Vegan lemon cheesecake is about to be your go-to recipe when you want an easy to prep, no oven required, sweet and tangy treat everyone will love!
From the sweet and tangy flavor to the texture combo of nutty crust and creamy filling, this recipe hits all the right lemon-y notes!
Plus, I love a treat that you can prep in 15 minutes and it can hang out in the freezer until you’re ready to dig in.
Why You’ll Love this Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
Taste. The lemon flavor in the cheesecake filling is bright and tangy making for a really refreshing and invigorating dessert. The tartness of the lemon complements the rich creaminess of the cashew center, creating a well-balanced flavor.
Nutty Crust. The nutty crust adds a distinct and satisfying flavor to the cheesecake. The combination of walnuts, almond flour, and dates creates a delightful balance of sweetness and nuttiness that contributes to a delicious and wholesome crust pairing perfectly with the creamy cashew center.
Oh So Creamy. The creamy cashew center provides a smooth and velvety texture that is oh so luxurious. When soaked and blended, cashews turn into a creamy base that resembles the texture of traditional cheesecake. The cashew center is rich, but not overly heavy, allowing the lemon flavor to shine through.
Textures on Textures! The contrast between the nutty crust and the creamy cashew center creates a delicious texture contrast. The crust offers a slightly crunchy and crumbly texture, while the cashew center is smooth and creamy. They pair perfectly!
No Bake! Firstly, the convenience factor is a major plus. With no need for baking or using an oven, this vegan lemon cheesecake can be prepared quickly, easily, and can easily be prepped ahead for any occasion!
Ingredients for Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
Dates serve as a natural sweetener and provide a sticky texture that helps bind the crust together. They offer a caramel-like flavor and are a healthier alternative to refined sugars commonly found in traditional crust recipes.
Walnuts add a rich, nutty flavor and provide a crunchy texture to the crust. They are a good source of healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
Almond flour, made from finely ground almonds, adds a delicate and slightly sweet flavor to the crust. It also contributes to the crust’s texture, making it tender and crumbly.
Coconut oil acts as a binding agent, adding moisture and richness to the crust, and helps solidify the crust when refrigerated.
Cinnamon enhances the overall taste of the crust by adding warmth and depth. It pairs well with the the creamy cashews and bright lemon and gives a subtle hint of spice.
A pinch of salt enhances the flavors and balances the sweetness of the dates.
Cashews serve as the base ingredient for the cheesecake filling. When soaked and blended, cashews become creamy and smooth, providing a rich and velvety texture. They also offer a mild, neutral flavor that allows the lemon flavor to shine.
Coconut milk adds creaminess and richness to the cheesecake filling. It provides a dairy-free alternative to traditional dairy milk.
Coconut oil helps solidify the cheesecake filling when chilled. It adds structure and stability to the cheesecake, allowing it to set properly.
Maple syrup serves as the sweetener for the cheesecake filling. It offers a natural, unrefined sweetness that complements the tartness of the lemon. Maple syrup also adds depth of flavor and provides a hint of caramel-like notes.
Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest
Lemon juice and lemon zest are the key components for infusing the cheesecake with bright and tangy lemon flavor. The lemon juice provides a refreshing acidity, while the zest adds aromatic oils and intensifies the citrus taste. Together, they create a vibrant and zesty profile.
How to Make Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
Line a springform pan with parchment paper (8 or 9 inch pan works best!). If you want to switch up the shape of this cheesecake, try a loaf pan for cheesecake bars or a square pan for cheesecake squares!
Make the Crust
In a food processor or high speed blender, add all of the crust ingredients and pulse until a chunky, sandy mixture has formed. Some chunks will be visible, but it should mold into a ball when squeezed together.
Place the crust mixture into the springform pan and press it down to form a crust – either fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup work well here! Press the crust about ⅓ of the way up the side of the pan as well, creating a little edge. Place the crust in the freezer while you make the filling.
Make the Vegan Lemon Cheesecake Filling
To make the filling, soak the cashews in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, or until they appear lighter in color and larger in size.
Drain the water from the cashews and add them to a food processor or high speed blender (don’t bother cleaning it from the crust!). Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the blender and blend on high until smooth – up to 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick and silky.
Pour the filling over the crust and place back in the freezer for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best!
Slice and Serve your Vegan Lemon Cheesecake!
Remove from the springform pan – the pan and parchment should make it very easy to remove! Top with coconut whipped cream, if desired, and fresh lemon slices.
Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Tips to Make a Perfect Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
Soak the cashews. Soaking the cashews prior to blending is crucial for achieving a creamy texture. If you’re planning ahead, place the cashews in a bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak for at least 4-6 hours or overnight. This softens the cashews and makes them easier to blend into a smooth and creamy consistency. If you’re in a pinch and forgot to soak your cashews overnight, simply pour boiling water over the cashews and allow them to soak for 5 – 10 minutes until they swell slightly and appear lighter in color.
