Do you need a creamy and absolutely delicious vegan New York-style cheesecake with a vibrant raspberry sauce for topping? The texture is what I remember cheesecake should be like. It is baked, it is oil-free, and it is undetectably gluten-free. The best part is I only used FIVE whole foods ingredients to make the filling.
Delicious vegan and gluten-free dessert recipes can be quite elusive. When you cook something you can taste and adjust but with baking, you have only one shot. That is why we share dessert recipes that we are absolutely tested to perfection like the best ever vegan pumpkin cheesecake. Its secret is to use roasted butternut squash puree instead of canned pumpkin. Huge difference! Or try the creamiest vegan panna cotta (without agar agar!!!) and the creamiest vegan rice pudding. So delicious!
What to expect from this recipe?
If you want to try the vegan version of a well-known and popular dessert, what do you want in the end? Of course, you want it to be the same or close to the original. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it is not. And cheesecakes are no exception. Everybody has a favorite recipe and making it vegan is a challenge for sure. I tested this recipe so many times to make it to how I remember what cheesecake should taste like.
- A cheesecake should be soft, moist, creamy, fluffy, and not dry, crumbly, or dense.
- The perfect cheesecake is light, but filling as one slice is usually enough (khm… I mean two slices.)
- The thin crust of the cheesecake is important, but should only complement the delicious filling and not overpower it. I am looking at you, raw cheesecake crust with dates and nuts.
- The pure vanilla taste comes through, although I have always loved a tangy berry sauce or fresh berries on top to balance the sweetness of the cheesecake.
If you have been on our blog before you may have noticed that we don’t really like using processed ingredients. I am sure vegan cheesecake tastes delicious with a store-bought vegan cream cheese made of oil or soy, but we usually opt for something with whole foods.
- vegan -> egg-free, dairy-free of course
- gluten-free -> undetectable
- oil-free -> also compliant with a whole foods plant-based diet
- refined sugar-free – this is a dessert recipe so definitely not low-carb, but at least it has maple syrup right? 😉
- no processed ingredients
- but most importantly OVER-THE-TOP DELICIOUS!!!
Why is it baked?
As much as no-bake cashew cheesecakes can be delicious, nothing beats a good old-fashioned baked cheesecake. And I am here to give you exactly 3 reasons:
- Baking makes it healthier – You can skip coconut oil, tofu, store-bought cream cheese, coconut yogurt, and any other processed stuff if you bake it. Coconut oil is liquid when heated, but solidifies once it is cooled. Baking ensures that the cheesecake filling holds together even if you don’t use any.
- Baking makes it creamy – If you ever tried warming up cashew cream to make pasta sauce or nachos dip, you might have realized that cashew cream thickens due to heat. If you bake it, the cheesecake thickens up without added starch (like cornstarch or arrowroot starch which most recipes use).
- Baking makes it light – If you bake it, it will give you the original New York-style cheesecake texture that a raw, no-bake cheesecake will never do without processed ingredients.
Have I mentioned you only need FIVE ingredients to make this delicious vegan cheesecake filling? They are the following:
- Canned full-fat coconut milk – Light coconut cream works as well, although light coconut milk does not. Don’t worry the cheesecake will not have a coconut flavor, but you need this for consistency.
- Cashew nuts
- Maple syrup – You can use other liquid sweeteners.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice – We feel that adding lemon zest is too much but if you like a stronger tangy taste, go for it.
- Vanilla extract
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
What should be your crust?
You can use a classic graham cracker crust if you can find a gluten-free product. Or you can try our super easy almond flour crust recipe which is a variation of our popular gingerbread pie crust recipe. Which by the way smells heavenly with our vegan pumpkin cheesecake or with our caramel apple crisp pie. It is super simple to mix and roll out. No kneading is required. You only need FIVE ingredients:
- Almond flour or almond meal
- Oat flour
- Maple syrup – You can use other liquid sweeteners.
- Flax egg
- Vanilla extract
Preparing the almond flour crust
- Mix 1 Tbsp ground flax with 3 Tbsp water in a small bowl. Not flax seeds or flakes, but ground flax.
- Take a large mixing bowl and add all ingredients (oat flour, almond flour, flax egg, vanilla extract, maple syrup). You can use a spatula or your hands. (photo #1)
- Roll it out on a silicone mat to be less than 0.5-inch (0,5 cm) thick. Place a cling foil/saran wrap on the top to make it even easier. (photo #2)
- Place a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan with a removable bottom on top and cut the crust around it.
- Place a round parchment paper in the cake tin or cut out one to cover the bottom. I add two stripes like a cross below it so it is easier to lift it and transfer it to a cake stand after baking. (See video for more details)
- Place the cut-out crust on top of the parchment paper. (photo #3)
Making the oil-free cheesecake filling
- Boil water in a kettle and soak cashews in hot water for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can boil cashews on the stovetop for 5 minutes. You can leave cashews to soak overnight if you plan to finish the cheesecake the next day.
- Take your high-power blender and add full-fat coconut milk (shaken), soaked cashews, maple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Blend until silky smooth.
A quick tip: If you only have a hand mixer or normal blender you may not get as smooth a filling as you see it in the pictures.
Baking it in the oven
I used a 9-inch (23 cm) round springform cake pan and the cheesecake filling was about 2 inches (2-3 cm) thick. If you plan to use another size, adjust the baking time accordingly.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius)
- Pour the mixture for the cheesecake filling on top of the crust.
