If you’re anything like me, you consider cheese to be one of our diet's essential food groups. That’s part of why becoming a vegan can be so tricky at times. It requires you to give up many of the delicious foods you love to eat, and often the vegan versions that are available just don’t quite compare to the original.
You’ll need to use a food processor or blender to get this tofu to just the right consistency. You can try to break down the tofu by hand, but the results will be a little more chunky and less smooth.
But what about ricotta? We’ve created this vegan substitute for ricotta cheese that will blow your mind in baked dishes like cannelloni, enchiladas, and vegan lasagna. Vegan tofu ricotta contains a surprisingly similar texture and taste to the real deal.
This seven-ingredient tofu ricotta recipe is ridiculously easy to whip up, taking 20 minutes total to prepare. If you’re using a tofu press, this recipe will only take about 5 minutes of active preparation time.
Tofu ricotta - FAQ
We understand you may be left with a few questions regarding this tofu ricotta recipe. Without a base knowledge of the main ingredient, tofu, your tofu cheese might not turn out the way you’re hoping! We got with our most trusted chefs and compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions with this in mind.
Keep reading for more tips on creating flavorful tofu ricotta cheese!
What is tofu?
Tofu is a soybean-based product made from pressed soy curds and turned into a block form. The flavor of tofu is relatively light and fluffy, making this tofu ricotta a perfect substitute for the mild flavor and texture of fresh ricotta cheese.
Can you freeze tofu ricotta?
Yes! You’ll likely end up using this vegan tofu ricotta in other recipes, so feel free to prep this recipe ahead of time. Having prepared tofu ricotta ready to go will save you some work later so that it’s conveniently ready to use at cooking time.
This tofu ricotta keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days once prepared. It also lasts in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Can I buy dairy- free cheese instead?
Non-dairy cheese from the grocery store works in a pinch as a replacement, but homemade vegan cheese tastes far superior. We love a tasty cashew-based cheese sauce for nachos and pasta. However, this tofu ricotta is excellent for feeding those with food allergies, as it’s completely nut-free and gluten-free.
This recipe is so short and simple that it makes so much sense to create this vegan ricotta at home. You know exactly what’s going into your food instead of having to read a mile long list of ingredients you can’t even pronounce on the nutrition label!
Does tofu taste like cheese?
Tofu is made from pressed soybean curds and is very light and mild in flavor. It mostly takes on the flavor of the spices and sauces around it.
Tofu doesn’t have a naturally cheesy taste, but ricotta has such a mild flavor you can mimic the taste by adding in spices and getting the texture right. You can’t substitute tofu for cheddar and strong-tasting cheese.
That being said, the texture of tofu does resemble a dense, soft cheese. By pureeing the tofu takes on a very similar texture to real ricotta cheese, which makes it great for mimicking ricotta-filled dishes like lasagna and stuffed shells.
What is the taste of tofu?
Tofu has a bad reputation for being bland and flavorless - but most of that misinformation comes from people who probably have very little knowledge when preparing their tofu.
Tofu is almost wholly flavorless, which is why it gets a bad rap for being bland. The trick to making tofu taste good is in the preparation. Ensuring you drain your tofu well and marinating and serving it in very flavorful dishes is the best way to enjoy it.
Do I need to press the tofu?
Yes, the pressing step is a crucial part of preparing tofu properly to make tofu ricotta cheese. Pressing removes most of the water from the tofu, which prevents sogginess and allows the tofu to thoroughly absorb sauces and marinades. Tofu contains a high water content, so if you choose to skip the pressing step, your tofu will end up tasting watery and bland.
Using a tofu press is the fastest and easiest way to get well-pressed tofu. Your tofu will be fully-pressed in 15 minutes.
If you don’t have a tofu press, you can also press your tofu between two heavy plates or cutting boards. Pressing takes quite a bit longer this way, so leave your tofu to press for at least 2-3 hours for the best results.
Is this tofu ricotta nut and gluten-free?
