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Hickory-Smoked Aged Vegan Cheese

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you guys. I have been making this Hickory Smoked Vegan Cheese for over a year and have kept it to myself until now.

I can’t find powerful words to express my love for this cheese. Honestly, I love it even more than my camembert and blue cheeses, even if they take more time and effort to make. There is just something about it, maybe the comforting smoky smell, the strong umami flavor, or its golden brown color, but this cheese just hit me. And I’m sure you will love it too if you give it a try.

It’s the kind of cheese that brings back memories of smoked cheddar or even bacon. This smoked cheese is seriously delicious. The natural smoking process gives it a warm, comforting flavor you can’t get with flavorings like liquid smoke or smoked salt, for example. It is aged for a total of 3 weeks, smoked after two, and edible one week after the smoking process. If you can wait for one to two additional weeks, it will be worth it as the flavors gain in complexity as time passes.

The advantage of this recipe is that it doesn’t require any specific mold. Just 4 ingredients: cashews, white miso, nutritional yeast, and acidophilus (or mesophilic culture). You don’t even have to take care of the temperature or humidity that much compared to my previous cheese recipes.

Hickory-Smoked Aged Vegan Cheese

It starts just like any basic cashew cheese. You let the cashews soak overnight and then blend them with the cultures until smooth. I also added some nutritional yeast and white miso. It gives them a more pronounced nutty flavor. My first tries didn’t include them; something was missing, so don’t omit those two ingredients.

Once your cheeses are formed, you let them age for at least 2 weeks. They will firm up, flavors will develop, and they will become sharper. After two weeks, they should be firm enough to handle and smoke.

To smoke this cheese, I used a Camerons stovetop smoker, I was hesitant to buy one at first, but I don’t regret it at all because you can smoke many things in it. Stay tuned for a post on how to use a stovetop smoker!

Hickory-Smoked Aged Vegan Cheese

The smoking process is super easy. You sprinkle a tablespoon of wood chips in the bottom of the smoker, add the grid, and place the cheeses on top. Then, close the lid and heat over medium heat for about 12 minutes. That’s it.

After 10-12 minutes, they should be golden brown. At this step, they will be very soft because of the heat. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes before transferring to a clean grid or bamboo mat.

Hickory-Smoked Aged Vegan Cheese

They are not edible right after the smoking process. The smoky taste would be too strong, so you need to let them age for at least another 7 days. It will allow the smoke to penetrate the interior of the cheeses and let the flavors merge. I like to wait 2-3 weeks after smoking. They become firmer and taste even better.

Hickory-Smoked Aged Vegan Cheese

You can serve it on its own or with roasted nuts, a drizzle of maple syrup, jam, or apple slices. It goes very well with whole wheat bread and crackers; you can even use it in other recipes like burgers, sandwiches, dressing, and more!

Hickory-Smoked Aged Vegan Cheese

Everyone who tried it loved it, non-vegans included, so I urge you to try it now. You won’t be disappointed! As always, let me know in the comments if you try this Hickory Smoked Vegan Cheese recipe!

Hickory-Smoked Aged Vegan Cheese
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Recipe
Hickory-Smoked Aged Vegan Cheese

Hickory Smoked Vegan Cheese

5 from 63 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Aged cashew cheese that is smoked over hickory wood chips. Smoky, buttery, and full of complex flavors!
Prep Time : 1 hour
21 days
Total Time : 21 days 1 hour
Servings 3 Cheeses
Calories 125 kcal

Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

Making the cheeses

  • Drain the soaked cashews and place them in a large glass bowl. Bring a pot of water to a boil and pour over the cashews. Let sit for 1 minute, and drain. This step is not essential but will kill possible harmful bacteria.
  • Transfer the cashews to a blender, or food processor. Add the white miso, nutritional yeast, and filtered water. Blend on high speed, scraping down the sides from time to time, until you get a very smooth yet thick texture. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until smooth. Do not add too much water. You want to use as little as possible otherwise the cheese will be too soft.
  • Stir in the acidophilus powder from the capsules (or use mesophilic culture) and blend again for a few seconds.
  • Transfer the cashew mixture to a cheesecloth and pull it tight. Add a weight above it and let sit at room temperature for about 24 hours. I placed the cheesecloth in a colander on top of a bowl. This step is important to start the fermentation of the cashew cream and drain possible excess water.
  • After one day, the cashew cream should have a slightly sour, lemony taste, like fresh cream cheese. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with plastic film to touch and place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours.
  • Cut strips of parchment paper and lay them in 3 4-inch springform pans. You want to cover the sides and bottom of the springform pans. You can also use plastic film if you prefer. The goal is to prevent the cheese from sticking to the metal. Fill the pans with the mixture and press it down using plastic film so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Cover the pans with plastic film to touch and place in the refrigerator for 2 days.
  • Then, carefully remove the cheeses from the springform pans and place them on a plate or small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Salt on both sides with about 1/4 tsp of salt. Do the same for the sides. Use your finger to gently spread the salt on the surface of the cheese.
  • Place the cheeses in your refrigerator.

Aging

  • The next day, your cheeses will have lost some water thanks to the salt. Pat them dry with a paper towel if they are too wet, and replace the parchment paper with a new one.
  • For the next 2 weeks, flip the cheeses every day and change the parchment paper regularly if it becomes wet. Note: Cheeses should always be aged in your refrigerator, not at room temperature. At first, the cheeses will be very soft, but as they age, they will become firmer. If you see some mold appearing, just scrape it off and re-salt the area.

Smoking

  • After two weeks, your cheeses should be firm enough to handle. If they are not, I recommend you let them age another week.
  • Place one tablespoon of hickory wood chips in the bottom of the stovetop smoker. Place the drip and cooking trays on top of the wood chips. You can now place two cheeses on the cooking rack.
  • Heat the smoker over low-medium heat on a stovetop burner. Once the smoke starts to appear, close the smoker's lid completely and smoke the cheese for about 12 minutes. Some smoke will escape from the smoker. That's normal. I usually carefully flip the cheeses halfway through smoking, but it's not essential.
  • After 12 minutes, the cheeses should be golden brown. Remove the smoker from heat and let cool for at least 30 minutes. The cheeses will be very soft because of the heat, so be careful when handling them.
  • Transfer to a bamboo mat or clean grid and place in the refrigerator. Let it age for one more week, flipping every 2-3 days. If you are patient enough, I recommend you let the cheeses age for 2-3 weeks after the smoking process; the flavors will merge, and the cheese will become even firmer.
  • This smoked cheese is delicious on its own, or with crackers, whole-wheat bread, a drizzle of maple syrup, jam, nuts, or fruits. It can also be used in other recipes like grilled cheese sandwiches, risotto, hamburgers, etc.

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1 oz (29g) | Calories: 125 kcal | Carbohydrates: 3 g | Protein: 4.4 g | Fat: 10 g | Fiber: 0.5 g | Sugar: 1 g
Course : Cheese
Cuisine : French
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

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354 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! I (1) have a smoker that i don’t use nearly enough and (2) have always adored the smoked flavors of Miyoko’s cheeses (aged vegan cheese brand that I purchase here in the USA) so this recipe seems totally perfect for me. It looks great!

      1. Thomas;
        I just smoked my first batch of Hickory cheese……it is making the fridge smell a little smoky.
        Can I place in sealed plastic container for the remainder of aging to keep smoky smell down?

        Also, I making all of your cheeses and will have a large amount at once….what luck have you had with freezing for future use on the three types of cheese…..any suggestions?

        1. Hi Mike,
          I hear you, I usually age my cheeses in another fridge, not my main one, and even after a few weeks it still smells very smoky! Not that I’m complaining but I understand it can be annoying if it’s in your main fridge. So, yes you can place them in a plastic container to finish the aging, no problem with that. Just make sure to wipe off any moisture in the container every 2-3 days.

          I never had to freeze the cheeses so I can’t really help you with that. Be aware the longer you let them age (wrapper in cheese paper), the better they will taste. Blue and Smoked ones will keep for at least 4-6 additional weeks, and probably more. Camembert also ages well but if you let it age too long it will lose its creaminess, the taste will still be great though. I hope this helps!

