A coconut broken open next to a cheese made with coconut milk

Your Guide to Dairy-Free Cheese Alternatives


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For many, going vegan is difficult for a variety of reasons. Whether you are going vegan because of health issues or out of respect for your furry friends, giving up non-vegan foods can be difficult—especially when it comes to your favorite foods. Many vegans have found that diary is a lot harder to give up when making the change. Think about the milk in your coffee and cereal. Think about the cheese on everything. It might seem like cutting out dairy means giving all of this up, but that’s far from the truth.

There are all kinds of great vegan cheese options that make excellent replacements for dairy cheese. With a surprising variety of textures and flavors, you’re sure to find one that meets your needs. Just like with dairy cheese, you can find melty vegan cheese for nachos, soft vegan cheese for spreading, and hard vegan cheese for shredding or slicing. These cheeses are made with different ingredients ranging from soy to nuts, flour, or vegetables. Let’s take a deep dive into them below!

Cream Cheese Alternative

One thing a vegan may miss is the cream cheese on their morning bagel. But that is still possible even without dairy! Cream cheese or soft cheese can be made with non-dairy products, and you can make it at home or buy it from a supermarket. Vegan soft cheese is usually made from soy or coconut milk. It can also be made with cashews by soaking them overnight and then mixing it with lemon juice and some vegan milk. You can also use tofu. If you are buying it from the store, keep in mind any allergies you or others who may partake might have. Many vegan foods are made with nuts.

Hard Cheese Alternative

Hard cheese is a little more difficult to create at home. If you like tofu, you can take hard tofu and bake it. Before you place it in the oven, sprinkle a little salt and oil on top. When it’s done, you can crumble it over pasta or salad. If you don’t want to do all of this, you can find an alternative at the store.

Nacho Cheese Alternative

Just because you are vegan doesn’t mean you can’t have nachos. You can use coconut milk, coconut cream, or coconut oil to make a creamy vegan cheese. But with this, you will have to add agar-agar or potato starch to give it a real creamy cheese type feel. You will also have to add seasoning—coconut has its own flavor, so you will have to add garlic powder or nutritional yeast to give it more of a cheesy flavor.

Sliced Cheese Alternative

Do you want to make a vegan sandwich? You need sliced cheese. You can buy it at the store or use flour. Flour mixed with almond milk, cashews or coconut can produce a great substitute for hard cheeses, as this type of vegan cheese can be sliced and hold its shape. If you buy it from the store, be sure to check the ingredients if you have allergies.

Other Alternatives

Vegetables can be transformed into all kinds of things. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes can be transformed into a vegan cheese that has more of a sauce-like consistency and can be used over pasta. If you want a melty vegan cheese that mimics dairy cheese a bit more, then Aquafaba can help. Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Take this liquid and mix it with coconut cream and agar-agar for a much more authentic cheese experience.

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