Vegan Pesto Swirl Cream Cheese

Basil pesto meets sour and savory cultured cashew cream. Pesto cream cheese toasts anyone?

No lemon juice or vinegar here, cashew cream cheese is traditionally cultured, and that makes a lot of difference. I used mesophilic culture, but it works well with vegan probiotics, or even rejuvelac. Each one results in a slightly different taste.

Vegan Pesto Swirl Cream Cheese

This recipe is a lot easier to make than my other cheese recipes. Only 3 ingredients are needed for the cream cheese: cashews, water, and cultures. Plus, a pinch of salt for flavor. The process consists of soaking the cashews overnight, draining them, and blending with water and cultures. Then you transfer the cashew cream to a bowl and let it sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, depending on the temperature. That’s it!

Swirl some homemade pesto into your creamy cashew cheese, and you are ready to go. If basil is not your thing, swap it for dill, parsley, or even mint!

Vegan Pesto Swirl Cream Cheese

The great thing about this pesto swirl cream cheese is that you get the full pesto flavor combined with the sour cream cheese with each bite!

Use it as a dip with roasted vegetables or spread on toast or bagels. Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!

Vegan Pesto Swirl Cream Cheese

Vegan Pesto Swirl Cream Cheese

5 from 4 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
Homemade fresh basil pesto swirled into cultured cashew cream cheese. Super creamy, herby, and vegan!
Prep Time : 25 minutes
Fermentation Time : 1 day
Total Time : 1 day 25 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Calories 53 kcal


Cultured cashew cream

Basil pesto


Cultured cashew cream

  • Drain the soaked cashews and rinse under cold water.
  • Place the cashews and water in the bowl of a blender. Blend on high speed until completely smooth, scraping down the sides from time to time, it took me about 5 minutes. Stir in the mesophilic culture or vegan probiotics and blend for another 10 seconds. If the cashew cream is too thick, add more water until you get the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with a clean towel, or plastic film. Let sit at room temperature, away from direct sunlight for at least 24H. After 24 hours, taste it to see if it has a slightly sour flavor, if it still tastes like cashews, cover and let sit for another day. Once cultured, stir in the salt and mix well. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
  • Transfer the cultured cashew cream to a serving plate or large bowl and swirl 1-2 tablespoons of basil pesto. Don’t add too much pesto or it will cover the taste of the fresh cream cheese, you want a nice balance between the two. Use as a dip, spread on toasts or bagels, serve with roasted vegetables, etc.
  • The cashew cream will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Basil pesto

  • Gently wash the fresh basil. Combine basil, raw cashews or pine nuts, nutritional yeast and garlic in food processor, pulse until the nuts are roughly chopped. Stir in the olive oil and process again until smooth. I like to keep some nut pieces for more texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Transfer to a clean jar, it will keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.


This recipe makes more pesto than needed, use the leftovers in salads, sandwiches, vinaigrette, or with avocado, tomatoes, etc.
If you want a stretchier texture, add 1 tsp of xanthan gum when blending the cashews.


Serving: 1 tablespoon | Calories: 53 kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.9 g | Protein: 1.4 g | Fat: 4.4 g | Fiber: 0.3 g | Sugar: 0.5 g
Course : Appetizer, Condiment, Dip
Cuisine : American
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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  1. 5 stars
    Hi Thomas,
    Your pictures are beautiful and so sharp… I love them!
    I’m pretty new trying to eat more plant or vegan dishes into my diet. This recipe looks lovely. I will come back to your site to look for more yummy recipes! Thank you

  2. Hi Thomas

    thank you for another cheese recipe, I so very much appreciate it! I like that you make more flavourful and “gourmet” cheeses–those that are dairy free can eat well and not miss cheese (those that recently switched to being Vegan).

    The pesto recipe looks amazing on top of the amazing cheese.

    Do you think you might work on other cheese recipes in the future?

    Thank you again!!

    thank you kindly!

    1. Hi Susana,

      You’re welcome! 🙂
      Regarding the other cheese recipes, I’m constantly working on vegan cheese recipes, but I’m not sure I will release many more in the future, for the reasons mentioned in my “Best Of 2016” post. I might release one or two more this year, but nothing set yet.

  3. 5 stars
    haha…the fist time your shot catch my eyes and keeping me reading forward, your instruction is very clear and make it easy to make. Thanks for your share and love this cheese recipe. Would love to share with my friends.