        2. I am so looking forward to trying these. As I am on an ant-inflammatory diet, and cashews are supposedly somewhat inflammatory, do you think this recipe could work with sunflower seeds? What other changes to the recipe would be necessary to achieve the right texture?

          1. 5 stars
            Hello EGBee, I have made this recipe many times with cashews, and have moved to a more Keto based eating style – so I have started a trial with sunflower seeds! I’m excited and if you haven’t already tried, I am happy to keep you updated on my progress and let you know how each stage goes? Cheers Esther

      2. Could I freeze this for later use once the aging process is complete, do you think? It may be more efficient to make a large batch and then freezing some for later I was thinking.

  2. Oh my, thank for this recipe, I so need to try this !

    Do you know if I can replace the capsules with homemade sauerkraut juice ( or another lacto-fermentation juice) ?
    Thanks again for your work it’s amazing 😉

    1. Yes, you can use rejuvelac or any other fermented juice. Use it in replacement of the 4 tbsp water 😉

  3. I do not have a smoker – I’ve avoided it because my smoke detectors are very sensitive. Can anyone who has one tell me if these tend to leak smoke enough to set detectors off?

    1. I can’t speak about this particular smoker, but when I roast chillies,eggplant etc on the stovetop I wrap the smoke detector in plastic until I’m done. Anything to avoid that ear piercing noise!

    2. It really depends on where your smoke detectors are located. There is obviously some smoke escaping from the smoker but if you have a kitchen hood you should be okay. According to some reviews on Amazon, it doesn’t trigger the detectors.

    3. Our smoke detectors are very sensitive also and we have not set them off with this smoker. Mind you, if I feel there is a gap I sometimes put a heavy object like a pyrex measuring cup full of water on it. Some smoke will leak out, so keep your exhaust fan on.

  4. Thanks so much Thomas for sharing a new cheese recipe! I’ve successfully made many batches of Camembert and Blue, they are the best! Quick question….. when you put this cheese in the refrigerator at step 8 of “Making the Cheeses”, are they in a container or covered like the other cheeses or are the open? Also, did you experiment with other wood chips before deciding on hickory?

    1. You’re welcome Sandy!
      I keep the cheeses uncovered in the refrigerator so they become firmer more quickly. It’s the opposite of what you do for the camembert and blue cheese.
      Yes, I tried with apple and oak wood, there is a slight difference between each one. In the end, my preference went to Hickory. Probably because it’s the flavor we are the most used to (used in BBQ sauces, bacon, smoked almonds, etc).

  5. Where do you find a vegan mesophilic culture? I was a home cheesemaker prior to going vegan, and all the cultures were dairy based. I have found and used a vegan yogurt culture, but I would really like to have a broader range of the cultures I used to use. Rejuvelac is not acceptable to me because 1) I have celiac disease and can’t make it from wheat, 2) non-wheat versions (I’ve tried millet and quinoa) are not the same and 3) even the wheat versions are not going to produce the same flavors I’m seeking in my vegan cheese.

    1. I get mine from Cashewbert.com, but you can also use acidophilus probiotics. It works great too and they are vegan.
      Some websites have aromatic blends that are vegan, in case you want to give your cheeses more complex flavors (I’m thinking Flora Danica, etc).

  6. Is there no actual salt in the recipe — just the saltiness of the miso?

    Thank you for your wonderfule recipes!!!

    1. Oh there is! I added the salting step in the recipe instructions but forgot to add it in the ingredients.

    1. It can be a substitute, yes. I would recommend using 2 teaspoons. The taste will be different though, you can’t really replicate the flavors you get with a real smoking process.

  7. Thomas! The smoke cheese is absolutely awesome! I made 2 batches at once and tried hickory, maple and apple smoke. I’ve tried the hickory and apple; both are wonderful! Many, many thanks for sharing your recipes! Makes “dairy free” tolerable.

  8. Pingback: De 10 beste online recepten voor vegan kaas - ikeetvegan.nl
        1. Yes as I replied to Ashley, you can add 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke while blending the cashews. It will taste great but you won’t get the same smoky flavor you would with real smoking.

