This instant raw vegan feta cheese is an awesome recipe to add to your collection.
It’s so tasty and versatile that I’m sure you’ll find heaps of ways to use in your kitchen.
But before we go any further, I need to make something very clear – there’s no feta in this recipe, nor is there any cheese.
It’s 100% completely and totally cow-free, goat-free and sheep-free. Promise.
There’s just almonds, lemon juice, garlic, olive, salt and water.
Which creates the fabulously salty, tangy, feta-like taste, but there’s still no feta and no cheese.
So if I wanted to give it a totally accurate name, it would be more like “salty tangy garlicky almond paste”, but that doesn’t sound nearly as appealing, does it?
What it does give you, however, is a fantastic almond cheese to use as a feta substitute in all kinds of recipes.
I use my raw vegan feta cheese in my world-famous vegan sausage rolls and also in my spicy veggie rolls, which my kids love. Yay!
(Although in our house, they don’t go by that name. Instead we call them “dino squares” because they’re made of “minced dinosaurs”. Shhhhhh!)
I’ve also used my almond cheese as a dip, I love it on toast or crackers, and sometimes I’ll just eat it straight off the spoon.
But maybe that’s just me…
(Warning: Doing this will give you some seriously garlicky breath, trust me!)
Basically, I use this almond cheese anywhere you need a salty, tangy, cheesy-like ingredient, either raw or cooked.
And for that job, this instant raw vegan feta cheese works pretty well, even if I do say so myself.
You’ll be glad you added this kitchen staple to your repertoire.
Vegan Feta Cheese recipe
Make sure to read the tips below the recipe to get the most out of this awesome vegan feta cheese recipe.
- 1 1/3 cup (200g) almonds, whole
- 1/3 cup (80g) lemon juice
- scant 1/4 cup (50ml) cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 med (10g) garlic cloves
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup + 4 tsp (100ml) water*
- Put everything into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up if required.
During: 10 mins
After: 2 hours (to firm up)
*If soaking almonds overnight, use 50ml water, instead of 100ml.
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And to help you make the most of this delicious recipe, I've also thrown in all of the super-handy tips and suggestions for variations.
- I call this recipe “instant” because I don’t normally bother to pre-soak my almonds. I know I don’t get as much of the nutrients that way, but if it’s a choice between unsoaked almonds, or none at all, I’ll take the unsoaked ones. That said, if you want to pre-soak your almonds, just pour some filtered water over them (enough to cover them), add a pinch of salt and leave them overnight. And then use 50ml of water (scant 1/4 cup) instead of 100ml of water.
- If you want to make a super-white almond cheese, you could try removing the skins from your almonds before blending them. The easiest way to do this is to blanch them in hot water briefly (so the outer part of the nut wouldn’t be raw any more, but the insides would), and then rub them with your fingers to remove the skins. Of course, this is way too fiddly for my cooking style, so I’ve never actually tried this.
- I always use fresh lemon juice in my recipes, and this one is no exception. I’m very blessed to have a neighbour with a MASSIVE lemon tree, so I’m always in good supply. If you find the feta cheese too tart, just swap some lemon juice for water.
- If you don’t want to use lemon juice, or if you don’t have access to any, you could try substituting it with some apple cider vinegar. I’d start with half as much vinegar as lemon juice, and see if that creates the right flavour balance, and then tweak it until it suits your taste buds. And if you use raw apple cider vinegar (with the mother), you’re also adding valuable probitoics.
- The only olive oil I have in the house these days is cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. It’s great in salad dressings, and also in raw vegan recipes that need a smidge of oil, like this one. It’s also a nice addition to the flavour profile, giving the almond cheese a little more depth. And of course if you don’t have “cold-pressed extra-virgin” olive oil, just use what you cold-pressed oil you have on hand and you’ll be fine.
- The original recipe had even more oil than this recipe, but I really wanted to use less, and thankfully it still works fine. You can reduce it down even further if you want to, although I’ve never tried making it without the oil entirely (but one of my readers has).
- Because I’m using a high-speed blender, I just chuck my garlic cloves in whole (and sometimes I even remember to trim off the tops first). I do use my tamper from the outset while I’m blending to make sure that the clove gets pulled in and blended from early on, to make sure it gets properly distributed throughout the raw vegan feta cheese. It starts off looking a bit like nut milk, but quickly turns into a much thicker paste, so get everything blended in as quickly as possible.
- As always, I use wonderfully pink Himalayan salt in my recipes. Apparently it contains lots of trace minerals that are good for you, and can even add something to the taste as well. I figure if I’m going to add salt to my recipes, I might as well use the best kind of salt there is. But honestly it would probably taste the same with regular table salt. Let me have my delusions ;)
- When you first start to blend this recipe, it looks like you’re making a nut milk, and no matter how many times I make it, I always think at this stage “uh oh, it’s going to be too runny”. But invariably, as the almonds get broken down further, it turns into a thick paste, and eventually won’t blend any more.
