We receive so many inquiries about dairy-free “cheese” that it seemed about time we put up a comparison review of the most popular brands. Each of the vegan soy cheese brands tested are dairy-free (that means casein-free, lactose-free, whey-free, etc.), gluten-free, and vegan. This review and comparison is from the popular vegan restaurant reviewer, quarrygirl.com (alas, she is no longer posting reviews, but this one lives on!).
Note: Since this original review and comparison, Daiya, a soy-free vegan cheese alternative, arrived on the scene. Quarrygirl gives Daiya very high marks (just below Cheezly). It is available at natural food stores and some major grocers throughout the U.S. This is just a review nad comparison of the vegan soy-based cheese alternatives on the market.
We took all the top retail vegan soy cheese brands and put them to the test in the ultimate vegan pizza contest. the soy cheese contenders consisted of all the big names: Follow Your Heart, Sheese, Cheezly and Teese. We ordered them all online at veganessentials.com and sampled each of them on a standard, basic, homemade vegan pizza crust.
Let’s start off by defining the rating system. We will determine the absolute best vegan soy cheese by evaluating them based upon 5 very simple criteria: taste uncooked, taste cooked, meltyness, value, and availability. The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best of the best of the best.
From the ordering website: “Teese is the first dairy-free and casein-free cheese that melts and tastes like a real dairy cheese. Teese is crafted through a proprietary process by certified “Teesemakers” to taste just like artisanal cheese. Teese promises to deliver the taste and melt non-dairy connoisseurs have sought for years”
taste uncooked: The taste raw is definitely sour. Cheese-like, but weird, wet and waxy. 3 out of 5 (see note below)
taste cooked: Pretty close to real cheese, I’ll take it! 4 out of 5
meltyness: Teese’s melt factor was insane! we threw this pizza in the oven, and when it came out, the cheese on top was a pinkish SOUP. I have tried a few times subsequently, and it seems that teese cheese always turns into pink mush. I found if you let it cool for about 10 minutes, the pink teese soup turns into a decent edible pizza cheese, thus ultimately warranting a 3 out of 5 (see note below)
value: Teese is $7.49 for 16 oz, that works out to $0.47/oz. 4 out of 5
availability: not sold in my area, but always available online. 4 out of 5
NOTE: Teese has come out with a new and improved version that quarrygirl rated as “vastly superior” to the version in this review. It is now very stretchy rather than soupy, has a better taste when raw, and has moved up the ranks to just below Cheezly.
From the ordering website: “Imported from Scotland, Sheese is a delicious alternative to dairy-based cheese that’s firm in texture and is by far the best eat-straight-from-the-package vegan cheese we’ve ever tried. It can also be used in many recipes, too – it takes a bit longer to melt than other vegan cheeses due to the firmness, but it works extremely well in just about any recipe you use.”
taste uncooked: Oddly enough, this stuff grated beautifully, but it tasted like ice cream! There wasn’t a sour raw flavor to it, instead something oddly vanilla or cake-like. 3 out of 5
taste cooked: When cooked, the vanilla taste of sheese was not so prominent. It was still a tad too sugary, but had definite hints of mozzarella. 4 out of 5
melty-ness: Sheese just straight up refuses to melt. You can see that the grated shreds just sit there, after 45 minutes in the oven, totally refusing to budge. 1 out of 5
value: Sheese typically costs 8.69 for an 8 oz package. This equates to $1.08/oz. 2 out of 5
availability: While Sheese soy cheese alternative isn’t available at your typical whole foods, it’s pretty easy to find. Grab it online at veganessentials or one of the many vegan specialty internet grocers. 4 out of 5
From the ordering website: “Hailed as the best American-made vegan cheese, Vegan Gourmet melts beautifully and has a delicious, authentic cheese flavor. Perfect for topping pizzas, pastas, Mexican dishes, or shredded plain in salads!”
taste uncooked: Edible but not great. The shreds were wet and waxy and a slight taste of chemicals. 2 out of 5
taste cooked: When on homemade pizza, Follow Your Heart still has a strange taste. While not as prominent as when raw, there is a definitely chemical flavor. 3 out of 5.
meltyness: Follow your heart cheese melts sometimes; and in my experience, even after a round in the oven, it needs some microwave love to get it melted. Plus, it started falling off the pizza in big clumps. 3 out of 5
value: Vegan Gourmet soy cheese alternative does very well in this category. It is a mere $4.69 for a 10 oz package, putting it at a shocking $0.47/oz! 4 out of 5
availability: Finally, Follow Your Heart’s reach is just as impressive as its price tag. i find it in basically every whole foods, and even some ralph’s outlets. i’m in LA, so i can’t speak for the rest of the country, but here the availability is 5 out of 5
From the ordering website: “Cheezly is simply incredible and must be tasted to be believed. We’ve never used a vegan cheese that melts this well AND tastes so much like real dairy cheese! Ideal for pizzas, quesadillas, pastas, grilled cheese sandwiches- anything you can imagine melting cheese onto or into!”
taste uncooked: Cheezly tasted pretty darn good raw. It was firm, chewy and slightly sour. Pretty impressive. 4 out of 5
taste cooked: The taste of the cheezly on a pizza was absolutely delicious. It was salty, cheesy, milky, and probably the best tasting fake cheese I’ve ever had. 5 out of 5
meltyness: Cheezly’s melt factor was awesome. Pretty much like real cheese. 4 out of 5
value: When it’s not on sale, cheezly will run you $8.95 for 6.7 oz, that’s $1.34/oz! Whoa!! Pretty pricey. 1 out of 5
availability: Cheezly is harder to find in the U.S. and usually must be ordered online. 4 out of 5
Now, for the results!
In the end, Teese and Cheezly tied for the win with 18 points! follow your heart was right behind with 17 points, and sheese coming in last with 14 points.
Even though Teese scored the same number of points, Cheezly will always be the winner in my book. cheezly won most of its points on pure taste, but fell behind because it’s 3 times the price of teese. so if you don’t mind paying extra, go with Cheezly. in my opinion, it is the best tasting vegan cheese.
This is a third party review from quarrygirl.com, reprinted with permissions. To find out more about these products and where to purchase, see the respective links within the review above.