Use fresh lemon juice and zest. For the best lemon flavor, use freshly squeezed lemon juice rather than bottled juice. Fresh lemon juice provides a vibrant and tangy taste that enhances the overall flavor profile of the cheesecake. Additionally, don’t forget to zest the lemons before juicing them. Lemon zest contains essential oils that intensify the citrus flavor and add aromatic notes to the cheesecake.
Blend thoroughly. To achieve a smooth and creamy texture, blend the soaked cashews, coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest until completely smooth. This may take a few minutes, so be patient and scrape down the sides of the blender or food processor as needed. The goal is to achieve a velvety consistency without any graininess.
Chill for proper setting. After pouring the filling onto the crust, refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4-6 hours or until it is firm and set. This allows the cashew filling to solidify and develop its characteristic cheesecake-like texture. For the best results, I recommend to refrigerate the cheesecake overnight to ensure a well-set and firm dessert.
Garnish with lemon slices. Before serving, consider garnishing the cheesecake with lemon slices or additional lemon zest to add a touch of freshness and serve as a visual cue to the bright lemon flavor of the cheesecake.
Variations to Try
Add a burst of fruity flavor by swirling in a berry sauce or compote into the cheesecake filling before chilling. Raspberry, strawberry, or blueberry would work well and provide a beautiful contrast to the tangy lemon flavor. Try this Gorgeous Glossy 10-Min Blueberry Glaze!
Enhance the tropical undertones by incorporating shredded coconut into the crust and topping the cheesecake with toasted coconut flakes for added texture and flavor.
Lavender Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
Infuse the cheesecake with floral notes by adding dried culinary lavender buds to the crust or steeping them in the coconut milk before blending. This combination offers a unique and fragrant twist to the classic lemon cheesecake.
Add a hint of warmth and spice by incorporating finely grated fresh ginger into the crust or mixing it into the filling. Ginger complements the tanginess of the lemon and adds a zesty kick.
Add a burst of freshness by scattering fresh blueberries on top of the cheesecake before chilling. The combination of lemon and blueberries is a classic pairing that offers a delightful flavor contrast.
How to Store this Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
Once your cheesecake has set properly in the freezer, it should be firm and well-chilled.
Carefully wrap the cheesecake to protect it from freezer burn and maintain its freshness. Remove the cheesecake from the pan and tightly wrap the entire cheesecake, including the crust, with plastic wrap. Make sure there are no exposed areas.
For added protection, consider placing the wrapped cheesecake inside a resealable freezer bag or wrap it with an additional layer of aluminum foil. This extra layer will provide insulation and prevent any potential odors from seeping into the cheesecake.
It’s a good practice to label the package with the date of freezing. This will help you keep track of its freshness and ensure you consume it within the recommended storage timeframe.
Place the wrapped cheesecake in the coldest part of the freezer, away from any strong-smelling items. Lay it flat to prevent any potential damage or deformation. Ensure it is not stacked or compressed by other items in the freezer.
No-bake lemon cheesecakes can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Beyond this time, the quality and texture may start to deteriorate.
When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen lemon cheesecake, remove it from the freezer and transfer it to the refrigerator for about an hour. Then, allow it to sit on the counter for 15 minutes before cutting into it.
- 4 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
- 2 tbsp melted refined coconut oil
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2 tbsp melted refined coconut oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar or honey
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- lemon zest from 2 lemons
- coconut whipped cream
- lemon wedges
- Line a springform pan with parchment paper (8 or 9 inch pan works best!)
- In a food processor or high speed blender, add the dates, walnuts, almond flour, coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt.
- Pulse until a chunky, sandy mixture has formed! Some chunks will be visible, but it should mold into a ball when squeezed together.
- Place the crust mixture into the springform pan and press it down to form a crust – either fingers or a measuring cup work well here! Press the crust about ⅓ of the way up the side of the pan as well, creating a little edge. Place the crust in the freezer.
- To make the filling, soak the cashews in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, or until they appear lighter in color and larger in size.
- Drain the water from the cashews and add them to a food processor or high speed blender (don’t bother cleaning it from the crust!). Add the coconut milk, coconut oil, sweetener, lemon juice and zest to the blender.
- Blend on high until smooth – up to 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick and silky.
- Pour the filling over the crust and place back in the freezer for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best!
- To serve, top with coconut whipped cream if desired, and remove from the springform pan. The pan and parchment should make it very easy to remove! Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Store the leftovers in the freezer!
Recipe Development + Food Photography by Jessica Reynolds-Corden
from Jessica Eats.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 268
- Sugar: 16.6g
- Sodium: 43mg
- Fat: 18.3g
- Saturated Fat: 6.7g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 24.2g
- Fiber: 2.1g
- Protein: 5.2g
- Cholesterol: 0mg