After the big dairy-free cream cheese taste test, our tasting group was clamoring for more. So we rounded up all of the dairy-free mozzarella cheese alternatives I could find and created a formal pizza taste test. We sampled the vegan cheeses cooked and raw, we evaluated their taste and texture, and averaged the ratings together to find the best dairy-free mozzarella cheese alternative. And I must say, we were very surprised by the results! You can use these links to jump ahead in our review:
The Best Dairy-Free Mozzarella Cheese Alternative Taste Test
I visited every grocer in town and bought every dairy-free mozzarella brand I could find. I reached out to all other companies that weren’t here locally, and asked if they wanted to send their product for the taste test. Since I fully disclosed that it would be an unbiased group and we would not guarantee positive results, not everyone opted to participate. But Moocho and Treeline were brave enough to join in! Unfortunately, there was a shipping issue with Treeline. So we ended up with a total of nine brands in this taste test, instead of ten.
To make sure the cheeses were tasted at their prime, we had a designated cook, a cutter, and a photographer who quickly delivered the hot pizzas as they came out of the oven to the rest of our group. Our photos show you what they looked like melted. Since we were rotating the pizzas in the oven to ensure they were all cooked exactly the same, none were broiled for extra browning.
I baked up the crusts myself (with my recipe in Go Dairy Free), and each one was weighed and shaped into the same size pan to ensure even thickness. We also used a measured half cup of (Target brand) pizza sauce on each pizza to give each cheese the same base and moisture level. We cut bite-sized pieces so people could taste and re-taste as needed. People also sampled the cheeses raw, which allowed us to evaluate how they would be sprinkled on top of things, like salads.
Seven people completed the taste-test in full. The group included vegan, dairy-free, lactose intolerant, dairy flexitarians, and dairy-loving tasters. We had every group covered, from those who haven’t tasted dairy in 20 years, to those who remember what it tasted like yesterday.
Summary of Our Findings
The results ended up being remarkably different from our cream cheese taste test. With the cream cheese we had clear winners, and only slight deviations on personal rankings. But our best dairy-free mozzarella cheese taste off was just the opposite!
Every brand had high marks and lower marks. In other words, every single one had some fans. The top brand had a couple more fans than the others, but all of the rest were pretty split down the middle. Translation: just because several people say they like one brand, doesn’t mean you will. BUT, there is probably a brand out there that you will like. We hope our notes will help you sleuth out your favorite. And if you love the one and the bottom of our list, don’t feel slighted. At least two people in our group really liked it too!
There really weren’t any “hated” brands. Notice I said “lower” marks. There were far more high marks (7 or above) and middle of the road marks (4 to 6) than actual low marks. In the dairy-free community, so many people lament how horrible the cheese alternatives are. But this unbiased group of dairy-free and dairy consumers said they were all at least “passable.” In fact, a couple people stated with surprise, “they were all okay!” We had no funny faces, and no comments of disgust. And this was without any toppings.
Note: We did NOT over-cheese the pizzas. We used a moderate amount that covered the pizzas in a single layer. With Miyoko’s (both types) the coverage was more spotty, but everyone tasted pieces with plenty of cheesiness. If you blanket foods with a thicker layer of cheese, your opinions of these dairy-free mozzarella cheese alternatives could be more polarized.
The Best Dairy-Free Mozzarella Cheese: Taste Test Results
In our pursuit to discover the best dairy-free mozzarella cheese we found that every single brand is liked, even loved, by some people. There was a clear favorite, with only a couple wavering thumbs down, but all of the others had fans, too. The ratings are averaged rankings. All of the following brands also appear to be vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, and soy-free, but verify before purchasing.
The following products were dairy-free by ingredients at our time of review. All food products are at some degree of risk for potential cross-contamination with allergens. It is up to you to decide what is safe for your needs. Our choice for the best dairy-free mozzarella cheese alternative might not be yours. All of these products have been on the market for a while because some people like them. This is just a guide based on our findings and opinions. You can leave your own review and star rating on each of these products via the title links.
365 Whole Foods Market (8.3/10)
We were all a bit surprised that a generic stood out as the clear winner. It was actually the cheapest one that I purchased, even though it wasn’t on sale. Nevertheless, five out of seven tasters picked this as the best dairy-free mozzarella overall. And the lowest rating was a moderate five stars.
- “Tastes a lot like mozzarella! Indistinguishable IMHO. Great texture too!”
- “Mild, good flavor with a soft and melty consistency. I would buy it.”
- “Okay taste, but not a good melt. And there is bitterness in the aftertaste”
Base: Coconut Oil & Starch (no protein)
Raw Notes: These shreds have a solid bite with a good firm texture. The flavor is good, but very salty. This was our top pick for sprinkling on salads, too.
