
This is such a simple recipe that will make your taste buds crave for more. You know how much I love my Vitamix, and this is going to be my best friend for preparing this absolutely gorgeous hemp cream cheese.
The ingredients you’ll need to use are those that we usually have in our pantries, so no need to run to the store. Making this spread will literally take you about 5 minutes. Check this out! Add your hemp seeds to your Vitamix together with garlic and lime or lemon juice and zest. You need to blend this until smooth; it may take some time, so don’t rush it. Now season with salt and pepper (my favourite is pink Himalayan salt) to your taste and we come to the crucial moment – adding water. You don’t want to add too much so that your cream cheese gets runny. So, the trick is to pour in just a bit to kick-start this and the ingredients start catching. Feel free to increase the speed a bit when the mixture gets creamier. What you are aiming at is super smooth hemp seed cream cheese not a hemp seed smoothie, so be careful when adjusting the water.
It is actually impossible to tell you how much water exactly you need to add because it depends on many factors, such as hemp seed quality, water quality, how much juice there is in limes and lemons you use… To make sure you are doing everything right, check out the video with the instructions .
Now is the time to check the texture and flavour. How to do this? Dip a spoon, take it out and check if your cream cheese is dripping. Remember what you are aiming at is a yummy, thick and creamy texture. If the texture is good, taste and adjust the flavours as you wish. You can add more salt or pepper or lime zest to give your cream cheese a bit of a zing.
Finally, be generous with adding chopped fresh dill or tarragon, stir well and your dairy-free hemp cream cheese is ready.
Dairy-Free Hemp Cream Cheese Recipe!
- 1 1/2 cups Hemp Seeds
- 2 Limes, juice and zest
- 1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Water, as needed
- 1 small bunch of Dill or Tarragon
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Add the hemp seeds, lime juice and zest and garlic to your blender.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Season with salt and pour in a bit of water if needed.
- When completely blended, add in the dill and blend for a few more seconds.
- Transfer to a bowl and use as a spread as I did in the video.
- Store in a sealed container and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
R, DF, GF, NF, VEG, V
Prep time: 2 min
UNcooking time: 1 min
Freezer friendly: Yes
You can keep it in the fridge as a dip or spread it on a lovely crunchy baguette (check out what technique will make your baguette super crunchy ), dress with some lettuce and your favourite veggies and eat immediately!
Trust me, it will blow your mind away. Follow me on social media and share photos of how you enjoy your dairy-free hemp cream cheese.
Chef Cynthia Louise xx
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About the Author
Chef Cynthia Louise is an Internationally acclaimed MasterChef, speaker, author, restaurant consultant, teacher and television presenter in wholefood, dairy-free cooking. She also has the worlds first online cooking classes focused on dairy-free plant-based whole foods with recipes that people are raving about and changing people’s health, one delicious bite at a time. Chef Cynthia loves nothing more than educating people about the simplicity and vitality of a plant-based, whole foods lifestyle. Each dish is like art on a plate and her flavour combinations nourish the soul and get everyone talking.
There are some pretty clever ways to get that cream cheese style flavour without using dairy. Most choices use nuts, which is ok if you love nuts. If you're after a nut-free cream cheese then you simply can't go past this hemp seed cream cheese. Here is the recipe…