The Trick To Using Tofu As A Cream Cheese Substitute Is So Simple

If you're following a vegan diet, are lactose intolerant, or just don't have cream cheese on hand when you need it, there are a few different things you can use in place of the spread. And although tofu may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind, it can actually be a surprisingly great swap. You can use the plant-based protein as a substitute for cream cheese, but you'll want to make sure that you grab the silken variety. 

This kind of tofu is made to be a little creamier and will have a more similar consistency to cream cheese than firm tofu. And, because of the food's somewhat bland flavor, it can be a great addition to a variety of recipes, taking on the flavors from the other added ingredients. It's often sold in a shelf-stable carton, so it's perfect to keep some stashed in the pantry for a simple cream cheese swap.

You can swap it in evenly for baked goods

Rich and creamy desserts can still feature their signature texture, even without dairy. Many stores carry vegan cream cheese that you can use for your baking needs. However, if you can't locate any or want a different swap, silken tofu can be a great base for recipes like pies and cheesecake. Thanks to its uniquely creamy composition compared to other types of tofu, it's an ideal substitute for these recipes. Plus, when baked and then chilled, it can help these desserts set to the perfect texture. 

You can substitute an equal amount of tofu for the cream cheese that your recipe calls for. It's often packaged with water so make sure to drain it well before using. Of course, the flavor won't be exactly the same. Add a little lemon juice to emulate the tanginess of cream cheese and a few drops of vanilla to give it the signature subtle sweetness. Then, gently puree it all together to ensure these additions are mixed in well before adding it to your recipe. 

The uses go beyond baking

You can also whip up your own plant-based spread that you can use to top your toasted bagel or as a base for fruit pizza. Drain your silken tofu and puree it with a drizzle of apple cider vinegar to give it a slightly sour note. Then, comes the fun part. Add some strawberry or blueberry jelly to make a sweet and fruity cream cheese. Or, if you prefer savory flavors, stir in some sliced green onions, diced fresh herbs, or a few sprinkles of everything bagel seasoning. When you're done, the key is allowing the mixture to chill well to firm up in the fridge before spreading. 

Cream cheese frosting is a favorite for topping everything from carrot cake to brownies. Instead of the dairy base, you can whip some up with silken tofu, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add all of the ingredients to a stand mixer and beat them until they reach the perfect consistency, tasting and adjusting the flavors along the way.