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. Typically fortified 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 later in this post.

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. Some good cookbooks for making homemade dairy-free cheese alternatives are The Ultimate Uncheese CookbookArtisan Vegan Cheese, Vegan Cheese, and Go Dairy Free.

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.

Go Dairy Free 2nd Edition - The Ultimate Guide and Cookbook for Dairy-Free Living with Over 250 Recipes!

*Photo with the two cheese recipes above by Hannah Kaminsky

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food 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, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Hi! I just wanted to recommend another option for cheese. I’ve been lactose intolerant for over 9 years, and have figured out my favorites. For mozzarella, the best I’ve tried is Lisanatti Foods Almond cheese. It’s amazing. I eat it with crackers, it melts on pizza, on a quesadilla, in lasagna. I highly recommend it. They might not carry it in your area, but if you see it, grab it!

    • Hi Lauren, unfortunately, Lisanatti is not dairy-free cheese. It is lactose-free cheese, but it’s dense with milk protein. It’s a confusing product, since it’s an “almond cheese” but it is not a dairy-free product.

  2. My body produces too much calcium, resulting in kidney stones , any suggestions on NO CALCIUM products ????!!!!

    • Hi Michele, all natural foods contain at least a little calcium. You are commenting on the cheese page, so I assume you are looking for cheese alternatives. Most dairy-free cheese alternatives are very low in calcium. Just avoid ones made with almonds.

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