The Complete Guide to Vegan Cheese

Whether you want to ditch the dairy cravings or learn the ins and outs of vegan cheese, this comprehensive guide to vegan cheese will help! It includes recipes for easy and delicious homemade vegan cheese, as well as our favorite store-bought brands and how to use them.

Do you still miss cheese, even after years of being vegan? If you said yes, you’re not alone— when I polled my Instagram audience about the hardest food to give up after going vegan, the most common answer was, not surprisingly, cheese!

And I get it. Cheese is salty, creamy, and tangy, and every time you eat a piece, it releases an explosion of dopamine in our brains, which some people think is as addictive as drugs.

But conquering these cravings has never been easier thanks to the growing selection and ever-improving quality of vegan cheese alternatives

Nowadays, there are endless varieties of vegan cheese to choose from. You can buy almost every type of cheese you love from well-stocked grocery stores or even make them yourself at home.

This comprehensive guide to vegan cheese will fill you in on what this delicious alternative is all about. You’ll learn what vegan cheese is typically made of, our favorite store-bought brands, and how to make vegan cheese at home. Plus, you’ll find inspiration on how to use all of them!

Most importantly, this guide will help you conquer your cravings so you can ditch dairy once and for all!

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Table of Contents:
1. What is vegan cheese?
2. What is vegan cheese made of?
3. Homemade vs. store-bought vegan cheese
4. Store-bought vegan cheese we love
5. How to make vegan cheese from scratch

bowl of vegan ricotta with olive oil drizzled on top on a plate with crackers, on a linen towel.

What is vegan cheese?

Vegan cheese often looks just like regular dairy cheese and some of them taste very similar to it as well, but the cheese is made with plant-based ingredients instead of animal milk. Nowadays, there are endless varieties to choose from, like shredded cheese, liquid cheddar or mozzarella-style sauce, sliced Swiss cheese, and even vegan parmesan. 

It’s important to understand that vegan cheese, being made with different ingredients, typically does not taste exactly like traditional dairy cheese. However, it does replicate some of the flavors and textures that you might remember from dairy cheese and tastes great in its own right.

Even if vegan cheese hasn’t 100% replicated the taste and texture of dairy-based cheese, it’s a great alternative for dairy-free eaters and vegans, as it doesn’t cause pain or suffering to cows and other animals.

What is vegan cheese made of?

While dairy cheese is made from curdled dairy milk, the ingredients in vegan cheese are much more unique.

The base of vegan cheese is typically made with wholesome ingredients, like nuts, seeds, tofu, oats, or beans. They’re often thickened with starch or flour, then given a realistic flavor with simple flavoring agents, like spices, herbs, and condiments.

Below are some common ingredients you’ll find in homemade and store-bought vegan cheese:

  • Nuts and seeds: Cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds.
  • Tofu/soy
  • Coconut: Coconut oil or coconut milk.
  • Starches/flour: Potato starch, all purpose flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, agar agar, or carrageenan.
  • Flavoring agents: Nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper, apple cider vinegar, paprika, liquid smoke, dry mustard powder, miso paste, dry herbs, lemon juice, and more.

New to vegan cooking? Check out The Ultimate Vegan Grocery Shopping List to answer all your grocery shopping-related questions, then hop on over to The 5 Best Vegan Protein Sources to learn how to incorporate plant protein into your diet.

Homemade vs. store-bought vegan cheese

We love making vegan cheese at home because it gives us complete control of the ingredients and flavors. They’re typically easy to make, too, and the only special tool you need is a blender. But when you need vegan cheese in a hurry, that’s where store-bought cheese shines.

Picking up vegan cheese from grocers has never been easier than it is now. When I went vegan in 2016, there were only a handful of options, most of which were barely edible. Now, you’ll be lucky if you don’t face decision fatigue!

Store-bought vegan cheese we love

With so many realistic-tasting choices available these days, we don’t want you to feel overwhelmed with the options. That’s why we’ve put together a list of store-bought vegan cheese brands we love and how to use each one below:

Cream Cheese

  • Kite Hill Foods Cream Cheese Alternative: Their almond-based vegan cream cheese (original + a few other flavors) is quite nice. It has a subtle tang and is made with wholesome ingredients. I use the plain variety in recipes, but prefer the chive flavor when spread on a bagel. 
  • Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese: This may not be as wholesome as the above option, but it tastes JUST LIKE dairy cream cheese. I can’t even taste the difference. I highly recommend using it for vegan cheesecake or when you really want that authentic cream cheese taste.

