This easy vegan mascarpone cheese is rich, creamy, slightly sweet with a subtle tang, and incredibly easy to whip up! You only need 3 simple ingredients and 10 minutes of your time to make the perfect dairy-free substitute. Serve this in tiramisu, dolloped on top of french toast, or as a spread on your morning toast!
If you're a fan of cream cheese, I promise you're going to love this mascarpone cheese recipe! It works great in both savory and sweet dishes, and if you've been looking for a great dairy-free substitute, look no further.
Whether you're making a tiramisu, looking to replace whipped cream, or what to change up your bagel spread, this vegan alternative is a perfect choice for all your mascarpone needs. It's easy, versatile, and tastes delicious! Unlike other vegan alternatives that rely heavily on cashews, this recipe is made without nuts but is still incredibly creamy.
Why you'll love this recipe
- You only need 3 main ingredients and it's super quick and easy to make!
- This dairy free mascarpone can be used in so many different ways, like for the classic vegan tiramisu recipe, as a spread, in pasta dishes and so much more!
- It's a healthier cheese alternative and packed with plant-based protein, which is great for those of you who are dairy-free and/or vegan.
What is mascarpone?
Mascarpone is known as Italian cream cheese that is typically made from heavy cream and an acidic ingredient, usually lemon juice. It's similar to regular cream cheese but mascarpone is slightly sweet, tangy, and almost has a nutty taste. Mascarpone naturally gets it's sweet flavor from the high butterfat content in the heavy cream.
Traditional mascarpone is not vegan but this simple vegan version is rich, creamy and tasty, making it a great alternative!
Equipment & Tools
There's a only 2 pieces of equipment you'll need to make this dairy free mascarpone!
- Food Processor or High-speed Blender: to get that signature creamy texture! Make sure you're using a high powered blender, otherwise you'll burn out a less powerful blender. A food processor works great but I have found the mascarpone doesn't get quite as smooth. If you only have a food processor, don't worry you'll just need an extra splash of non-dairy milk.
- Cheesecloth or Nut Bag: to squeeze all of the liquid out of the tofu.
Other tools you could use, but are not at all necessary, include a digital kitchen scale, a citrus juicer, and a fine sieve.
To make this sweet vegan cheese, you only need 3 basic ingredients:
Firm Tofu: the base of our vegan mascarpone cheese (NO NUTS, crazy, I know)! When the water is squeezed out and it is blended until smooth, the tofu gets super creamy and spreadable.
Lemon Juice: as always, freshly squeezed is best! It adds a tart flavor which is essential when trying to mimic the flavors of traditional mascarpone. Tofu is rather bland in taste or can taste a bit like soy, so the lemon juice will help mask that.
Powdered Sugar: to add that signature sweetness to the mascarpone.
A few other add-ins you could (but really you should) throw into the cheese include:
Salt: just a little bit! A pinch of salt will help balance out some of the sweetness.
Coconut Cream: to add an extra layer of creaminess! You should use only the hardened cream at the top of a chilled, canned and unsweetened coconut cream. If needed, you could also use a can of coconut milk as well. If you do, chill it in the fridge upside down the night before to it's easy to only use the hardened cream at the top.
Vanilla Extract: to help sweeten it slightly and enhance the flavor, especially great to add if you'll be using this in desserts.
Making this easy 3-ingredient vegan mascarpone cheese only takes a few minutes and two very simple steps!
Break up or crumble the tofu into chunks and add to a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Squeeze out as much water as possible, or until there is no more water draining out of the bag or cheesecloth. It's okay that the tofu gets crushed while you're squeezing out the moisture since we're going to be blending it!
Add the tofu to a blender or food processor along with lemon juice, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. Blend for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides as needed. Depending on the blender, you may need a splash of non-dairy milk to get it moving.
If you'd like to, add the coconut cream and vanilla extract to the blender or food processor along with the other ingredients. I find adding these two ingredients gives the cheese a creamier texture and a more balanced flavor.
Serve immediately (see serving suggestions below!) or transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge to either allow it to thicken up more or until you're ready to use it.
Variations & Substitutions
Make this recipe soy free by replacing the tofu with 1 ½ cups of soaked cashews. This would add some healthy fats to the mascarpone!
