5 Minute Coconut Cream Cheese Paleo, dairy-free

Dairy-Free Cream Cheese
Okay, so you may say that this title is misleading. The cream cheese has to ferment for 18 to 24 hours. But that’s not work-time for you. That’s just the cheese doin’ it’s thing while you sleep and wake up and go for a bike ride or whatever it is you do. The actual prep time to make this dairy-free cream cheese it literally 5 minutes. So easy. Of course you could leave out the probiotics, and then it would be 5 minutes from start to finish, but it won’t taste nearly as good, and it won’t be nearly as good for you. Trust me—follow the directions and you will be so happy :-)

5 Minute Coconut Cream Cheese

dairy-free, Paleo

2 (13 oz) cans of full-fat coconut milk OR 1 (33 oz) carton of coconut cream (THIS one or THIS one work best. They are less expensive purchased in Asian grocery stores.)
1 tbsp tsp maple syrup
the contents of enough dairy-free probiotics to equal about 37 billion*

Note: This method (directions below) of straining the coconut milk/cream in a cloth napkin will NOT work with coconut milk that contains gum, like Thai Kitchen (I’ve tried!).

The only trick is that the coconut milk/cream needs to be separated before you begin. If it isn’t separated when you open it, then put it in the fridge overnight to get it to separate. Sometimes that won’t work either (I know, it’s so frustrating) and in that case you can pour the milk/cream into a large bowl and freeze it completely to get it to separate. Then you have to let it thaw at room temperature (which takes a long time). Do not heat because that will make it emulsify again. But the majority of the time both of these brands have separated for me when I refrigerate them, if they aren’t already separated at room temperature.

Place a thin cloth napkin over a large sterile mixing bowl and pour the contents of the separated milk/cream over the napkin. Lift the napkin and squeeze some of the water out. Don’t go crazy squeezing or your coconut cream will be too dry. Just remove most of the water. When you open the napkin it will look like a ball of soft cheese (above), which is what gave me the idea to make this cream cheese.

Now all you need to do is discard the water, add the cream (the ball) to the bowl, and mix in the maple syrup and probiotics. Put this mixture in a sterile glass dish with a lid. Put the dish on top of a heating pad sandwiched between two kitchen towels, as seen HERE. Turn the heating pad on low. (click on link for a heating pad with NO automatic shut-off.) OR keep the container in a warm place. Leave it to ferment for 18 to 24 hours, or until it tastes to your liking.

Refrigerate the cream cheese to set. Let it come to room temperature before using. (It will be hard straight from the fridge.) The cream cheese above is spread on rolls that are made with my onion bagel recipe. But I omitted the gum, so they fall apart a lot.

*Ther-biotic Complete by Klaire Labs are the best probiotics, but you have to get them from a healthcare practitioner. This cream cheese WILL work another brand. I just had to mention it because I know some of you will ask :-)

♥, Kelly

P.S. This SUPER important email (below) is coming to your inboxes tomorrow, July 25th, 2015 :-) Join my newsletter today to get it tomorrow! xoxox




  1. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I looked up the probiotic you mentioned & found it on Amazon..Wondering if this is the same one?

    Teresa Lee

  2. says

    Thank you! My son is dairy-free and recently soy-free after a bad reaction, and I have not been able to figure out what to use in place of cream cheese. I will definitely give this a shot!

  3. says

    Thank you! My son is dairy-free so I thought he could have Tofutti’s Better than Cream Cheese, but he had an awful reaction so we’re going soy-free for the big offenders like milk and cheese. I had given up on finding anything to replace cream cheese. But I will definitely give this recipe a shot.

  4. says

    Lisa, There is some natural sweetener in the coconut so it would probably be fine with no added sugar. The reason I add it is that it helps the probiotics grow – it’s food for the bacteria.

    Teresa, It probably is. I would just be concerned about the probiotics staying cool so that they are fully live when they arrive. Does it have good reviews? If you have a chiropractor, naturepath, nutritionist, alternative doc, etc, they can also order it for you.

