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16 Vegan Alternatives for Cheese to Transform Any Meal You Crave

The best vegan alternatives for cheese will keep you in the non-dairy or non-animal corner. Admittedly, many people fear becoming vegan or sticking to their values because they’ll miss the incredible flavor and texture of cheese. How can you make meals taste good without it?

Fortunately, vegan alternatives for cheese are plentiful, tasty, and customizable to the type of meal you make. You can buy vegan cheese in stores and many varieties are available. However, you’ll discover the best plant-based alternatives at home right here. 

What Is a Vegan Alternative to Cheese?

Vegan alternatives for cheese have come a long way since people used tofu. It’s still a delicious option, but here’s a sneak peek at some other vegan cheese alternatives:

  • Vegan nooch parmesan (20)
  • Firm vegan cashew parmesan (18)
  • Vegan tofu cheddar (24)
  • Vegan cashew and almond nacho cheese (17)
  • Vegan cashew mozzarella (4)
  • Nut-free vegan tofu mozzarella (19)
  • Vegan chickpea and cashew cheese sauce (2)
  • Spicy vegan queso sauce (3)
  • Greek-style vegan tofu feta (8)
  • Creamy almonds vegan mascarpone (23)
  • Vegan cashew cotija cheese (7)
  • Vegan cashew cream cheese (6)
  • Vegan nooch and cashew ricotta (5)
  • Vegan almond brie cheese (9)
  • Vegan zucchini pesto cheese (27)
  • Vegan cauliflower cheese sauce (13)

You’ll find many different vegan-friendly cheeses in stores, too. However, you’ll discover the extensive world of making vegan cheese for any desired meal here. But first, let’s talk about how vegans replace dairy and some common concerns about cheese substitutes, such as the texture.

vegan alternatives for cheese  

How Do Vegans Replace Dairy?

Vegan cheese shouldn’t contain dairy or any animal byproducts. However, vegans aren’t alone in seeking non-dairy cheese alternatives. Medicine Plus suggests that 30 million Americans will have some degree of lactose intolerance by the age of 20 (11). Cow’s milk protein is also one of the most common allergens.

The need to replace dairy has become an essential part of life for many, whether for anti-animal cruelty reasons or because they can’t stomach lactose or milk proteins. Fortunately, vegans and non-dairy consumers can enjoy an array of plant-based ingredients for making cheese. 

The National Institute of Health suggests plant-based substitutes, such as products made from nuts, seeds, and legumes, are excellent replacements (12). Sunflower, hemp, sesame, and flax seeds work as non-dairy replacements. Soy, peanut, pea, and chickpea products can also replace dairy. 

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How To Make A Healthy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Furthermore, almond, coconut, cashew, pistachio, coconut, and hazelnut products are ideal substitutes. You can also add flavor to non-dairy cheese with plant materials, herbs, spices, plant-based oils, non-animal fats, tofu, vegetables, non-dairy milk, and nutritional yeast.

Finally, other non-dairy products include miso paste, potato starch, tapioca starch, agar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and dry mustard powder. The possibilities are endless when you see what you can blend to make these incredible cheesy flavors in your meals. 

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Best Cheese Substitute for Vegans

Tofu is the oldest and most well-known vegan alternative to cheese. Surprisingly, it has been used as a non-dairy cheese in China since the Tang Dynasty, between 618 and 907 AD (21). At first, the soybean curdled cheese was a poor man’s form of paneer. Tofu looked similar and was often mistaken for curdled cheese by visitors on the Silk Road. 

The ingredients are just soybeans, saltwater, and vinegar. It’s the most simple vegan cheese available. It’s also one of the best cheese substitutes as you can manipulate the texture with different recipes and techniques and absorb any flavors you add with spices and other non-dairy products. 

What Vegan Cheese Actually Tastes Like Cheese?

You’ll find various vegan mozzarella, ricotta, soft cheese, parmesan, cream cheese, and cheese sauce alternatives in stores. Non-dairy cheese is popular, with many brands making near-perfect alternatives, but none taste exactly like their dairy counterparts. 

Cheese fits the fifth basic human taste. The Umami Information Center suggests the flavor gets a punch of sensual pleasure from glutamate amino acids (26). It also contains nucleotides inosinate and guanylate, but the glutamate is the primary reason for an umami taste. 

