Healthy Baking, Homemade Ingredients

How to Make Vegan Cheese

4.5 from 18 votes
You can grate it, you can melt it, and you can even put it on tacos: with my Vegan Cheese recipe, you'll never go without again!
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Hi Bold Bakers!

For those of you who might not know me, I’m Liv! I’m Bigger Bolder Baking’s in-house alternative baker and it is my number one priority to take you along with me as I experiment with new alternative ingredients, styles of eating, and cooking. Whether you have dietary restrictions or just want to make baked goods that happen to be great for you, I have got all the tips and tricks you need!

Some of Gemma’s most beloved recipes are actually from her Bold Baking Basics series where she shows you how to make actual ingredients like Homemade Cream Cheese or Clotted Cream. Seeing as many of you are dairy-free, or just looking for a lighter way to enjoy cheese, I wanted to create my own basic recipe for How to Make Vegan Cheese!

My recipe is full of healthy fats and completely without dairy. Savory, rich, and creamy cheese that can be sliced, spread, and even melted is something you no longer need to say no to.

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What Is Vegan Cheese Made Of?

This recipe, simply put, is genius. Utilizing, soaked raw cashews, coconut oil, tapioca starch, agar agar, nutritional yeast, salt and lemon juice, I can then make cheese in the blender! Each one of these ingredients plays a very important role that adds up to a cheese base that can be used in SO many different ways.

My vegan cheese recipe starts by soaking cashews in hot water to soften them. While the cashews are soaking I add the other ingredient to a food processor. I know it sounds wild and it kind of is, but each one part of this recipe adds just the right flavor or texture to make the whole cheese sing.

After the cashews have soaked I add them to the food processor and just blend away until I make what looks like cashew butter. At this point, I add hot water and this is where the mixture starts to form a “cheese.” The hot water starts to work with the agar agar to give the cheese a gooey texture. I transfer this mix to a small pot, then whisk over a simmer — and bam! — the mix starts to look like vegan white cheddar queso. This can be enjoyed at this stage or you can transfer this cheesy mix to a small bowl and set in the fridge. After setting, it will turn into more of a brie-like texture that can be sliced, spread, and even melted!

What is Agar Agar? Can It Be Substituted?

Some of you may be intimidated by working with agar agar, but don’t be.

Agar agar is a great vegan gelatin replacement derived from seaweed. The way this works is in combination with water. Agar agar will swell and form a jelly-like texture without adding any taste. This is readily available online and in many grocery stores now and can often be found in Asian markets as it appears in many Asian desserts. If you don’t want to use agar agar and want to use carrageenan here, you can, just use 1 1/2 tablespoons instead of 3. This will yield a harder, more set cheese, whereas agar agar keeps the cheese more creamy.

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Does Vegan Cheese Melt?

Because of the way the agar agar works along with the coconut oil, this cheese will respond to either hot or cold temperature very well. This cheese can be put into all kinds of things from grilled cheese to pizza and everything in between.

If you want the cheese to be looser and melty, you can use 3 tablespoons of agar agar instead of 5. On the flipside, if you want this cheese to be more dry and firm, use the full amount of agar agar and set the cheese in the fridge overnight. After a night in the fridge, you can remove the cheese from the bowl and wrap it in a paper towel or cloth to dry out and develop even further.

The best part of my recipe is the versatility, so I would suggest experiment with using it in its different “states” if you will.

Can You Make Different Varieties of Vegan Cheese?

This cheese has a very neutral, white cheddar-like taste if you use the full amount of salt in the recipe. For a more creamy, less strong flavor, you can reduce the salt. In addition to altering the flavor this way, you can add in fresh herbs, dry herbs, and spices. This would be an awesome spicy cheese if you added a bit of cayenne pepper.

I also love the idea of freshly cracked black pepper, dill, and chives incorporated into the mix. Feel free to experiment and make this to your own taste!

How Long Does Vegan Cheese Last?

This cheese will last for up to 2 weeks covered and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It can also be frozen, then thawed, and used at a later date. That said, I highly doubt it will last that long!

Does Vegan Cheese Taste Different?

The main difference between this cheese and a dairy-based cheese can come from the cashews. If you do not soak the cashews for long enough they will not break down fully and can make for a slightly gritty cheese. For this reason, do not skip this step or rush through it — you can even soak the cashews overnight if you like.

Assuming you do that, this cheese is kind of a miracle in my opinion. Since cutting down on dairy I have really missed cheese, so this is one of my personal favorite recipes which I’ve created. Who could resist gooey, melty, creamy cheese that just so happens to be full of naturally healthy ingredients?

