This Nut and Oil-Free Vegan Feta Cheese is super easy and delicious--it even melts! It only takes 10 minutes, a few simple ingredients, and a bit of time in the fridge to prepare this delicious cheese that’s great on pasta, pizza, salads, and more!
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Hey Internet, it’s been a while since I gave you a new cheese recipe, so I decided to create a new one. I’ve been craving a good vegan feta cheese since I’m not thrilled with any of the ones sold in the vegan section at the health food store I go to.
Whenever I make cheese like my insanely popular melty mozzarella, I try to make it nut and oil-free for my readers who have expressed interest in that. It was actually very easy to make this delicious feta and I’m so thrilled to be sharing it with you today!
There’s lots of delicious ways to eat feta--I even made a vegan watermelon feta salad just for this recipe.
I also jumped on a TikTok trend and made that viral baked feta pasta except with homemade vegan feta and I have to say it was ultra amazing. Try the vegan baked feta pasta and let me know what you think!
But of course, first you'll need a brick of my tofu feta.
Actually, there are two ways to make this recipe. One is very simple: mix tofu and spices to create a cubed or crumbled feta perfect for salads. But there’s another way that produces a unique result: it melts.
It was important to me to make a feta that also melted, so I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and substances to get the feta to harden but also melt, and I think I’ve found a GREAT recipe that I’m proud to share.
But since it involves an ingredient you’ll most likely need to order online, let’s talk about the ingredients for a moment.
What You’ll Need
So this recipe uses half a 16oz block of firm tofu. Please see the substitutions section for any replacement ingredients.
Though it has the name carrageenan in it, kappa carrageenan is a seaweed derived food agent that is entirely safe to eat. Anything negative you’ve heard about carrageenan is based on a study done on poligeenan, a degraded form of carrageenan used in barium contrast solutions for diagnostic tests like X-rays and CT scans.
Kappa carrageenan is totally safe to consume and awesome for changing liquid into solid and for melting! If you’re still worried about carrageenan, please see the section below, Is Carrageenan Safe to Eat?
Now, the flavor.
The flavor of the feta was a tough code to crack. Feta cheese is very tangy and salty. So my recipe includes a lot of lemon juice, some miso paste, a little salt, and dried oregano and basil leaves.
The combination of the salt and white or yellow miso paste is the right salty, somewhat brine-like flavor of the feta, while the lemon juice provides the tangy and freshness it needs. Please taste the mixture after each squeeze of lemon to adjust the cheese to your preference.
There is an optional addition of nutritional yeast to this recipe. I made it the first few times without nutritional yeast, since I wanted to see if I could create a cheesy flavor without it, as some people aren’t its biggest fan. It’s great without it!
However, I also wanted to see if the addition of nutritional yeast would make it taste better. The result? If you’re a person who likes nutritional yeast, add it as it enhances the flavor. If you don’t, leave it out!
One note though, regular “fortified” nutritional yeast is yellow and will make your feta yellow. To keep your feta lighter in color, use “unfortified” nutritional yeast which is what I use for my mozzarella as well.
To make things blend well, you'll need either some non-dairy milk or you can use canned coconut milk for a nice rich flavor. It won't taste like coconut, and it makes the final feta super creamy!
What Substitutions Can I Make?
When selecting tofu, choose an organic non-GMO brand. If you don’t have firm tofu, medium tofu should also work. If you use silken, you may need to reduce the liquid considerably.
If you don’t want to use tofu at all, you may substitute soaked cashews, soaked sunflower seeds, or white beans, but you may need to increase the water to get it to blend. You’re looking for a thick batter that can still pour out of the blender.
Tapioca Starch or Flour
Tapioca starch is often labeled tapioca flour and they do the same thing, but cassava flour is different even though cassava is the root vegetable that tapioca is made from. Cassava flour is used for something different, so don’t use that with this recipe.
I am often asked if cornstarch or arrowroot powder may be used in place of tapioca. The quick answer is no.
It will not stretch like tapioca. Only thicken. So I cannot say for sure if this will work with the kappa carrageenan to give you the right consistency.
You can certainly try it, and if it works I’d love to know--please comment here or let me know on social media (@zardyplants on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest).
Kappa Carrageenan is the magical seaweed derived substance that makes the cheese harden and then melt later. It works in tandem with the tapioca (I tried each cheese without and it did not harden as well without the kappa, nor did it melt as well without the tapioca).
It does not taste like seaweed--it has no flavor at all. It’s just a powder. And it’s safe to eat--if you are concerned, please see the section below on its safety.
I used mild miso paste (it’s either labelled as white or yellow at the grocery store, chickpea miso will also work), to give the feta a brine-like and salty flavor. I thought this really amplified the taste as opposed to using just salt.
You could definitely play with the amounts of salt and miso in this recipe, but most cheese is very salty, and feta is exceptionally so.
Dried Oregano and Basil
The dried oregano and basil in this recipe are not completely necessary, though I think they provide a wonderful mediterranean flavor that helps increase the authenticity of the feta’s flavor. So I recommend using them, but again, it’s optional.
How to Make Vegan Feta Cheese
Making this cheese is actually super easy. No aging for weeks like some cheeses (though I REALLY want to try that!). This cheese only requires 10 minutes to prepare and a brief stint in the fridge to set.