- Level it with a spatula and shake it a couple of times to get the air bubbles out.
- Bake it for 35-40 minutes.
Top tips to make it perfectly
- Cut the cake when it is chilled – If you try to cut the cheesecake while it is still hot, you may not be able to make nice and clean slices. First, place a knife between the side of the cake and the form and run it around. Then open up the cake form. Transfer gently to a cake stand and chill before slicing.
- Add toppings when served– If you add whipped cream or other toppings while the cheesecake is still warm, they will melt and run down the sides. The same thing happens if the cheesecake rests in the fridge for too long. The toppings may lose their shape and position.
- Baking time – The top should rise a bit especially around the sides. It may seem a little jiggly in the middle, but it will firm up while it cools down. If the middle is hollow, it might mean that either you have to bake it a little longer or the filling was not leveled up properly, to begin with.
When your baked vegan cheesecake is ready, I know you want to hurry and taste it. But if you try to cut it while it is still hot, you may not be able to make nice and clean slices. It is also better to add any topping when it is cool. Here are some ideas:
- coconut whipped cream and fresh fruits (strawberries, blackberries, any berries really
- vegan caramel sauce (we have a quick recipe using coconut sugar and coconut cream in our caramel nice cream recipe)
- strawberry puree for topping (which you can make with any berries)
- raspberry sauce (in the recipe card)
- fruit compotes
- melted chocolate
Let us know in the comments, what is your favorite topping!
FAQs and substitutions
Do you really need a Vitamix?
If you want to make any vegan cheesecake recipe that calls for cashews you need a high-power blender like Vitamix* or Blendtec to get the creamiest, smoothest result. You will sadly not get the same result with a regular blender or food processor.
Can you make it nut-free?
You need cashews to make the creamy, fluffy cheesecake filling. It is also needed to thicken the filling after it is baked. Sadly, I don’t know any other alternative. If you try to use only canned coconut milk or cream, the cheesecake filling will not firm up without corn starch or additional thickener.
How long does it last?
Keep it in the fridge for not more than 4-5 days.
This baked vegan cheesecake recipe is dairy-free and egg-free.
- Vegan – All ingredients are supposed to be vegan.
- Nut-free – Sadly, I don’t know any alternative to substitute both cashews and coconut to make it nut-free. Not to mention there are almonds in the crust too.
- WFPB-friendly (whole foods plant-based) – Yes, it is. No oil or refined sugar is used in this recipe. As far as I know, canned coconut milk can be used sparingly since it is high in fat. But cheesecakes are for occasions only, right?
- Gluten-free – If you use one of our two recipes (either the almond flour crust in the recipe card or this gluten-free vegan pie crust) or any other gluten-free pie crust, then yes it is a gluten-free vegan cheesecake.
- Soy-free – All ingredients are supposed to be soy-free.
More vegan dessert recipes
You can browse through our Vegan and Gluten-free Dessert Recipes or check out
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Baked Vegan Cheesecake
Almond flour crust
- 2 cup Raspberry frozen or fresh
- ¼ cup Water
- ¼ cup Maple syrup
- Soak cashews in hot water for 5 minutes. This is the time you need to make the crust. So if your crust is ready, your cashews are ready too. You can absolutely do overnight soaking if you plan to make the cheesecake the next day.
Making almond flour crust
- Mix ground flax and water in a small bowl (not flax seeds or flakes, but ground flax).
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (oat flour, almond flour, flax egg, vanilla extract, maple syrup). You can use a spatula or your hands.
- Roll it out on a silicone mat. Place a cling foil/saran wrap on the top to make it easier. Place your cake pan and cut the crust around it.
- Take a 9-inch cake pan with a removable bottom and place or cut out parchment paper to cover the bottom. Place the cut-out crust on the top.
Making cheesecake filling
- Take your high-power blender and add canned coconut milk, soaked cashews, lemon juice, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Blend until creamy. (If you don’t have a high-power blender, the creaminess will be impacted sadly.)
Baking the cheesecake
- Pour the cheesecake filling on the crust.
- Level it with a spatula and shake it several times to get the air bubbles out.
- Bake it in a preheated oven at 350 Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) for 35-40 minutes. I used a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake form, and the cheesecake filling was about 2 inches thick. If you plan to use another size, adjust the baking time accordingly. The top should rise a bit. It may also crack a bit. It feels and looks soft and a bit jiggly but not hollow when it is ready. The cheesecake will firm up during cooling.
- Add water, fresh or frozen raspberries, and maple syrup to a saucepan.
- Cook it over medium heat until the water is bubbly and the raspberries start to fall apart.
- Take a hand mixer and puree it until you have a sauce consistency.
- Cut when chilled – If you try to cut it while it is still hot, you may not be able to make nice and clean slices. First, place a knife between the side of the cake and the form and run it around. Then open up the cake form. Transfer gently to a cake stand and chill before slicing.
- Add toppings when served– If you add whipped cream or any topping while the cheesecake is still warm, they will melt and run down the sides. The same happens if the cheesecake rests in the fridge too long. The toppings will lose their shape and position.
- Baking time – The top should rise a bit, especially around the sides. It may seem a little jiggly in the middle, but it will firm up while it cools down. If the middle is hollow, it might mean that either you have to bake it a little longer or the filling was not leveled up properly to begin with.
UPDATED: This recipe was originally posted in Mar 2021. It has been updated with more details, tips, and photos. It has been republished in Sep 2022.