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How to Make Vegan Cheese Recipe

4.5 from 18 votes
You can grate it, you can melt it, and you can even put it on tacos: with my Vegan Cheese recipe, you'll never go without again!
Author: Olivia Crouppen
Servings: 12
Prep Time 40 mins
Total Time 40 mins
You can grate it, you can melt it, and you can even put it on tacos: with my Vegan Cheese recipe, you'll never go without again!
Author: Olivia Crouppen
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (2 ½oz/71g) raw cashew, soaked in boiling water for at least 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup (1oz/28g) tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup (2oz/57g) coconut oil, solid
  • 3-5 tablespoons *agar agar, (depending on how firm you want it)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cup (12floz/340ml) water, boiling

Optional add in:

  • 1 teaspoon dry herbs of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Add the cashew to a large bowl and pour over boiling water until completely covered. Allow the cashews to soak for a minimum of 30 minutes - overnight. The longer you soak your nuts the creamier they will be when blended into the cheese. 
  • In a food processor or blender add the tapioca starch, coconut oil, agar agar, nutritional yeast, lemon, and salt. Pulse just to combine.
  • Drain the soaked cashews from the water then add to the other ingredients in the food processor. Process the nuts and dry ingredients until you reach a smooth nut butter-like texture, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Once the cashew cheese mixture is smooth carefully and slowly stream in boiling water. 
  • Transfer the cheese mixture to a small pot, set over medium heat, and cook while whisking constantly — just until the cheese thickens and becomes gooey. This is the agar agar being activated. 
  • At this point, the cheese can be enjoyed warm like a white cheddar queso cheese. 
  • For a mozzarella-like cheese that can be sliced or grated, transfer the gooey warm cheese to a small bowl of your choice and allow to set in the fridge for a minimum of 5 hours.
  • If at this point, if you would like an even drier cheese, remover from the bowl and wrap in a paper towel or cheesecloth and allow to age in the fridge for one day.
  • Cover and store the cheese at whatever stage you use it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. This cheese can be frozen then thawed at room temperature and used at a later time. 

Recipe Notes

*If you would like to use carrageenan instead of agar agar you can, just use 1 1/2 tablespoons. You must use one of these options as this is what will hold the cheese together and create the gooey melting texture. 
Nutrition Facts
How to Make Vegan Cheese Recipe
Amount Per Serving (3 tablespoons)
Calories 76 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Sodium 24mg1%
Potassium 3mg0%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Protein 1g2%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Comments & Reviews

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Denise Barron
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Denise Barron
1 month ago

Can I just bottled lemon juice?

Hafsa
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Hafsa
2 months ago

Great recipe but cant find nutritional yeast ?
any substitute for it?

Amy
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Amy
3 months ago

Hi, I made this cheese and it was fantastic! I used 1 Tablespoon agar agar and 2 Tablespoons of Kuzu root (dissolved in 2 tblsp. of cold water first) and for salt I found 2 teaspoons to be perfect. For people who cannot find agar, they can definitely use Kuzu root powder. If not using agar in recipe, then I would use 2.5 Tablespoons of Kuzu root powder with an equal amount of cold water to dissolve. I also tried using Macadamia nuts instead of Cashews and although it came out delicious, Macademia gave some grittiness to the cheese that… Read more »

Heather Gordon
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Heather Gordon
3 months ago

Wow! What a deceptively easy and incredibly delicious recipe! I followed the recipe to a T. I only had a Vitamix blender and I found I had to dump the boiling water immediately after adding the soaked cashews to the first mix for fear of my motor overheating! I was afraid that because I did not « slowly pour the water in a stream » that I would have lumps. QUITE the contrary! Because the water was so hot and my blender mixed it up good, I believe the agar agar got activated very quickly. I barely needed to cook it on… Read more »

Jamie
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Jamie
4 months ago

Just made this and only added black pepper to the top of it and tried it warm. WOWZA non-dairy people out there. You must try this one! I used the food processor, worked great. If you use Himalayan salt, 1 and 1/4 tsp is probably enough due to the salty bite of the nutritional yeast. Super super good recipe indeed.

Belicia
Guest
Belicia
6 months ago

Thank you for this recipe! It looks amazing I can’t wait to try it!! I understand that I can substitute the agar agar with gelatin, is it a direct one to one substitution? If not then what is the ratio please? Thank you 🙂

Sue
Guest
7 months ago

Am having a problem finding the agar, where can I buy it?

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie
8 months ago

Agar power or agar flakes?

April
Guest
April
8 months ago

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I’ve waited for this so long. Cannot wait to try this. I can’t find nutritional yeast so can I leave it out and can I replace lemon juice with the same amount of yogurt and let my cheese culture overnight?

Linda Petersen
Guest
Linda Petersen
8 months ago

I’m not familiar with agar agar. Is it something that would work on a keto diet?

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Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for a FREE profile and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new dessert recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

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