    I’m excited about your next post and hope you will update amazing recipes continued.


  4. Hi Thomas,
    I’ve just finished step two. Did you add the 1/4tsp. salt to the mixture during blending, or after the cashew cream has finished culturing?

    1. Hi Christine,

      Sorry for the late reply! It doesn’t really matter and won’t affect the end result. I added it after culturing though, I will make it clearer in the recipe.

  5. Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for sharing all your recipes – this is amazing! Have you tried any of your cheese with other than cashew nuts? I have macadamia nuts n mind – do you thing they would work well for cream cheese making?

    Thanks, Zuzka

    1. Hi Zuzana,
      I have never tried making cheese with macadamia nuts but I think it would work well with this recipe. Let me know if you try it!

  6. 5 stars
    All I have to say is “wow!”. I’m not vegan, but my boyfriend is lactose intolerant while also loving cheese. I wanted to start experimenting and this cheese seemed like a good start. This was so easy. The mixture has been sitting since yesterday and I snuck a quick sniff in the evening after it had been sitting for a few hours and it smelled just like cream cheese. This morning I tried some on a rice cake and wow. It’s just like whipped cream cheese! I’m letting it sit out for just a while longer for a stonger taste.

    This stuff is awesome and it tastes better AND is cheaper than buying non-dairy cream cheese at the store. Also, only two ingredients? YES!

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback Rachel!
      Glad to hear you liked the flavor of the cream cheese 🙂 Don’t let it sit at room temperature for more than 72H though as it may turn bad. Once in the refrigerator, it will keep for several days! 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I make this cream cheese recipe regularly, so that we always have it on hand for spreading on bagels, adding to savory recipes, sweet recipes….everything and anything one would use cream cheese for. I’ve made it probably 2 dozen times now, and can’t believe I’ve never left a comment.

    This is the BEST vegan cream cheese recipe! There’s no improving it, because it is already perfect! Thank you, Thomas!

  8. Hi Thomas,

    If using rejuvelac, would you recommend substituting the 1/3 cup of water for 1/3 cup of rejuvelac?


  9. Hi Thomas,

    Is mesophilic culture truly vegan? In the canadian brand, it is said that it contains some dairy. Thanks,


    1. Hi Régine, I would never post a recipe here if one of the ingredients was not vegan 🙂
      Just like any culture or probiotic, some may contain lactose unfortunately but not all of them. I’m not sure which brands you have access to in Canada, but for example, Danisco has vegan mesophilic cultures (MM100). Otherwise, you can still use an acidophilus probiotic, it’s usually available everywhere. Hope this helps! 😉

  10. Hi, is it possible to use cashew nut pulp (obtained from making cashew milk) instead of grinding up raw soaked cashews?

    Thanks so much Thomas!

  11. I just made this and the flavor is fantastic! I love fermentation, and this was so easy.

    I feel like mine could have been creamier. I have a Vitamix, but it was hard to get it to keep blending continuously, even when using a push stick thingy to help it along, so I added extra water. Do you have any tips?

    I am also wondering if anyone has tried adding a touch of coconut cream to add to the creaminess. Or would the flavor be overwhelming?

    1. Thanks for your feedback Christina!
      You did the right thing by adding more water, no need to add coconut cream.
      You could add coconut cream but I think it will have a coconut aftertaste, even if you use just a small amount.

  12. I cannot eat cashews because of gout (my favorite nut), can I substitute other nuts? I can’t have peanuts but everything else is OK.
    Thank you Paola

  13. Hi Thomas,

    I’m extremely excited about this!! I prefer almond to cashews, and I don’t mind the texture. (My blender just turned my first batch of almonds into a fine meal in the process of making milk.) My question is, I have a plain almond yogurt I was going to use as a starter. Could I use the same yogurt as the culture for the cream cheese?

    Thank you so much for this recipe!!

  14. Hello Thomas

    Great recipe!

    After one week it gets acid 🙁 Do you know what can I do or add to the cream cheese to make it be good for more time?

    Thanks a lot a keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Mario,
      Thanks! The cream cheese can’t keep for too long, as it’s a fresh and fermented product. I am guessing you let it ferment a bit too long at room temperature, or your fridge is not cold enough, as after one week it should not be too acidic.