This dairy-free cheesecake contains a hidden poppy seed layer, a light, creamy, rich vegan cheesecake filling, and crisp gluten-free crust. It’s also oil-free and refined sugar-free yet packed with flavor and decadence! Serve this cashew tofu baked cheesecake on special occasions, birthdays, and warm summer days!
I’ll admit, I’ve always loved cheesecake, but surprisingly I think I eat it even more now as a vegan than before. Along with a general no-bake cheesecake and blueberry raw vegan cheesecake, I also love recipes like this lemon cheesecake tart, cheesecake tartlets, and cheesecake brownies. This baked dairy-free cheesecake is not only wonderfully light, airy, and creamy, but it also has a delicious hidden twist; a poppy seed layer – which is like the ‘cherry on top’!
While poppy seeds aren’t a common addition to cakes and bakes in the US, they are super popular in the Czech Republic and Poland. Since my parents are from the Czech Republic and I grew up in Germany, I ate lots (and lots) of poppy seed desserts like kolache. If you’re feeling a little nervous about the poppy, please try it once and let me know what you think!
What Is Vegan Cheesecake Made From?
Unlike regular baked cheesecakes, which are packed with cheese, eggs, butter (in the crust), and sometimes cream- this vegan cheesecake recipe combines cashews, coconut cream, and silken tofu for a truly silky, creamy filling.
I’ve also combined the dairy-free cheesecake filling with a gluten-free cheesecake crust of wholesome, healthy ingredients for an even more diet-friendly dessert!
Best of all, if you want a soy-free option? No problem. Allergic to nuts? No worries, I have a fix for that too. You’ve got to love an adaptable recipe, right?!
Dairy-Free Cheesecake Ingredients
- Oats: Make sure to use certified gluten-free oats if necessary.
- Shredded coconut: Use unsweetened shredded coconut. Alternatively, you could use ground almonds or another nut.
- Banana: Banana or applesauce makes for a great oil-free, slightly sweet crust binder. If you’d prefer a flaky/buttery soft crust, combine 60 g banana or applesauce with 60 g vegan butter or margarine.
- Maple syrup: Or agave syrup.
Poppy Seed Layer
- Poppy Seeds: I freshly grind the poppy seeds, but you can also use store-bought ground poppy seeds!
- Milk: Use the plant-based milk of your choice; almond milk, oat milk, etc.
- Coconut sugar: Or your sweetener of choice. For a sugar-free alternative, you could use granulated Erythritol instead.
- Cornstarch: This will help thicken the filling.
Dairy-free Cheesecake Layer
- Silken tofu: You can alternatively use vegan cream cheese for a soy-free option.
- Cashews: Check the FAQs for several nut-free alternatives.
- Coconut cream: Alternatively, you could use any dairy-free cream: oat cream, soy cream, cashew cream, etc. You could also use vegan yogurt instead. Each will impact the flavor/texture slightly.
- Maple syrup: Or another liquid sweetener of your choice like agave or a sugar-free liquid sweetener.
- Lime Juice: Alternatively, you could use lemon juice. Feel free to adjust the amount, to taste.
- Cornstarch: Will thicken the cheesecake filling. You could alternatively use arrowroot.
- Vanilla: I recommend using natural vanilla all the way!
For the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information, read the recipe card below.
How to Make Baked Vegan Cheesecake
First, add the cashews to a large bowl with hot water for between 30-60 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, you can alternatively boil them for 15 minutes.
Step 1: Prepare the crust
- First, process the shredded coconut in an electric spice/coffee grinder (or blender), then the oats, into a floury consistency.
- Then, transfer all the crust ingredients to a food processor and blend until you have a crumbly dough that sticks together when pressed between your fingers. It should be similar in texture to shortcrust pastry.
- Transfer the crust to a lined 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan and press it into the bottom and around 2 ½-inches (6 1/2 cm) up the sides, then place it in the fridge.
Step 2: Prepare the poppy seed layer
- First, process the poppy seeds in the coffee/spice grinder or blender.
- Then add all the poppy layer ingredients to a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it’s boiled and thickened, turn off the heat and set the saucepan aside to cool for several minutes.
- Then pour the mixture over the gluten-free cheesecake crust and place it back in the fridge.
