Cheese is definitely a sensitive subject when you mention going dairy free. Fortunately, if you opt to remove it from your diet, the cravings will usually subside within about a month (give or take, depending on the person). In the mean time, you may need to subsitute cheese to hold back the addiction. When shopping for a cheese alternative, be sure to read the label carefully. Although some soy cheeses have passed the flavor tests, many of these do have casein (milk protein). If you would like to buy a premade “cheese,” reference our No Dairy Product Lists for tons of vegan brands.
Some people are okay without the cheese, but still love the bold flavors. From these people several “Cheesy” recipes and ideas have emerged. Our favorite collection is The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, written by Joanne Stepaniak. This is a book dedicated to “cheeseless cheese” recipes and meals. The Country Life Vegetarian Cookbook by Diana Fleming also includes some great cheese alternatives, and has been highly recommended by vegans and meat-eaters alike. Below is a collection of recipes and cheese alternative ideas to get you started.
The name may sound horrible, but nutritional yeast is actually a fairly simple ingredient that offers a cheesy vibe to foods like no other dairy-free ingredient. Loaded with B vitamins (including B12), many people love the taste of nutritional yeast sprinkled on like Parmesan. If the flavor seems to strong for your taste buds, don’t cast it aside without trialing it in full blown recipes first. Nutritional yeast can be used in very small amounts to add a delicious savory flavor to many meals and recipes.
To find nutritional yeast, check the baking goods aisle and the bulk food section of mainstream and natural grocers. If you can’t find it in store, it is readily available online.
Sliced smoked tofu mimics mozzarella or provolone on sandwiches or with crackers. Also, in some American-style recipes I have added cubes (or a mash) of extra-firm tofu, and noticed a cheesy taste and texture. Not cheese by any means, but the basic tasty vibe.
For a very simple cottage cheese or ricotta substitute, you can blend or mash some Firm Silken Tofu with a dash of lemon juice. Silken Tofu can substitute cheese in many recipes, replacing cottage cheese or ricotta in dips, sauces, smoothies, pies, and pasta dishes. For more “complex” ways to substitute cheese, see the recipe and product tabs below.
Below are the products we’ve had a chance to taste-test and review here on Go Dairy Free. For a more extensive list of vegan cheese alternative options available, get one of our No Dairy Product Lists; they include thousands of dairy-free foods.
For more cheesy recipes and dairy alternative tips from my kitchen, see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.
Teese Vegan Mozzarella Cheese Alternative – Photo by Hannah Kaminsky