How to use: Depending on the brand, vegan cream cheese will give homemade cheesecake a thick and sturdy structure and a tangy, creamy flavor. Otherwise, spread it on bagels for breakfast or use it to make cream cheese frosting for desserts.

Shredded Cheeses

  • Chao Creamery Vegan Shreds: This is our go-to vegan cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches. The shreds melt great and have a nice mellow, neutral cheesy flavor with no weird aftertaste.
  • Parmela Creamery Shreds: This aged shredded cheddar-style cheese is made from cashew milk and melts well. It’s a smaller brand, but you can find them at Whole Foods and Wegmans.
  • Violife Shreds: Violife has both mozzarella and cheddar shreds. While they don’t stretch like traditional cheese (most vegan cheeses don’t), they do melt quite nicely (especially in a covered pan). 
  • Daiya Cutting Board Collection Shreds: A marked improvement from the classic Daiya shredded cheese that’s one of the OG dairy free cheeses. The mozzarella melts well and tastes pretty good, too.

How to use: Shredded vegan cheese is very versatile. It’s particularly great in grilled cheese sandwiches because the small shreds melt more readily than sliced vegan cheese, which can be trickier to melt before the bread burns.  

Sliced Cheese

  • Field Roast Chao Creamery Slices: I love the original creamy vegan cheese slices from Field Roast/Chao Creamery. They’re made from coconut and fermented tofu, which makes them tasty enough to snack on raw (they don’t have any artificial or off putting taste). They also melt quite well.
  • Violife Mature Cheddar Slices: These are a great option too. Soft, flavorful, and they melt pretty well.
  • Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda Slices: I haven’t tried all the FYH sliced cheese varieties, but the Smoked Gouda is tasty and melts and stretches pretty well.
  • Daiya Swiss Style Slices: The Swiss cheese slices taste remarkably similar to dairy-based Swiss cheese.

How to use: Layer the slices into sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, or melt them on veggie burgers.


  • Follow Your Heart Dairy Free Parmesan: The best store-bought option for pre-shredded parmesan with a nice neutral taste. I like to chop up the shreds or pulse them a few times in the food processor because they’re pretty large. They also melt really great in the oven! 

How to use: Use vegan parmesan in stuffed shells or any other baked pasta recipe. It’s also a wonderful finishing cheese you can sprinkle over pasta dishes, vegan pizza, and risotto. Use it in pesto, too!


  • Violife Just Like Feta. The best store-bought vegan feta I’ve tried. Sold in a block, it’s salty and briny and tastes like a hybrid of goat cheese and feta.
  • Trader Joe’s Vegan Feta Cheese Alternative: This one is a close second. Tastes remarkably similar to dairy-based feta and sold at a very reasonable price. 
  • Follow Your Heart Feta Crumbles: A good vegan feta option that’s pre-crumbled, sharp and tangy, and even melts well (not that feta needs to melt, but this one does and is great on an oven-baked flatbread). It’s also very allergen-friendly.

How to use: Feta is perfect in pasta salads and leafy green salads. We especially love it as a tangy and cheesy element in watermelon and cucumber salads with fresh basil. 

Spreadable Cheeses

  • Miyoko’s Creamery Cheese Wheels: Miyokos is a vegan cheese OG (the founder, Miyoko Schinner, even wrote a book on homemade vegan cheese!) and their cheeses are made with wholesome ingredients. The spreadable cheese wheels are great slathered on baguettes, crackers, crudites, etc.
  • Treeline French-Style Cheese: These soft, spreadable cheeses are rich and satisfying but made with wholesome plant-based ingredients (mostly cashews and live cultures). They’re perfectly tangy IMO.

How to use: Grab some crackers or fresh bread and slather the cheese on top!

Ricotta Cheese

  • Kite Hill Foods: Unfortunately the Kite Hill Foods ricotta can be difficult to find (sometimes Whole Foods has it, and other smaller gourmet markets might have it), but if you can find it, it is SO good.
  • Tofutti: This is a delicious ricotta that mimics dairy-based ricotta quite well!

How to use: If you’re making vegan lasagna, then you NEED vegan ricotta. Otherwise, use it as a dip or spread on a flatbread pizza or with fresh bread, crackers, and fresh fruit.


  • Miyoko’s Pourable Mozzarella: Aside from making liquid vegan mozzarella yourself, this is the only pourable version on the market right now! It’s the ultimate vegan cheese for pizza or pasta bakes because it bubbles and browns as it cooks and tastes deliciously gooey.
  • Violife Mozzarella-Style Shreds: A creamy melting cheese made from minimal ingredients. Sprinkle the shreds on a pizza, flatbread, pasta, and more.

