Guide to Vegan Cheese

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Assortment of photos of our vegan cheese recipes and store-bought vegan cheeses

Have you adopted a plant-based diet or given up on dairy and find that you’re longing for cheese?

We’ve got good news – there are delicious substitutes! And we’re here to share about what they are and how to use them.

Homemade vegan cheese wheel for our Guide to Vegan Cheese post

Store-Bought vs Homemade Vegan Cheeses

Store-bought vegan cheeses are convenient, especially when you don’t have access to kitchen equipment such as a blender or food processor. But unfortunately, many have unrecognizable ingredient lists, are expensive, and some even taste inedible.

We prefer making homemade vegan cheeses with real, whole-food-based ingredients that you likely have stocked right now. Homemade vegan cheeses are customizable, packed with flavor, relatively inexpensive, and surprisingly simple to make!

Review of Store-Bought Vegan Cheeses

Stack of store-bought vegan cheeses for our Guide to Vegan Cheese

Though our preference is for homemade, there are certainly times when store-bought products come in handy! And it seems that as product availability has been increasing, quality has gotten better as well.

Field Roast Chao Vegan Slices

  • Would we recommend? Yes.
  • Cheese in slice form that keeps its shape and smells almost exactly like cheddar. Wow. It tastes like an aged white cheddar with a nice buttery flavor.
  • It melts and bubbles like real cheese! It is even slightly stringy in a good way.
  • Overall thoughts: It smells and tastes just like cheese. Plus, it melts! It would be ideal for sandwiches and grilled cheese.

Treeline Herb Garlic French Style Cheese

  • Would we recommend? Yes.
  • It is soft and spreadable similar to cream cheese. Definitely tastes like a soft cheese with noticeable herb and garlic flavor.
  • Overall thoughts: Impressive ingredients and a really pleasant flavor and texture. It would be really nice as a spread or as a soft cheese on a cheese platter.

Miyokos Double Cream Garlic Herb

  • Would we recommend? Yes, if Treeline wasn’t available.
  • Smells cheesy, garlicky, and herby.
  • Texture is soft and spreadable- almost like cold butter. Stronger herb flavor and saltier than Treeline- otherwise similar.
  • Suggested uses include wine pairings, cheese boards, picnics, and sandwiches.
  • Overall thoughts: Enjoyable taste and texture and perfect for cheese boards. Similar, though inferior, to Treeline.

VioLife Feta

  • Would we recommend? Yes.
  • Comes packed in some liquid (similar to tofu).
  • The texture is similar to feta, but more of a goat cheese texture. Very white color.
  • It is not as salty as real feta and the texture is not as crumbly.
  • Overall thoughts: The convenience is nice and the ingredients appear decent quality. For a store-bought vegan feta, it is pretty good.

Kite Hill Almond Milk Ricotta

  • Would we recommend? Yes, if homemade is not an option.
  • It has a mousse-like texture and subtle tanginess.
  • The flavor is not amazing on its own, but it is really good when prepared with Italian dishes. It would also work well in a sauce.
  • Overall thoughts: A convenient option for lasagnas and other Italian dishes. But in our opinion, it is overpriced and we prefer our homemade macadamia nut cheese as a ricotta substitute.

VioLife Parmesan

  • Would we recommend? No.
  • The color is a light golden yellow, appearing similar to a block of parmesan.
  • It smells like a mixture between buttered popcorn and parmesan. It slices similar to parmesan in that the texture is firm and slightly crumbly. It grates and looks just like real parmesan cheese.
  • The flavor is good, but not great. It has a fake butter taste when eaten on its own, however, we would guess that it would be better used atop pasta and pizza. We would not recommend it on its own (such as on a cheese board).
  • We found that when heated in the oven it browns, but does not melt.
  • Overall thoughts: While promising, the flavor is underwhelming and it tastes very strongly of fake buttered popcorn.

Miyokos Mozzarella

  • Would we recommend? No.
  • The color is an off-white and the texture is somewhat similar to mozzarella- though not as strecthy.
  • The flavor is not great. it is reminiscent of cheese, but we would not have guessed it was mozzarella.
  • The package suggests that it melts, but in our experience it just gets foamy and greasy and there is not a stringy quality at all.
  • Overall thoughts: It might work okay in raw dishes, but we were not impressed by the flavor or its melt-ability.
Top down shot of various brands of store-bought vegan cheeses for our unbiased review

Homemade Vegan Cheeses

We’ve found that nut-based cheeses (especially those made with cashews) most closely resemble their dairy-based counterparts. We’ve had success creating vegan parmesan cheese, ricotta, cheese wheels, queso, and even mozzarella!

