How to Substitute Cheese


Much of this information on how to substitute cheese is from my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. However, I’ve also added some product reviews and a few fun recipes that are here on the website.

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 (completely, not a dairy trace!), the cravings will usually subside within about a month (give or take, depending on the person). In the mean time, you may need to substitute cheese to hold back the addiction.

How to Substitute Cheese for Dairy-Free Cooking, Baking and Snacking

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 ideas below.

Cookbook Help

If you are a self-proclaimed “cheese addict” then you may need an arsenal of recipes to get you over the hump. But, even if you are okay without cheese, cheesy recipes can offer fulfilling bold and pungent flavors. Two good cookbooks that are dedicated to homemade dairy-free cheese alternatives are The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, by Joanne Stepaniak and Artisan Vegan Cheese, by Miyoko Schinner.

Recipes: Homemade Dairy-Free Cheese Alternatives

Expanding culinary limits, the following dairy-free recipes offer one or more cheesy characteristics, from meltability to pungency.

How to Substitute Cheese - Dairy-Free Recipes

Products: Cheese Alternatives at the Store

When shopping for a cheese alternative, be sure to read the label carefully. Although some soy cheeses have passed flavor and texture tests, many of these do contain casein (milk protein). Below are the products we’ve had a chance to taste-test and review here on Go Dairy Free, which were completely dairy-free at our time of review.

For more cheese substitute recipes and tips from my kitchen, see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.

*Photo with the two cheese recipes above by Hannah Kaminsky

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, 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.


  1. Just came upon your page & am SO delighted. My 15 year old vegetarian daughter has decided to go dairy free to try clear her acne prone skin & I thought we would be so limited in our cooking options plus I’d worry about a growing girl getting all her vitamins, calcium, etc. Well judging by your 2000+ yummy recipes looks like we won’t be running out of options!!! Can’t wait to get my teeth in. Thanks X Jackie

  2. Hi I’ve just found out my 7month old daughter has allergy to wheat, cows milk and egg. Any ideas on what to feed her whilst weaning would be grateful


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  5. my daughter is highly allergic to nuts milk soya and p protein wheat egg see food fish and most dairy maize starch most veg. I am looking for an alternative for cheese as she loves pizza can anyone help please.

  6. I love this post so much I COULD CRY. Battling lactose intolerance for 6 years now and Im not very creative in the kitchen.. I had no idea what tofu even looked like, let alone how it could taste. I can’t wait to try your tips out!
    Only question.. I’m having a hard time with “healthy dairy-free” snacks.
    Most people can grab a string cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.. I wanted something quick yet healthy to eat on the go. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks so much!!!

    I would also like to tell everyone to beware of what you read on the Internet about “dairy free” recipes. Most aren’t truly DAIRY FREE; I think this is why I’m so so happy to have stumbled upon your page!

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