Humor me here for a minute and let's play a matching game. When you think of a lemon dessert, what else goes with it? Poppyseed maybe? That's kinda where I immediately, almost mindlessly go. I made this little cake to celebrate a friend's birthday a while back, and I wanted to pair the beautiful, sweet tanginess of lemon with something other than the obvious (Not that I've got anything against the humble poppyseed, it's still lovely, but I was just wanting something a little more...exciting I guess).
So, what goes with lemon, ISN'T poppyseed, but is reminiscent of those delicate little sprinkles? What imparts teeny bursts of texture to your dessert but is fresher, and in my opinion more interesting than poppyseed....yep, CHIA :) Add some ginger for good measure, and you've got one simple, fresh, and absolutely delicious raw cheesecake on your hands.
I've been saving this recipe for a special occasion on the blog... What kind of special occasion? Um, I actually have no idea to be honest! It just turned out to be a special cake and I felt like it needed a good reason for sharing. But then yesterday I asked on Instagram what's one dessert people would bring with them to a desert island and I was surprised to hear so many people say lemon anything. I paused. I was expecting lots of chocolate and pb (and indeed that was a common answer), but lemon wasn't quite on my radar. And then I realized, you know what, it's been quite a while since a prominently lemon dessert has made an appearance around here. That felt like a special enough reason to share this cake straight away. ?
This cake may look fancy, but it's honestly a simple, no-fuss dessert. I love decorating my cakes naturally, using edible materials that enhance the flavors in the desserts. So really it's just an easy raw cashew cheesecake with a few slices of lemon on top, a couple of raw nuggets made from some of the crust mixture and a sprig of rosemary + a sprinkle of chia seeds on top... because they're cute :) All in all couldn't be any simpler, but so delicious.
I also used a hint of turmeric for color -- the tiniest pinch made the prettiest mellow yellow. My favorite yellow go-to these days. Why, oh, why did I ever use that artificial yellow food coloring in the past?! o.O
Meyer lemons are the star here because... well because I'll always take a meyer over a non-meyer (wouldn't you?). If you can't find meyer lemons just use a regular lemon; they'll work just fine. But meyer lemons make everything a tiny touch more special.
Last but not least, a few more quick tips: 1. make sure all ingredients are at room temp before starting. 2. I used my 5" springform pan for this. Triple for a 6" cake, or make a few tiny cakes in silicone cupcake pans. 3. If you need more tips on how to make raw cheesecakes like a pro, check out my book Unconventional Treats.
Raw Lemon Ginger Chia Cheesecake
A simple, refreshing lemon ginger chia raw cheesecake, made with cashews. Gluten-free and vegan.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 5" cake
- Category: Cake
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Dessert
- Diet: Vegan
- ¾ cups raw almonds
- 1 soft medjool date, pitted
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, softened
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ¾ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained*
- 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used meyer lemons)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, liquefied
- 1 tsp ground ginger (spice)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp turmeric (spice)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- Some of the crust mixture for making balls. A few slices of lemon, a fresh rosemary sprig (thyme would work well too), a bit of chia seeds for sprinkling.
- Process all crust ingredients, except maple syrup, in a food processor until a sticky crumble is formed. Add maple syrup and process again to combine. Remove a tiny bit of the mixture and form into a few little balls with your hands, set aside. Transfer the rest of the crust mixture into a 5" springform pan and press to form a crust along the base and a bit up the edges all around. Place the pan in the freezer while working on the next step.
- Blend all filling ingredients, except chia seeds, in a power blender until completely smooth. Add in chia and either stir with a spoon or pulse very briefly to fold the seeds in without grinding them down (don't over-blend -- you want those seeds visible in the cake!). Pour this mixture into the pan over the crust. Smooth out the top (I let mine be a bit rustic). Top with a few slices of lemon, the balls, and sprinkle with chia.
- Freeze for 5 hours or overnight. Decorate with rosemary sprig before serving. I recommend allowing the cake to thaw out a bit prior to serving for a softer consistency. Keep leftovers frozen. Enjoy!
