A vegan cheese ball is an easy, tasty appetizer! It’s a dairy-free appetizer with vegan cream cheese, nuts, and herb. It’s a quick and easy vegan party food that looks gourmet but takes minutes to make. Cheese balls are served with crackers, vegan cheez-its, or small slices of toast.
Combining creamy and savory makes the best snack. Especially when you add some crunchy toasted pecans into the mix. This plant-based cheese ball combines the perfect flavors to make an outstanding snack!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Toasting the pecans increases their nutty flavor while adding a bit of a crunch to this dip
- Green onions add the perfect mild onion flavor and color that makes this cheese ball stand out
- Cooking sage in butter until crispy makes the flavor and texture amazing!
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Pecans — You’ll need 3/4 of a cup of pecans. You can find these in the baking section of most grocery stores, but I buy them in bulk during my Vegan Shopping Trips at Costco.
- Vegan butter — I recommend Earth Balance, Miyoko’s, or homemade vegan butter, but you can substitute tub margarine for this recipe.
- Fresh sage leaves — Fresh sage is great, but if you don’t have that handy, dried rubbed sage works.
- Garlic — You’ll need a couple of cloves of garlic.
- Vegan cream cheese — You can find vegan cream cheese in health food stores or the health food section of many major grocery stores.
- Vegan Cheese — I prefer Daiya blocks for this recipe because they have a great firm texture. You can use any of their flavors, cheddar, Monterey jack, jalapeño Havarti, or smoked gouda.
- Green onions — One or two stalks of green onions or spring onions should give you enough for this recipe. Don’t have green onions? Here are some spring onion substitutes to try.
- Salt — You can use plain table salt or sea salt.
What is Vegan Cream Cheese?
Vegan cream cheese can be made from a variety of ingredients, such as cashews or soy. The mixture is usually combined with lemon juice or vinegar to create a creamy but tart mixture, just like regular cream cheese. For cheese balls, I will make homemade vegan cream cheese or use store-bought Tofutti, Kite Hill, or Follow Your Heart.
How to Make Vegan Cheese Balls
It’s so easy to make a vegetarian cheese ball recipe:
- Toast pecans in the oven.
- Cook sage and garlic with vegan butter.
- Add the vegan cream cheese, vegan cheese, butter, sage, and garlic to a food processor and pulse it all together.
- Wrap it in plastic and place it in the fridge to firm up.
- Prepare the topping by chopping toasted nuts and adding remaining chopped green onions.
- Press topping ingredients into the chilled cheese ball.
- Serve immediately with crackers.
Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions:
Step One: Toast Pecans
Toasting the pecans brings out their nutty flavors and adds a bit of crunch to this recipe.
- Place pecans on a prepared pan, spreading them about.
- Bake for approximately 5 minutes, until the nuts are toasted.
- Watch them closely, as nuts can burn easily.
Step Two: Sautée Herbs and Garlic
- Cook fresh sage leaves (or dried sage) in a skillet with melted vegan butter.
- Toss and cook the leaves until crispy.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add chopped garlic.
- Cook for approximately 1 minute until tender. Remove from heat.
Step Three: Prepare the Cheese Ball
- Pulse vegan cream cheese, chopped or shredded vegan cheese, salt, contents from the skillet, and a couple of the toasted nuts in a food processor.
- Use a spatula to push down ingredients and to break up any large chunks. Repeat until the mixture is combined and mostly smooth.
- Add 1/3 cup toasted pecans and half of the chopped green onions and pulse again until broken down, leaving bits throughout the mixture.
- Use a spatula to transfer ingredients from the food processor onto a piece of plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Step Four: Add the Topping
- Place the remaining toasted pecans on a chopping board and chop them into fine bits.
- Add remaining chopped green onions.
- Remove the chilled cheese ball from the fridge, peel off the plastic wrap, and place it on a serving dish.
- Use your hands or the back of a spoon to shape it into a ball.
- Press the topping into the cheeseball.
- Serve with crackers.
Cover any leftovers in an airtight container or with foil and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge up to 5 days.
- Regarding Toppings: I love using toasted pecans combined with chopped green onions. However, you can substitute dried cranberries for a colorful and tasty display.
- Marbled Cheese Balls. Don’t overprocess the ingredients. It’s nice to see bits of the pecans and green onions throughout the vegan cheeseball.
- Firming Things Up. The mixture straight from the food processor is soft. It will firm up as it chills.
Serve the cheeseball immediately with crackers or place it back in the fridge to serve later.
Serve your vegan cheese ball at parties with any of the following:
- Air Fryer Tortilla Chips
- Vegan Naan Bread
- Bread Bowl — carve a center out of this whole wheat bread and serve this cheese ball as a dip in the center. Then you can use torn-off pieces of bread for dipping.
- Vegan Garlic Bread
- Vegan Breadsticks
What can I roll a cheese ball in besides nuts?
Nuts are great to roll cheese balls in, but you have other options. For example, you can roll a cheeseball in dried cranberries, chopped green onions, or seeds, like chopped pumpkin seeds.
How many days ahead can you make a cheese ball?
A cheese ball is perfect party food because you can make it a day or two ahead and pull it out in time for your party. Properly stored, your cheese ball should keep easily for 3 to 4 days and even up to a week.
More Vegan Appetizers
If you love this vegan cheese ball, you’ll be itching to try even more vegan appetizers. Here are some favorites:
That’s it for this vegan cheese ball recipe. Enjoy!
Vegan Cheese Ball
- ¾ cup pecans
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 15 fresh sage leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 8 oz container vegan cream cheese
- 7 oz package vegan cheese, chopped or shredded (see note)
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- crackers for serving
Toasted Nuts and Seeds
- Preheat your oven to 300°F/150°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Place pecans on the pan, spreading them about. Bake for approximately 5 minutes until the nuts are toasted. Do not overbake, as nuts can burn easily.
Sauté Herbs and Garlic
- Place the butter in a skillet over medium heat. As soon as the butter starts to sizzle, add the fresh sage leaves (or dried sage). Toss the herbs in the melted butter to combine and cook until the leaves are crispy.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add chopped garlic. Cook for approximately 1 minute until tender. Remove from heat.
Make the Cheeseball
- Place the vegan cream cheese, vegan cheese, salt, contents from the skillet, and a few of the toasted pecans in a food processor bowl. Pulse several times. Then use a spatula to push down ingredients from the side of the bowl and to break up any large chunks. Pulse several times again. Repeat until the mixture is combined and mostly smooth.
- Add ⅓ cup toasted pecans and half of the chopped green onions and pulse again until broken down, but leaving bits throughout the cheeseball.
- Tear off a piece of plastic wrap and place it on the counter. Use a spatula to transfer ingredients from the food processor onto the plastic wrap. It's very soft at this point. Wrap the plastic wrap up tight and place it in a small bowl. Place in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.
- Chop the remaining toasted pecans into fine bits. Add remaining chopped green onions.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the chilled cheese ball mixture. Transfer it to a serving plate or tray. Use your hands or the back of a spoon to shape it into a ball.
- Press the topping mixture around the outside of the cheese ball.
- Serve immediately with crackers. Cover any leftovers in an airtight container or with foil and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge up to 5 days.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.