Ah, the Holiday Cheese Ball. When you’re standing around snacking on it at a family gathering, you feel like you’ve got the most coveted spot in the kitchen. If you take this to a real live potluck, you’d better guard it fiercely so it doesn’t simply disappear while your back is turned, leaving you cheeseless and forlorn.
no turkeys were harmed in the making of this post
Thankfully, this is a virtual potluck, so nobody can hork this from me. Though, I have to admit to scrambling at the last minute to put this post together since the last cheese ball I made disappeared in the middle of the night last week. Apparently, I’m not the only one in this house who is obsessed with it. Luckily, the recipe is ridiculously simple with only about 10 minutes of hands on time.
You can serve the cheese ball with any of your favorite raw vegetables, we even put sliced honey crisp apples on our tray, the combination of the sweet crisp apples and the piquant cheese was amazing.
The cheese ball is also incredibly good with crackers, raw or otherwise.
Kick Ace Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces, soaked in purified water overnight
- 2 packed tablespoons dry pack sun-dried tomatoes, snipped into small pieces with kitchen scissors then soaked in the purified water with the cashews. Note: if your sun-dried tomatoes look brownish, so will your cheese ball. Use fresh, bright red sun-dried tomatoes for best results.
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)
- 1 heaped tablespoon mellow white miso (use chickpea miso if you are sensitive to soy)
- 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- dash cayenne
- 1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil, warmed to room temperature (liquid)
Pour the soaking water off the cashews and sun-dried tomatoes and then rinse them with fresh purified water. Drain well.
Place the soaked cashews, sun-dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, dry sherry, miso, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, onion powder, mustard powder, smoked paprika, turmeric, cayenne, and coconut oil in a food processor or high-speed blender and pulse until the mixture starts to form a paste, scraping down the sides as necessary.
Blend or process until the mixture is completely smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. If your food processor or blender is struggling to blend the mixture, add purified water, 1 tablespoon at a time to help it to keep turning over, using no more than 3 tablespoons of water. This process takes up to 10 minutes in a food processor and a few minutes in a high-speed blender.
Scrape the soft cheese into a container that holds at least 2 cups. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or until the cheese is quite firm. Scrape the cheese out of the container and place onto a clean surface. With your hands, form the cheese into one large ball or two or more smaller balls.
See notes below for topping/variation ideas.
Notes: The organic unrefined coconut oil does leave a slight coconut flavor in the finished product. If you prefer, you can use refined coconut oil for no coconut aftertaste.
The cheese ball can be served as is or rolled in any variety of chopped nuts and or herbs. I used sliced almonds, but walnut pieces or pecan pieces with some fresh minced parsley, thyme or sage would be amazing.
The cheese ball gets softer as it reaches room temperature, so it’s best if it’s kept chilled until immediately before use.
Kittee at Cake Maker to the Stars created a super rad cultured version of this cheeseball here.
If you are in a hurry to get this cheese ball on the table, Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows made an adapted version of my cheese ball (only available in her e-book). In her very similar version, she places the cheese mixture in a parchment lined baking dish and freezes it for 30 minutes before rolling it into a ball. I’ve tried this and it works very well.
A word about coconut oil: I have had many readers ask if this cheese ball can be made without the coconut oil. You are welcome to try it, but I DO NOT recommend it. The oil adds a beautiful melty mouth-feel to the cheese ball, helps it to firm up and makes it taste ultra-delicious. This was never intended to be a low calorie or fat free food, indeed the cashews alone are very high in fat. This cheese ball was created especially for Holiday or other special occasions and it is to be treated as a special occasion food. I have had readers reduce the oil by half with favorable results and you are welcome to try the same if you are concerned about the fat content, but this will still be a very rich and high fat food. If you are strictly opposed to oil for whatever reason, you could try using coconut butter instead of the oil, but I haven’t tested that in my kitchen. For those allergic to coconut oil, you could try palm oil instead, but there are concerns about whether or not this is a sustainable product, so please do your research first.
To start at the beginning of the potluck, click here:
If you run into any broken links along the way, (some bloggers show up a little late to the party) here’s a list of the bloggers in the potluck to help you get back on track. Pretty cool to see over 150 bloggers from all around the world flaunting their vegan awesome! Use the buttons below to Go Back to visit the lovely Holcomb Hollow. Go Forward to see what Sensual Appeal brought to the party.
Cheese ball reviews: Thanksgiving Joy, Holy Cheeseballs, My Favorite Vegan Cheeses, Vegan Party Appetizers, LalaRaw, What I ate for Thanksgiving.
Adaptations: Smoked Jalapeno Cheeseball, Vegan Buffalo Cheddar Cheese with Coconut Bacon, Party Hearty Cheeseball.