*To pre-soak nuts: place in a glass bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge). Then strain and discard the water. For a quick pre-soak, cover with boiled water and soak for 15 mins, then strain and discard water. (Note: this technique doesn't preserve the nutrition of the recipe as well as the traditional soaking technique above). Additional Note: the purpose of soaking the nuts is to re-hydrate them and plump them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency. Proper soaking techniques also maximize nutrition and digestibility. If you're interested in learning more about nut soaking and other dessert prep tips and tricks, I delve into these subjects in detail in my book Unconventional Treats.
Keywords: Vegan Lemon Ginger Chia Cheesecake, raw vegan lemon cake, lemon chia cake, vegan lemon cheesecake, lemon ginger cheesecake, dairy-free lemon cheesecake
Saskia de Wit says
Made this for 28 persons as a dessert on our weekly event @ Maastricht goes Vegan.
It looked great, tasted even better.
One to remember
So happy this cake made it to your event! :) Thanks so much for the kind feedback. Much appreciated.
Great recipe, everyone in my family loved it I just skipped the chia seeds in the cashew filling for a creamier texture. I'll definitely make it again!
Thanks for sharing, Rachel! So happy this recipe served you well :)
This cake looks amazingly good! I love lemons, so this is a MUST try for me. Thank you for sharing
Thanks. Enjoy it :)
Hi Audrey, The cake looks pretty and delicious! I bought a jar of macadamia butter recently and have no idea what to use it in... can I use that instead of cashew? If yes, what would be the equivalent of 3/4th cup of raw cashews? Thanks!
Hi Harvinder. If you really wanted to turn this into a macadamia cake, I'd use somewhere around 1/3-1/2 a cup of butter instead of the cashews. You might need to adjust the flavors in the recipe to your taste though as macadamias have a stronger flavor than cashews (which are more neutral).
However here's a recipe that naturally uses macadamias already where it might be easier to swap the butter in without worrying about adjusting flavors too much: https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/raw-strawberry-lime-macadamia-cheesecake-dairy-free-gluten-free-refined-sugar-free/
Or this one: https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/vegan-chocolate-macadamia-semifreddo/
Or can use the macadamia butter in one of the many cookie recipes I have that call for nut butter, like this one for example: https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/gf-vegan-chocolate-peanut-butter-cookies/
Or in a quick fudge, like this: https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/raw-raspberry-almond-marzipan-fudge-dairy-free-recipe/
Hope that gives you some ideas :)
Thank you, amazingly delicious.
Hi Geri, thanks so much for the lovely feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed the cake!
Ana Cristina Tavares says
OMG I had to come back and rate this. Wow so good. I have been on a limited food list for the last 5 months due to mess ups at hospital that lead me to have the worst stomach reflux due to 4 rounds of medication.. So have been looking at clean foods and healthier options of desserts and yours is by far the best cheesecake I have tried with the limited ingredients I can have :) THANK YOU life just got tastier
My favorite kind of feedback :) Thank you so much for sharing and I'm glad you're enjoying this cake!
Hi there! This recipe looks amazing! One question. Is it possible to make this recipe with no dates? I'm so glad I ran into your site! Its got me sooo excited! See, me and my family don't mix fruits with nuts, and it can be hard to find good recipes for things like cakes, bars, and brownies that dont mix the two. So I have just been all over your nut free recipe section! Thanks so much again!
Hi Lesei. Absolutely. The date in the crust acts as a light binder, adds a bit of a chewy texture, and some sweetness but it's totally not essential. You can just add a bit more maple syrup and a tiny bit more coconut oil and that'll do the trick. Feel free to do that for any of the raw and no-bake cake recipes where it's literally just 1-3 dates in the crust only (for recipes where it's more like 1/2 a cup or more of dates, you'll need to substitute with a slightly different crust if need be -- feel free to ask if unsure, if you come across a recipe like that). Enjoy! :)
I made this, but with hazelnuts since I didn't have any almonds. It was fabulous. I'll probably continue making the crust with hazelnuts since I love them more than almonds. But this a fabulous, delicious & easy recipe. Thanks for creating & sharing it.
