This paleo vegan turtle cheesecake is rich, creamy and won’t leave you missing the dairy! It’s also no-bake and perfect for Christmas.
I can’t stop making variations of this vegan cheesecake. The base is just so perfect.
I’d tried numerous vegan cheesecake recipes over the last few years but didn’t love them enough to post. So now that I have one that I love, I’m going to adapt the heck out of it. :D
I posted another vegan cheesecake recently, this vegan pumpkin cheesecake but I’m posting another already because I want you all to have enough time to try this out before Christmas.
Not that you need to try it out. I can’t stop making it so I can ensure you that it is very well tested!
If you’ve never had vegan cheesecake before, you might be wondering how cashews work to replace cream cheese and eggs. It’s just magical. That’s all I can say!
If you’ve tried other vegan cheesecake recipes in the past and thought that they were gross (that was me for years), I urge you to give this one a try! Even my pickiest taste testers loved it.
And no, you can’t taste the coconut at all! I recommend using refined coconut oil. Otherwise, you might be able to detect some coconut taste!
You might notice that I didn’t use a ton of pecans. If you want a thicker pecan layer, use about 1 1/3 cups pecans and chop them up more finely than in the photos.
Stir them into the full batch of caramel. Top with mini chocolate chip or piped chocolate.
For more pecan treats that’d be great for Christmas, try these mini caramel pecan tarts or this pecan pie fudge. This dairy-free chocolate fondue would also be great!
Substitution questions about this vegan turtle cheesecake recipe?
- What can I use in place of the cashews?
I think any nut would work for the crust. I always use cashews and almonds in the crust. I thought about pecans but they’re super expensive here and you wouldn’t be able to taste them so much with the cocoa powder in there, anyway.For the filling, I don’t think there’s a good sub for a vegan dessert like this.
- Can I use something instead of dates in the crust?
I haven’t tried it but perhaps prunes would work. I’m not sure how different they taste but I think with all that cocoa powder, it’d cover up any unusual taste.
- Can I use something other than coconut milk?
Another type of milk might work but it won’t be quite as rich, creamy or thick. It could also possibly be too soft to cut.
- Can I use something other than maple syrup?
Any liquid sweetener would probably work (that you would use as a 1:1 sub for maple syrup or honey).
- Can I use something other than coconut oil?
I’ve only tried this vegan turtle cheesecake with coconut oil and recommend using that.
- Can I use something other than lemon juice?
Unfortunately not. It’s needed to give the cheesecake it’s slight zing. Without it, the cheesecake tastes kind of flat.
- Can I use a different sized pan?
Definitely! Your cheesecake will just be thinner. Think about the crust, though. If you want an 8″x8″, you’ll probably want to double the crust. If you use a 6″ springform, you’ll have a little too much for the pan and will need to put the leftover filling in something else.
- I don’t have a food processor or high-speed blender. What else can I use?
Sorry to say that you need one of those. You can’t chop up the dates finely enough without one. And because of more importantly – the filling. I really, really recommend a high-speed blender (not a regular blender!) over the food processor. It’ll get the filling perfectly smooth and creamy. I can’t say that all food processors will do the same (though I’m sure some would!).
- Can I use something instead of coconut cream?
I can’t think of a paleo or vegan sub. Heavy cream would probably work if you can have dairy. Almond milk, cashew milk, etc. would be too thin.
- Can I use something instead of maple syrup?
I wouldn’t recommend it! I know some people are probably curious about honey (for a non-vegan version) but I haven’t had a good experience using honey in place of maple syrup in boiled caramel recipes.
- Can I use something instead of coconut sugar?
Brown sugar would probably work for a non-paleo version.
About the sauce:
If you try out this vegan turtle cheesecake, I’d love to hear what you think!
