Sprinkle vegan parmesan cheese on spaghetti or a steamy slice of pizza.
Made with just a handful of ingredients, it’s ready in minutes. Keep it on hand for adding cheesy flavor to any dish you like!
Dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.
Vegan parmesan was the first vegan cheese I ever made.
It’s super quick and easy to prepare. Great for beginners!
It’s simply made by grinding nuts & seeds with nutritional yeast and spices in a food processor.
Start to finish, it’s ready in only minutes.
When I first started making vegan parm, I’d always use walnuts for the nuts.
But over the years, I moved to raw cashews and hemp hearts instead.
Their flavors are more neutral and creamy, which really lets the other ingredients shine.
It’s delicious on pasta dishes or sprinkled over a hot slice of ‘za. It adds cheesy flavor and flaky texture.
Here are the simple ingredients you will need for this cashew parmesan cheese recipe.
Raw cashews: Raw cashews have a mild, neutral flavor. They add fat & creaminess without taking over.
If you can’t find raw cashews, they can be replaced with roasted cashews.
Hemp hearts: Hemp hearts are the tender inner morsels in hemp seeds.
They also have a pleasant neutral flavor that lets the nutritional yeast shine.
Find them in the center aisles of the grocery store by the seeds and nuts.
Nutritional yeast flakes: This is what gives the vegan parmesan its cheesy flavor.
Nutritional yeast, also known as nooch, is an inactive yeast with a nutty flavor. (Do NOT use brewer’s yeast or active dry yeast.)
It’s sold in the center aisles of the grocery store, often near the spices or flour. It’s sometimes available in bulk bins. I buy it at Trader Joe’s.
(Read more about nutritional yeast flakes in this post, What is nutritional yeast?)
Salt: A little salt makes all of the flavors pop.
Seasonings: Dried herbs and seasonings add a burst of flavor that works well with the Italian-style dishes typically served with a sprinkle of parmesan.
This recipe includes dried basil, dried oregano, granulated onion, and granulated garlic.
Step by step instructions
Here’s how to make the recipe at a glance. For complete ingredient amounts and instructions, keep scrolling to the recipe card below.
Put the following in a food processor:
- Raw cashews
- Hemp hearts
- Nutritional yeast flakes
- Dried basil
- Dried oregano
- Granulated onion
- Granulated garlic
Turn the food processor to low.
Process for 10 to 20 seconds, or until the cashews have been ground into tiny granules.
Don’t blend too long. It will get clumpy if the cashews turn into cashew butter.
Make it your own
You can easily make this recipe your own by varying the ingredients or making some simple substitutions.
Replace the raw cashews or hemp hearts
You can either make this recipe entirely with raw cashews OR hemp hearts.
Or you can replace either one or both with walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, or pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds).
To make this recipe nut free, use hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, and/or pepitas. In total, you’ll need ½ cup of the seeds of your choice.
Omit or replace the seasonings
If you don’t want additional seasonings & spices, simply leave any or all of them out.
Or replace all of them with 1 teaspoon of your favorite Italian spice blend.
I do NOT recommend making this recipe without nutritional yeast flakes. It’s the dominant flavor and main source of cheesiness.
Change the grinding method
Instead of processing the ingredients with a food processor, use a clean spice or coffee grinder.
Since coffee grinders are small, I recommend grinding the raw cashews and hemp hearts separately.
Then combine them in a bowl with the spices.
Cashew parm is great anywhere you’d use standard non-vegan parmesan.
- Sprinkle it on pasta with marinara, air fryer lasagna, or roasted gnocchi.
- Use it as a seasoning on air fryer radishes.
- Add several dashes to a slice of pizza or pizza bagels.
- Use it in the breading of eggplant parmesan. (It’s great with noodles or in an eggplant parmesan sandwich.)
- Add a spoonful to cilantro basil pesto for extra cheesiness.
- Add a sprinkling to veggies like air fryer asparagus or air fryer spaghetti squash.
- Use it as a finishing salt on popcorn.
- Sprinkle a little on creamy vegan tomato soup just before serving.
- Give a jar of cashew parmesan as a vegan food gift along with local pasta and jarred marinara in a basket or colander.
Does it melt?
Vegan parm doesn’t melt. It’s closer to a finishing salt.
It adds cheesiness and spices right on top of a dish, making those flavors more pronounced.
To keep the ground raw cashews and hemp hearts fresh, store cashew parmesan in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
It will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. And the freezer will extend it even further (up to 3 months).
I like to store the vegan parmesan in a covered jar or shaker jar. That makes it easy to transport to the table.
Or if you’re freezing it, you can keep it in a sealed freezer bag instead.
More vegan cheese recipes
Vegan parmesan cheese with cashews & hemp hearts
- Put all of the ingredients into the food processor.
- Process on low until the cashews have broken down into fine pieces. The time will vary depending on your food processor, but it takes mine about 10 to 20 seconds. Do not over blend.
- Move vegan parmesan cheese into a covered jar or shaker container. Store it in the refrigerator (or freezer for longer storage).