One of the hardest dairy products to substitute in recipes is cheese, mainly because of how it transforms when cooked. As cheese is heated, the solid milk fat begins to liquify, creating the familiar gooey texture. So, if you are on a dairy-free or vegan diet, you may think 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 various dairy-free kinds of cheese 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 don't taste like cheese at all. Luckily, there are some worth buying (or making), that offer good overall flavor, creaminess, melt, and stretch.
Note: 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 Daiya Mozzarella-Style Shreds cheese does the job well. It melts, stretches, and bubbles, and its flavor is savory and rich. Use it for any dish that calls for shredded mozzarella cheese and you may not even miss the real thing.
Daiya has a complete line of shredded cheeses. Daiya products are 100 percent plant-based, so they are not only dairy-free but also vegan. All of their dairy substitutes are void of gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts, fish, and shellfish.
02 of 07
This Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheddar is a dairy-free cheese that is delicious to eat with crackers and to 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 has one of the best flavors of available vegan cheeses.
This vegan cheddar cheese is 74 percent organic, dairy- and casein-free (safe for anyone allergic to the milk protein), as well as gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and non-GMO.
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 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.
This cheese alternative is produced in a facility that is not only dairy-free but also egg-, peanut-, and tree-nut free. Teese products are non-GMO and gluten-free.
04 of 07
Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese tastes just like real cream cheese and has a similar texture. It is perfect as a spread for bagels and toast but also can be whipped into dairy-free dips and vegan cheesecakes. It comes in three flavors including plain, herbs and chives, and garlic and herb, as well as a whipped variety.
All Tofutti cream cheese alternatives are vegan, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and non-GMO.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Many Italian recipes include shredded or grated Parmesan cheese; this dairy-free Follow Your Heart Shredded Parmesan Alternative is a great substitute for the real thing. The organic chickpea miso paste adds just the right amount of salty Parmesan flavor, making it a perfect topping for pizza and pasta dishes.
This Parmesan-style food is vegan as well as soy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO. It's also packed with calcium.
06 of 07
This collection of Treeline Treenut Cheeses would make an elegant dairy-free cheese platter. Made from cashew nuts, the cheeses can be eaten as is or incorporated into recipes. The soft French-style varieties are offered in flavors such as herbed garlic, green peppercorn, chipotle serrano pepper, and scallion, while the aged artisanal line features cracked pepper and classic flavors.
All cheeses are made in the Hudson Valley region of New York State and are probiotic, soy-free, and gluten-free.
07 of 07
This homemade dairy-free queso cheese dip is great for crackers, chips, or veggies. It also makes a rich cheesy sauce for burritos and quesadillas.
The recipe blends soy milk, cashews, and tahini to create a creamy texture, while the garlic, mustard powder, and salsa give the combo a punch of flavor most will expect in a queso dip.