The vegan cheese substitute, nutritional yeast, covers the umami flavor. The Weston A. Price Foundation says that nutritional yeast contains glutamic acid, a glutamate derivative  (14). The powdered ingredient is also called nooch and tastes the most like cheese.

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Ketotarian Meal Plan: What You Need To Know About This Plant-Based Way Of Eating

Also, using nutritional yeast allows you to enjoy the benefits of fortified nutrients. It’s fortified with vitamin B12, which is an essential nutrient for vegans. The Vegan Society recommends eating vitamin B12 fortified foods 2-3 times a day (25). 

vegan alternatives for cheese  

The Best Vegan Alternatives to Cheese

These non-dairy cheese alternatives will shock you, considering how simple some of them can be. You’ll also see how you can use each one to replace specific cheese types in suitable dishes. Things will become more surprising as you progress down the list. 

You won’t believe what replaces cheese in some situations. However, these are all homemade ideas and you’ll find store options later. Please don’t substitute the recipe ingredients, as some will no longer be vegan-friendly if you do. Most of the recipes require a blender.

Parmesan-Style Vegan Cheese

Vegan cheese alternatives for parmesan include delicious ways to use nutritional yeast. You can top popcorn, add it to pasta sauces, put it in risotto, make a tofu scramble, or top any salad for a richer, cheesy flavor. Medical News Today suggests that nooch may have more fiber than most alternatives on this list (20).

Macros (¼ cup): 60 calories, 8 g protein, 3 g fiber, and 17.6 mcg vitamin B12 (20)

Vegan Grated Parmesan Cheese

You don’t always want powdered parmesan. Instead, Veggies Don’t Bite has a version you can grate that is made with whole ingredients without nutritional yeast (18). It uses unsoaked cashews, lemon juice, distilled white vinegar, salt, and mustard powder. Making this parmesan cheese alternative only takes 30 minutes. 

Macros: 20 servings, 35 calories, 1 g carbs, 2 g fat, 1 g protein, and 0 g fiber (18)

Vegan Tofu Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar is a common cheese you can use on sandwiches, melt in pasta sauces, or slice on a cheese board. It’s a standalone snack. Plant You has a simple tofu recipe to make firm cheddar you can slice (24). You’ll use firm, drained tofu, water, coconut oil, paprika, turmeric, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, salt, onion powder, and rice flour. 

Macros: 8 servings, 116.8 calories, 9.4 g carbs, 7.9 g fat, 3 g protein, and 0.8 g fiber (24)

Best Vegan Nacho Cheese

Vegan nacho cheese is a terrific idea if you’re craving that cheesy, crunchy snack or a dip. This recipe will make you hungry (17). It combines potatoes, onions, garlic, vegetable broth, carrots, red pepper, cashews, jalapenos, almond milk, and salt. It’s ideal as a non-dairy nacho cheese substitute with zero animal products or lactose.

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Macros: 12 servings, 57 calories, 5 g carbs, 4 g fat, 2 g protein, and 1 g fiber (17)

Read more: Vegan Tempura Recipe: How To Make a Crunchy, Plant-Based Snack

Easy-Melting Vegan Mozzarella Cheese

Vegan alternatives for cheese on pizza include dairy-free mozzarella. Nora Cooks has a recipe that only uses five ingredients to make a stretchy cheese alternative that melts similarly to mozzarella (4). It uses raw cashews, water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, tapioca starch, and salt. As a bonus, it doesn’t take hours to make this non-dairy cheese. 

Macros: 8 servings, 59 calories, 6 g carbs, 4 g fat, 1 g protein, and 1 g fiber (4)

Vegan Tofu Mozzarella Cheese

Tofu is a favorite for making various cheese alternatives. Home Cooked Roots has a recipe that uses tofu, water, nutritional yeast, tapioca flour, lemon juice, and salt (19). It’s a nut and oil-free option for anyone who doesn’t enjoy cashews and almonds, or who is allergic to tree nuts. It also works wonders for softer mozzarella uses, such as dips, pasta sauces, and pizzas. 

