The Best Vegan Cheeses a Certified Cheese Professional Recommends

Make grilled cheese, nachos, and pizza—without the milk

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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.

To help you sort through the many options at the grocery store, we researched and taste tested top brands to bring you the best of the best vegan cheeses for grilled cheese, pizza slices, mac and cheese, and more.

Best Grated Parmesan: NOOCH IT! Cashew Grated Cheeze

NOOCH IT! Cashew Grated Cheeze

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Tastes great

  • Feels like grated parmesan

  • Made with organic and fair-trade cashews

What We Don't Like
  • 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 meals, 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.

Our tester said this had a funky bite thanks to the right balance of cashews and nutritional yeast, "which I love, but not everyone does." The texture at first glance looks like granulated nuts, but it melts in your mouth and into your favorite dishes almost immediately. Plus, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, so you can bring it along to zhoosh up your food wherever you go.

Base: Cashew | Labels: Non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, lactose-free | Certifications: Vegan

Best Soy-Free: Violife Just Like Parmesan Block

Violife Just Like Parmesan Block

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Parm-like texture

  • Can grate or slice for cheese boards

What We Don't Like
  • 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 cheeseboard.

"This perfectly grates into delicate wisps that melt with ease into hot pasta dishes and soups, but also works well in larger shreds for salads," our tester said. Make sure to store this in an airtight bag or container so it doesn’t dry out. The texture is smoother than real parmesan, but the flavor is still complex and nutty.

Base: Potato and rice | Labels: Kosher, gluten-free, soy-free | Certifications: Non-GMO, vegan

Best Cheddar: Field Roast Chao Creamy Original Chao Slices

Field Roast Chao Creamy Original Chao Slices

Courtesy of Instacart

What We Like
  • Great melter

  • Creamy, nostalgic flavor

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

"With a flavor like a sweet and mild cheddar, and a soft texture that melts easily, it’s obvious why Chao has been popular among vegans for years," our tester said. "A creamy finish thanks to the fermented tofu doesn’t leave this rubbery or oily when heated, which can be an unfortunate side effect of cooking with some vegan cheese."

Base: Coconut oil | Labels: Non-GMO | Certifications: Vegan

Best Shredded: Follow Your Heart Dairy Free Cheddar Shreds

Follow Your Heart Dairy Free Cheddar Shreds

Courtesy of Instacart

What We Like
  • Soy-free

  • Great melter

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

According to our tester, these shreds are the perfect size and don’t stick or clump together in the bag. They melt well into hot dishes and hold up when served cold, but can also get crispy on pizza without burning. The flavor is rich and creamy with a nutty finish reminiscent of classic cheddar, despite there being no nuts in the ingredients list.

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

Daiya Swiss Style Cheese Slices

Courtesy of Instacart

What We Like
  • Great melters

  • Creamy

  • Lots of comfort food potential

What We Don't Like
  • More processed than some of the other options

  • Only comes in a large quantity online

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.” Mic drop.

Our tester had similar sentiments, saying there are no holes in this Swiss cheese, but the flavor is there. It has a creamy mouthfeel with a slightly sharp bite that works well melted or cold in sandwiches. The slices easily separate with no sticking or breakage for easy cooking or snacking. 

Base: Potato | Labels: Soy-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free | Certifications: Plant-based

Best Queso: Siete Dairy Free Mild Nacho Cashew Queso

Siete Dairy Free Mild Nacho Cashew Queso

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Dairy-, soy-, and grain-free

  • Paleo-friendly

  • Simple ingredients list

  • Great taste

What We Don't Like
  • 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.”

Warm up this cashew-based queso for your next party, but don’t limit yourself to just using this as just a dip. After tasting it, our tester suggested using it as an alternative in macaroni and cheese and other pasta dishes. The texture is smooth and creamy with a great nacho flavor thanks to the nutritional yeast and veggie-heavy ingredient list.

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

Kite Hill Original Almond Milk Cream Cheese Spread

Courtesy of Instacart

What We Like
  • Texture and flavor are spot-on

  • Short ingredient list

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

In her tasting notes, our tester confirmed that this spreads easily and said it has a consistency that falls perfectly between whipped and thick. There’s no graininess or sour after taste to be found as you apply this velvety cream cheese onto bagels or incorporate it into recipes. This does have a short shelf life, though, so be sure to use it up before it turns bad.

Base: Almond | Labels: Kosher, gluten-free, soy-free | Certifications: Non-GMO

Best Ricotta: Tofutti Better Than Cheese Ricotta

Tofutti Better Than Cheese Ricotta

Courtesy of Instacart

What We Like
  • Effectively mimics fresh ricotta flavor and texture

  • Will last for awhile in the fridge

What We Don't Like
  • 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, cheesecake, 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—our tester raved about its application in stuffed shells and lasagna—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

Miyoko's Fresh Vegan Mozzarella

Courtesy of Miyoko's

What We Like
  • Free of gluten, palm oil, and soy

  • Melts and shreds

  • Can be served on cheese board

What We Don't Like
  • On the pricier side

Sometimes, shredded mozzarella just won’t do. For those times, there’s 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 is soft, just like the real dairy counterpart, and melts easily onto pizza while also holding up well in caprese salads," our tester said. "Make sure to slice this straight out of the fridge, as the texture may not hold up at room temperature. This is creamy with a slight tang and tastes great paired with savory or sweet accompaniments."

Base: Cashew | Labels: Organic, non-GMO, palm-oil-free, gluten-free, soy-free | Certifications: Plant-based

What Our Editors Say

"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 in Vegan Cheese

We spoke to nutritionist Berit Young, RDN, for advice on what to look out for when shopping for vegan cheese.

Primary Ingredients

Young looks for vegan cheeses with a cashew or root vegetable base because they are naturally creamy. 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.

Certifications

The vegan certification is not currently regulated by the FDA, but there are other certifying bodies that issue vegan labels including Natural Food Certifiers and The Vegan Society. If a product is Certified Vegan, that means that it’s free of the obvious animal products like dairy or meat. According to the Certified Vegan Website, certified products must not contain “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.”

Unlike the vegan label, which is applicable to a variety of foods and other products, the Certified Plant Based label (independently verified by NSF International) is specifically for plant-based meat, egg, and dairy alternatives and has a stricter limit for non-plant-based additives (5 percent)

Texture

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. 

Taste

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.   

Format

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. 

Melting Properties

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.

FAQs

What is vegan cheese made of?

It depends! Some are soy-based, while others are nut- or vegetable-based. Many even feature a combination.

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.

Jacqueline Weiss, who updated this article, has been vegan since 2016 and personally tested nine vegan cheeses for this article, in addition to the many she has tried over the years on her quest for the best available. Her work has also appeared in Simply Recipes, Eat This Not That, and Taste Of Home.

Additional reporting by
Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline Weiss Bio Photo
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about making healthy eating and cooking accessible to all. When she's not writing, you'll find her trying new Los Angeles eateries and experimenting in the kitchen.
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  5. Certification. Vegan Action. https://vegan.org/certification/

  6. NSF International. Certified Plant Based Vs. Vegan.

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