Hi Mary. Thanks so much for sharing and for the lovely feedback, hazelnuts sound delish in this. I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe!
It looks very good!!!
Thank you for sharing.
Is it just 1 date at the crust???
Hi Rinatya. Yes, that's correct. It just helps the mixture to bind better and adds a little bit of sweetness.
S Smith says
I love this recipe and have made it so many times. However I am currently on a no oil diet and wondered if there was a way to make this without oil, or whether you have any similar recipes without oil?
Hi there. I do have a number of similar cheesecakes that are oil-free. Here are a few examples:
For more ideas, go to the recipes page and click on the tabs: "cake" + "raw" + "no-bake" + "oil-free" and you'll see many more options. For other oil-free desserts, select only the "oil-free" tab to find more ideas. The recipes page can be found here: https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/all-recipes/
Audrey Powell says
Hi Audrey, I am Audrey too! I just read your recipe and can't wait to try it. It looks delicious. I am also very impressed with the other recipes you have. It is hard to find healthy options when it comes to dessert, especially gluten free. I will continue to follow your website! Thank you for sharing!
Hi Audrey. Thanks for the kind note. Enjoy the recipes :)
Patty Nickolaus says
What do you think about me using a 4 inch ramekin for this?
Would definitely work, only you won't be able to pull them out easily (unless you line them in a special way) so will have to enjoy them out of the ramekins. If that works, enjoy :)
I am planning to make this beautiful cake for my birthday. How many persons can get a piece if I only make one portion?
I usually get 6 small pieces, which although small usually suffice for a person as raw cakes are on the rich side. Sometimes I make 8 pieces from a cake this size -- depending on audience :)
Thank You very much i made this recipe today for me and my boyfriend and he Just proposed! 😍
That's amazing -- congratulations!! :)
I did this cake and it was delicious and a huge success with my vegan and gluten intolerant friends. And my friends all around.
One thing, I had to triple the quantity of the top filling to obtain a good thick layer. Other than that yummy. Thank you. X
Hi Sylvaine. Thanks so much for sharing -- I'm glad you and your friends liked it. I've had the same experience serving it to others as well -- works for all sorts of crowds :) And yes, this cake is on the smaller side, not quite as tall as say the strawberry lime macadamia cheesecake or the tiramisu, so tripling is a good idea if you want the same sort of effect.
Did this cake today. First, I ate it with my eyes, taking into account how beautiful it is ;-). The taste is delicious and unexepected, and I love the crunchiness added by the chia seeds!
Thanks very much for the lovely feedback, Marta. I'm so happy you enjoyed it :)
I'm new to your blog, found it this morning and wow you look like you have some amazing things that I'd love to try. One quick question, when it says "pre-soaked cashews", how long am I soaking the cashews for? (I'm also assuming I'm soaking them in water? I've never tried this b4).
Hey Dawn, thanks very much. I just added a note to the bottom of the recipe with nut soaking instructions. I've been adding that to all my recipes, but this one happens to be a bit older so was missing the extra instructions. Hope it helps, and let me know if you have any further questions!
Happy baking! :)
Dear Audrey, I love your recipe, I am trying it this weekend. Before doing so, could you tell me if the chia seeds are raw (not soaked or cooked in any way)? If they are, aren't they too chewy in the mixture? If i do jot want their hard texture, should i soak them before making the cake? Thanks a lot! Niki
Hi Niki. The chia seeds are raw, though they do soften up in the process of setting. So the end result is something like a softer version of poppy seeds in the cake (if you like lemon poppy seed baked goods).
However, if you're not a fan of that kind of texture you could just leave out the chia seeds altogether -- they are not essential to the recipe, and it's a lovely cake without them too :)
Just made this, put it in the freezer then started thinking about coconut oil versus the coconut fat that comes from a can of coconut. I used the coconut oil version not what I think of as coconut fat. Is that an error?