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Our most frequently used vegan cheese is parmesan. We like to keep a batch in the fridge where it keeps for 3-4 weeks (or longer).

We have three recipes for vegan parmesan cheese, depending on your dietary preferences.

All of these are delicious on top of pastas, pizza, and anywhere you’d usually use grated parmesan cheese. We also enjoy them on roasted vegetables, chilaquilesbreadsticks, gratins, lasagna, risotto, eggplant parmesan, scalloped potatoes, mushrooms, or added to pesto, vegan meatballs or arancini. Or for a Mexican-flair, try our shakeable Mexican cheese.

The possibilities are endless!

Jar of our Cashew Parmesan Cheese for our Guide to Vegan Cheeses

Vegan Ricotta

We’ve found that macadamia nuts, almonds, and tofu are all options for making delicious vegan ricotta cheese. Lemon adds a tangy element, while nuts mimic the richness of ricotta.

Find our vegan ricotta recipes here:

Ricotta is excellent in zucchini lasagna and stuffed shells or atop our spaghetti squash bake, eggplant pizzas, socca pizza, egg-free frittata, and salads (for example: A, B, and C).

Bowl of our Almond Ricotta Cheese for our Guide to Vegan Cheeses

Vegan Cheese Wheels

Cheese wheels are perfect for parties. Cashews work well as they yield a rich flavor and soft, creamy texture.

Here are three flavor variations:

Enjoy them with your favorite crackers, sliced vegetables, or tortilla chips. Or dollop on top of soups. Add it to saladspastas, and everything in between – you can’t go wrong.

Using a knife to spread homemade vegan cheese onto a cracker for a plant-based snack

Vegan Queso

The satisfaction of dipping a chip into queso is difficult to replicate. We find that cashews work best for achieving the creamy texture necessary for vegan queso, but we also have a sneaky vegetable-based queso recipe!

Here are our vegan queso recipes:

Besides diving into a bowl of queso with tortilla chips, we enjoy it on tacos, collard green burritos, and nachos. Or try it in our Butternut Squash Bowl with Jalapeño QuesoVegan 7-Layer Mexican Dip, or Black Bean Plantain Enchilada Bake!

Spoon in a bowl of Vegan Queso for our Guide to Vegan Cheeses

Vegan Mozzarella

Melty cheeses are the most challenging to make dairy-free or vegan. But our cashew-based attempt comes about as close as it gets!

We love it on top of poutine and pizza, as it gets all melty, browned, and gooey. But you could also add it to tomatoes, sandwiches, pasta dishes like baked lasagna, Caprese salads, and so much more!

Saucepan with our Vegan Mozzarella Cheese recipe

If you try any of these recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see what you came up with. Cheers, friends!

And be sure to check out our Guide To Making Dairy-Free Milk as well!

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Neel Olsson says

    I love Violife parmesan cheese. It shouldn’t be heated. Why do you need to melt it? Do you normally melt real parmesan? Just top on the pasta, it is just perfect.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      We tried it both heated and unheated, but unfortunately didn’t enjoy it. We’re so glad you enjoy it though! Thanks for sharing!

  2. AJ says

    Appreciate this review! Been searching for something like this. Recognize everyone has different tastes but thought I’d share my view on the *Miyokos garlic herb cheese and the *Violofe feta as I’ve just purchased it wanting to test it out.
    Miyokos garlic herb cheese Wheel : don’t like this flavor or the tanginess/bite it has at the end. It starts off nice, I like the texture, great and healthy ingredients but has a strange tangy flavor that gives it a bite at the end – not quite sure what it is or how to properly explain it. I don’t prefer this taste and would not purchase again – however if you wanna try it out, wait for a sale and give it a go! Love supporting companies with great ingredients and care of the environment.

    Violife feta – I actually like the flavor but as a cream cheese and not feta. As the review states, it doesn’t crumble like animal feta and very white in color but the taste in my opinion is close to cows cream cheese. I would use this as a vegan ‘cream cheese’ spread for pizzas or bagels instead of feta.
    Thank you again for this review.

