Want to know how to make a vegan cheese? We believe that this easy vegan cheese recipe is truly the best vegan cheese recipe out there and trust us, we’ve made plenty (see our recipe for vegan cheese sauce, and the best vegan dairy free ricotta, and here’s how to make vegan cheese for pizza). Each of these recipes is amazing, but for a good all-around, customizable, sliceable, spreadable, meltable vegan cheese recipe, you can’t beat our Best Easy Vegan Cheese Recipe.
This vegan cheese recipe is like the little black dress of vegan cheeses; you can dress it up or dress it down, and take it anywhere. It’s wonderful sliced with or spread on crackers, as a wheel on a cheese board, paired with sliced apples, next to a vegan apple pie (how very New England of us), as the star of a vegan wine and cheese party, or sliced on a sandwich! By adding various add-ins you can change up what type of vegan cheese you’re making (for example a bit of liquid smoke for smoked provolone, or a smidge of turmeric and extra nooch for American cheese for sandwiches).
The basic recipe uses, among a few other things, firm tofu, coconut milk, miso paste, agar powder, and tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour, they are the same thing). If you’ve never used agar and/or tapioca starch before, don’t stress, these are actually really easy ingredients with which to work. We get our tofu and coconut milk at Costco (both are organic, as well). We actually get our agar powder and tapioca starch on Amazon (this agar powder and this tapioca starch). Note also that if you do not generally keep miso paste around your house, you can get white miso powder and reconstitute it into a paste as needed.
You’ll also want something in which to mold your cheese. You can use a bowl that is wider at the mouth than the base, and then ease your cheese out of the bowl by running something with a narrow thin blade around the edge, but we find it much easier to use a silicone cheese mold (or other silicone mold repurposed for your cheese). We have and adore this set of one round and one square silicone cheese molds and trust us, you will use it all the time between this recipe and the others! You’ll never need to buy vegan cheese again! The cheese in the picture was molded in the round mold from this set.
The Happy Gluten-Free Vegan’s Best Easy Vegan Cheese Recipe
8 ounces firm, water-packed (not shelf-stable) tofu (that is 1/2 of average package, including the tofu from Costco)
1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (fully blended until smooth before measuring)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons miso paste (use a light miso, not red)
2 to 5 teaspoons nutritional yeast (how much will depend on how mild or strong you want your cheese)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
4 1/2 teaspoons tapioca starch
1 1/4 teaspoons agar powder
Put the tofu, coconut milk, lemon juice, miso, nutritional yeast (also known as “nooch”) and salt into a blender and blend until completely smooth. If you want to add a tiny bit of liquid smoke for a smoked provolone or smoked gouda vibe, or an 1/8 of a teaspoon of turmeric for coloring to make it more yellow, do that too. This is also the time to add things like a bit of garlic or onion powder, a tablespoon of herbs, etc.. We recommend that you make a basic cheese first though, before you experiment, so you will know with what you are working in terms of the base.
Once those ingredients are completely smooth, add in the agar and tapioca starch, and blend again until smooth.
Now pour it into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, and place it over a medium to medium-high heat. Stir frequently until it starts to thicken, then stir constantly. Continue to stir it until when you run your spoon along the bottom from one side to the other, making a clear path down to the bottom of the pan, the mixture does not immediately fill it back in again (think Charlton Heston as Moses parting the Red Sea); you should be able to continue to see the bottom of the pan where you dragged the spoon for at least a couple of seconds.
Sometimes the cheese will actually start to pull away from the pan as you stir it (this can depend on the materials of which the pan is made, and even the altitude at which and the humidity in which you are making it). Whether your cheese starts to pull away from the pan, or your cheese doesn’t immediately fill in where you’ve parted the
waters cheese, now is the time to pour it into your waiting mold or bowl. (Pro Tip: Lay a few pretty herb leafs or even edible flowers inside the mold before you pour the cheese into the mold, and when you unmold it your cheese will have an extra fancy top!)
Cover the cheese and put it in the refrigerator for several hours. Unless you want to use it right now to pour over something like potatoes or veggies, that’s cool too. Or use it to dip bread into (vegan fondue anyone?). But otherwise, if you want it to actually firm up, put it, covered, in the fridge for several hours.
Once firmed up, it will slice beautifully. If instead you want to be able to spread it on crackers (or use a cracker to do the slicing, we’re lazy like that) let it come to room temperature first. No matter how you use it, we can’t think of a better way to get your vegan cheese on.
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