Five cheese substitutions you can try at home

 
 A good place to begin minimizing your carbon footprint: try these simple vegan cheese recipes at home.

A good place to begin minimizing your carbon footprint: try these simple vegan cheese recipes at home.

Name your cheese preference - hard and pungent, subtly sweet and creamy - and there’s likely a dairy-free option that’ll satisfy. Once the mainstay of health food stories, delicious vegan cheese is now easy to find in supermarkets.

And that’s a good thing. Our craving for cheese comes at a huge cost to the environment. A report by Mother Jones revealed that the production of dairy used for just two slices of cheese required 50 gallons of water, not to mention its contribution to global CO2 emissions. Each kilogram of cheese overall adds 9.78 kilograms of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

We’ve selected five of our favorite plant-based cheese recipes, adapted from some of the most inventive vegan bloggers we know. Some include many ingredients, others just a few, but trust us, they’re simple enough for you to try at home.
 

Butternut Squash Queso

Adapted from Veggie Inspired
This plant-based queso is rich in texture and flavor. This recipe is the perfect addition to your favorite nachos, delicious drizzled over roasted vegetables, on top of tacos, or blended into  spicy enchilada sauce. All the add-ins - the dijon mustard, garlic, cumin, and hot pepper - can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes. Each offers its own unique element to the final product, so try not to skimp too much. 

 This baked cheese will do wonders for your next cocktail party. Photo by  The Colorful Kitchen

This baked cheese will do wonders for your next cocktail party. Photo by The Colorful Kitchen

Spicy Baked Cashew Cheese

Adapted from The Colorful Kitchen
Cashew-based cheeses are rich in vitamins and minerals. This recipe suggests baking something traditionally served raw. What results is a beautifully textured and flavorful rind with a creamy inside. If you’re going for a harder interior, simply extend the bake time by 10 or so minutes. Whatever texture you prefer, this cheese is guaranteed to wow the crowd at your next dinner party.
 

Macadamia Ricotta

Adapted from I Don’t Taste Like Chicken
Macadamia nuts, like cashews, help to create a creamy, buttery texture. This recipe offers the perfect opportunity to experiment. Its subtle flavor, and airy texture means it pairs well with a number of different foods. Try it with berry compotes, on top of little crostinis, and as a substitute in your favorite pizza recipe. It also goes beautifully with tomatoes and basil.

 Tofu feta is best kept in a glass jar. Photo by  Green Evi

Tofu feta is best kept in a glass jar. Photo by Green Evi

Tofu Feta

Adapted from Green Evi
This tofu-based cheese comes together quickly and showcases the transformative qualities of nutritional yeast. The white miso helps create a savory experience extremely close to feta. Spiced with oregano and red pepper flakes, it's the perfect addition to a greek salad. For extra pop, marinate the tofu for 8 to 48 hours before using.
 

Smoky Jalapeño Cheddar

Adapted from My Darling Vegan
While not as firm as your average cheddar, this vegan version comes pretty close. It’s rich in spice and unique in texture. The outer layer of crushed almond slices gives it a nice crunch. To make it work get used to blending, refrigerating, and enjoying.
 

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Try nutritional yeast. These dairy and gluten free flakes substitute well for grated cheeses like Parmesan and pecorino. They’re also a good source of B vitamins (including B12), protein, folic acid, and zinc. Top your pasta with these or mix into a white sauce for best results.
 

For other vegan cheese brands we trust, check out our most recent review: From the Cheese Case: How good is plant-based cheese?

Check out our archive of vegan cheeses for more great ideas!


More about vegan alternatives