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How to Make Vegan Cheese

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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!


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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4.5 from 10 votes
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How to Make Vegan Cheese Recipe
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!

Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Calories: 76 kcal
Author: Olivia Crouppen
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
  1. 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. 

  2. In a food processor or blender add the tapioca starch, coconut oil, agar agar, nutritional yeast, lemon, and salt. Pulse just to combine.

  3. 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.

  4. Once the cashew cheese mixture is smooth carefully and slowly stream in boiling water. 

  5. 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. 

  6. At this point, the cheese can be enjoyed warm like a white cheddar queso cheese. 

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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. 

Watch the Recipe Video!

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*
Total Fat 7g 11%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Sodium 24mg 1%
Potassium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 3g 1%
Protein 1g 2%
Iron 1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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24 Comments

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  1. Belicia on May 17, 2019 at 3:51 am

    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 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on May 17, 2019 at 8:55 am

      Hi Belicia,
      I have not done this but the collective wisdom is that 1 tablespoon of agar agar powder is equal to one teaspoon of gelatin.
      1. teaspoon of agar agar wil set one cup/8ozs liquid, though some manufacturers will tell you different to this. I am sorry, I think you are going to have to try it. Agar agar tends to set firmer than gelatin too so you may need to add a little more, perhaps err on the high side according to the recipe, so 5 tablespoons.
      This sounds like a lot though and I am really not too sure about it, sorry!
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Sue on April 20, 2019 at 7:29 am

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

    • Gemma Stafford on April 21, 2019 at 4:51 am

      Hi Sue,
      This is usually found in whole food stores/health food stores and in some of the larger supermarkets here in the US.
      This is a seaweed sourced gelling agent, as is carrageen moss and china grass. You may find one of these easier! You wil lalso get this online from amazon.com here in the US, and in other places too.
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Stephanie on April 10, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Agar power or agar flakes?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 10, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      You can use either 😀

  4. April on April 10, 2019 at 1:55 am

    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?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 10, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      Hi, you can just leave it out it will still come out great!

  5. Linda Petersen on April 8, 2019 at 6:55 pm

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

    • Gemma Stafford on April 9, 2019 at 5:08 am

      Hi linda,
      Agar agar/carrageen moss/china grass are all vegetable/seaweed sourced gelling agents. These have been used for centuries to make jellies/aspic etc for sweet and savory cooking. Agar agar has about 7g of carbs per 100g of weight, such a tiny amount, as you use a really small amount for the overall ingredients in any recipe. Animal sourced gelatin will have about 14g of carbs per 100g weight.
      Gemma 🙂

  6. Khadija on April 8, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Hi gemma, hi liv
    Am super excited about this recipe though am not vegan. I only have roasted cashew nuts, can i use it ?. And also i don’t know if i can get nutritional yeast, can i use gelatin instead of agar-agar?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 9, 2019 at 4:59 am

      Hi there,
      Thank you for being here with us.
      Nutritional yeast is a yeast, but not as we think of it. It is grown for its’ health benefits, being rich in protein and B vitamins and often fortified with other nutrients. It is not an active yeast, it is grown to be what it is, a nutrient rich condiment, and it has been denatured by heat in the processing so it will not raise your bread, it has a nutty savory cheesy flavor, and it is regarded as a super food!
      I tell you all this so that you see its’ value in this recipe. If you have a ‘health food’ store where you live you will find it there. Without this ingredient this cheese will be a very different thing. Gelatin will work in this, but it tends to be softer in the setting than agar agar. The roasted cashews will bring some flavor but may be drier, and hence more gritty.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  7. Sarah S. on April 8, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Just wondering what a good replacement for coconut oil would be. I have had issues with coconut oil in the past and I’m weary of using it. Thanks.

    • Gemma Stafford on April 9, 2019 at 4:43 am

      Hi Sarah,
      I have just had a similar question form a lactose sensitive bold baker. Her suggestion was GHEE. This is a pure fat, which is solid when cold, and in that sense it is a similar thing to coconut oil. I am going to ask Liv to test it when she gets a moment. If you try it let us know how it works, I think it worth a try and my guess is that it work in the same proportion as the oil in this recipe.
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Carolyn Nickles on April 8, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    So, my daughter is not only lactose intolerant, but deathly allergic to coconut. Would Ghee work as a replacement?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 9, 2019 at 4:38 am

      Hi Carolyn,
      How difficult for your family. The answer is, I do not know for sure, but I would be concerned about lactose in Ghee, I am not too sure that it is completely dairy free, unless it is certified as such. All of the milk solids need to be removed to be sure. If you make it at home that may be difficult.
      Having said that I think it is possible to make a cheese with this, though not too sure if it can be directly substituted in Liv’s recipe. I do think it worth a shot, it is a similar fat to a point, and it should behave in a similar way in a recipe.
      Not much help here, I will ask Liv to run an experiment when she gets a moment. If you try it do let us know how it works.
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Pat Gibson on April 8, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Do you have a recipe for cheese if you are allergic to soy, gluten, all nuts and dairy,deathly allergic to peanuts

    • Gemma Stafford on April 8, 2019 at 11:22 am

      Ah, ill have to work on a nut free recipe!

  10. Carol Glisson on April 8, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Do you think this would work with hemp seeds too in lieu of cashews?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 8, 2019 at 9:43 am

      I dont know about that, i know almonds would work!

  11. Blackkitty on April 7, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I might be able to find agar agar, but tapioca starch is way too exotic. We only have potato and corn :-/ What does it do, is there a way to replace it?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 8, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Hi you can use potato starch or arrowroot starch in stead 😀

  12. Michelle on April 7, 2019 at 9:31 am

    I have tried other versions of vegan cheese and have been happy with the results. I have, however, missed the firmer/stretchy cheese that the tapioca and agar agar bring to this recipe. I look forward to giving it a try!

    • Gemma Stafford on April 8, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      YAY, please let us know how you go, it’s so yummy!

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