Step 3: Prepare the cashew tofu cheesecake filling
- Blend all the cheesecake filling ingredients in a high-speed blender (or food processor) until smooth and creamy. This may take some time to break down the cashews fully, so be patient and give your machine a break in-between, if needed.
- Pour the cashew tofu cheesecake filling into the crust over the poppy seed layer.
Step 4: Bake it
- Bake the vegan cheesecake in the oven for 60 minutes at 350 °F/175 °C.
- Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake in it for a further 5-10 minutes with the door slightly open.
- Then remove it from the oven and cool before transferring it to the freezer for an hour (to set up and chill). The dairy-free cheesecake is ready to enjoy!
Before you chill the baked cheesecake, it will seem a little wobbly in the middle still. Don’t worry – this is normal.
How to serve?
You can enjoy a slice of this tofu cheesecake alone or top/serve it in several ways for even more of a treat, including:
- Fruit compote: like this strawberry compote or raspberry/blueberry.
- Fresh fruit slices: This dairy-free cheesecake is neutral enough to pair with all kinds of fruit- strawberries, peach, mango, raspberries, blueberries, etc.
- Chocolate: Drizzle with melted chocolate or garnish with chocolate shavings. You could use dark, dairy-free milk or white chocolate.
- Caramel: Drizzle with a caramel sauce, as I used for this caramel apple cheesecake
- Cream: Top with a little whipped coconut cream.
- Ice–cream: Serve alongside a scoop of ice cream for an even more decadent dessert.
How to Make Ahead and Store?
Make-Ahead: You can prepare all the elements a day in advance. I recommend preparing the crust and poppyseed filling in the pan then storing the cheesecake filling in a separate container.
Store: Any leftover vegan cheesecake can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for between 5-7 days. Alternatively, freeze it for up to 3 months as individual slices. Whenever the cravings hit, grab a piece, and allow it to thaw for 40-60 minutes before serving.
Can I skip the poppy seed layer?
Yes, that’s totally fine. This dairy-free cheesecake will still taste delicious without this special extra layer.
Why does my vegan cheesecake have cracks on top?
This usually happens when the cheesecake temperature changes too quickly. Once the cheesecake is baked, leave it in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes with the door propped open slightly.
It can also help to place a ceramic or heat-proof glass bowl with water in the oven while baking the tofu cheesecake, which will create steam. Alternatively, you could cover the pan with tin foil and place it in a deep baking sheet with water in.
Can I make this recipe nut-free?
There are a couple of ways that I think could work for a nut-free version.
- Omit the nuts and increase the coconut cream by ½ cup. It won’t be quite as rich but should still taste delicious.
- You could substitute the cashews for ¼ cup plant-based yogurt (like coconut yogurt) and ¼ cup melted plant-based margarine, vegan butter, or coconut oil for added richness.
- Lastly, you could substitute the cashews for soaked sunflower seeds, though the cream won’t be as creamy.
Is cheesecake gluten-free?
Not usually, as the crust often contains flour or gluten-containing biscuits. However, this is a gluten-free cheesecake recipe using an oat, coconut, and banana-based crust.
Recipe Notes & Variations
- If you don’t have a coffee/spice grinder: You can easily use a high-speed blender in both cases where I mention the grinder. Though I find this tool SUPER useful in the kitchen, and they’re inexpensive too, for something I use weekly!
- Don’t overbake the cheesecake: It SHOULD be wobbly in the middle after removing it from the oven. It will set further as it cools.
- For a citrus cheesecake: Feel free to increase the lemon/lime juice and add the rind of one lemon/lime/orange into the cheesecake filling.
- For a swirl top: You can use any (strained) fruit compote/sauce and add a few spoonfuls to the top of the tofu cheesecake before baking. Use a knife or skewer to make swirl patterns on the top of the cheesecake.
Other Creamy Vegan Desserts
- Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake
- Mango Pie Recipe
- Blueberry Cream Pie
- Fruity Cheesecake
- Strawberry Coconut Cheesecake Bars
- Vegan Chocolate Pie
If you try this dairy-free cheesecake recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan #elavegan – I love seeing them.