Instead of powdered sugar, you can use granulated sugar, agave or maple syrup. If you choose to use maple syrup or agave, the cheese may not look as white as regular mascarpone.
If you don't have fresh lemon juice, you can use white vinegar or citric acid instead.
Depending on what you're using the vegan mascarpone in, you can adjust the flavor profile by adding a tablespoon of maple syrup to make it sweeter to use in desserts/sweet dishes or adding an extra tablespoon of lemon juice to use in savory dishes.
Mascarpone can be used for both sweet and savory recipes. It's most commonly used in Italian baking and cooking, with it famously being used in tiramisu! Here are some other ways to use this vegan mascarpone:
- Dip for fresh fruit
- Spread on toast, crackers or bagels
- Dolloped on top of pizza or as a creamy pizza sauce
- Substitute for whipped cream
- Vegan tiramisu: you'll need this vegan mascarpone, vegan ladyfingers, coffee syrup, and cocoa powder!
- Other desserts like pies, tarts, or cheesecakes
- Stirred into soups or pasta sauce
- Drizzled on top of baked fruit and crumbles
- Dolloped on top of vegan French toast, pancakes or waffles
- Casseroles like lasagna or a French toast casserole
- Make a parfait or top off granola bowls
- Serve on a vegan scone or biscuit
- In frostings for cupcakes or cakes
- Drizzle it on top of roasted vegetables for a creamy and sweet twist
- And of course, any dish that calls for mascarpone!
The possibilities are truly endless.
- Don’t have a cheesecloth or nut milk bag? That's okay! Add the tofu to a clean dish cloth and squeeze the water out of it. Or, you can use a tofu press or the trusty 'stack a bunch of heavy stuff on top' method! I opted to go with the nut milk bag or cheesecloth simply because it was faster. This leads me to my next point...
- Do not skip squeezing the water out of the tofu! Tofu has so much excess moisture in it that if you were to blend it as is, the mascarpone would be way too thin and could split.
- I do not recommend using silken tofu or extra firm tofu. The silken tofu will be too wet and pudding-like; the extra firm could work but might result in a gritty texture so it'll just take longer to get smooth.
Refrigerator: Store the mascarpone in an airtight container for up to 1 week. It will definitely thicken and could potentially separate slightly, so just make sure to give it a good stir and then it's good to go!
Freezer: This dairy free cheese is freezer-friendly, yay for a longer shelf life! Store in a freezer-safe container or a freezer-friendly storage bag for up to 3 months. When ready to use, transfer to the fridge and allow it to thaw completely then stir it up very well again before using. It may look curdled while thawing, but don't worry it's not, just stir it very well and it will come back together.
The main differences between between ricotta and mascarpone are the texture and the flavor. Ricotta isn't as sweet as mascarpone and, while also creamy, it's more textured and isn't as smooth.
They're quite similar but mascarpone is a bit sweeter than cream cheese! Plus, it's not a dense as cream cheese.
If you don't want to make or don't have mascarpone, here are some great options for mascarpone cheese substitutes: coconut cream, sour cream, greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, creme fraiche, vegan cream cheese + dairy free cream, vegan heavy cream + lemon juice, soft tofu + vegan cream, cashew cream and more! Of course, be sure to choose the vegan versions of the above suggestions to keep your mascarpone vegan.
More vegan basics you'll love
- 1 (396 g) 14oz block firm tofu
- ¼ cup (60 g) coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons (26 g) lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ⅓ cup (35 g) powdered sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- 2 tablespoons plant-based milk optional/as needed
- Break up or crumble the tofu into chunks and add to a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Squeeze out as much water as possible, or until there is no more water draining out of the bag or cheesecloth.1 14oz block firm tofu
- Add the tofu to a blender or food processor along with coconut cream, lemon juice, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. If using vanilla extract and plant-based milk, add it now as well.1 14oz block firm tofu, ¼ cup coconut cream, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ⅓ cup powdered sugar, ⅛ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons plant-based milk
- Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides as needed. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Depending on the blender, you may need a splash of non-dairy milk to get it moving.
- Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge until you're ready to use it!