The best vegan cream cheese should be creamy, taste great, and also work well in baked goods. We compared 5 gluten free and allergen-friendly vegan cream cheeses to find the best of the best. Overall, Violife’s Just Like Cream Cheese Original (Plain) worked the best in every category.
7 minute read
Which Is the Best Vegan Cream Cheese?
I have tasted, tested and reviewed many a vegan cream cheese to find that answer.
I want you all to know that if I have to eat vegan cream cheese cake, vegan cream cheese Alfredo, vegan cream cheese cookies and more in order so that you all know which is the best, well then, I guess I will make that sacrifice. Haha.
So what are the results of all this labor? Let’s find out.
If you’d like to jump to a particular cateogry or question, click below:
- Our Testing Criteria
- Meet the Contenders
- Does Philadelphia Cream Cheese Have a Vegan Option?
- What Is the Creamiest Vegan Cream Cheese?
- What Is the Best Vegan Cream Cheese for Baking?
- Which Vegan Cream Cheese Tastes the Best?
- Further Notes on the Results
- What Is the Best Vegan Cream Cheese for Cheesecake?
Our Testing Criteria
First, we have to determine why we need the vegan cream cheese.
Are we making frosting? Are we making cookies? Do we need it for a savory dip or a sweet dip? Or perhaps just spreading on some vegan bagels?
What we hope to achieve will determine which one is best for our purpose.
Through trial and error, I have come up with what I believe are the best vegan cream cheeses for various recipe scenarios. I have also separated them into the following categories for review:
To make it simple, I compared the plain version of the different brands.
I chose the brands I tested and reviewed based on which ones were most available in most markets. I am as annoyed as you are when reviewers rate something as the Holy Grail of X Product but it’s so obscure it can only be found in an upside down valley under a blue moon.
Plus, having food allergies, I had to make sure they were gluten free and allergen friendly.
Otherwise, all I could have done is review the colors of the containers. Not very useful to you, I think.
Meet the Contenders
Again, these are all brands that are readily available at many stores in the United States (where I live), such as Target, specialty stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and also many general grocery store chains like Kroger or Publix.
- Violife Just Like Cream Cheese Original (plain)
- Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative (plain)
- Miyoko’s Organic Cultured Vegan Cream Cheese (classic plain)
- Kite Hill Cream Cheese Alternative (plain)
- Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (plain)
You might be wondering why Philadelphia, the grandmother of all cream cheeses here, isn’t included in this list.
Does Philadelphia Cream Cheese Have a Vegan Option?
Yes, but sadly it’s not yet available in the United States, only in the United Kingdom (as of July 2022). Since I’m currently in the United States, it is not included in this review.
Philadelphia’s vegan cream cheese is made from a combination of oats and almonds. I really hope they bring it to the States soon so I can give it a try, but until then we’ll have to work with what we have available here.
So let’s see how the five contenders hold up under the first category: creaminess!
What Is the Creamiest Vegan Cream Cheese?
In the category for creaminess and texture, I would rate them on the scale from 1-5, 1 being “least creamy” and 5 being “most creamy” in the following order:
- Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese.
Tofutti seem to be the most watery. It takes the lowest spot on the creamiest scale.
- Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative
Trader Joe’s is sometimes watery, sometimes creamy. While the taste is good, it’s hit or miss with the consistency.
- Kite Hill Cream Cheese Alternative
Kite Hill comes in at the middle of the pack. It has a thicker consistency than Trader Joe’s brand but has a tendency to separate
- Miyoko’s Organic Cultured Vegan Cream Cheese
Miyoko’s brand of vegan cream cheese is much thicker than those on the list so far. However Miyoko’s cream cheese is cultured, which gives it a more “cheesy” taste. Which is great if that’s what you are going for, but it doesn’t seem to pair well with sweet recipes.
- Violife Just Like Cream Cheese Original
Violife has the creamiest consistency, the mildest flavor, and really could go either way in terms of pairing with sweet or savory recipes.
That’s pretty straightforward. On to the next event.
What Is the Best Vegan Cream Cheese for Baking?
In the category for how they hold up to cooking or baking, I would rate them in the following order using the same 1-5 scale where 5 is the best for baking.