Featured Articles: One Green Planet, Sunwarrior, Veg Kitchen, Key Ingredient, Chic Vegan, Buzz Feed, Vegan Lifestyle Magazine.
Should the coconut oil be melted prior to adding it?
I just use mine at room temperature, but if you’re not concerned about the cheese being raw, you can melt the oil.
I confess, I am obsessed with this recipe! I always double it, and freeze some of it in small containers (minus the nuts). I travel a lot, and will place a frozen one in my suitcase to enjoy on the road. This cheese has become a major staple in my life! 🙂
I made this for my daughter’s 21st. All the meat eaters who tried it loved it. Mum, long time veg, plopped herself beside the platter and then blamed me later for allowing her to eat so much of it!
I have one in the fridge now, just flat in the container to use as a spread and on veg etc. Thanks.
Okay, so I tried this the other day. The texture turned out great! And it had a lovely sharp cheddar bite to it (yummy!). One thing I had to do was blend the cashews a bit until they were chunky, then mix everything together in a bowl and microwave it until warm so that I could blend it properly. Otherwise my blend just couldn’t take it. But the warming a bit worked great (not raw, but I don’t mind). And it got so smooth!
My only issue was my cashews – I can only get them from two places where I live (teeny town), and both had plastic tastes to them that transferred to the cheese ball. It’s still edible, but it has a weird plastic aftertaste. I’d love to serve this to other people, but with the plastic taste I just couldn’t. And that was the ONLY thing wrong with it. 😦
Do you think another kind of nut would work for this cheese ball? Macadamias? Something else? I
Do you have a food processor? Microwaving the cashews will definitely alter the flavor of this dish. In fact, I made it with roasted cashews once and it did not turn out at all. You could use macadamia nuts instead, but again, they are best raw. So weird about your cashews tasting like plastic. I’ve never heard of such a thing.
I don’t have a food processor. And my blender is probably my age. And actually the flavor was good EXCEPT for the plastic-y cashews. I figured out it was them when I tried one of the leftover nuts – yep, that was definitely it (and I tried cashews from the other place, but same deal – though I think they carry the same brand…). So far as I could tell, microwaving it a bit didn’t hurt it (and I microwaved all the ingredients, not just the cashews). In fact, it was necessary for me because my blender was so obstinate about not blending it (not the cashew mix without the oil, not the cashew mix with the oil, nada). I’m not concerned about it. I only heated it for like 25 seconds or something to take the chill out.
I’ll have to try it again with macadamia nuts (or by some miracle find better cashews). I’m glad those will work instead. 🙂
Thanks for the reply!
You could buy nuts online! Nuts.com or something else!
Just wanted to suggest that maybe those cashews had gone rancid? Scary word I know, but I don’t think it would do you any harm to eat them, but a lot of nuts and seeds with high oil contents have a tendency to go rancid and the resulting taste and smell could definitely be compared to plastic, it’s just a bit icky. And knowing what small town living is like, they might have been sitting on the shelf of that shop for quite some time! 🙂
I agree with this!
Rancid cashews taste slightly “plastick-y” or “off” to me too, but others can’t taste what I’m tasting, one of those weird taste anomalies I guess… Find some place that has good quality fresh, raw cashews. Usually the bulk bins are better options than packaged.
Microwaving the cashews does not change the texture of the finished product at all. I’ve made it both ways (soaking vs. last minute microwave “softening”) and the end result is exactly the same, If you’re not worried about the “raw”-ness of the finished dish, microwaving is a GREAT option to further soften or if you don’t have time for soaking – and lots of vegan cooks, (like Isa) use it as a method to soften cashews and make them blend smoother.
I’ve done this cheese ball with macadamia nuts but they are even harder to blend smooth, even after soaking over night. Seemed slightly less creamy, maybe because they didn’t blend as smooth? but still very good!
I store my nuts in the freezer for this very reason…..
You could order some bulk cashews online. Much better price than purchasing at the grocery.
I FORGOT to rinse the cashew after I soaked them! I remember after I blend it.. Is it still ok to eat it?
Thanks! It was delicious! If it’s not for the coconut smell, my kids and hubby thought it REAL! 😉
You can absolutely use refined coconut oil in this recipe, then it won’t have any coconut taste at all.
Can you use olive oil instead?
No, the cheese ball will not set up.
Does it need oil? Can you sub avocado or something? I suppose then you will have a green cheese ball.
I have had one reader who said she made the cheese ball without oil. However I doubt the flavor, texture and taste were anything like the original cheese ball.
Avocado would indeed turn the ball green and cause it to spoil quickly. My only other recommendation would be to use an equal amount coconut butter, but that would still change the overall texture of the cheese and impart a more strong coconut flavor.
This is a recipe meant for Holidays and for indulgence. I don’t use oil often in my other recipes. It is a very high fat recipe, even with using just the cashews and is not meant to be health food.