Macros: 6 servings, 95 calories, 8 g carbs, 3 g fat, 9 g protein, and 2 g fiber (19)

Vegan Cheese Sauce for Pasta

The best substitute for cheese in pasta comes from Veggies Don’t Bite’s cheesy pasta sauce recipe (2). It could work with Alfredo or lasagna if you add nutritional yeast to strengthen the umami flavors. You’ll use carrots, red peppers, sweet onions, garlic, cashews, lemon juice, chickpeas, mustard seeds, salt, and paprika for this delicious cheese alternative for pasta.

Macros: 7 servings, 94 calories, 12 g carbs, 4 g fat, 2 g protein, and 1 g fiber (2)

Vegan Spicy Queso Cheese Sauce

Queso is another tantalizing sauce that tastes cheesy and works wonders as a party dip. (3). It’s also an incredible addition to Mexican burritos and tacos. You’ll use non-dairy yogurt, cashews, salsa, distilled white vinegar, smoked paprika, ground cumin, green chiles, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro to create a slightly tangy but cheesy sauce. 

Macros: 6 servings, 224 calories, 20.3 g carbs, 15.5 g fat, 4.8 g protein, and 3.7 g fiber (3)

Vegan Tofu Greek-Style Feta Cheese

Feta is fantastic for salads, pizza toppings, or with couscous. Rainbow Plant Life has a recipe that uses plant-based ingredients every vegan and dairy-intolerant person will love (8). This recipe uses firm tofu, white miso paste, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, nutritional yeast, and fresh herbs and spices. It’s important to squeeze the tofu dry first. 

See also
Vegan Tempura Recipe: How To Make a Crunchy, Plant-Based Snack

Macros: 8 servings, 85 calories, 5 g carbs, 5 g fat, 6 g protein, and 1 g fiber (8)

vegan alternatives for cheese  

Vegan Mascarpone Cheese

Mascarpone cheese is the ideal choice for pasta or desserts. Vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant can also enjoy a cheesy dessert. Veggies Don’t Bite has a recipe for non-dairy mascarpone cheese (23). It uses soaked cashews, slivered almonds, non-dairy yogurt, lemon juice, distilled white vinegar, sea salt, and cane sugar. This recipe only takes 30 minutes to make.

Macros: 16 servings, 73 calories, 5 g carbs, 5 g fat, 2 g protein, and 1 g fiber (23)

Vegan Cotija Cheese

Cotija cheese is another Mexican-styled delight you can add to tacos, burritos, and other spicy dishes, or you can use it as a dip. Veggies Don’t Bite has a recipe that uses just four ingredients (7). You’ll need unsoaked cashews, lime juice, distilled white vinegar, and sea salt. Tise vegan-friendly cheese also pairs well with guacamole. 

Macros: 20 servings, 36 calories, 2 g carbs, 3 g fat, 1 g protein, and 1 g fiber (7)

Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese Spread

Vegan alternatives to cheese include this delicious non-dairy cream cheese you can spread or slice for a cheesy delight. Rainbow Plant Life’s recipe is a spreadable, fermented, rich spread that you can also put on a cheese platter (6). It uses soaked cashews, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, coconut oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and nutritional yeast. 

Macros: 16 servings, 111 calories, 5 g carbs, 10 g fat, 3 g protein, and 1 g fiber (6)

Vegan Cashew Ricotta Cheese

Vegan-friendly ricotta cheese is also a simple recipe you can use in lasagne, as a dip, or in stuffed pasta shells. Rainbow Plant Life’s version is deliciously creamy with a list of non-dairy ingredients (5). You’ll use raw cashews with distilled white vinegar, lemon zest, nutritional yeast, garlic, white miso paste, olive oil, salt, pepper, and onion powder for an Italian taste.

Macros: 12 servings, 107 calories, 6 g carbs, 8 g fat, 4 g protein, and 1 g fiber (5)

Vegan Almond Brie Cheese

Sometimes, a brie cheese wheel sounds like heaven. Spruce Eat’s recipe allows a variation that bakes a brie-style non-dairy cheese wheel with almonds (9). It’s ideal as a side dish or on a cheese platter with a creamy center that delights. It only uses unsalted almonds, water, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. Remember to use the variation for a wheel.