        2. 5 stars
          Wow… One of the best vegan cheese recipe I found out on Web!! I just bought all the ingredients to try it. I was wondering if I should put a little bit of garlic powder to make the taste stronger. What do you think about? Cheers 🙏🙏

  9. Hello Thomas,

    I’m making two batches of your cheese, and I’ve got three quick questions.

    1) Can I substitute the Dark Aged Miso for the Sweet White?
    2) In one batch, can I substitute Jack Daniel’s for the water? (It’s for my birthday dinner)
    3) In the first day, can I stick it in a dehydrator instead of leaving it out? How does this effect the process?

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

    1. Hi Brian,

      I would not recommend using brown/dark miso, the cheeses would be too salty and lack the subtle sweetness you get with sweet white miso. The natural sweetness of white miso pairs very well with the smoky flavor, but if you can’t get your hands on white miso, try using only 1 tsp of dark miso.
      Yes, you can use alcohol instead of water, no problem at all with that! I would love to hear how it turns out!
      Regarding the first day, don’t use a dehydrator. You want to leave the cashew cream at room temperature (80°F maximum), acidophilus will do its work and the cream will ferment, giving it a tangy flavor. I guess a dehydrator would dry the cashew cream too much, and/or the temperature would be too high.

      I hope this helps!

      1. I actually bought bother the sweet white and the dark aged. I think what I’ll try is one batch with your recipe as is. One I will split in half and add a little dark miso, then marble the two together to give dark streaks. That’s the batch that I’m adding the Jack Daniel’s too. For smoking it, I already have some alder chips for one batch, and Jack Daniels Oak Barrel wood chips for the Jack batch. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

  10. Thomas,

    I just found your blog and have to say I am very impressed. I am a brand new vegan and still finding my way around all of the delicious recipes I can find. My biggest challenge is that I am deathly allergic to soy and must avoid it at all costs.

    So you have probably guessed what my question will be, but is there anything you would recommend replacing the miso with?

    Thanks,

    Keith

    1. Hi Keith,

      Thanks for the kind words! You are right, miso can also be made from chickpeas 🙂 I never had the chance to get my hands on it, but if you live in a big city you shouldn’t have trouble finding it.

      1. I was going to ask a similar question. I’ve looked on line and a suggestion is tahini paste as a substitute for white miso. Thinking about this with a little coconut aminos. What do you think?

        Thanks for this recipe – can’t wait to try it.

        1. Tahini won’t make a good substitute for miso here, and if you add soy sauce I’m afraid it will alter the flavor too much.

  11. As a quick follow up, I was not aware that they made miso from anything other than soy but did a quick search after my initial post. To my surprise I learned that they make it from chickpeas and azuki as well. I think I’ll give this recipe a try with the chickpea miso and see how it turns out.

    Keith

  12. Amazed by the detailing in your blog and it isn’t just “fluff.” One request…more recipes, specifically cheeze recipes. I’m still working on this one but it sounds like it’s going to work and be delicious! Thank you

    1. Thank you Heather! I am trying to post twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Sundays. Posting more would be difficult for me and the quality of the recipes would suffer.
      Hope you will like the cheese!

  13. 5 stars
    Hi thomas

    Really Good site. One of the best so far in terms of explanations and detailing.
    Can you please tell me if this cheese melts well (gooey effect) ?
    I am looking into using it in a burger.
    Well done again.

    1. Hi Nicolas,

      Thanks for the kind words! This cheese doesn’t melt but gets slightly softer when warm. Real aged cashew cheeses are awesome in term of taste and texture but unfortunately don’t become stretchy or gooey.

    1. You can, but as I stated in the article you won’t get the same depth of flavor. I would recommend adding about 1 tsp liquid smoke when blending the cashews.

  14. Tried it as the recipe states and looks great, still aging so thank you so much for this recipe! I’m wondering if raw walnuts could be subbed next time for the raw cashews? I prefer walnut in my “Parmesan” just wondering if you think they would work and if I’d need to follow same instructions with soaking and then boiling water to get rid of bacteria?