I can’t get miso where I live. Do you think it would be ok to skip it or is there something I can use in it’s place?
Louise, it’s fine to skip it, it does add a bit of a cheesy flavor, but you won’t miss it too much 😊
I’m neither raw nor vegan, but I’m a chef who’s been working with a population that really values veg/vegan/raw cuisine. So I tried this recipe today, and I really am impressed with it. For my own personal tastes, I’ll decrease the smoked paprika by half next time, and I’ll definitely use refined coconut oil. But other than those two things, I’m super impressed at the depth of the cheesy flavor. Thanks for sharing!
Hi, Can you use regular miso, where I live I can’t get white miso. Thanks!
Use whatever miso you can find. It’s a small amount so it shouldn’t make much of a difference.
Looks amazing & I can’t wait to try it! 2 substitutions I’m considering: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen “smoked” paprika (where do you commonly get it?) but I have chipotle,& think that may make a fantastic alternative, even if I did have smoked paprika. The 2nd substitute I’m considering is vegan shortening, which I have on hand, for the coconut oil, which I don’t.
What do you think?
David, you are welcome to try both substitutions! I can get smoked paprika in the spice section of any grocery store. It should be easy to find and is delicious. I think chipotle would be incredible in this. The vegan shortening may not taste very delicious though. I use either unrefined or refined coconut oil when I make this. The unrefined has a slight coconut taste, but is really yummy. Refined coconut oil is buttery and just incredible without any coconut flavor. I would definitely recommend using it instead of vegan shortening in this recipe. The vegan shortening may taste waxy and make for a not as appetizing cheese ball! Let me know either way! ❤
My daughter has a dairy and tomato allergy. This looks really good. I am sure the tomatoes add a lot of flavor and color. Can you think of something I could sub for the tomatoes?
Roasted red pepper, but then the cheese wouldn’t be raw. Let me know if you try it! 🙂
Thanks for the recipe. The ingredients are staples (except for the miso and sherry) in my kitchen. I didn’t have coconut oil but did have raw coconut butter. I think it will set up just fine. I did add a bit of wheat free tamari instead of miso. Tasted great out of the blender and think next time I may put in more smoked paprika. I may even buy a little bit of cooking sherry : ) I can’t wait till it firms up to try it again. I look forward to making your moxarella cheese next. I already have all those ingredients on hand so may even whip up a batch tonight. I am committed to not supporting industrial dairy farms and your recipes are bringing me closer to living my beliefs. Bless you for sharing your hard work with all of us. Hope your evening is a wonderful one.
This looks so yum! Is there another sub for miso, by any chance? It is extremely expensive in our city and I’ve never tried it so I’m not sure what taste I’m going for, other than really salty, I suspect?
It does add a salty element, but it also adds a cheesy savory umami flavor to the cheese ball. You can make it without, but of course it will taste different.
Hm…I’ll have to save up because the cheese looks worth it 😀
It’s very worth it. The cheeze ball is delicious, AND there are many other delicious recipes using it – AND since it’s fermented, miso keeps absolutely forever (well over a year!) in the fridge.
Made this just a week ago and it is so yummy and cheesy. Just wanted to know how long it will last in the fridge? Thank you 🙂
at least 5-7 days.
Thank you Somer, this is the best cheese!
Hey. Looks great! Wondering if you can substitute nutritional yeast for something else?
I do not have a substitute for the nutritional yeast. It is a key ingredient. However you are welcome to leave it out and see how you like the cheese ball without it.
We made two batches of this “cheeze” the first one with cashews and left the tomatoes out cos we only had the brown ones and increased the smoked paprika and turmeric just a smidge over the amounts listed. We did not have powdered mustard so used the wet grainy type. We do not eat oil and was out of coconut butter so we just omitted it. (Most recipes don’t really need the oil and turn out fine with greatly reduced or omitted oil) In this case it might not be as hard as yours but the texture was firm we were able to form it into a ball and very tasty. We did the same recipe using soaked and rinsed sunflower seeds with the tomato because the color would not be bright orange like the cashews would give it. Our friend with a nut allergy went wild over it. There are no leftovers of either one so we don’t know how this will age. Can we freeze it in advance so we don’t have to work so hard on Thanksgiving dinner?
Thanks for sharing your recipes.
Sunny thank you for your comments! if you look at my other recipes, you’ll see that generally I do not consume very much oil and omit it where I can. I found in my testing for this particular recipe that the, flavor, mouth-feel and texture of the cheese ball were all dramatically improved by leaving the oil in. Also the fact that this recipe is a special occasion recipe left me more apt to include it. The cheese ball certainly isn’t intended for every day eating. Even if you make this with all cashews and no oil it is still a very high fat recipe.