No, coconut oil is correct for this recipe.
I have made cakes with coconut cream from a can of full can coconut milk before (like this one) and they are lovely too, though a bit softer in texture, and the liquid to solids proportion in the recipe would need to be a bit different. But it wouldn't have been that bad of a mistake anyhow :)
Forgot to let you know that it came out EE (exceeds expectations) and is now in our collection of dessert recipes.
I see! :D I am going to make this cake on Wednesday for my husband's birthday.
Thank you for the clarification.
Happy New Year by the way! :D
Is it possible that I n your recipie for RAW LEMON GINGER CHIA CHEESECAKE is mistake?
Do you really mean 1 date or 1 cup?
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Hi Marta. Nope, it is in fact just 1 date. It's a very small cake :)
Do you know how much I would need to increase it by for a 10" springform pan? I saw a 9" would need to by x6. Thanks for your help! The recipe looks delicious and I am making it for 13 people.
I'd multiply it by 8 -- since a 9" pan holds 10-12 cups of contents (depending on height), and a 10" pan typically holds 12 cups. That said, I find a 9" cake is perfectly suited for a group of 13 if you have that pan size. I use a 10" to serve a group of 20 usually :)
Witch cheese is beeing used in this cake and how much? I Cannot find it in the recepie and I can t wait to make it!! Eva
Hi Eva. It's a raw cheesecake, so it's a type of cake made from nuts (no actual cheese involved). The cashew filling has the texture and flavor of a cheesecake.
Hi Audrey, this recipe looks amazing! Can you suggest a health alternative to maple syrup please?
Hi Susan. You can use most liquid sweeteners -- like coconut nectar, agave, rice syrup, yackon, etc. Whatever works for you and your diet. Though just keep in mind that each will add their own flavor tinge and have slightly varying degrees of sweetness. But all of these will make a good cake.
I would love to try your recipe today, but I do not have a food processor. Do you think that a bowl and a wooden spoon (all days style :)) would do it?
Hi Ana. Hmm... I just don't think it'll work by hand for the crust part (you really need those blades to work the nuts and dates into a fine sticky mixture). What you could do, however, to circumvent the lack of a food processor is use something like larabars and just press them into the shape of a crust in the pan. Not sure if they sell larabars where you are, but anything of a similar consistency should work :)
Lisa Graham says
Hi Audrey! Just found your blog thru Instagram and am loving the beautiful photos of your glorious recipes!! Even though Ive not ever tried raw desserts or any of the type of recipes you make, I have to say the pics all look like they should have shining heavenly light around them with sound bites of angels singing "Ahhhhhh!" LoL I look forward to trying them!
I am wondering though in this recipe and others like it that use soaked cashews, can almonds be substituted? I dont like cashews at all lol Ive noticed that your recipes and another blogger RawfullyKristina use soaked cashews only but am wondering is that just a preference or can they be substituted?
Hi Lisa, thanks so much and welcome to the blog :)
I do use a variety of nuts, but for cheesecakes cashews are a good go-to because they mimic the consistency of cheesecake extremely well. Almonds don't work as great. In general, it's certainly possible to substitute different nuts, but they work very differently in a recipe and require different ratios of sweeteners and flavors. That said, you might like to start with this macadamia-based cheesecake:
Or this pine-nut one:
Or have a look on the recipes page and select the tabs: "cake" "raw" "nut-free" and you'll find a whole selection of cakes made without cashews / nuts.
By the way, I noticed in another comment that you somehow ended up in a weird corner of the blog unable to find the recipe for this brownie fudge, so here you go:
Julie Hasson says
This recipe looks amazing! Do you prefer refined or unrefined coconut oil for the filling?
Thanks Julie. I'm not personally overly picky, but when I often go with refined / de-scented because some of the people enjoying the cake with me don't like the taste of coconut so that's the better option. But I've used unrefined in this cake as well and I personally don't notice the coconut, nor find it overpowering. So can go either way.
Barbara K says
Thanks for your help, Audrey.