How to use: Mozzarella is a must on pizza because it’s so stretchy and gooey. The shreds or liquid vegan mozzarella would also be delicious melted on top of vegan lasagna or baked pasta.

How to make vegan cheese from scratch

There are endless benefits to making homemade vegan cheese. It’s more affordable, you’re in control of the ingredients and flavors, and it’s relatively easy! Plus, there’s a recipe out there for everyone, regardless of allergies, flavor preferences, and dietary needs.

This list of homemade vegan cheese recipes and how to use them will help you get started:

For snacking…

My Fermented Cashew Cheese is the spreadable vegan cheese of your dreams. 

It’s a sliceable and spreadable cashew cheese made from pantry staple ingredients. The real kicker, though, is that it’s fermented over one or two days! This makes it feel fancier than your average homemade cashew cheese and packs it with tangy, umami flavors.

Fermented Cashew Cheese

A sliceable, spreadable vegan cheese that will blow your mind! This cashew-based cheese is made with just a handful of ingredients and is an explosion of salty, cheesy, tangy, and umami flavors thanks to fermentation.
Check out this recipe

How to use: Spread it onto crusty bread or use it as a sandwich spread, include it on a cheese board with crackers, olives, fruit, and vegetables, or use it as a dip with pita bread.

cashew cheese spread on bread on a plate.

When you’re in the mood for Greek food…

Then you need to make this Vegan Feta!

Regular feta is salty, creamy, tangy, and crumbly. My Greek-style tofu feta is close to the real thing, with all of the classic flavors of the original. 

Best of all, it’s just plain easy! Cut a brick of firm tofu into cubes, let it hang out in a tangy and herbaceous marinade, and use it throughout the week.

Greek-Style Vegan Feta

Vegan feta that tastes so similar to classic feta but without any dairy! Tangy and salty with Greek flavor, and easy to crumble into salads.
Check out this recipe

How to use: This vegan feta is particularly great in salads, like watermelon or cucumber salads and Greek salads, and on top of grain bowls, flatbread pizzas, and couscous. The cheese adds a burst of tang to my Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad and the Greek Gigantes Plaki in my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook!

watermelon salad with vegan feta in a bowl.

For a Mexican-inspired feast…

You need my Vegan Queso!

This is an addictive vegan cheese sauce that tastes just like real queso. It’s easy to make with 10 wholesome ingredients, like cashews, pickled jalapeños, salsa, and coconut yogurt. Blend them all together and you have a creamy and spicy queso you can use in a ton of Mexican-inspired recipes!

Vegan Queso

The vegan queso recipe you’ve been waiting for — creamy, spicy, AND cheesy. Perfect for burritos, quesadillas, tacos, nachos, and more!
Check out this recipe

How to use: There are so many ways to use this vegan queso. You can try it in my Buffalo Chickpea Quesadillas, Vegan Crunchwrap Supreme, or Breakfast Burritos. It’s also delicious with vegan nachos and as a dip with tortilla chips.

vegan queso spooned from a glass jar on a table.

If you’re craving cheesy vegan pasta…

Then this creamy Vegan Ricotta will take it over the top.

Ricotta is one of the cheeses I missed the most when I first went vegan. It’s an incredibly creamy and indulgent cheese, but that same indulgence is easy to recreate with cashews! A blend of simple seasonings and wholesome ingredients gives this vegan ricotta an irresistibly savory flavor that is an integral part of all of your comfort foods.

Easy Vegan Cashew Ricotta

Vegan Cashew Ricotta that’s creamy and indulgent but made with healthy, simple ingredients. 10 minutes to make. Just like classic ricotta!
Check out this recipe

How to use: Just like traditional ricotta, you can use vegan ricotta in lasagna and stuffed shells. It’s also fantastic as a dip with crackers or fresh bread, or spread on bagels and flatbread.

Vegan ricotta in a bowl next to crackers on a plate.

For your nut-free friends…

Treat them to this Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce.

In addition to being nut-free, this healthy cauliflower cheese sauce is soy-free and oil-free, too. Admittedly, some of my other recipes taste a bit cheesier and more indulgent, but if you’re intolerant to nuts or looking for a low-calorie option, then this is the cheese sauce for you!

Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce (Oil-Free and Soy-Free)

This Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce is made with nourishing, wholesome ingredients. Say hello to mac’n cheese, quesadillas, and more!
Check out this recipe
Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce (Oil-Free and Soy-Free)

How to use: This is my go-to sauce for a meaty Buffalo Jackfruit Vegan Grilled Cheese. It’s also wonderful in mac and cheese, drizzled over nachos, or baked on a homemade pizza. And when you want to jazz up roasted vegetables, add some of this vegan cheese sauce on top!

Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce in a bowl.

More recipes with vegan cheese

Whether you crave cheese or not, I hope this thorough guide inspired you to get creative with vegan cheese! Be sure to leave a comment below if you found it informative or if you have any feedback :)

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33 comments on The Complete Guide to Vegan Cheese

  1. Chuck

    Hoo-boy, Nisha, I was a cheese-lover before I was a vegan and almost all the store bought brands you recommend just make me sad, because they remind me of how much better real cheese tastes. The fake cream cheeses are the best of the lot — your readers may also want to try the plant-based Philadelphia brand or Treeline, which is my go-to right now. But the real reason I’m writing is to say that Minimalist Baker has a really good, hyper easy-substitute for parmesan. Of course, it goes without saying that YOU are my favorite Internet cooking star. But I do occasionally get disloyal and consult the other vegan sites. ;-) Many thanks for so many great meals!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lengthy comment, Chuck! We’re happy to hear you found the blog post helpful, thanks for giving some recommendations to other readers :)

  2. Sheila Lail

    I love vegan but I’m an Vegan , I have Gerd and Barrett’s and lactose intolerant 💯but I am searching and finding cheeses without garlic and pepper and onions,lemon , anything acidic,sosking them homemade is an amazing foundation for me thank you ,now where do I find the recipes and begin ,I also need an low acidic tomato sauce that doesn’t include onions and garlic,has low acidity, I married Italian and this diet is hard withy love for Italian food and any of this

  3. Hal

    Se ven Ricas pero… creo debo comprar un diccionario de alimentos porque no se que son los anacardos ..tal vez tienen otro nombre en mi país…y la receta menciona 7 ingredientes pero no los dice
    solo se ven en el vídeo pero no se que són. Gracias 😊

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Hal, this is a list of so many different vegan cheeses. Which specific one are you referring to, the fermented cashew cheese?

      1. Sheila Lail

        I’m e,But I’m not Vegan ,I just prefer plant based dairy and food, I’m lactose intolerant and found out 2 years ago , could not survive on vegan tried it put me in hospital almost killed me ,forest protein is Necessary,noatter what ,

  4. Katie

    Just here to say that Nisha’s queso recipe by far the best tasting EASY queso recipe I’ve tried. I’ve had good ones that involve chopping and cooking veggies to blend but they take so long and just being able to throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and have a perfect sauce is amazing. EVERYONE should give it a try!!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for your lovely review, Katie!

  5. David T

    This is a fabulous roundup up of great recipes, thank you!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      You are very welcome, David!

  6. Madelyn Glickfeld

    I am also a cheese lover and think your list is very good. I wonder why you did not mention Chao Cheese slices or their shredded cheese. It is a Field Roast product and is my favorite for sandwiches (slices) and dishes requiring shredded cheese. I also am surprised that you did not mention Miyoto Mozz which is excellent for lasagna and manicotti. Finally if you are willing to pay the price, Herbivorous Butcher a vegan meat and cheese shop in Minneapolis does distribute its meat products but also has some delicious cheese substitutes like their brie. They have a recipe for brie baked in light filo dough that is wonderful.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Madelyn, great to hear you’re a fan of our list of vegan cheese options! At the bottom we mention Chao cheese in the sliced cheese section as well as both Miyoko’s cheese wheels and mozzarella!

  7. Martie Coleman

    Have you tried Miyoko’s liquid mozzarella on a pizza yet? It’s really good!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Martie, we have not, but that’s good to know!

  8. Sabrina

    For me the best one that tastes just like cheese are the “babybel” plant based cheese rounds. You peel them just like the regular red ones but these are green in color. You can just bite into them or you could even spread it in bread as a cream cheese alternative. I got one bag at sams club as i wasnt sure if they would be good. I went back the following week and grabbed two more bags. It’s that good.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Interesting! Thanks for sharing, Sabrina!

    2. Martie Coleman

      Yessss…I love the babybel rounds!