- You can thicken up this awesome vegan feta recipe by leaving it in the fridge overnight. I find that it thickens up nicely after just a couple of hours in the fridge, but overnight gives it the maximum time to firm up.
- This vegan feta cheese is not a perfect substitute for cow’s milk feta cheese, as I find it doesn’t melt in exactly the same way. But frankly that’s a small price to pay for all the other amazing things it can do for you.
- If you want to try making a firm almond cheese for using in salads and the like, just add even less water – just enough so it will blend properly and not a smidge more – and leave it in the fridge overnight, pressed into a suitably shaped container. By morning it will be very firm, and (fingers crossed) thick enough to perform well in your dish. I haven’t actually used it this way, but I’ve seen how well it both thickens up in the fridge and holds its shape once it’s set, so this is definitely worth giving a go.
- You can also try shaping your vegan feta into a disc and dehydrating it for an hour to create a kind of crust on the outside, for a more “authentic” cheese experience.
- You can mix in all kinds of wonderful additions to this almond cheese after it’s made to make the most amazing blends. Things like peppercorns, capers, olives, fresh herbs, chives, spring onions, chilies, chopped nuts, ground pepper, minced garlic, lemon zest or whatever your favourite cream cheese flavour combo is. I’m not sure how sweet inclusions would go – things like figs, sultanas or blueberries – but it could be a fun experiment!
- If you’re not keen on garlic, you could just leave it out entirely, and create a garlic-free tangy vegan feta cheese instead.
- You can use pretty much any nut or seed you like for this recipe, including cashews, brazil nuts, macadamias, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds. Of course, each nut will contribute a different flavour and texture to the result – from the mild flavour of cashews to the intense nutty flavour of hemp – so experiment a little and see which one you like best.
Do I need to pre-soak the almonds?
Almonds contain enzyme inhibitors called phytates that can make it harder for your body to access all of the nutrients in them.
So pre-soaking your almonds can make some of the valuable nutrients in almonds more accessible.
It also removes some of the bitterness in the almonds, making them taste slightly sweeter.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with not pre-soaking your almonds if you don’t have the time or patience, or you’re just not that organised.
If it a choice between putting non-soaked almonds into a nutritious, plant-based recipe or eating some pre-packed, highly-processed alternative, then I’d go with the unsoaked almonds every time.
The almonds are still packed with healthy fats, protein, fibre and more, and there are even some people who think that phytates are a normal – and even healthy – part of a balanced diet.
So if you can’t or don’t want to presoak your almonds, then I say, go for it!
I used to presoak my almonds, but I realised that it just didn’t fit with my way of cooking, because I love to cook on the spur of the moment.
So these days I don’t bother with pre-soaking my almonds, or any of my nuts actually.
And having a high speed blender also helps to break down the nuts into a smooth result, even if you haven’t pre-soaked them.
There’s also some links to further reading on this issue in the resources section if you want to know more.
Do I need to remove the almond skins?
No, it’s not necessary to remove the almond skins to make this vegan feta cheese.
There’s a few reasons for this:
The first one is that it’s very fiddly to do yourself, so it would make this recipe a lot less instant!
Secondly, if you do want to remove the skins, the easiest way to do this is to blanch them, which would make the outer part of the almonds no longer raw, so keep that in mind if it’s important to you.
And thirdly, I have read that there’s some awesome anti-oxidants and other great health-boosting nutrients in the skin of almonds, so if you can use almonds with the skin on that is ideal.
But, if you want to create an almond cheese that has a lighter colour, feel free to remove the skins.
Can I use ground almonds for this recipe?
Definitely. When I add everything to my blender, I’m just whizzing up as finely as I can anyway, so ground almonds would be just fine.
And it will make less work for your blender as well, which is definitely a bonus if you don’t have a high-speed blender.
Can I leave the oil out of this recipe?
In a nutshell (ha ha), yes, if you want to.
Nuts do contain a natural amount of oils anyway (about 50% by weight for almonds) so it’s not like you actually need to add oil.
The original recipe that inspired this one actually had even more oil in it than I used, which was too much for me, so I reduced it, so it’s obviously a very forgiving recipe.
And in fact, one of my readers left the oil out of this almond cheese entirely, and it still worked perfectly.
Is cold-pressed olive oil raw?
You can’t say for sure from the label “cold-pressed” whether an oil is actually raw, because it depends on the exact method used by the manufacturer.
Some manufacturers use cold-press extraction methods, but then heat the ground-up paste afterwards to extract more oil.
Fortunately most manufacturers these days are adding information to their labels about the processes used to extract the oils, which helps you to figure out if they’re also raw.
