How to make vegan cheddar cheese in under 20 minutes (not including chill time) with no nuts. It’s creamy, rich, salty, savory, tangy, sharp, and cheesy, and you can slice and shred it!
Sliced, Shredded, and Spread Vegan Cheddar Cheese (Nut-Free)
When it comes to vegan homemade cheese, I’m obsessed. I’ve already shared recipes for gooey vegan mozzarella, a 3-minute vegan cheese sauce, and even a sliceable vegan cheese (like a very mild cheddar). Now, it’s the turn of this more robust, sliceable, shreddable vegan cheddar cheese.
Building from the last hard cheese, this dairy-free cheddar cheese is still creamy, cheesy, and silky but also more robust, sharp, and tangy. Unlike many vegan cheddar cheese recipes, my version is also nut-free (no cashews). In fact, this vegan cheese recipe is nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free.
Best of all, once you have the ‘special’ ingredients stocked (agar and tapioca), this recipe is also more economical to prepare than buying the cheese from a store, and it’s ridiculously simple to prepare. Just blend, simmer, and set.
While it isn’t as melty as regular dairy cheese, it’s much healthier and very delicious. It’s also super versatile with a firm yet slightly spreadable consistency: enjoy it sliced in a grilled cheese, spread over crackers, shredded over pizza, added to cheese boards, etc.
- Dairy-free milk: I recommend using canned coconut milk (the entire can) for the creamiest vegan cheddar cheese.
If you use a lighter milk (cashew milk, almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, etc.), add 4 tablespoons of refined coconut oil (which has no coconut flavor) for consistency, mouthfeel, and meltability.
- Red pepper: Roasted red pepper provides the plant-based cheddar cheese with color and flavor, with a subtle smoky depth. You can use jarred roasted peppers or roast them yourself.
- Salt: Adjust the amount to taste.
- Aromatics: Onion powder and garlic powder add depth of flavor.
- Smoked paprika: To enhance the smoky flavor.
- Turmeric powder: Just a pinch enhances the color of the vegan cheddar.
- Tahini: (Or cashew butter) The fats make for a creamier, richer vegan homemade cheese.
- Tomato paste: The acidic flavor is perfect for adding some of the ‘sharpness’ found in dairy cheddar, plus, it enhances the color.
- Olive brine: This adds a salty, savory, tangy/ sharp flavor similar to dairy cheese. Alternatively, you could use pickling brine (like sauerkraut juice) or water combined with 2 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Nutritional yeast: Adds a nutty, cheesy flavor and golden color.
- Agar powder: Use 100% strength agar powder. This will thicken the vegan cheese into the correct consistency. Alternatively, Kappa Carrageenan will work, but the method and amount change slightly (refer to FAQs).
- Tapioca flour: Its primary purpose is to provide the cheese with more of the stretchy consistency of regular cheddar. Alternatively, arrowroot flour would work.
Optional add-ins and recipe variations:
- Spice: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste) or chili/ cayenne powder.
- Ground mustard powder: This will add subtle heat and more tang.
- Herbs: It’s easy to flavor the vegan cheese recipe with dried herbs, like Italian seasoning, rosemary, oregano, or thyme. Add a pinch and increase to taste.
- Liquid smoke: To add a smoked cheddar flavor to the vegan sharp cheddar.
- White miso paste: Will add extra umami, cheesy flavor.
Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.
How to Make Vegan Cheddar Cheese?
- First, grease inside a small/medium bowl or the container of your choice (mine measures 5.5×3-inches/14 x 7.5 cm – to work as a mold for the cheese) with a neutral oil. Set it aside.
- Next, transfer all ingredients except the olive brine and tapioca flour to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Once simmering, set a timer for 4 minutes and allow it to cook and thicken over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive brine and tapioca flour and mix well. Stir it into the vegan cheese mixture when the timer goes off, whisking it well.
- Continue to simmer for a minute, stirring frequently while it thickens. Then pour it immediately into your prepared container (it will harden fast), and press it down gently with a spatula.
- Allow it to cool until just slightly warm, then transfer it to the refrigerator to chill and set for at least 2-3 hours (overnight is even better). Then, enjoy!
Make ahead: If you’re roasting the pepper yourself, you can do this a day or two in advance and store them covered in the fridge until ready to continue with the recipe.
Store: You can store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. It will taste even better on day two.
Freeze: This plant-based cheddar cheese is technically freezable for up to 3 months, though the texture may change slightly upon thawing (in the fridge overnight). I prefer to slice or shred it into portions when freezing, so I only need to thaw what’s needed.
How to Use Vegan Cheddar Cheese?
With its firm yet slightly spreadable and shreddable consistency, this dairy-free cheddar cheese is super versatile. Enjoy it:
- Slices/ spread over crackers, a baguette, or crusty bread
- As part of a vegan cheese board/ charcuterie board
- In vegan grilled cheese sandwiches, cold cheese sandwiches, and wraps
- Sliced on a vegan burger
- Shredded into/over pasta dishes
- Use within tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, etc.
