sunflower cashew ricotta with sunflower seeds and parsley

sunflower cashew ricotta {keto + vegan}

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Sunflower cashew ricotta is a vegan take on ricotta cheese, and a more keto-friendly option than plain old cashew ricotta. Sunflower seeds are much lower in carbohydrates and higher in fiber (and other nutrients) than cashews, so I went with a mix of the two. If you prefer to use all cashews or all sunflower seeds, this vegan cheese recipe will still work fine– just make sure to make your swaps using the same total amount of nuts/seeds.

why I love this vegan cheese recipe

Oh, the things you can make with this sunflower cashew ricotta! Not only does this vegan cheese recipe give you a creamy, delicious, dairy-free ricotta that is keto-friendly, but it also makes the perfect base for many other things!

Adding sunflower seeds also means you’re spending less overall. Sunflower seeds are much more budget-friendly than raw cashews– another reason to love this vegan cheese recipe!

sunflower cashew ricotta in a mixing bowl

How to use this sunflower cashew ricotta

  • swap it in for traditional ricotta for a dairy-free cheese (perfect if you’re on a vegan keto diet or you’re dairy-free keto like my husband)
  • add your favorite seasonings to make a yummy nut dip (cajun and pesto immediately come to mind!)
  • spread it on almond meal bread or a keto pizza/flatbread
  • use a spoonful or two to make a creamy salad dressing

let’s make some!

Have I mentioned how easy this is? Sunflower cashew ricotta is a quick recipe, and the only step that takes more than a few minutes is soaking the cashews and sunflower seeds ahead of time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

The process is below, but make sure to check out the full recipe at the bottom of the page!

To make sunflower cashew ricotta:

  1. Soak the raw cashews and raw sunflower seeds in a bowl full of boiling water for one hour to soften.
  2. Drain the water from the seeds/nuts, then add them to a high-speed blender or a food processor.
  3. Add all the other ingredients except for the parsley and probiotic. Blend/process for about 3-4 minutes, pausing halfway to scrape down the sides. It’s ready to use/serve!
  4. Optional steps: break open a probiotic capsule and sprinkle in the powder, stirring it with a wooden spoon (as metal can deactivate probiotics). Cover with a thin towel and place the bowl (ceramic or glass bowl) on the counter and let it sit overnight. This gives it that familiar tanginess that’s found in many soft, fresh cheeses and yogurts. Stir in chopped parsley when ready to use.
sunflower cashew ricotta in the blender

are cashews keto?

It depends who you ask and what your goals are on a ketogenic diet. Since cashews have a higher amount of carbs and natural sugars, some say to avoid them completely. If you’re following a more strict keto diet and trying to stay under 20g net carbs per day, you might think cashews are out of the question. However, total net carbs and its affect on ketosis can really vary for each individual. My husband, for instance, can maintain ketosis with 30-40 net carbs per day, incorporating more low-carb vegetables and fruits, as long as he’s also getting enough healthy fats and watching his caloric intake.

This sunflower cashew ricotta recipe calls for 3/4 cup raw cashews, which is equivalent to 21 grams net carbs and 6 grams of sugar. But chances are, you won’t be eating the whole bowl (nearly 2 cups total serving size). By adding the sunflower seeds, we’re adding more fiber, and one serving size– just over three tablespoons– of this sunflower cashew ricotta has about 2.5 grams net carbs.

The short answer is, while cashews are not the most keto-friendly nut, I believe they can have a place in a keto diet, as long as you watch your serving size.

To read more about the basics of a keto diet, check out this previous post, What is a Keto Diet? . It’s a Q&A with Noor Struik of The Nourishing State, a dietician and nutritional epidemiologist who coaches and consults patients following a ketogenic and LCHF diet for weight loss, disease management, and other goals. I love what she has to say about carb counting:

“Personally, I believe it’s more important to focus on satiety and how certain foods/meals make you feel, versus counting carbs.”

If you’re still wary of using cashews, you can easily replace them for soaked, slivered almonds or use more sunflower seeds.

sunflower cashew ricotta in a bowl with a napkin

I hope you love this sunflower cashew ricotta and find many uses for it! It’s an easy, dairy-free keto recipe, and if you keep a stocked, keto-friendly pantry, you likely already have most of the ingredients!

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sunflower cashew ricotta in a bowl with a napkin

sunflower cashew ricotta {keto + vegan}

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

A delicious, dairy-free alternative to traditional ricotta cheese, enjoy this sunflower cashew ricotta in so many ways! Sunflower seeds make this vegan cheese recipe more low-carb and keto-friendly! Swap it for ricotta, use it as a nut dip, or spread it onto your favorite low-carb bread or pizza dough.


  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seed kernels 
  • 1 small garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon minced garlic)
  • juice of 1 medium lemon (about 1-1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup nut milk (macadamia or almond) or sub water, divided in half
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 probiotic capsule (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parlsey (optional)


  1. Place the sunflower seeds and cashews in a medium bowl. Pour boiling water over them until they're completely submerged. Allow them to soak in the hot water for 1 hour to soften.*
  2. Drain and discard the soaking water. Place the cashews and sunflower seeds into a high-speed blender or food processor. Add the garlic clove, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, apple cider vinegar, and half of the amount of nut milk (1/4 cup only-- you'll add the additional 1/4 cup later).
  3. Blend/process on high speed for about two minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides of the blender/food processor. Blend/process for another minute, then stop and check the consistency. If you want the ricotta to be on the thicker side, continue blending it for another minute. If you need to thin it down, add the remaining 1/4 cup of nut milk and blend for another minute, or until it's smooth.
  4. Transfer the sunflower cashew ricotta to a small bowl. It's ready to use. You can stir in the chopped parlsey, if you'd like, or move to the next optional step.
  5. Optional step: Break open a probiotic capsule and use a wooden or plastic spoon to stir the probiotic powder into the ricotta (metal deactivates probiotics). Cover with a thin, clean dish cloth and let it sit on the counter overnight. The probiotics gives the ricotta that familiar tanginess that many soft, fresh cheeses and yogurts have.


Alternatively, you can soak the cashews and sunflower seeds in cool water for about 6 hours.

Store the ricotta covered, in the refrigerator, for up to one week.

You can adjust the amount of garlic, nutritional yeast, and salt, as desired.

Nutritional information is an estimate based on 10 servings, or just over 3 tablespoons per serving. This serving size will vary depending on how you use the ricotta.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 6.7gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 8.5mgCarbohydrates: 4gNet Carbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 3.1g

This nutritional information is approximate and is provided for convenience as a courtesy.

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