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Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

How to Substitute Cheese

Posted on by Alisa Fleming in Dairy Substitutes with 1 Comment

Click on the subtitles below for instant information on how to substitute cheese with a variety of dairy-free options …

Tips to Substitute Cheese

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.

Nutritional Yeast

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.

Recipes: Homemade Dairy-Free Cheese Alternatives

Products: Cheese Alternatives at the Store

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.

How to Substitute Cheese - Teese Mozzarella Vegan Cheese Alternative

Teese Vegan Mozzarella Cheese Alternative – Photo by Hannah Kaminsky

About Alisa Fleming

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

View all posts by Alisa Fleming →

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living


  1. Dianne pelletierJanuary 2, 2013 at 7:11 pmReply

    My daughter was recently diagnosed with celiac and several new allergies, dairy and egg. Do you have any suggestions for substitutes for these items???. And shes allergic to soy too.

  2. Sue TaylorJanuary 6, 2013 at 10:15 amReply

    Lisanetti makes a wonderful almond cheese that melts to a real cheese-like texture. It does have a bit of casein but that doesn’t seem to bother me or my daughter.
    When using it for pizza I would recommend covering it with foil until the end, because if it gets too brown it hardens too much.

  3. SandyJanuary 28, 2013 at 3:21 pmReply

    I ran across your vegan cheese and the recipe ended with the mixture in the blender and not with directions of how to harden the cheese. I’m confused. Sandy

    • Alisa FlemingJanuary 29, 2013 at 1:00 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Sandy, this is a third-party review of the product on Go Dairy Free. You will need to contact the company directly with your concern. I’ve included links in the post above to their website.

  4. Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm GirlDecember 23, 2013 at 1:08 pmReply

    Cheese is by far my weakness, so thanks for posting this!

  5. Danielle KernMay 7, 2014 at 2:15 pmReply

    I was looking at the dairy list, I saw goat milk but not sheep milk… why is goat considered dairy and not sheep?

    • Alisa FlemingMay 7, 2014 at 2:21 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Danielle, sheep milk is considered dairy, too, but it isn’t as readily available in the US.

  6. RobinM61August 7, 2014 at 2:18 pmReply

    Alisa, Do you have ideas for a good substitute for cottage cheese? Not mashed tofu, but something tasty that will behave like cottage cheese in recipes? I have a fabulous recipe for a healthy red velvet ice cream that uses low fat cottage cheese and I would love to make it! It’s supposed to taste like red velvet cheesecake in ice cream form and I just don’t think I can get that from tofu…Help…

    • Alisa FlemingAugust 8, 2014 at 12:13 pmReplyAuthor

      Have you considered using dairy-free yogurt in that recipe? I’m guessing it is the richness and slight tang of cottage cheese that gives it goodness. I would personally trial a combo of dairy-free yogurt and dairy-free, soy-free cream cheese alternative if using packaged products, or would make a nut cheese for it.

  7. Donna JeanOctober 30, 2014 at 1:49 pmReply

    Thank You For Yogurt Suggestion!

    Our Augratin Potatoes Tasted Delicious!
    Bless You for Your Service :)

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