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Macros: 6-8 servings, 125 calories, 3 g carbs, 12 g fat, 3 g protein, and 2 g fiber (9)

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Vegan Zucchini Pesto Cheese

Vegan cheese alternatives often don’t melt particularly well. However, Isn’t That the Limit’s zucchini cheese recipe seems to melt very easily (27). You’ll use zucchini, agar powder or flakes, olive oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, non-dairy yogurt, garlic, and basil. It may seem strange to use a vegetable, but you’ll find there are plenty of vegetable-inspired cheese substitutes.

Macros: 8 servings, 41 calories, 4 g carbs, 2 g fat, 3 g protein, and 1 g fiber (27)

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese Sauce

Cauliflower is a blank canvas that many flavors will stick to. Rainbow Plant Life’s nut-free recipe is ideal for anyone who is tired of cashew or almond cheese alternatives (13). Instead, it uses cauliflower, butternut squash, vegetable broth, garlic, nutritional yeast, coconut milk, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. It works as a cheesy sauce for pasta and dips. 

Macros: 12 servings, 73 calories, 10 g carbs, 3 g fat, 3 g protein, and 2 g fiber (13)

Read more: Vegan Falafel Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide to Crispy Goodness

Store-Bought Vegan Cheese Options

Understandably, some vegan cheese alternatives can take a lot of time to make. Therefore, you may seek a quick vegan-friendly, dairy-free option from a store. These cheeses are already prepared to suit your dietary needs. The Vegan has a full list of store brands you can buy if you want dairy-free slices, wedges, shredded, powdered, or grated cheese (22). 

For more vegan-friendly information and ideas:

vegan alternatives for cheese  


  • Is there a healthy substitute for cheese?

You can replace cheese with surprising dips for healthier alternatives. For example, use rich, smooth hummus on bread, as a dip, in pasta dishes, or over pizza. It’s a simple mix of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, salt, lime juice, garlic, and desired spices. One tablespoon contains 35.6 calories, 2.25 g of carbs, 2.67 g of fat, and 1.17 g of protein (10). 

In addition, tahini on its own is another healthier cheese alternative with a rich, nutty, umami flavor. It tastes amazing as a dip, on bread, or in a sauce. It combines toasted sesame seeds, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. One tablespoon of tahini contains 89.2 calories, 3.18 g of carbs, 8.07 g of fat, and 2.55 g of protein (16). 

Finally, you can use mashed avocado as a dip, side dish, or on bread. The taste is amazing and you can add any spice you wish with lemon juice. ¼ cup of mashed avocado contains 92 calories, 4.9 g of carbs, 8.4 g of fat, and 1.2 g of protein (1). Keep counting the calories, but these alternatives have healthy fats and remain dairy-free for lactose-intolerant people or vegans. 

  • What is a dairy-intolerant substitute for cheese?

WebMD recommends substituting dairy products with hemp seeds, rice vinegar, low-lactose, or soy cheese if you’re lactose intolerant (15). However, all plant-based alternatives are without lactose. Chickpeas, sunflower seeds, plant-based oils, tofu, and nut substitutes will all work nicely (12).

  • How do you make things taste good without cheese?

Nutritional yeast is the best additive for any dish to create a cheesy flavor with nutty touches that hit the famous umami taste (26, 14). The powder or flakes act similarly to parmesan and can be useful in any dish with dry cheese, such as pasta or cheesy bread recipes. You can add some to a regular white sauce made with nut milk for a dairy-free option.

The Bottom Line

Vegan alternatives to cheese allow you to live a dairy-free life, whether you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant. There are many plant-based substitutes. Pick the type of cheese you need and start making your vegan-friendly alternative at home to ensure you eat well. 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. ¼ Cup Mashed or Pureed Avocado Calories, Carbs, and Nutrition (n.d.,
  2. Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe (2023,
  3. Best Vegan Queso (8 Ingredients!) (n.d.,
  4. Easy, Stretchy Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (2023,
  5. Easy Vegan Cashew Ricotta (2022,
  6. Fermented Cashew Cheese (2022,
  7. Fully-Loaded Guacamole With Vegan Cotija Cheese (2022,
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