I'll go ahead and multiply by six for a nine inch cake.
Or maybe I'll use my eight inch pan, and have it be taller. ;)
Sounds good :) I love taller cakes too.
Barbara K says
Audrey - Did you mean to say triple for a 9" cake?
I'm planning to bake one this weekend, 9", and would love a reply.
Do these cheesecakes do better in smaller sizes? My customer wants a 9" cake, but you seem to prefer the small sizes. Is that personal preference, or is there a practical reason?
Hey Barbara. I'd normally say triple for a 9", but in this cake at 5" the cake is on the flat side. To get it to fill out a 6" nicely you'd need to triple it (otherwise it will be very thin). So for a 9" I'd multiply by 6.
I prefer the smaller cakes because I make them multiple times a week and we have to manage to eat them all ? so a smaller size makes more sense. Also I usually make them for smaller gatherings and a 5" cake is just the right size. For a big event I'd make a 6" or a 9" though.
Vegan 786110 says
OMG - made this today and it was ABSOLUTELY amazing!!!!!! Probably the BEST cheesecake I have ever eaten EVER!!!!!!! Thank you a thousand times for posting such an awesome recipe!!!!! God bless you! X
Oh, so happy to hear :) Thank you for sharing. Glad you enjoyed it!
deb taylor says
I made this for my Mom on Mothers Day...spectacular. We both have sensitive teeth, so kept leftovers in fridge...it held up nicely. I am experimenting with so many other cheesecakes you share here...The Strawberry Lime requires to remain in freezer. Thank you for so many delicious recipes and gorgeous photos !
Hi Deb -- so happy to hear you both liked it :) And yes, some hold up in the fridge better than others. This strawberry cheesecake holds up great refrigerated by the way. As does this chocolate silk pie -- just a couple that come to mind straight away :)
What a beautiful cake! I'm going to be making it today, and just wondered if you thought using juiced ginger juice would work instead of the ground ginger? I'd love to know what you think! ?
Hi Joy. I know you probably already made the cake yesterday, but I'll answer anyways :) I speculate it should work just fine so long as you don't add too much liquid. Adding a tbsp or two would be fine though. Did you end up using ginger juice or went with the spice? -- now I'm curious how it turned out :)
Thanks for your reply! I ended up using ground ginger to be safe, it was delicious by the way, and next time I will try it with juiced ginger. I will let you know how that goes! Great, simple recipe! Thanks for sharing it ?
Oh great! SO happy you liked it :) And yes, I'd love to hear how it goes with the juiced ginger.
I need to make this for my mom. PERFECT for Mother's day. I hope it's as pretty as the one you did. It's absolutely lovely:)
Thank you Sherri! And you're right -- it's a great Mother's Day cake :) I'm sure yours will be lovely.
Whitney @WhittyPaleo says
Such a pretty cheesecake! I could totally make this for a friend's birthday this month too! Definitely going to make more than one though! Thanks for the recipe :)
You're welcome, Whitney :) I hope your dad enjoys it!
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
This looks really beautiful and I love the flavour mix - much as I love chocolate and PB, this is a nice fresh alternative for spring. Thanks for the idea and recipe :)
Thanks so much, Kari! It's definitely a light and springy one :)
Judee @Gluten Free A-Z Blog says
Oh my! This healthy dessert looks amazing! It really does look fancy!
Thanks so much, Judee :) Fancy, but effortless...
Natalie | Feasting on Fruit says
Yes, the first thing that comest to mind for me is poppy seed too, but I've always preferred chia personally! Why not have my cake and get my fiber and omega-3s too!? Okay that's a very nerdy reason I know :) I would be very very happy on a desert island with this cake!
Haha, yes. BUT... now you made me go and read up on poppy seed nutrition -- those tiny specs are also surprisingly potent. I think I'll be adding them to more things going forward ?
I am always in love with poppy seeds when combined to lemon in cheesecakes! Your photography is stunning, as always, Audrey! <3
Thank you! And yes, it's a great classic flavor. Also lemon & lavender -- my other favorite.