  9. Laurie Vanwyngarden

    Great starter ideas!! I’m just starting out and I felt like I was in a pool of plant-based foods and not knowing what to do with any of them! Thank you for helping me bring it all together

  10. Brian Grant

    I have made your mac and cheese, and I admit it is very good, but on the question of cheese, I have to add the following.
    1) When I lived in the US, I had to conclude that Americans do not know how to make cheese (apologies to my friends).
    2) While Canada has also fallen prey to industrial cheese, there are many artisan cheeses from Quebec (including raw milk cheeses) that are very good.
    3) I have also lived in the UK and visited Europe many times where they have real cheese (I once bought a cheese from a Parisian fromager that was so ripe, I am convinced it could have walked home with me on its own.
    4) I have stopped eating cheese since becoming vegan with two important exceptions: Feta from Greece and Parmigiano Reggiano—admittedly on fairly rare occasions. Every faith must admit some transgression.
    That said, I love your blog, your book and your videos. Keep rocking. Brian

  11. Lee Kaplan

    The only Daiya cheese I like is their Smoked Gouda Block. I can nibble on it straight, and dice it up into salads. I haven’t tried it melted yet.

    1. Lee Kaplan

      It melts beautifully, but I prefer it cold for nibbling.

  12. Sarah

    Nisha, have you tried the vegan shreds from Aldi? Would love to know where they rank for you. I tried the vegan mozzarella shreds and was really impressed. For me, they’re a melting only, wouldn’t eat cold kind of shred, but I thought they were great for topping pasta or pizza.

  13. Debra

    Miyoko makes amazing vegan butter and her cheese shreds are great! Imperfect foods sells some of her products. The smoked cheddar wheel is amazing.

  14. Malay Patel

    Hey Nisha,

    You inspire a lot to me for cooking. I am Alberta ( Rockies ) Canada. I would love to buy or download your book and try to cook your way. How can I do it ?

    Please guide me

    Thanks with lots of Love,

    Malay Patel
    Cell: 17807070060

    1. Nisha

      Hi Malay, thanks for reaching out! So nice to hear that you’re interested in my cookbook. I think the easiest option is to order through Amazon Canada (here’s the link: It looks like it’s out of stock on Indigo’s website.

      Btw, my first cousin’s name is Malay Patel!

  15. Amber

    Thank you for this extensive breakdown. I have been vegetarian for 20+ years but am transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Like so many others, I love cheese and the ‘testing’ process (buying, tasting, and trying in different dishes) can be tedious and costly. You have saved me so much time and money. Thanks again! Love your website and recipes. Can’t wait to get your book and learn how to make delicious vegan meals using an Instant Pot.

    1. Sue

      Great list of vegan cheeses to purchase and your recipes look great! Just want to add for those that haven’t tried them: Miyoko’s cheddar and pepper jack are complete game changers in the world of vegan cheese. They both come in blocks, slices, and shreds and taste exactly like the real thing. Don’t tell someone they are vegan and they will never know, fooling people in taste tests, just like real cheese.

  16. valerie rankin

    Thank you so much for the info about ready made cheeses. It’s just me :) and buying so much is just not financially feasible. I also try to stay away for almonds for environmental reasons and cashews for human rights issues (blood cashews). Now that I live in MN (miss you SF) I have to search a bit but it’s so worth it.
    Again thanks for the tips. And your site and YouTube channel is a joy to watch.

    1. Lee Kaplan

      Valerie, I just read an article on blood cashews by Green Prophet. I knew about slave chocolate, but not cashews. At the end of the article they list sources for free trade cashews. Thank you for the heads up.

    2. Madelyn Glickfeld

      If you live in Minneapolis, check out the Herbivorous Butcher a vegan meat and cheese shop in Minneapolis. If elsewhere, you can mail order.

  17. Kathy

    I’ve followed your utube channel for quite some time now and have found it to be very informative with great recipes and you are a sweetheart!!!!! I’ve just Ben getting into Pinterest lately and I was so happy to see a familiar person!! This cheese line up is to me right on the mark, you obviously know what your talking about (which I already knew, duh!) through your own taste buds, Your own well developed recipes, your research with vegan cheese brands and taken them through the important taste test, I agree with all your choices being one of those cheese lovers until I was willing to research and found the devastating cruel brutality that cows and their babies go through, then there’s the awesome Earth and our health, no brained, no wining from me, Yup no more cheese and dairy in any way, done. So thank you for your info and your hard work, you have really developed great cookbooks and a great utube channel and a great Pintrest (I don’t know what to call it?) account and you probably have a Instagram account too that I’ll check out, well done, thank you soooooo much for your delicious food forward activism and being so likable and charming.

  18. Linda

    The best info on vegan cheeses I’ve encountered. Great recipes and reviews of commercially-available cheese. I can’t wait to try making Mac & Cheese with cheese I made myself! Do you have any suggestions for vegan butter – that actually tastes like Real butter –not too difficult!!! I was raised on Land ‘o Lakes, so that’s what I’m looking for. And I have total confidence that you can make/find it!! Thanks for everything 🖖out

    1. Jim

      Miyoko’s hands down.

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