    1. I have never used other nuts to make vegan cheese (except almonds for curd based cheeses) so I can’t say. But I’m afraid walnuts will turn rancid if aged for over 2 weeks. I’m also not sure about the texture since walnuts contain more fat the mixture would probably be a bit more oily and not as smooth. These are just thoughts and maybe I’m wrong!

      I recommend boiling the nuts for all vegan cheese you make, it’s an extra step but it kills most bad bacterias.

  15. Hi,this cheese sounds delicious, my query is this, do I have to use filtered water?

    I don’t have a filter jug and don’t really want to buy one, can I use cooled boiled water? Is it to prevent bacteria from the water?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Angela,

      You don’t have to! Just use bottled water, or as you said cooled boiled water, it will work just as well! That is correct, it is to prevent possible bacteria that would make the cheese turn bad, it’s not very common though, but it can happen.

      1. I thought that the problem with bottled water is that it’s not tested for bacteria? There are reports of people bottling water in their garages and selling it as “spring water.”

  16. 5 stars
    You’ve done it again! I finally got out my homemade smoker (recycled a rectangular turkey roaster and modified a cookie pan to fit the interior, piercing the bottom with punched holes.) We smoked this cheese, and since the smoker was fired up, smoked almonds, cashews and tofu, per your recipes. And a bunch of garlic, too. WOW! The cheese is fantastic! Even though it needs to rest for another week or two, we just had to sample a bit. So delicious! Same with the other foods.

    If anyone is interested to know, we use our Coleman camping stove outside to smoke food. No worries about smoke alarms or a smoky house.

    Thank you Thomas!

    1. Thanks again for the feedback Beverly! The first time I tried smoking food I also relied on a homemade smoker 🙂
      So glad to hear you liked this recipe! It’s easier to make than the camembert or blue but it’s still my favorite. After 7-10 days the cheeses will be even more delicious as the smoke will have blended with the other flavors.
      Enjoy your cheeses! 🙂

  17. I am wondering if a little oil in the mixture may help it melt,I will try with & without & post the results.
    Marmite can be substituted for miso.

  18. 5 stars
    I am very pleased to have found your recipes,& will be trying as many as I can

    When you mix in the mesophilic culture it is important that the temperature of the cashews is less than 40 degrees C,or blood heat,otherwise the culture won’t work,also if you are adding rejuvelac or sauerkraut liquid instead of water then the cashews have to be cool.

    I am trying to make a meltable grateable cheese with flavour,this one may go half way there

  19. Hiya, reading and learning !

    So far I only made cheeses with rejuvelac. What does acidophilius do ? Is it just tot get the tangy, slightly sour taste in there, or does it do more ?
    If the effect is the same I would rather use rejuvelac cause much cheaper and way less processed 🙂
    If so, how much would i use in this recipe ?

    Thanks, Monique

    1. Hi Monique,
      Acidophilus helps the cheese ferment, giving them that tangy, slightly lemony taste.
      Sure, you can use rejuvelac in this recipe! Just use it in place of the filtered water (4 tbsp).

  20. 5 stars
    Dear Thomas,

    I have made this cheese several times and it is fantastic. I am on batch five right now. All of your recipes are excellent. I cannot thank you enough for all of your hard work

    1. I have absolutely no idea, sorry! I only used a stovetop smoker so I don’t know how long you should smoked it in a gas smoker.

  21. Hiya, recipe is on it’s way. Time to get them out of the molds and into the fridge again. You say you use parchment paper. Is it an idea to use cheese mats, to better get rid of the moisture; or woud they dry too quick?

    1. Hey Monique,
      Yes you can use cheese mats, but I would recommend to use them after at least a week, otherwise, the cashew cream might stick to it and it won’t be easy to flip.
      For this cheese, you definitely want to dry them, as opposed to the camembert and blue cheese.

    1. I never tried freezing them since they keep for a very long time in the refrigerator. Once they are smoked, it creates some kind of hard rind that protects them from getting mold. You can probably keep them for up to 3 months wrapped in cheese paper, in the refrigerator. They will firm up even more and if you are patient enough you will be able to grate them like parmesan 🙂