This oil-free vegan almond ricotta complements savory dishes from pizza to pasta, and even makes an excellent stand-alone spread for crackers or crostini.
What is Almond Ricotta?
Almond ricotta is an amazing vegan substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna, on pizza, or in any other dish where dairy ricotta is called for. At it's most basic, it is a blend of soaked blanched almonds, plus water and optional seasonings. Using blanched (skinless) almonds that have been softened by soaking creates a texture that is incredibly similar to dairy ricotta.
I LOVE ricotta cheese and it's incredible range of uses, from sweet to savory. Finding dairy-free ricotta has gotten easier (thank you Kite Hill brand!), but it still requires a trip to one particular specialty store and the price tag makes me hesitant to use it in all the ways I'd like to. So, I did what any self-respecting recipe developer would do and I created my own!
Before I go any further, let me just tell you - this stuff is AMAZING! We have an outdoor pizza oven and often cook for our friends (all are dairy-eaters) and they rave over this cheese. This version is seasoned for savory applications - so think pizzas, lasagna, an easy crudité or cracker dip, crostini topper, ravioli filling, etc. It's definitely a favorite around here.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Making vegan almond ricotta with whole almonds is incredibly easy with less than 5 minutes of hands-on time. The hardest part is remembering to soak the nuts.
- Blanched almonds - These are almonds that have already had their skins removed. I order mine online. Amazon and nuts.com both carry them. (Non-affiliate links). You can use common raw almonds with skin if you don't want to buy blanched. After the overnight soak, you will need to manually remove the skins yourself by giving each almond a little squeeze. I've done it manually, which is complete torture for my arthritic hands, so I always keep blanched almonds in my fridge or freezer. If you have the patience to peel each nut, or an enthusiastic child that needs some busy work, feel free to soak raw almonds and peel them yourself. Either way, the nuts will need to be soaked overnight before making this homemade almond ricotta. DO NOT USE ROASTED ALMONDS.
- Apple cider vinegar - for acidic tang. I prefer the subtle flavor of ACV over white vinegar here.
- Nutritional yeast - for slight cheesy flavor
- Maple syrup - just a touch to give the ricotta it's characteristic slightly-sweet edge without actually being SWEET. Remember, we are making savory ricotta here.
- Seasonings - I use a combination of onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and dried parsley. I also like to add fresh cracked black pepper on top of the cheese when it's finished.
Quantities and full instructions are in the printable recipe card.
How to Make Almond Ricotta
Put the almonds in a bowl and add water (preferably filtered) until the waterline is roughly 1-2 inches above the height of the almonds. Loosely cover and allow to sit overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse before proceeding.
Add the soaked and drained almonds, fresh water, and all seasonings to the cup of a high-speed blender.
Blend on high for 1 minute, then scrape down the sides of the blender cup and blend again for 30 seconds.
Check the consistency and add a bit more water if desired. It should be moist but not wet, like a thick paste, and still able to loosely hold it's shape.
Use as desired as a dip, pizza topping, ravioli filling, or crostini topping. Top with cracked black pepper.
Hint: When topping pizzas, we put this homemade ricotta in a piping bag (without a tip) and squeeze it out through the hole in the bag. This allows us to quickly and easily pipe little blobs all over our pizzas. It's also the best way to fill manicotti pasta tubes.
As written, this recipe is:
- Gluten Free
- Oil Free
- Vegan & Vegetarian
- Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB)
- Soy Free
- Eggless & Dairy Free
You will need a high-speed blender for this recipe. A food processor will not produce the right texture.
I use a small container meant for single-serving smoothies as shown in the photos but you can use a full sized blender. You may need to scrape the sides down a few times to get everything blended.
NOTE: If you only have a wide-bottom Vitamix jug, you may need to double the recipe in order to get it to blend.
This homemade vegan ricotta will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days in a sealed container or jar. I have not tried freezing it.
This can be eaten as-is or added to a dish that is going to be cooked. It's excellent on pizza, in lasagne, as a ravioli filling, or as a simple appetizer with crackers and crudites.
This almond ricotta makes an excellent appetizer platter dip for veggies and crackers. Why not complement it with a sweet dip platter by making this Chocolate Dessert Hummus tray with fruits and graham crackers. You'll get the best of both worlds, savory and sweet!
OR Spread the ricotta on fresh bread or crostini and serve alongside soup. Here are two of our favorites:
Smoky Black Eyed Pea Soup (Vegan, GF)
Tuscan Lentil Vegetable Soup (Vegan, GF)
Homemade Vegan Almond Ricotta (Oil Free, GF)
- 1 High speed blender
- 1 ½ cups/215g blanched almonds measure before soaking, soak overnight
- ¾ cup/177mL water start with ⅔ cup (157mL) and add more as needed for your desired consistency
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or other liquid sweetener of your choice
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- cracked black pepper to serve
- Cover the blanched almonds with 1-2 inches of filtered water. Loosely cover and allow to soak overnight (in the fridge or on the countertop) or for at least 8 hours. Drain, rinse, and drain again when ready to use.1 ½ cups/215g blanched almonds
- If using raw almonds, remove the skins by hand after soaking and draining. Give them a little squeeze on the wide end and the nut should pop out of the skin. Discard the skins and continue as instructed.
- To the container of a high speed blender, add the almonds, ⅔ cup fresh water, nutritional yeast, vinegar, maple syrup, and all seasonings.¾ cup/177mL water, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon dried parsley, ½ teaspoon salt
- Blend on high for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and add more water as desired, up to the ¾ cup you have measured out. Blend again for 30 seconds.
- The ricotta is ready to use. Serve in a bowl with cracked black pepper or add to your pizza, pasta, etc.
FAQ for Vegan Almond Ricotta
If you can't find blanched almonds and don't have time to order them, you can use regular raw almonds with the skins on. After soaking overnight, manually give each nut a little squeeze on it's wide end and the nut should pop right out of the skin. Once they have all been skinned, proceed as directed in the recipe. Do not use roasted almonds as they have a different flavor and will not blend the same.
Yes, please soak the almonds. This does two things... it softens the nut for blending, making for a smoother end result. It also makes the nuts easier to digest.
While there are many great recipes for sunflower seed-based cheeses, I have not tried it here. I imagine it would be delicious as a stand-alone dip, but would not have quite the same ability to pass as a ricotta substitute. Please let me know if you try it though, I'd love to know!
Loved this! Stirred it into regular old pasta with jarred sauce and it really made it special. Thanks!
Nutritional yeast hurts my tummy. Any substitutes for it? Any substitute suggestions for the apple cider vinegar?
You could simply leave the nutritional yeast out. You may need to add additional salt at the end if you don't use the nooch, so be sure to season to taste. Substitute the ACV with an equal measure of brine from a jar of sauerkraut - it will act the same way, giving the dish a cheesy-like "tang". My second choice substitution choice would be lemon juice. Hope that helps!