  3. Wendy McMinn says

    What would you use to sprinkle on top of dishes that’s not Parmesan. Is there a shredded mozzarella that you can recommend?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Wendy, we haven’t found a good shredded mozzarella. Cashew parmesan is our go-to! Best of luck in your search!

    • Christin Badinghaus says

      I personally love daiya’s vegan mozzarella shreds. they are perfect for when I occasionally want to enjoy pizza! It melts really well and gets nice and stringy and has a great taste for a vegan cheese.

    • Ellie Simon says

      Is there a recipe or brand you would recommend for good vegan feta? I’m really trying to go entirely plant-based for ethical reasons, but this Middle Eastern girl needs her fix!

    • Destiny DeVooght says

      I recently moved into a place with a nice kitchen, and with all this newfound free time I’ve been cooking a ton! I want so bad to make vegan versions of pantry pastas on the fly, like cacio et Pepe or something similar but I can’t find a cheese that grates in and will melt to create a creamy sauce! Smashed white beans just aren’t doing it for me! Help!

  4. Lorraine says

    Definitely 5 stars!!

    I just made the macadamia ricotta and it was sooo delicious, I was eating it straight out of the food processor. My husband just started a plant based diet and is pretty picky. I used it for the zucchini lasagna and he loved it so much. Thank you!!!

  5. Shannon Watkins says

    Being a huge dairy cheese lover, I have resisted vegan cheese for a long time. Because I’ve loved so many recipes from your site, I thought I’d put my cashews to good use & give it a try. I made the Vegan Parmesan and love it! My husband even thought it was the real thing! The first night I used it to bread fish and last night I breaded eggplant before frying it up and making eggplant parmesan. Great for a gluten free diet. Thanks for another easy to make and delicious recipe!

  6. Susy says

    I guess everything depends on everyone’s taste. I make wonderful ricotta using Eden Organic Unsweetened soy milk. Although I haven’t had cow’s milk ricotta in years the texture and flavor…you won’t believe how similar to cow’s milk is! It’s cheaper than Kate Hill brand. I like Miyoko’s mozzarella but not the cream cheeses. There is a new vegan cheese in the stores where I live called Pamela Creamery. Shredded mozzarella is pretty decent.

  7. Valerie Bloom says

    Thank you for the lovely recipes. I can’t wait to try these cheeses. We’re just catching up here in England, so the choices are not great and/or very expensive . Would you have a recipe for homemade cream cheese? I use Violife in my lemon cheesecake and with my smoked salmon, but I’d like to make my own if possible.

  8. Carolyn says

    Which of your cheese recipes would you recommend to make scalloped potatoes ? I attempted a cashew and nutritional yeast cheese sauce but it turned a brown colour as it cooked so wasn’t visually appealing.
    Thanks

  9. Rosemary says

    I’m actually fairly fond of Miyoko’s mozz. It doesn’t taste like plastic like so many vegan cheeses I’ve experienced, and sometimes it melts very nicely, although I haven’t figured out yet exactly what the right conditions for that are. In things like poblanos rellenos the flavor melds with the other ingredients in a lovely way. However, I’m even more fond of their SMOKED mozz! Delish with apples, on salads, with crackers….I’m also a big fan of the Violife feta. Not crumbly, but creamy, I find the flavor surprisingly convincing! (Note: I have found different dairy fetas to have different degrees of both saltiness and crumbliness.) My challenge with many vegan cheeses is that I avoid nutritional yeast, which you include in many of your “cheesy” recipes. If any of your homemade vegan cheese recipes do not include that, I would be happy to be directed to which ones those are.

    • nicole says

      Thanks for the review. Agreed with the comment above! Their motz was a game changer for me. I really appreciated the clean and simple ingredients. It melts well for me, nachos, pizza etc.

      • Rosemary says

        The clean ingredients were exactly why I initially chose to try Mikiyos’s mozz. Not all of their products are as clean, in my opinion, but I’m grateful to have found this one that works for me.

  10. Jacqui says

    Hi, thanks for the list and review, ive recently adooted a plant based diet. Please can you tell me where to get these?

    Thanks!

  11. Kristin says

    I was surprised to see you didn’t like Miyoko’s very much! I love their sundried tomato wheel and thought the mozzarella is pretty good! I will say, however, that Vtopia restaurant in NW PDX makes the best vegan mozzarella I’ve tried and all of their other cheeses are pretty amazing–you must try it if you have not! Their mac n cheese is also the best vegan mac ever!