    Taylor, I can’t wait for you to try it

    Anonymous, I tweaked the directions – hope that helps! I am super-busy this week finishing up my next cookbook, but maybe in June I can make a video. If you watch the cashew cheese video it is very similar. I would say that this one is easier – because you don’t have to puree, the way you do with the cashews. Just use one of the coconut brands I suggest and you will be fine – I promise :-)

  5. says

    OMG i’ve been working to achieve this exact thing and some of your tips from your own experience just might be the answer! thank you kelly :)

  6. says

    I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for your awesome recipes!

    I have a yogurt question, if you don’t mind answering on your cream cheese post :) I have been making yogurt using your recipe (subbing almond milk for the cashew, and it works great, by the way) and I looove it. However, I am just wondering if boiling the whole mixture is necessary? I realize the boiling is necessary to dissolve the gelatin, but is there any other reason for it? I am wondering because I was thinking if I just boiled a cup of the milk to dissolve the gelatin and then added the rest of the milk and warmed it to the necessary temperature, I thought it would save on time, because waiting for the milk to cool down after boiling is a little time consuming. Any insight?

    Thanks again!

  7. says

    Hi Kelly,
    I have a yogurt maker – could I use that to ferment the cheese instead of the heating pad? I’d just take out the jars and put the bowl of coconut cream in there? Do you think that would be an appropriate temp? Thanks!

  8. says

    Hi there,

    Can you make coconut milk from coconut flour and water?

    Also, instead of using probiotic cultures, can you use coconut milk kefir instead?


  9. frenchy_im_faking says

    If I halve the recipe, do I need to halve the probiotics? I’m just a household of two and I really doubt we would consume the whole thing quickly enough since we don’t really eat cream cheese as is… but that’s mostly from it being so full of calories and not terribly good for you – not cause we don’t like the taste!

  10. Anonymous says

    My son has Crohn’s with intolerances to wheat and dairy so I’m always looking for healthy substitutes. Thanks for this one. Any idea how many calories/nutrition it has when finished?

  11. Anonymous says

    Hi Kelly, so bummed I missed you in San Francisco. I was thinking of making a Cheesecake with this “5 Minute Coconut Cream Cheese Paleo, dairy-free” Do you think it will work? Have you tried it? Let me know what you think. Or I’ll be getting back to you, to let you know how it went. :) Thank you for the great recipes.

    Thanx Jesus

  12. LJonthebay says

    How warm does the heating pad actually get? Mine doesn’t feel all that warm at all. Since the house is so cool now with the weather change, I am just wondering if it is warm enough. Was wondering if it would be better to put in the oven with the oven light on. That will maintain at about 112 degrees.

  13. says

    Also, I used the Aroy-D coconut cream but it did not separate. So, I figured what the heck, proceeded anyway and just hope I come up with something fermented and good to eat or drink.

  14. says

    I used Aroy-D coconut cream and it did not separate. So I just decided to proceed and hope that I get something fermented that is yummy to eat or drink.

  15. says

    I was wondering if this cream cheese would be stable enough to use in recipes, like cheese cake, lasagna, etc? Does heating it, make it runny? I am so excited to try this just for bagels. I haven’t had cream cheese for 4 years. I am dairy, soy, and nut free. There is NO substitutes that I have found other than this one! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Christel says

    Actually won a recipe contest seceral years ago with this (invented it by accident) I had great luck with coconut milks WITH gums in it still. we used the baby probiotics from Klaire labs. (The complete has strep lines which isn’t good and can trigger things like PANDAS) so beware. Also works with agave or honey to. Just need something sweet for it to ferment with.

    • says

      I do use Klaire, but they say not to buy them on Amazon, because they might not be refrigerated. I would go to the Klaire Labs website and follow their directions for ordering :-)

      • Kylie Triolo says

        Thanks Kelly! And I have read the directions several times and am still confused (which is easy )! Does all of the coconut milk get strained or does just the thicker part and not the liquid?!

  17. JJ says

    Have you tried using this in any sort of cooked preparation such as jalapeno poppers where you need it to stay firmer? If so, does it work? Otherwise, if it gets runny I’m picturing this in sauces, etc.

  18. Coriander says

    What?! All of a sudden I can picture having something similar to a Traditional bagel with cream cheese, lox, onion, and tomato!! Woohoo!

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