Are you ready for this? A creamy, dreamy cream cheese full of flavours that will elicit that little food moan that you hope nobody heard. Mmmmmmm. Yes, my friend, this vegan garlic & chive cream cheese recipe is all that and a bag of nooch. Simple to prepare, oil-free, nut-free and completely whole food plant-based. This is the vegan cream cheese of your dreams. Let’s get cooking.
I often hear plant-based folks complain that they miss cream cheese (my own family included). My oldest daughter loves cream cheese slathered on a bagel and topped with fresh veggies. While hummus was an ok substitute, she’s been craving that creamy goodness she remembers.
Problem is, most of the vegan cream cheeses available on the market today are made with oil or heavily processed ingredients that I’m not exactly thrilled about. Even the cleaner versions tend to be made with nuts. While that’s no problem at home, schools here in Ontario are nut-free, so she wouldn’t be able to enjoy it for lunch.
I knew I wanted to create a vegan cream cheese recipe that was oil-free, vegan, whole food plant-based and nut-free so it would be allergen-friendly.
So, I did what any mom would do. I rolled up my sleeves and got experimenting. I’m happy to report that I landed on a recipe that the whole family loves. I asked her how this compares to the store-bought version, and she paid me the best compliment there is:
“When I get this one (the store-bought) on my fingers, I grab a napkin. When I get yours on my fingers, I don’t care who’s looking, I lick it off”Happy daughter
I think that says it all. And if it doesn’t, the fact that my husband has been spreading it on everything and anything speaks volumes.
I love creating healthy, whole food plant-based recipes from simple ingredients. This vegan garlic & chive cream cheese recipe is no exception. If you don’t already have these ingredients in your pantry, they should be easy to find in any grocery store.
To make this dreamy garlic & chive cream cheese you will need:
Raw sunflower seeds (unsalted, not roasted)
Apple cider vinegar (‘with the mother’ if you can find it)
Chives (fresh or freeze-dried)
Plant milk (any kind, I used soy)
How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese
This vegan garlic and chive cream cheese is easy to make. In just a few steps you’ll have dreamy and flavourful cream cheese ready to enjoy.
Roasting the Garlic (optional)
You’ll want to start by roasting the garlic. If you’re short on time, you can skip this step and just use raw garlic cloves. However, I highly recommend taking the time for this step. Using roasted garlic is like turning the flavour dial up to 11. Definitely worth the effort. I often roast a bunch at a time and keep them in my fridge to add to recipes all week long.
You can absolutely roast them without any oil. The standard method is to peel any loose paper off of the head, cut the top off, exposing the bulbs beneath, and bake in a 375°F oven for 30-40 minutes. Just until the bulbs are brown and softened.
If you have an air fryer you can do this much quicker. Peel your cloves first (or you can take a shortcut and buy pre-peeled cloves) and pop them in the air fryer basket. Set to 375°F and air-fry for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the cloves). Check after 4 or 5 minutes and add time as needed. Smaller cloves will roast quickly, but those larger cloves will need a few extra minutes. You’re looking for nicely browned cloves that are soft if you apply gentle pressure.
Putting It All Together
While your garlic cloves are roasting, boil your kettle. The sunflower seeds will need a little soaking to soften them up prior to blending.
Measure out the sunflower seeds and add them to a bowl. Cover in hot water from the kettle. I find that 15 minutes in hot water usually does the trick, but if you don’t have a high-power blender like a Blendtec or a Vitamix, you may want to soak them longer to ensure a super creamy blend.
Drain the sunflower seeds in a fine-mesh strainer and tap gently against the sink to remove any excess moisture.
Then, add all of the ingredients (including the soaked sunflower seeds and roasted garlic cloves) to the blender and blend on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stop the blender as needed to scrape down the sides. You can also add another tablespoon or two of plant milk if your blender is struggling.
Then use a spatula to help transfer all of the creamy deliciousness to a container and store in the fridge. It will last there for 5-7 days (unless your family devours it long before then).
How to Use Your Vegan Cream Cheese
You can use this garlic & chive cream cheese in a number of ways:
Slather it on your favourite whole-grain bagel
Make delicious pinwheels using a whole grain wrap and some chopped veggies
Spread it on whole-grain crackers for an easy snack
Use it to make a veggie-loaded grilled cheese.
The sky is the limit. Enjoy this spread in any way you see fit.
Garlic & Chive Cream Cheese
This is the nut-free vegan cream cheese of your dreams. Full of delicious garlic & chive flavours, you'll never guess it's oil-free and made from healthy, whole food ingredients.
- 1 cup sunflower seeds (raw)
- 3-4 garlic cloves (to taste)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened plant milk (any variety - see notes)
- 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp chopped chives (fresh or freeze-dried)
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
Roasting Garlic (optional but encouraged)
1. Oven Directions: Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut the top off the head of garlic, exposing the tops of the bulbs. Remove any loose paper and bake for 30-40 minutes, until bulbs are softened and beginning to brown. Allow to cool and squeeze out the cloves for use.
2. Air Fryer Method: Peel the garlic cloves (or purchase pre-peeled) and place them in the air fryer basket. Air fry for 5-10 minutes at 375°F, (time depends on the size of the cloves) until lightly browned and softened.
Making Vegan Cream Cheese
1. While the garlic is roasting, boil the kettle.
2. Measure out the raw sunflower seeds and pour them into a bowl.
3. Cover the sunflower seeds with hot water from the kettle and allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. (See notes)
4. Drain the sunflower seeds and add to a blender with the roasted garlic cloves and the rest of the ingredients.
5. Blend on high for about a minute, then stop to scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula. Add another tablespoon or two of plant milk if your blender is struggling.
6. Continue blending until you've reached the desired consistency. The longer you blend, the smoother the cream cheese will become.
7. Use a spatula to transfer the cream cheese to a dish with a lid for storage. Will keep up to 5-7 days in the fridge.
1. Choose a nut-free plant milk if you want to keep this recipe nut-free
2. A short soaking works well if you're using a high-speed blender. If not, you may want to soak the sunflower seeds longer to ensure a nice and creamy spread.
Tried this recipe? Tag me on Instagram (@mentalforlentils) and use #mentalforlentils. I love to see what you’re whipping up in your kitchen.