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Cheese is one of life’s great pleasures. If the dairy stuff isn’t working for you, you’ve likely had to mourn that loss. Luckily, though, there’s vegan cheese—and today’s options are better than ever. Not only is there great vegan cheese on the market, but there are also great options for almost every type of cheese you can think of. Whether you’re looking for shredded parmesan or cheddar, Swiss slices for your grilled cheese, or something else, you will almost certainly find something wonderful.
Best Grated Parmesan: NOOCH IT! Cashew Grated Cheeze
Feels like grated parmesan
Made with organic and fair-trade cashews
Could easily make something similar at home
Said to be a best-seller, this NOOCH IT! Cashew cheese will certainly bring zest to your salads, soups, pasta, and more. The ingredients list is refreshingly short and simple, and everything is USDA-certified organic: fair-trade cashews, nutritional yeast, brown rice flour, garlic powder, hemp seeds, and sea salt. One reviewer says, “I very possibly like it more than the real thing,” comparing it to a nutty garlic seasoning. Try it on avocado toast, winter soups, garlic bread, spaghetti, vegan meatballs, and more. We dare you not to love it!
Base: Cashew | Labels: Non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, lactose-free | Certifications: Vegan
Best Soy-Free: Violife Just Like Parmesan Block
Can grate or slice for cheese boards
Semi-distracting coconut-like flavor
Violife is quickly becoming a vegan favorite, thanks to its stellar ingredient list and even more impressive flavor. It’s free from dairy, of course, but also free of preservatives, casein, lactose, gluten, nuts, and soy. Its coconut oil base, fortified with Vitamin B12, brings texture and flavor that are hard to find in other vegan options. Plus, this parmesan block just rocks. It shreds like your favorite hunk of parm straight from Italy, zhuzhing up lentils, soups, pasta, salad, and more. It also makes a beautiful statement piece on a vegan cheese board.
Base: Potato and rice | Labels: Kosher, gluten-free, soy-free | Certifications: Non-GMO, vegan
Best Cheddar: Field Roast Chao Creamy Original Chao Slices
Creamy, nostalgic flavor
Only comes in a large quantity online
You likely already know and love Field Roast for its vegan meat. Now, meet the brand's vegan cheddar, made from coconut oil and fermented tofu. Reviewers love it, raving that it “looks and smells like real dairy cheese” and swapping their favorite ways to use it from patty melts to a good old-fashioned grilled cheese. For vegan cheddar that can take the place of the dairy stuff from your childhood in all the classic dishes, go with the Field Roast Chao Creamy Original Slices.
Base: Coconut oil | Labels: Non-GMO | Certifications: Vegan
Best Shredded: Follow Your Heart Dairy Free Cheddar Shreds
Only comes in a large quantity online
If you’re looking for a shortlist of ingredients, look elsewhere. If you’re looking, though, for cheddar shreds that mimic exactly the beloved yellow cheddar of your childhood, congratulations, you’ve found it. The Follow Your Heart Cheddar Shreds can be substituted wherever you need a properly melty vegan cheese situation. They are also great on something like taco dip or salads that need a kick of flavor.
Plus, you can feel good about the environmental impact of what you’re eating—while palm oil is one of the ingredients, that palm fruit oil is sustainably grown and harvested from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms in South America (never in orangutan habitats).
Base: Palm oil | Labels: Soy-free* | Certifications: Vegan
*Amazon label does not reflect the current ingredients list
Best Slices: Daiya Swiss Style Cheese Slices
Lots of comfort food potential
More processed than some of the other options
Full-time vegans know that a proper grilled cheese can be hard to replicate. It can be hard, that is, if you’re not working with slices as perfectly melty as the Daiya Swiss Style Cheese Slices. The first time one reviewer tried it, they noted: “This grilled cheese actually made me cry ... because it was so good and I was finally able to enjoy my childhood comfort food without health concerns.” Mic drop.
Base: Potato | Labels: Soy-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free | Certifications: Plant-based
Best Queso: Siete Dairy Free Mild Nacho Cashew Queso
Dairy-, soy-, and grain-free
Simple ingredients list
On the pricier side
Queso dip is cheese, yes, but it’s more than that. If you grew up eating queso, you know that there’s nothing quite like it to bring a hearty dose of flavor and nostalgia at parties, dinner, or even a solo afternoon snack. Queso is an institution. And luckily, going vegan doesn’t mean you have to give it up entirely. The Siete Dairy Free Cashew Queso in the mild nacho flavor is paleo, vegan, and packed with flavor. It’s great cold or warm and will quite possibly change your life. As one reviewer raves, “This is one of the best-tasting things I ever put in my mouth.”
Base: Cashew | Labels: Dairy-free, soy-free, grain-free, paleo | Certifications: Gluten-free, non-GMO project verified
Best Cream Cheese: Kite Hill Original Almond Milk Cream Cheese Spread
Texture and flavor are spot-on
Short ingredient list
Can be hard to find
We’re calling it: This almond milk-based cream cheese spread from Kite Hill will soon become a staple in your kitchen. Why? Unlike some other vegan cream cheese, it spreads like it’s supposed to and has that bit of familiar tartness that you expect and want from cream cheese. It’s great for spreading and also for baking. And, along with being vegan, it’s non-GMO, kosher, soy-free, and gluten-free. Reviewers rave about the flavor and its utility, and a few recommend more savory applications like vegan green bean casserole or taco dip. It doesn’t last as long as dairy cream cheese; otherwise, we’d say you should go out and stock up!