Paleo Vegan Turtle Cheesecake
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 9-12 slices
- 2/3 cup (93 grams) raw almonds or cashews (roasted are also fine)
- 2/3 cup (140 grams) pitted dates, firmly packed
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (19 grams) cocoa powder
- little less than 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups (435 grams) raw cashews1
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) full-fat canned coconut milk
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) coconut oil2
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (160 milliliters) coconut cream (not milk!)
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) maple syrup
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) coconut sugar, very tightly packed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- the above caramel
- about 1/2-2/3 cup (55-77 grams) chopped pecans
- about 1/2 cup (85 grams) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, melted OR about 1/4 cup (42 grams) mini chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (make sure to use paleo / vegan chocolate)
For the crust:
For the filling:
For the caramel:
For the topping:
- Line the bottom and sides (all the way to the top) of a circular 7"x3" springform pan (if a little smaller, you can pour the leftover filling in a small dessert glass / bowl) with a piece of foil or plastic wrap.
- In the bowl of your food processor using an S-blade, pulse all the crust ingredients until it starts to come together. Depending on your food processor, this will take 1-3 minutes.
- Pinch a bit of it together - it should stick together easily. You can also use a high-speed blender (the small jar used to make nut butter). Process it on high for about 20 seconds or until no large chunks remain. It might look very dry but once you pinch it, it'll come together.
- Press firmly onto the bottom of the lined pan and press it down so that it's compacted.
- Place the pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
- Get out a high-speed blender and make sure it's large enough to fit all the ingredients. The filling yields about 5-6 cups. Add all the filling ingredients, in the order listed, and blend for about 30-60 seconds, or even longer, depending on your blender, or until totally smooth and no lumps remain.
- Pour the filling over the crust and place the cheesecake in the freezer for about 2 hours or until you think it's firm enough to put the caramel on top. You can also pour the caramel on top if you don't care so much about forming a perfect layer of caramel. It'll take 9-12 hours for the cheesecake the freeze solid.
- Add all the ingredients, except for the vanilla, to a saucepan or small pot. Put in a candy thermometer if you have one.
- Bring to a boil, over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once it's come to a full boil, continue boiling for 8 - 10 minutes. Adjust the heat if you need to so that the mixture doesn't burn. I kept mine at 5 out of 9 and never had an issue with that.
- The mixture quite quickly came to 194 °F (90 °C), and then it took several minutes before it started getting hotter. Then it quickly moved to 201 °F (95 °C). You could also see a change in the mixture when that happened (but maybe you won't so don't use that as a measure of it being ready). But it will be clearly thicker than when you started. If it's still super thin, it's not ready.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool enough so that it doesn't melt the cheesecake.
- Pour the caramel over the cheesecake and top with pecans and piped melted chocolate or chocolate chips.
- Freeze for up to a month or refrigerate for up to 4 days. To defrost it, set it out at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes (will depend on how warm your kitchen is). You can also put it in the fridge overnight. It is great kept in the fridge for a softer texture.
41 comments on “Vegan Turtle Cheesecake (paleo, no-bake)” — Add one!
8 comments are awaiting moderation!
My caramel sauce hardened up before cooling down… any suggestions to making it drizzle like again?
Hi there! You can add more coconut cream or canned coconut milk to make it runnier. Just add a little at a time until it’s the right consistency.
Do you have to let it freeze for so long before eating? Got a late start and it will only be in the freezer for 6 hours before serving and no time to defrost.
This looks amazing!
Would you be able to change the topping to a berry topping & swirl through?
Sorry for just now seeing this! You could change the topping to whatever you’d like it to be. :)
I see it says takes 9-12 hours to freeze but how long do you have to let it cool before you can serve it? Thanks!
Do you mean how long do you defrost it? It’s in Step 13. :)
Hi! Have you tried making this with miyokos vegan cashew cream cheese? Just wondering if that can be used?
Hello! You can’t use cream cheese or a cream cheese sub in this recipe. If you want to use a cream cheese sub, then it’s best to find a recipe calling for cream cheese. :) Sorry about that!