However, I’m glad that you were able to make the cheeseball to your particular nutritional requirements and that it worked to your satisfaction. As for the cheeseball aging, it does very well wrapped tightly in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks at least (it’s never lasted longer than that in my house, we eat it all up! The only reason I know it lasts this long is because once it got lost in my very full fridge! It was fine 3 weeks later, though a little dry). As for freezing, it freezes nicely as well, but that’s with the oil included, I’m not sure with just cashews or just sunflower seeds if it would become crumbly or change in texture. I would recommend wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap and then wrapping it with a layer of foil, or even a second layer of plastic wrap to prevent it from getting any freezer burn or freezer type taste. Best of luck and happy holidays!
Hi! This looks great! I was just wondering why the recipe calls for purified water, this is different from bottled water, right? And how do you o tain it?
Use whatever water source you have. Often tap water is chlorinated and has a chemical aftertaste, which is the last thing you want when soaking cashews. Purified water has a very clean chemical free taste. You can purchase it next to bottled water at any grocery store, or you can use filtered water.
Thanks for the reply. I’ve never seen it at the store, but I’ll check. 🙂 If I can’t find it, I’ll just use tap water; I remember from my visit to the States when I was a kid that indeed tap water tasted a bit like swimming pool water, haha! Where I live no chlorine is added, or at least I’ve never tasted it – I just checked: it’s only added to 20 precent of the water supply – and not where I live, so I guess that would be OK. ^^ thanks again!
This looks absolutely amazing! My mom always makes a cheese ball at Thanksgiving and this will be the first year that I’m vegan. I’m definitely going to make this!
I just made this for our cheese ball on Thanksgiving. We can’t have dairy and have “missed” out the last two years on our traditional cheese ball. Not anymore! Wow! I could not believe this recipe, it was prefect. Everyone liked it, they could not believe it wasn’t cheese.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love this cheese ball, and so do all of my non-vegan friends. This is definitely a keeper!
Anyone know what I did wrong? I followed the recipe pretty much exactly – I softened the cashews in the microwave for 30 secs as I didn’t have time to soak, I omitted the sherry (I’m allergic to alcohol) and the miso (can’t get chickpea miso around here and I’m also allergic to soya) and the only sundried tomatoes I had were in oil but I drained and dried them well. When I blended the mixture, it all separated – the nut mixture was suspended in oil! The nut mixture tasted really nice but I had to drain off all the oil, which turned out to be almost half a cups worth, even then, it was really oily 😦 how can I avoid this in future?
Your problem is that you microwaved the cashews! They really do need to soak and not be cooked or roasted. Only raw, soaked cashews work in this recipe. I tested this recipe once with soaked roasted cashews and had the same issue. It will not emulsify properly. Next time soak the cashews overnight, as suggested in the recipe and be sure to only use raw unroasted cashews in the recipe.
Also, the miso and other ingredients help to emulsify the cheeseball, you made several significant changes to the recipe. In order for it to turn out next time, I suggest following the recipe exactly. (Sherry omission is fine, but use a tablespoon of water in its place).
Thanks Somer – good to know what I did wrong. I’ll happily soak the cashews overnight next time – not sure what I can do about the miso paste as I live in the highlands of Scotland and I can’t find chickpea miso via my usual suppliers or even any uk internet stores. I’ll try it without and hopefully it’ll emulsify ok x
I really hope it works out for you. Wasted ingredients are a shame. If you have cooked chickpeas, you could add a couple of tablespoons of them to mimic the texture of the miso. Remember to replace the sherry with a tablespoon of water to ensure butter blending and emulsifying too. Best of luck and Happy Holidays!
So I’m super critical when it comes to food, so when I say this is amazing, I mean it. I don’t know how you came up with this but you are a god.
So, I made it. I was feeling pretty uncertain. So far no one else will eat it – otoh, they are too full to eat any more gf/cf cookies and candies either, so maybe I just went overboard on breakfast and caramel corn.
anyways, I used red pepper instead of tomatoes – but didnt have enough. I added a dash of red wine. I also am very allergic to turmeric, so I left that out. I slightly warmed the nuts in the microwave and pureed them first before adding other ingredients. I used plain paprika and some mild plain ground chili instead of cayenne.
it is VERY flavorful. I made half of it in to a ball w pecans and I’ve eating at least a fourth of it myself! I’m putting it on Glutino multigrain crackers and its fantastic! I’m worried it wont agree with me in the long run – I have issues with both yeast and cashes, but somewhat mild issues.
I MIGHT lower the miso and onion if i do it again . . . but I might not. I also want to try melting this in some broth and seeing if it works as a cheese sauce – my teen constantly complains about the lack of cheese sauce on broccoli and cauliflower around here since we went off dairy