Undoubtedly, one of the hardest dairy products to substitute in cooking is cheese, mainly because of how it transforms when cooked. As cheese is heated, it is the solid milk fat that begins to liquify, creating the gooey texture we all know and love. So, if you are on a dairy-free or vegan diet, you may be thinking you have to give up cheese completely—because what else could melt in the same way as milk fat? And would it taste like cheese?
There are several dairy-free cheeses available on the... market, but not all of them are successful. Some dairy-free cheeses taste great but don't melt. Some melt but don't stretch. And some honestly don't taste like cheese at all. Luckily, there are some worth buying—here are the best dairy-free cheese substitutes on the market, taking into consideration overall flavor, creaminess, melt, and stretch.
(When buying dairy-free cheese, make sure the product is labeled dairy-free or vegan; those labeled non-dairy or lactose-free may still contain dairy ingredients.)
01 of 07
For pizzas, strombolis, and baked pasta dishes, this dairy-free mozzarella-style cheese does the job well. It melts, it stretches, it bubbles, and its flavor is balanced in savoriness and richness. Use for any dish that calls for shredded mozzarella cheese and you may not even miss the real thing.
Daiya has an entire line of shredded cheeses, including a new "Cutting Board" collection that is 100 percent plant-based and claims "artisan excellence."
02 of 07
This cheddar cheese alternative is a dairy-free cheese that is delicious enough to eat with crackers and use in baked dishes like dairy-free and vegan quiches. It doesn't stretch quite as much as traditional cheese, but it melts to creamy perfection, and it has one of the best flavors found in most vegan cheeses.
Claiming to be 74 percent organic, this vegan cheddar cheese is also dairy- and casein-free, safe for anyone allergic to the milk protein.
03 of 07
Teese cheddar vegan cheese is a hands-down winner when it comes to store-bought dairy-free cheese for sandwiches. From panini to grilled cheese, this cheese alternative becomes gooey when heated, making it perfect for any recipe that calls for melted cheese. With a punchy cheddar flavor and plenty of melt and stretch, it's so satisfying on a toasted sandwich but is also great for quesadillas. The cheese comes in a tube-like package (similar to polenta and raw cookie dough) so you can use as much or as little as you like, sliced or shredded.
04 of 07
There is no other dairy-free cream cheese on the market that can compare with Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese. It tastes just like real cream cheese and has a similar texture. Of course, it is perfect as a spread for bagels and toast but can also be whipped up into some of the best dairy-free dips and vegan cheesecakes. With a selection of flavors including plain, herbs, and chives, and garlic and herb, as well as a whipped variety, your bagel platter will be complete and no one will be the wiser.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
It is hard to find an Italian recipe that doesn't include shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, but, no worries—this dairy-free alternative will have everyone fooled. The organic chickpea miso paste adds just the right amount of salty Parmesan flavor, making it perfect to top pizza and pasta dishes. This dairy-free cheese is even packed with calcium, making it a healthy substitution.
06 of 07
If you are a fan of the cheese course then this line of dairy-free cheeses is right up your alley. Made from cashew nuts, this collection of cheeses can be eaten as is or incorporated into recipes. Offered in classic as well as cracked pepper, herbed garlic, green peppercorn, chipotle serrano pepper, and scallion flavors, your cheese platter will be the rave of the party.
07 of 07
If you can't find a store-bought dairy-free cheese dip that you like, this Dairy-Free Queso Cheese Dip may just be the answer you are looking for. Great as a dip for crackers, chips or veggies, this recipe also makes a rich cheesy sauce for burritos and quesadillas.
The combination of blended soy milk, cashews, and tahini help to create the signature creamy texture, while the garlic, mustard powder, and salsa give the dip a punch of flavor most will expect in a queso dip.