Many vegan cheese recipes use nuts as a base instead of dairy. You can make ricotta with cashews, which is tasty but presents a problem if you can’t eat nuts. The great thing about this vegan ricotta is that almost everyone can eat it unless they have an allergy to soy products.
The recipe is also entirely gluten-free, so it’s safe for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease to consume.
What can I eat with this tofu ricotta?
This vegan ricotta cheese is excellent in a variety of dishes. We love to enjoy this tofu ricotta cheese in:
- stuffed shells pasta
- zucchini boats
- eggplant parmesan
- vegan cheesecake
- savory tarts
- stuffed mushrooms
Transform your tofu ricotta into a dessert with just a few ingredient swaps.
Do I need to use firm tofu?
Yes, we chose firm tofu to make the vegan ricotta because it’s all about finding the right texture to get the tofu ricotta consistency just right.
The water content of silken and soft tofu is far too high to work for this recipe. You need to start with firmer tofu and drain the extra water before you prepare the tofu ricotta.
Extra-firm tofu will work just as well because it contains an even lower water content than the firm. However, you may need to puree extra-firm a little longer to get the right texture for your tofu ricotta.
Where can I buy tofu?
The growing popularity of tofu is widespread! You can easily find tofu at any major grocery store in the refrigerated health food section. Specialty health food stores also carry tofu and will likely have a more comprehensive selection of brands and tofu products available for purchase.
Look for a large block that states firm or extra firm on the package.
Is tofu good for you?
Tofu is an excellent source of lean vegan protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It has a very high mineral content, including iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and zinc. Tofu is also lower in calories than most cheeses. So if you are on a low-calorie diet, tofu could be an excellent option!
Moderation is key when it comes to incorporating new foods into your diet!
How can I change the flavor of my tofu?
The flavor of this tofu ricotta is Italian inspired, but you can easily adjust the flavoring to suit whatever recipe you’re making.
If you’re using this tofu ricotta for a sweet recipe, don’t add any garlic, nutritional yeast, or spices at all. Instead, add a bit of sweetener, a dash of pure vanilla extract, or cinnamon to taste.
For Mexican dishes, use cilantro or Mexican oregano. In French dishes, try thyme, chive, or herb de Provence. And in barbecue dishes, try adding in 1 tsp each of smoked paprika and chili powder.
You can add fresh or frozen spinach for an extra kick of nutrients that pair well in Italian recipes such as vegan lasagna. Tofu ricotta is completely versatile!
Do I need to use a food processor?
Yes, you need to use a food processor or blender to get the right consistency, similar to cheese. Without the help of either of these kitchen gadgets, your vegan tofu ricotta will end up too chunky and not smooth.
Consistency plays a huge role in this particular recipe! Pulse the food processor slowly, as the ricotta can quickly get too smooth from overmixing.
Final notes on this homemade vegan tofu ricotta recipe
This tofu ricotta is a light and delicious way to enjoy vegan versions of some of our favorite comfort foods. It’s incredibly versatile and keeps well in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
Play with different combinations of herbs and spices to find even more ways to enjoy this ricotta. My favorite dish to make using this ricotta is a classic vegetarian lasagna, but stuffed zucchini boats were pretty generous with tofu ricotta as well.
You no longer have to skip out on the joys of ricotta cheese with this vegan recipe! Why not bookmark this recipe and enjoy baking the vegan version of all your favorite dishes with this creamy vegan ricotta!
Tofu Ricotta: Diving into Vegan Cheese
14 oz tofu, firm or extra firm
1 clove of garlic
½ tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
A small handful of fresh herbs of your choice*
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-3 tsp nutritional yeast
Drain your tofu in a tofu press for 15 min. Break it up into large chunks and place all the ingredients into your food processor.
Pulse the processor repeatedly until well-combined and coarsely ground.*
Spoon the mixture out of the food processor and consume your vegan ricotta tofu as desired!
*We love to use basil, Italian parsley, cilantro, chives, and scallions for this recipe. If you don’t have fresh herbs, use 1 tsp dried herb de Provence, Italian herbs, or dried oregano.
* You don’t want the texture to be completely smooth, as ricotta naturally has some small chunks and lumps in it.