Some will even mention the word “raw” or guarantee that it hasn’t been heated above a certain temperature, usually 40-45°C.
If you’re not sure, I’d recommend that you contact the manufacturer directly and ask them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even if the oil has been heated above 40-45°C, it’s still a lot less processed than the usual highly-refined oils, which often use chemical solvents and high heat to extract the oil.
So even if a cold-pressed oil isn’t technically raw, it’s still a lot better for your health than the alternative.
Can I use vinegar instead of lemon juice?
To make sure that the feta doesn’t turn out too tart, start with half as much vinegar as lemon juice (that is, 40ml) and see if that creates the right flavour balance.
If not, just tweak the amount it until it suits your taste buds.
You could probably use any kind of vinegar, but for maximum health benefits, I’d recommend apple cider vinegar. And if you use raw apple cider vinegar (with the mother), you’re also adding valuable probiotics.
Other vinegars would also be fine, but you’ll need to adjust the amount to suit the strength and flavour profile of your specific type of vinegar.
Is this instant almond cheese better than a fermented cheese?
No, not necessarily.
The probiotics that you get from fermented cheese can be great for the health of your digestive system, and I’m a big fan of fermented foods.
But personally, I don’t have the patience to make fermented cheeses, which is why I came up with this “instant” recipe.
You’re still getting heaps of great nutrition from this whole, plant-based ingredients in this raw vegan almond feta, so it’a an awesome alternative to dairy-based feta cheeses.
And if you have the skills and the patience to experiment with fermented cheeses, then go for it, and you’ll get a different range of health benefits.
But if it’s a choice between making this instant almond feta cheese or eating a highly-processed, dairy-based alternative, then I’d go with non-fermented instant almond cheese every time.
What’s the best way to store this cheese?
Because this is a soft, nut-based cheese using fresh, whole, uncooked ingredients, it doesn’t have the long shelf life of some other cheeses that you might be used to.
I usually store mine in a container the fridge for up to 4 or 5 days, and they’re fine at that point. Sometimes they can last longer in the fridge, but there’s no guarantee.
If I know that the almond cheese isn’t going to be used up fast enough, I’ll usually split it into a couple of smaller containers, and throw the extras into the freezer.
That way, you only have a small amount in the fridge, which is likely to be used up before it goes off. Just thaw the next container in the fridge overnight and it will be ready to go the next day.
You can also store your cheese under a layer of oil, such as olive oil, which can help it to last longer.
Here’s roughly how much this instant raw vegan feta cheese cost me to make:
|TOTAL||440g||$25.64 / kg||$11.28|
|Almonds||200g||$40 / kg||$8.00|
|Lemon juice||80g (1 lemon)||$10 / kg||$1.50|
|Olive oil||50ml||$28 / L||$1.40|
|Garlic cloves||2 med (10g)||$35 / L||$0.35|
|Salt||2.5 g (1.25 tsp)||$10 / kg||$0.03|
|Water||100g||0.4c / L||$0.00|
- All prices are in Australian dollars
- Your costs may vary quite a bit depending on whether you buy in small or large quantities, as conventional or organic, and the time of year.
- You can see from the table above that the almonds are the most expensive part of this recipe, and they also make up the bulk of the weight. You can reduce this cost by buying your almonds in bulk, buying almond pieces or almond meal (if they work out cheaper), buying pesticide-free instead of organic, or by switching to a cheaper base, like sunflower seeds, although almonds are generally one of the cheapest nuts available.
- You can also see that the olive oil adds a bit to the cost of this feta, so if you’re happy to leave it out entirely (which apparently works quite well) then you can lower your costs there as well.
- And if you’re lucky enough to have your own lemon tree (or a generous next-door-neighbour like me), then that’s another way to reduce the cost of this recipe.
This recipe is based on an Almond Feta Cheese recipe that I found years ago on a healthy eating recipe site that’s sadly no longer around.
The original recipe included pre-soaking and straining and dehydrating, but that was never going to work for good old “instant gratification” me.
So I adjusted the water, tweaked the amounts, and voila – instant raw vegan feta cheese.
It’s been so handy having an almond cheese that I can swap in for feta when adapting recipes to be vegan, and it really does add some serious body and flavour to savoury dishes.
Here’s a great article on the nutritional benefits of almonds:
Here’s some insights into the pros and cons of soaking nuts:
- Do I Really Have to Soak Almonds? Pros and Cons @ Tatyana Deniz
Here’s some information on the different types of olive oil and the extraction processes used:
- Ultimate Guide to Olive Oil @ How Stuff Works
And here’s a great article on all of the different types of salt and their benefits:
- Types of Salt: Himalayan vs Kosher vs Regular vs Sea Salt @ Authority Nutrition
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May you have an awesome day!
~ Nikki, Eating Vibrantly