Base: Almond | Labels: Kosher, gluten-free, soy-free | Certifications: Non-GMO
Best Ricotta: Tofutti Better Than Cheese Ricotta
Effectively mimics fresh ricotta flavor and texture
Will last for awhile in the fridge
More processed than some of the other options
One of the first vegan ricottas on the market, the Tofutti Better Than Cheese Ricotta is the best one you’ll find. If you’re snacking on it plain, it may not win your heart right away (it’s a little mealy on its own), but when you start using it in pasta, in cheesecake, in tender cookies, and lemon ricotta pancakes, you’ll be blown away at how closely the flavor and texture match the dairy version. Keep it in your fridge for when you need to whip up something magical, and if you’re looking for vegan cheese to snack on, try one of the other options.
Base: Soy | Labels: Kosher, gluten-free, non-GMO
Best Mozzarella: Miyoko's Fresh Vegan Mozzarella
Free of gluten, palm oil, and soy
Melts and shreds
Can be served on cheese board
On the pricier side
Sometimes, shredded mozzarella just won’t do. For those times, there’s the Miyoko's Classic Fresh Italian Style Vegan Mozzarella Cheese, made with organic ingredients. One reviewer says, it’s “the best vegan cheese I've tried, and I've tried a ton.” If you’re missing mozzarella balls for use on pizza, caprese salad, or on a cheese board, this will be just the thing. It doesn’t grate as well as some others (that’s not really the point of this one), but if you decide to make it your staple mozzarella, try freezing before grating. This one does it all.
Base: Cashew | Labels: Organic, non-GMO, palm-oil-free, gluten-free, soy-free | Certifications: Plant-based
"The thing I've been missing most since going vegan is cheese. Non-dairy cheeses are generally an acquired taste, but the flavor and texture of Miyoko's plant-based mozzarella is remarkably similar to the real deal. It's good on its own, but bakes well onto homemade pizza and is perfect in pasta, too." — Taylor Rock, Associate Editor
What to Look for When Buying Vegan Cheese
We spoke to nutritionist Berit Young, RDN for advice on what to look out for when shopping for vegan cheese.
Young looks for vegan cheeses with a cashew or root vegetable base because they are naturally creamy and have extra fiber. The most common potential allergen in vegan cheese is tree nuts, so watch out if you have a nut allergy. Nutritional yeast is also added to create a “cheesy” flavor.
This is where the sneaky fillers and gums can sneak in, according to Young. “Whatever you’re shopping for, whether it’s dairy cheese or vegan cheese, I always tell my clients to read the ingredients list. Especially if you’re eating them every day, try to avoid cheeses with a lot of ingredients you can’t pronounce or a lot of added oils.”
If a product is Certified Vegan, that means that it’s free of the obvious animal products like dairy or meat, but also, according to the Certified Vegan Website, “honey or honey bee products, insects or products from insects such as silk or dyes, or sugar filtered with bone char or be processed with any animal products or by-products.” If you’re plant-based for ethical reasons, make sure to look for a certification.
Some vegan cheeses have simple, nutritious ingredients. Others are highly processed in order to better simulate dairy cheese. All tend to be packed with protein and fat. If you’re new to the vegan cheese world, it’s worth buying a range of vegan cheeses to try out in different dishes where you miss dairy cheese.
In general, the more processed vegan cheeses will be the ones that feel most like dairy cheese. You may find that the less processed ones are a little grainy or chalky, even if they have great flavor. It’s something that many plant-based or dairy-free eaters grow accustomed to, but if you’re new to vegan cheese, it may be more noticeable.
Much like dairy cheese, there's a wide flavor range in non-dairy cheese. Some will add in natural flavorings, like nutritional yeast, to simulate the depth of flavor you’d find in dairy cheeses. Others actually go through a similar process as dairy cheese, where a starter culture is added to break down the fat and protein in nuts to unlock new textures and flavors. Miyoko’s and Kite Hill both culture their vegan cheeses.
While some vegan cheeses come in blocks or rounds that can be used for snacking, melting, or cooking, most vegan cheeses do not. As such, it’s important to think about how you’ll want to use your vegan cheese. Will it be a midnight snack with crackers? Do you want to make a melty grilled cheese sandwich? Do you want to sprinkle it over your pasta? Generally, you’ll have to choose between shreds and slices, though there are also blocks, sauces, and spreads.
Most vegan cheese does not melt, and the ones that do melt tend to be more processed. Shreds and slices are usually intended for melting. Other formats may be meltable, though you’ll want to check the packaging.
What is vegan cheese made of?
It depends! Some are soy-based, while others are nut- or vegetable-based. Many even feature a combination. If you have food allergies, make sure to check the label of your vegan cheese to make sure it doesn't contain any of those foods.
Is vegan cheese healthy?
Much like regular cheese, vegan cheese should not be the cornerstone of anyone’s diet. That said, vegan cheese does contain plant-based protein, which is an important part of a vegan diet.
Does vegan cheese melt?
Most vegan cheese does not melt, especially the less-processed options. That said, thanks to the magic of science, there are some melty vegan cheese slices and shreds.
Can you freeze vegan cheese?
You can! Shreds will be just fine after freezing. If you’re buying a block of vegan cheese, freezing it won’t ruin it, but the texture and flavor may be altered.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Writer and professional cheese eater Christine Clark teaches cheese and pairing classes throughout the United States and is dedicated to helping people expertly get their cheese on, even if it’s a vegan cheese they’re looking for. Her cheese adoration is so strong that she has a whole podcast dedicated to it. She is a Certified Cheese Professional through the American Cheese Society.