Cooked Notes: It was deemed the closest to real mozzarella with a likeable taste and texture. But because this brand is notably saltier than the others, it might not be the best option if you are adding salty toppings, like pepperoni.
Miyoko’s Liquid (6.7/10)
Our pizza maker fussed a bit with pouring this one on. It’s easy, but looks more like abstract art than traditional pizza. Still, the end result bakes up with a texture that’s remarkably mozzarella like, and the flavor was deemed a winner by most of our tasting group. To note, this is the only coconut-free dairy-free mozzarella in our taste test.
- “Tastes good, nice melt, and easy to pour. The style just takes some getting used to.”
- “Delicious! Great texture too. Has the mouthfeel of mozzarella.”
- “Sticky and a bit sour.”
Base: Cashewmilk, Sunflower Oil & Starch (no protein)
Raw Notes: This one is harder to rate raw, since it’s more of an uncooked sauce. It’s a thick liquid that tangy and bold compared to the others.
Cooked Notes: The flavor was stronger than most of the other cheese alternatives, which won several people over but lost a few. Most thought the texture was pretty spot on.
Overall, everyone liked this brand, but there was mass disagreement on if the melt was good or bad, if it was better raw or cooked, and what the texture was like.
- “Nice flavor and good melt.”
- “Doesn’t melt well, but the taste is good, like real mozzarella. Didn’t like it raw.”
- “Tastes better cold than hot. Hot gave weird chemical aftertaste but cold is not bad.”
Base: Coconut Oil & Starch (with faba bean protein)
Raw Notes: It received mixed reviews since the flavor is pleasant, with a good balance of salt and richness, but the raw texture has a very powdery finish.
Cooked Notes: As you can see in the photo, this one browned more than the others. It cooked up a little more than melting. Some thought the texture was good and melty, while some thought it was a touch gritty. Either way, everyone gave it a passing grade on pizza, and more than half of our group gave it a solid thumbs up.
Open Nature (6.1/10)
Yes, another generic ranked in the top half of our dairy-free mozzarella taste test. This is an Albertsons store brand, which you can find at their family of stores, including Safeway and Vons. Most of our tasters liked the flavor, but it didn’t quite nail the texture of melty cheese.
- “Pretty tasty and somewhat creamy, but it doesn’t melt as well as the others.”
- “It tastes better cold! Although I did enjoy it hot. Not too gooey.”
- “Not fantastic. The flavor is sharper and a little off. It didn’t melt well.”
Base: Starch & Coconut Oil (no protein)
Raw Notes: Similar to Moocho, this brand has a good flavor balance with subtle umami. It’s slightly soft to the bite, and has a little bit of a powdery finish. It ranked third for sprinkling on salads.
Cooked Notes: As noted, and as you can see, it doesn’t melt well. But unlike some other brands, it’s soft rather than sticky or gooey. The taste has just enough salt and tang to mildly assert itself, and all but one taster approved of the flavor.
Miyoko’s Solid (6.0/10)
We struggled with this cheese alternative as a pizza topping. The wheel softened so quickly at room temperature that we couldn’t thinly slice it, and when shredded, it formed clumps. It didn’t win anyone over as a pizza mozzarella, but a few people thought it would make a delicious ricotta substitute. However, it’s worth noting that this was by far the most expensive cheese alternative in our taste test.
- “It doesn’t melt well, but the flavor is good.”
- “Tastes cheesy, but looks weird. It’s granular but doesn’t taste gritty. This was my second favorite flavor – because it’s just like ricotta!”
- “It looks strange and tastes fake.”
Base: Cashewmilk, Coconut Oil & Starch (no protein)
Raw Notes: The flavor is a little bolder and tangier than several of the others, but still has a relatively cohesive, cheesy umami quality to it. The texture is softer and grainier, like a ricotta. It could be good chopped or crumbled on top of salads or other dishes.
Cooked Notes: It doesn’t change much at all as it goes from raw to cooked. The shape remains the same, and the flavor mellows just slightly. It still has the same ricotta-like texture and taste. Our group was divided on if it worked on pizza at all, but most agreed it could be a tasty ricotta alternative.
Follow Your Heart (5.9/10)
This was another dairy-free mozzarella with polarized tasting notes. Some said it was too sticky, others called it creamy. Some thought the flavor was a little sharp, while others called it too mild. We learned why when we tasted it raw.
- “Good. I like that it’s creamier than 365. The flavor is mild.”
- “The texture is too soft. It has no body. But the flavor is good.”
- “Soft and melty, but also a little gooey and sticky. It melts in your mouth – not like real cheese. The flavor is a little sharp, but not bad.”