- 2 cups (180 g) oats (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 1/2 cups (130 g) shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 large (120 g) ripe banana (see notes)
- 1/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp (90 g) maple syrup or agave syrup
Poppy seed layer (optional)
- 1 cup (100 g) poppy seeds
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) plant-based milk
- 2-3 tbsp (20-30 g) coconut sugar (or regular sugar)
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 (12.3 oz) packages of (700 g) silken tofu firm
- 2/3 cup (100 g) cashews soaked (read the blog post for an alternative)
- 1/3 cup (80 g) coconut cream
- 1/3 cup (105 g) maple syrup or agave syrup
- 3 tbsp lime juice or lemon juice (more to taste)
- 1/3 cup (40 g) cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Soak cashews in hot water for at least 30-60 minutes (if you are in a hurry, you could also boil them for 15 minutes).
- Process the shredded unsweetened coconut in an electric spice/coffee grinder (or blender). Repeat this step with the oats.
- Transfer all crust ingredients to a food processor and blend until the dough is crumbly and sticks together. It should have the texture of shortcut pastry.
- Press the crust evenly into the bottom of a lined 8-inch (20 cm) springform and about 2 1/2 in (6 1/2 cm) up the sides and put the springform into your fridge.
Poppy Seed Layer
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and place an ovenproof dish filled with water on the bottom rack.Process the poppy seeds in an electric spice/coffee grinder or blender.
- Now add all ingredients for the poppy seed layer to a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it thickened up a bit, you can turn off the heat and set the saucepan aside.
- Let it cool for a few minutes and then pour the mixture onto the crust. Put it back into the fridge.
- Blend all cream ingredients in a high-speed blender (or food processor) until smooth and creamy. Pour the cheesecake cream onto the poppy seed layer.
- Bake the cake for about 60 minutes in the oven on the middle rack. Turn off the oven and keep the cake inside for a further 5-10 minutes with the door slightly open.
- After that you can let the cake cool at room temperature until it isn't hot anymore. Don't touch it, the middle of the cake will still appear wobbly, but that's normal.
- Once it isn't super hot anymore you can put it in the freezer for up to one hour (or in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight) to set. It will firm up and can be sliced. Store leftovers in the fridge. Enjoy!
Video Of The Recipe:
- Shredded unsweetened coconut: You could use ground almonds or other ground nuts instead.
- Banana: Use banana or applesauce for an oil-free version. If you prefer a flaky/buttery soft crust, I would recommend using 60 grams banana (or applesauce) and 60 grams vegan butter (margarine).
- Coconut milk: I use canned coconut milk. Instead, you could use a mixture of any plant-based milk and oat cream or soy cream.
- Silken tofu: Instead of silken tofu, you might also use vegan cream cheese.
- Coconut cream: You could use oat cream, soy cream, cashew cream, or vegan yogurt instead.
- Recipe serves 12. Nutrition facts are for one serving.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
I used half maple syrup and half date syrup. Filling came out light brown, probably due to the date syrup.
Next time, could I use half maple syrup and half date SUGAR to make the filling lighter in color?
Or use all date SUGAR? Would the amount still be 1/3 cup?
This is now my Go To cheesecake recipe.
(I did not add the poppy seed layer.)
Thank you – keep the recipes coming!
So glad you like it, Linda. I assume the date sugar would also discolor it. I haven’t tried a granulated sweetener in this recipe yet, you might need to use a little more than 1/3 cup. 🙂
I have made this cake several times now and everyone loved it. Thank you for this recipe! Will make the cake again today for Christmas.
That’s so good to hear, Kata! Thanks for your great feedback. 🙂
Hi there, this looks incredible and, from the other reviews, it is!
Do you think it would work to use Almond flour instead of oat flour for the crust? Thanks so much in advance! Your recipes are staples in our household 🙏
Hi Tina, I am so glad you like my recipes. Yes, I think almond flour should work fine. 🙂
We made this a second time, but decided to cook the filling on the stove top to allow the cornstarch to thicken. Then we baked it for the listed time. The result was a much denser filling, which was what we were aiming for. Great recipe thank you
Thanksgiving will see this again. Maybe with some pumpkin spices.
So interesting. Thanks for your feedback. 🙂
My wife and I made this today going to serve it to friends tomorrow. Recipe was well laid out,
This was our test run and it seems to have turned out great. The proof will be on Passover when the whole family is over.