It’s soy, and soy changes consistency when it’s cooked. Simple as that.
It will either turn watery and loose the creaminess or harden and get rubbery depending on how it’s cooked. Either way, not an ideal outcome.
- Kite Hill
Kite Hill’s has a good taste on a bagel or made into frosting in which no cooking is involved.
However, it doesn’t hold up as well as some of the others when baking. It’s usable, but I when I used it to make my peanut butter cream cheese cookies, I noticed they were runnier and spread out more than they otherwise would have.
That being said, when used in a recipe where you want the cream to dissipate, such as savory vegan cream sauce or vegan Alfredo, Kite Hill works like a charm.
- Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s makes beautiful vegan cheesecake. It tends to separate more so than others in certain recipes where more direct heat is involved, though.
Miyoko’s brand is well, interesting. It did not break down nearly as much as I was expecting. I used it to make baked tomato and broccoli in cream sauce. After baking it at 350º for 30 minutes, it was still pretty much the exact same as when it went in the oven.
Which is great if I hadn’t needed it to liquefy some and spread out. The texture was closer to paste than sauce.
This one would probably work better in a savory dip than baking. This would be great though if you were aiming for a warm dip as it holds up very well to heating.
Violife’s brand holds up well in baking. I have used it with success for replacing regular cream cheese in my low carb tahini cream cheese cookies.
So far there seems to be a pattern. Let’s see if one of these guys can make up the distance in the last category.
Which Vegan Cream Cheese Tastes the Best?
In the category for stand alone taste I would assign them to the following order (1-5 again) from least tasty at 1 to the absolute tastiest at 5.
Tofu…need I say more?
Miyoko’s was hard to judge in this category as it has a peculiar taste that I think some people will adore, but just not me.
It was too “cheesy”, as odd as I know that sounds. Normally, the closer a vegan cheese tastes to actual dairy cheese the higher the quality. However instead of equating this vegan cream cheese with actual dairy cream cheese it is more akin to goat cheese in my opinion.
If that is what you are going for, then this is the cheese for you. But if you are looking for a vegan cream cheese to complement a particular recipe and not overpower it, then another brand may be a better choice.
- Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s has a great neutral taste that is very versatile. It seems to pair better with sweet recipes than savory, but it can work with both.
- Kite Hill
Kite Hill’s has a fairly neutral taste as well, but it stands up slightly better without losing the cheese flavor completely when paired with stronger flavors. Because of this, it adapts well with savory dips and spreads.
This stuff, oh my goodness, I could eat it with a spoon, and I have done so.
The taste most closely resembles dairy cream cheese of all the vegan cream cheeses I have tried. (If I remember correctly what dairy cream cheese tastes like, of course)
This is one to use if you are trying to pull one over on your non-vegan friends. They will never know your gourmet “cheese” platter was dairy free if you serve this.
Further Notes on the Results
Poor Tofutti. I actually kinda feel sorry for you. Not enough to eat you though.
Both Violife and Kite Hill have unsweetened versions that are good if you follow a low carb or no sugar diet.
All of them are gluten free as well as dairy free of course as they are vegan.
Not all of them are nut free or soy free. If that is a concern, then you will need to choose accordingly.
What Is the Best Vegan Cream Cheese for Cheesecake?
As I mentioned in the baking breakdown above, Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese alternative makes an excellent vegan cheesecake.
Also, Violife Just Like Cream Cheese Original holds up really well in baking and could be used in cheesecake recipes, too.
One Last Bite
No one wants to waste their hard-earned money on a product that doesn’t work for what they’re cooking – or, worse yet, just tastes bad. For an all-around great cream cheese alternative, it’s hard to beat Violife. While most of the other brands had their strenghts, Violife works great in cold recipes, baking, and just spread on your favorite bagel.
I hope this breakdown helps you in your search for the perfect vegan cream cheese. Bon appétit!
For our full list of reviews of allergen free food and related products, please visit our review page. For our full list of recipes, please visit our complete recipe list. If you’d like recipes for specific dietary issues, head to these pages for all our gluten free recipes, dairy free recipes, vegan recipes, soy free recipes, nut free recipes, low carb recipes, egg free recipes, and shellfish free recipes.