Base: Coconut Oil & Starch (with potato protein)
Raw Notes: It’s grainy and a tad crumbly, which shouts higher coconut oil without enough emulsification. The flavor sort of dances around between salty, tangy, and a little cheesy – it just couldn’t seem to find a cohesive and balanced identity.
Cooked Notes: This one is on the fence for those of you who don’t like “sticky” vegan cheese alternatives. It’s soft and is a little gooey once melted, but not as much as some others down the list. The flavor comes across as quite mellow at first, but some did note a slightly sharp tang in the aftertaste. We think it would go well with flavor balancing ingredients, like mushrooms.
This is a popular cheese alternative in the dairy-free community. It’s readily available and often an affordable option. For the most part, our group agreed that the flavor was pretty good – just not very mozzarella-like. But it was the gooey texture that many of us were stuck on.
- “Sticky gooey texture but good flavor. A bit of a cheddar flavor. Not like mozzarella, but good for a cheddar sauce?”
- “Really sticky and it tastes more like cheddar.”
- “Just no. The consistency is too weird. Tastes like sour cream.”
Base: Coconut Oil & Starch (no protein)
Raw Notes: It has a firm texture with a good bite. The smell is a little strong, but the taste is milder and just a little tangy. This was ranked as a solid option for sprinkling on salads or other dishes.
Cooked Notes: It has a slightly melted appearance, but is one of the stickiest dairy-free mozzarella cheese alternatives that we tried. The flavor didn’t wow anyone, but received passing marks from most. It just didn’t taste like mozzarella, so it wasn’t a favorite for pizza.
This brand is used by many restaurants, and has many frenemies in the dairy-free community. Most appreciate its price and availability, and some say it’s their go-to alternative. But others just can’t get on board with the taste and texture. Our group was equally divided. We had high marks and lower marks, with almost no middle ground votes.
- “It tastes good and the melt is okay.”
- “Stickier and a more prominent flavor. It’s just okay.”
- “It’s flavorless and just too gooey.”
Base: Starch & Coconut Oil (with chickpea protein)
Raw Notes: This brand ranked last for using raw, due to its gummy texture. The flavor is almost buttery, but with a slight tanginess. Most said the flavor wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t mozzarella-like.
Cooked Notes: Daiya looks very melty, which might be why so many restaurants like it. But it is on the sticky side, and the flavor was hit or miss with our group. We were squarely divided on its strength as a pizza cheese, with three yaes, three nays, and one undecided.
Parmela Creamery (5.1/10)
I was pleasantly surprised to find this smaller brand at one of our local stores. They use a slightly different base from most of the other dairy-free mozzarella cheese alternatives. This was a plus for a few of our tasters, who were genuinely pleased with the flavor. But it didn’t wow our group enough as a whole to inch higher in the rankings.
- “Delicious. Very creamy and nice flavor.”
- “The taste is mild and not bad. But it has a weird sticky mouthfeel. I can’t get past texture.”
- “My least favorite of the lot. It’s the least like cheese, is too sticky, and tastes really fake.”
Base: Cashewmilk, Coconut Oil & Starch (with potato protein)
Raw Notes: It has a very creamy texture – almost too creamy for sprinkling on salads. We thought it might suit the middle ground – sprinkled as a garnish on cooked dishes, like chili. The flavor is quite subdued and somewhat buttery. It has an aftertaste that could be considered cheesy, but is quite mellow.
Cooked Notes: Once fully cooked, this brand lost curb appeal. It had an almost plastic-like look. I have no doubt that this first impression along with the stickier consistency skewed the experience for some of us. Nevertheless, the flavor became a touch more assertive once cooked, which appealed to a few tasters.
Dairy-Free Mozzarella Cheese Alternatives we Didn’t Have Access To
- Chao Creamer Plant-Based Shreds – This product isn’t sold in our area, and I forgot to include them in our outreach. My bad!
- Forager Vegan & Dairy-Free Cheese Shreds – They are currently reformulating their shreds, so they want to hold off on taste tests.
- Good Planet Plant-Based Cheese – This company declined to send their product for inclusion.
- Nurishh Shreds – This company declined to send their product for inclusion.
- So Delicious Plant-Based Shreds – This company declined to send their product for inclusion.
- Target Good & Gather Plant-Based Shreds – For some disturbing reason, our local Target stores do not have this product.
- Trader Joe’s Cashew Cheese Shreds – Sadly, I’m not near a Trader Joe’s at this time.
- Treeline Dairy-Free Cheese – They were proud to join in and did send their product, but high heat caused spoilage en route. Fortunately, we did have their product available for our dairy-free cream cheese taste test.
- Vevan Shreds – This company declined to send their product for inclusion.