- Shred over fries and wedges—like these loaded nacho fries
- Shred over regular pizza, calzone, deep dish pizza, sweet potato pizza, keto zucchini pizza, etc.
- Slice, cube, or shred it into salads
- Shred over casseroles (like this rice and bean casserole) and other savory bakes
Can I use Kappa Carrageenan instead of agar?
To use kappa carrageenan, you’ll only need 1 ½ tablespoons. You also don’t need to cook it for 4 minutes. Instead, just heat it with all the remaining ingredients and simmer for a maximum of a minute.
How do I make the vegan cheese recipe as melty as possible?
While not as common as agar powder, I’ve found kappa carrageenan in the dairy-free cheddar cheese recipe helps it to melt better. Likewise, dairy-free milk with lots of fat (like full-fat canned coconut milk) will provide the meltiest results.
It still won’t melt and spread like dairy cheese (or store-bought vegan cheese, which contains a lot of artificial ingredients), but it has some spreading. If you want something to use in place of super melty cheese (i.e., over nachos, in wraps, over lasagna, etc.), try my 3-minute vegan cheese sauce.
Can I shred the vegan cheese?
Yes, you can slice and shred this sharp vegan cheddar. However, I recommend freezing it for 15 minutes before shredding it for the best results.
Can I use agar flakes?
Yes, though the powder is 3x stronger than the flakes, meaning you’d need to triple the amount, and the flakes don’t melt as quickly.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Measure accurately: The agar and tapioca are both important for the thickness and texture to make firm vegan (shredded) cheese, so the amount being slightly off can have a significant impact on the final results.
- Stir frequently: The cheese thickens quickly and requires frequent stirring to avoid lumps/over-setting.
- For a firmer texture: Freeze it for 15 minutes before slicing and enjoying.
- For a cheesier flavor: Add an extra tablespoon of nutritional yeast (or to taste).
More Vegan Cheesy Recipes
- Vegan Parmesan cheese
- Vegan ricotta cheese (tofu-free)
- Dairy-free cottage cheese
- Vegan Cheese Fondue (The Best Recipe)
- Cheesy broccoli quinoa casserole
- Broccoli cheese soup
- Vegan mac and cheese
If you try this easy vegan cheddar cheese recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan—I love seeing them.
Vegan Cheddar Cheese Recipe
- 1 cup (240 ml) dairy-free milk (see notes)
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 2 Tbsp (15 g) agar powder (100% strength)
- 3/4-1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
- 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional but recommended)
- 1/4 cup (60 g) tahini or cashew butter
- 1 Tbsp (25 g) tomato paste
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive brine
- 1 1/2 Tbsp tapioca flour
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Grease the inside of a small/medium bowl or container of choice (mine measures 5.5 x 3 inches / 14 x 7.5 cm) with a neutral oil and set aside.
- Add all ingredients (except the olive brine and tapioca flour) to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once it simmers, set your timer to 4 minutes. Let it simmer over low heat and stir occasionally as it gets pretty thick.
- In a small bowl, mix the olive brine with tapioca flour. It's important that the juice is not cold (otherwise, it will make the cheese sauce set partially). Add the mixture to the saucepan and stir with a whisk.
- Continue to simmer for 1 minute, it will thicken even more, so I recommend stirring frequently. Then immediately pour the cheese sauce into the prepared bowl (it hardens fast, so try to be quick) and press it down with a spatula.
- Let it cool until the bowl is just slightly warm, not hot, then refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours (or overnight) until set. Enjoy with crackers!
- Milk: I recommend using canned coconut milk (mine has 17% fat). Shake the can and use everything (the creamy part and the water, if separated). If you are afraid of any coconut flavor (I didn't notice any), you could use a different plant-based milk and add 4 tablespoons of refined coconut oil. The refined coconut oil doesn't have any coconut flavor at all.
- Agar powder: It's important to use 100% pure agar powder (I use the NOW Foods brand). Note: You could experiment with Kappa Carrageenan instead of agar agar. The difference will be that you need to use less (just 1 1/2 tablespoon instead of 2), plus you don't have to cook it for 5 minutes. Just heat it with all other ingredients and simmer for max. 1 minute.
- Olive brine: It adds flavor and tang, similar to dairy-cheese. Alternatively, use other pickling brine, such as sauerkraut juice, or water combined with 2 tsp lemon juice/ apple cider vinegar.
- Tapioca flour: You can use arrowroot flour instead. It will add a little stretch to the vegan cheese if you melt it (on pizza or toast). The vegan cheese melts just slightly. If you want it to melt more, choose Kappa Carrageenan, as it does yield a better result. Also, if you choose a brand of coconut milk with more fat, it will melt better.
- I recommend freezing it for 10-15 minutes before you shred it.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
If you are using Pinterest, feel free to pin the following photo:
What can I use instead of Olive Brine in the recipe?
Alternatively, you could use pickling brine (like sauerkraut juice) or water combined with 2 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.