Hello Erin! This recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. Just one question, do I need to soak the cashews?
Hello! Check out the first note at the bottom of the recipe. :) I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Omg, I fell in love when I made and ate this cake. It is SO good! I licked the spoon and cleaned the blender.
Even my non vegan, non vegetarian Texas family liked it and that says a lot!
Thank you for researching this recipe and for sharing it.
Hi Lacey! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the cheesecake. :) And super awesome that your non-vegan family enjoyed it, too! Thanks for your feedback and sorry for my slow reply! The last few weeks have been crazy.
can I use almonds instead of cashews
I’m so sorry for just now seeing this! I hope you found the answer in the post where it says, “What can I use in place of the cashews?” Sorry again!
Hi, am in process of making this and my caramel sauce didn’t seem to thicken despite boiling & stirring for 10 min. I’m wondering if I should’ve used only the white hardened cream from the coconut cream because I stirred it in with the liquid and weighed that. Your instructions don’t say to use only the hardened part of the cream.
Hello! I think you’re getting coconut cream and coconut milk confused. The caramel recipe specifically says to use coconut cream and not coconut milk. Coconut cream is the hardened white part from the top of a can of refrigerated coconut milk. If you have a can of coconut milk and you mix the coconut cream together with the liquid, then that’s just coconut milk.
I made this for a NYE party I hosted last night and it turned out really well. After putting the caramel and other toppings on, I would recommend putting it in the freezer instead of the fridge to help it set. I thought I cooked the caramel long enough but I probably should have kept going because it was quite oozy but still delicious and my guests thought it was pretty. I used a 9 inch springform pan and I increased the recipe by 1/3 and that seemed to work well.
I’m so glad that it turned out well! It’s good that your guests still liked the oozy caramel. :) And it’s great to know that upping it by 1/3 is the right amount for a 9″ springform! Thanks for the tip and for your other feedback. I really appreciate it!
I definitely agree, once I had a vegan cheesecake I couldn’t stop making variations either! Love this turtle version, so like the ultimate decadence!
Haha, right?! I worked hard on that recipe and now I’m going to buy back some time by posting 47 variations. :D
I love anything turtle so this is calling my name. AND I don’t have to bake it a) in a water bath and b) for over an hour, then let it cool, etc. Such a long, annoying process. This is actually easier!
Haha. True. Making regular cheesecakes us an annoying process! I should add that to the list of pros on my next no-bake cheesecake recipe. :D
Holy cow, this looks amazing! That caramel chocolate combo is to die for!
Drooling! I love turtle cheesecake. This look so perfect and I can’t believe it is non dairy, you are a magician!
Thank you, thank you! :)
The cheesecake of my dreams! This looks so amazing. I’ll have to make it for Christmas!
I hope you will! :)
Looks absolutely beautiful, you are very talented!
Why, thank you. :D
Jaw-droppingly beautiful! I’m sure this will be a holiday favorite for years to come!
Thank you! I hope it will. :)
Can this be made ahead and frozen
Yes! It’s in the directions. :)
The first time I heard of using cashews in a cheesecake I was so surprised. It is amazing to me how much it resembles real cheesecake. I have never made one since we are not DF or GF. Some family members are but I have stopped cooking for them. HAHA!! Too many allergies to make a meal for so many different allergies.
Haha. Well real cheesecake is really delicious but I still love the cashew-based ones. Despite them being pretty strange sounding. ;)
Erin! I’m definitely making this for CHRISTmas. Can’t wait to serve it to the family. Thanks for another gorgeous recipe. Happy Holidays!
Happy holidays to you, too! :) I hope that everyone will enjoy the cheesecake. I can’t wait to hear how it comes out!
This was excellent! Will definitely make again. The whole family loved it.
Woohoo! So glad to hear that. Thanks a bunch for your nice comment, as always. :) Hope you had a great Christmas!