Tofu Is The Unexpected Cream Cheese Substitute You Need

Just because you've taken on a vegan diet doesn't mean you should have to give up some of the best food out there — like cream cheese. Vegan cream cheese can actually be made with one very common vegan ingredient: tofu. It may seem unexpected, but tofu can be used in a ton of unconventional ways. And, when it comes to transforming it into cream cheese to top your next vegan bagel, the process is quite simple.

All you need is a block of firm or extra firm tofu, refined coconut oil (melted), nutritional yeast, and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Some recipes even include ingredients such as non-dairy milk and tahini, as well as garlic powder, onion powder, and salt for a deeper flavor. It's important to use firm tofu — otherwise, the "cream cheese" will end up being much runnier than the consistency of normal cream cheese.

After removing the tofu from the packaging and letting it come to room temperature, cut it into square chunks. Then, you'll blend all ingredients in a food processor until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Once the "cream cheese" is fully blended, you can either serve it right away or, if you prefer a bit of a firmer texture, let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. If sealed in an airtight container, the tofu cream cheese should last for about one week in the fridge.

Add flavor to your tofu cream cheese

For a sweet variation of the tofu cream cheese, you can make either strawberry or blueberry by adding 1 cup of chopped strawberries or blueberries plus ¼ cup of powdered sugar. For a cinnamon flavor, replace the fruit with a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, alongside a few teaspoons of powdered sugar. For each of these, add in the extra ingredients after blending the initial ingredients, then blend once more.

For savory flavors, you can make either a chive or a scallion cream cheese — after making the tofu, complete with garlic powder and onion powder, simply mix in chopped chives or the scallions to the finished product. For a veggie cream cheese, add chopped veggies — such as bell pepper, celery, carrot, or any other favorites – to the finished cream cheese. Or, if you don't want the small chunks of veggies, you can add them to the food processor and blend once more for a creamy veggie cream cheese.

Once you've made your tofu cream cheese how you like, you'll need bagels to go with it. You can either seek out your favorite store-bought vegan bagels or whip up a batch of Tasting Table's homemade sesame bagels, which can be made vegan by replacing the egg with any of the best egg substitutes, such as silken tofu or vinegar with baking soda. You could also spread the cream cheese over a slice of vegan buckwheat banana bread or vegan zucchini bread to bring some extra creaminess to the pastries.