  12. Denise says

    Sheese is pretty good too…

    I believe Pizza Pizza uses Violife vegan mozzarella (can’t seem to find a place to buy it in Toronto other than on the pizza) and it’s pretty good. Melts nicely.

  13. Jill says

    This guide is so helpful!! Thank you!! What about Mac and cheese? Do you recommend going homemade or using one of the Store bought ones? I’ve made homemade vegan Mac and cheese before but really want to get cheesy comfort food flavor next time. Maybe chao cheese?

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      From what we tried of theirs it wasn’t our favorite. The ingredients seem OK. But the flavor and texture were a miss, especially on the Parmesan. The feta, however, was pretty good!

  14. Ana says

    Love your reviews! I do have to say, you should give miyoko’s SMOKED mozzarella and other kite hill products a try :) I’ve tried sooo many vegan cheeses, but miyoko’s smoked mozzarella and kite hill’s cream cheeses are staples (my favorite is the jalapeño and the chive). The ricotta is ok, and like you said good when mixed with something else.

  15. Coba says

    Wow kinda shocked about the mozzarella! Used it this year for a vegan red white and blue caprese salad (with blueberries) and thought it was great. Did not try melting it though but as is/raw I enjoyed it. This list is great btw! I’ve made some of your cashew cheese balls that you’ve shared and I’m sold! Also raw vegan cheesecakes with a cashew cream are out of this world!!

  16. Kate says

    Can you turn this into a booklet with all the recipes? I’d pay for that (so I wouldn’t have 15 sheets of loose paper with all these great recipes and reviews!)
    Kate

  17. Marceil says

    Thank you so much for this review!
    I just wanted to share with the community that Erin Ireland..Vegan blogger/bakery owner posted an incredible recipe on her site: itstodiefor.ca for tofu feta and it’s seriously the best I’ve ever had! Definitely recommend giving it a try!

  18. Erika says

    My favorite vegan cheese is Heidi Ho Black Lava – the taste and texture is amazingly similar to goat cheese. So bummed that my local co-op doesn’t carry it any longer. I’ll have to try your mozzarella recipe! Most of the mozz emulators I’ve tried are so bad I’d rather just eat cheese-less pizza.

  19. Vikki says

    I haven’t tried the Violife Parmesan but I use the cheddar and mozzarella shreds quite often for pizza. The taste is good and they melt well since they’re coconut-based. Follow Your Heart smoked Gouda slices are delicious.

  20. Anne says

    Thanks for the recipes (and reviews!). I’ve tried all of the store-bought ones that you mentioned and some are definitely better than others! As far as Miyoko’s goes, I like the “cream cheese” style varieties. The other brand I’ve been liking is Parmela Creamery. Will definitely be trying some of your recipes!

  21. Kate says

    The Violife cheddar is pretty good! Very similar taste to the Follow your heart brand. Non-GMO and decent ingredients. I agree that Daiya is absolutely awful. I’m excited to try the Field Roast brand! Love that you shared this for those considering cutting dairy.

  22. Bev says

    I love your vegan parm (made with cashews and nutritional yeast)! I enjoy it on everything and often eat it straight up. ;) Thank you for all of your brilliant recipes. ?

  23. Liz L. says

    Would agree that Myokos butter is absolutely phenomenal. Try making Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with it – you wouldn’t know it wasn’t butter.

  24. Sami says

    I agree, the Miyokos garlic herb wheel was underwhelming. However, her Smoked English Farmhouse, Sharp English Farmhouse, Herb de Provence, and evening Winter Truffle wheels are soooooo good! I’m always surprised to see the garlic herb one readily available in grocery stores, but the much better flavors are super hard to find! The ingredients on all the cheese wheels are pretty clean though, which is good. Will have to try the Treeline and Chao next. Thanks for the guide!

  25. Jen says

    Thank you for sharing! Just tried sheese strong cheddar shreds tonight and we much preferred them over the Daiya cheddar shreds!

  26. Kate says

    Many of your recipes instruct a lengthy soaking of cashews prior to blending them. Is there a reason that you prefer that method over boiling them? Is it a nutritional concern? Thanks!

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I wouldn’t recommend boiling. But what you can do is quick soak in VERY hot water for 30 minutes – then drain! It makes them easier to digest and softens them so they blend easier.

  27. Barb says

    Treeline‘s Serrano Pepper is my favorite from the line. I want to try Chao now for a grilled cheese sandwich! Thanks for the review.

  28. Helen says

    I am Greek and very serious about my feta and your review of the Violife feta is spot on! I’ve tried adding salt flakes on top when I serve it, which brings the flavor closer to that of dairy feta

  29. Kenzy says

    I love your probiotic cashew cheese and sour cream with all my heart. They keep getting better every time I make them and have practically memorized the cashew cheese recipe by heart! I’m not a huge vegan cheese fan so this is the perfect substitute. My family also loves your alternatives as well and they aren’t even vegan. Thank you so much for creating these wonderful recipes!

  30. Bernadette says

    I live in Vancouver and the best cheese I’ve had is from Blue Heron. Its a must-try – clean ingredients, superb taste!
    I also love The Cultured Nut and BlackSheep Cheeze :) There are others in the vegan store that I go to that are equally great. Forgot the names :)

    Thank you for review and cheese recipes!

    Thank you for the review!

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Locally made cheeses will always be fresher and often taste better! So glad you’ve found some you like!

  31. Chelsea says

    Interesting…I cannot believe the rating of Miyoko’s mozzarella! My vegan friends and I have had nothing but positive experiences with it. Melts well on pizza when grated or just in a sauce on the stovetop. Best vegan mozz I’ve tasted. I hope others are not deterred from trying it!

  32. Teri K says

    Thank you for this guide. Since adopting a plant-based diet, finding the right cheese substitute has been a challenge. I need to try and make my own.

  33. Sabrina says

    I found this article so helpful. I am the only vegan in a family of five so store bought vegan items are very convenient. I’ve been so afraid to try the cheeses because they are expensive and the ones I have tried were so gross, I’d rather go without.

  34. Linsey says

    Thanks for this roundup!! I’ve been afraid to try any store bought vegan cheese but you might have given me the push I needed! I love field roast products so I’m def going to start there!

  35. Smash says

    My main qualm with “substitutes” is that they may be decent stand ins for texture and flavor they don’t necessarily stand in well for nutrients, often lacking protein and other things diary products do have, making the substitute product just more processed foods. Reviews often neglect to mention that difference which I find incredibly important when trying to choose healthy options. Would it be possible to add in that info next time? Thanks so much!

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for the thoughts! This is one of the main reasons why we prefer making our own from whole food ingredients :D

  36. Alexa says

    The challenging thing I find with store bought vegan cheeses is the digestibility, which wasn’t really covered here. Some, although I can’t speak for the ones mentioned here, are really hard to digest and can lead to gas, bloating and other digestive upsets that are really hard to tolerate… Daiya for example destroys my guts.

    Don’t usually have that problem with the homemade ones though and I get that it is likely hard to test “will my stomach explode violently” as a feature here haha.

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Good point, Alexa! That’s why we usually just stick with our homemade cheeses made with real, whole food ingredients. We also don’t handle soy too well, which is also in a lot of store-bought vegan products.

      • Alexa says

        very savvy! Soy definitely rages my belly.

        Thanks for these recipes btw, tried the jalepeno queso last week and it was a SLAM DUNK. We’ve already made it twice now. Finally I’m not lamenting not being able to digest dairy. Great recipe.

  37. Giovonne says

    This is all really helpful! I’ve had my eye on some of these products but just haven’t wanted to be disappointed. I’ve actually had really good luck with the Miyokos mozzarella melting in a pasta dish. When I drain the pasta, I leave some of the pasta water, and then stir in chunks of the mozzarella. It creates a super creamy mac-and-cheese like sauce. I’ve also made pasta with their sundried tomato and garlic cheese with some peas and arugula. That one is smokier, but it also melts when stirred into pasta with some pasta water.

  38. Molly says

    Thanks for the guide! I’ve been trying various recipes for vegan cheese with mixed results. I will keep at it though. Just wondering why no Daiya products were considered.
    Love your blog!

  39. tracy says

    Thanks for the review it is spot on from my personal experience. I just tried the violife parmesan and it is just as you described and I won’t buy it again. I use your classic vegan parmesan recipe and it is delicious. I would be even harsher with Miyoko’s Mozzarella, it was just horrible, but her butter is very good. Do you have a recommendation for a homemade cheese fondue? I really appreciate your work, I enjoy so many of your recipes. Thank you

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Oh yes, Myoko’s mozzarella is kind of terrible, but the butter is amazing! If I was doing fondue, I’d probably make a cheese sauce from scratch – thanks for the suggestion! I’ll add it to our list!

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