First, add your tofu, non-dairy milk or coconut milk, and miso paste to the blender. Squeeze the first lemon in, blend and taste.
Adjust as you see fit. I found 2 lemons and an extra pinch of salt to be the perfect addition, so I added them and blended again. Add the unfortified nutritional yeast if desired.
Finally, add the oregano and basil. Pulse a few times to mix, but I didn’t want mine to get pureed.
You’ll find at this point your blender may be putting up a fight mixing it. It’s thick, and getting thicker as the kappa carrageenan works its magic.
If you find a little mixture still unblended or it won’t blend in the herbs, don’t worry. Simply do the next step and transfer it to the pot, then mix it yourself with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Cooking the Feta
Heat the liquid over medium high heat, stirring constantly once it gets hot. Keep stirring until it begins to curdle or stick together in clumps.
Turn the heat down to medium now--it’s almost done. Keep stirring and you’ll notice the texture go from clumpy to shiny, thick, and glossy. It will be stretchy, and start to pull away from the inside of the pot.
Transfer the mixture to a glass or ceramic container with a lid. A plastic tupperware may work, but I haven’t tried it. With ceramic or glass, there will be no need to grease or line the container to remove the cheese later.
Whatever the shape of your container--round, rectangular, square--that’s the shape your cheese will be.
Smooth the top with a spatula if you can, but believe me, it will start to harden the minute it hits the container. Don’t worry too much, the uneven texture on top will not show, as this will be the “bottom” of your cheese.
Cover with a lid and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours and test it. I usually do mine overnight. It should be relatively hard to the touch, with some give but not a lot.
Releasing the Feta
To remove the set cheese from the container, run a butter knife around the inside perimeter. Flip the container upside down onto a cutting board and tap the container several times onto the board.
You may have to jiggle the container or slap it a few times on the underside to get the cheese to release. I notice an easier time using a ceramic container than a glass one, though they were both pretty easy.
If you are having trouble, use a thin spatula to try to slide under the cheese between the container. Sometimes it’s just a bit of suction that’s making it stick in there. You may also try letting the cheese come to room temperature.
Enjoy! This cheese shreds, melts, slices, and cubes. My favorite way to eat this cheese is either with crackers or in this refreshing vegan watermelon feta salad.
This cheese will last for up to one week in the fridge in an airtight container (you can use the same one you used for setting it if you like, I usually do).
What is Carrageenan?
Carrageenan is actually a broad term referring to many food-grade polysaccarhides (carbohydrate molecules consisting of many sugar molecules that are bonded together), that can be made from many different species of seaweed.
There are 3 different forms of carrageenan that are commercially available: iota, kappa and lambda. Each form is different on a molecular level, is obtained from different species, and has different applications common in vegan cuisine.
Lambda is actually the most popular, and is present in many commercially available vegan dairy and meat products, though with some consumer concern it is now often replaced with gellan gum.
Some carrageenan is actually used in beer making, especially home brewing. It is usually sourced from Irish moss seaweed in this instance.
Kappa Carrageenan, is a type of carrageenan that happens to make whatever substance it’s put into be able to firm up and later melt depending on the changes in temperature. Here is a link to the kappa carrageenan that I buy for cheesemaking.
Finally, Iota Carrageenan is useful as a vegan gelatin, and can be used to make things like gummy candy and marshmallows.
But is it safe to consume?
Is Carrageenan Safe to Eat?
There has been a lot of concern among vegans and plant-based individuals that carrageenan is an unsafe food additive that may even cause cancer. You have a right to be concerned about that--we should all think carefully about the additives in our food.
However, a lot of controversy about this ingredient stems from some studies done by a particular researcher, Dr. Joanne Tobacman, an associate professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
According to The Gentle Chef, who also uses kappa carrageenan in cheesemaking, Tobacman “made claims that this naturally occurring seaweed derivative causes gastro-intestinal inflammation and pre-cancerous lesions when fed to small laboratory animals. What many don’t realize is that Dr. Tobacman was actually studying a moleculary degraded form of carrageenan called poligeenan (used in applications like barium contrast solutions in diagnostic scans, sic), which has never been used in food applications.”
If this doesn’t quell your worry, please continue reading about the safety of carrageenan on The Gentle Chef’s website.
Other Cheese Recipes You Might Enjoy
If you like vegan cheese, but you don’t want to make it with nuts or oil, you’ve come to the right place! I’m pretty obsessed with cheese, and I like to make it with ingredients that most people can tolerate.
I’ve actually had a lot of people thank me for making nut-free and oil-free recipes, especially for cheese, so I’m happy to continue doing so!
I even made a whole list of my favorite nut-free vegan cheese recipes!
Here are a few of my other cheese recipes. I’m coming out with new recipes all the time, so if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you’ll never miss a recipe! I promise not to email too often. :)
- Vegan Melty Mozzarella (my most popular!)
- Vegan Melty Cheddar
- Vegan Cheddar Block Cheese
- Vegan Queso
- Vegan Soy-Free & Nut-Free Cheese Sauce
And if you're looking for more tofu dishes, check out this post I made with all my best tofu recipes.
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This vegan feta cheese is:
- And great in any dish or just as a side to bring to a barbeque or party--even meat eaters will enjoy it! It makes the perfect addition to any cheese or charcuterie board, too.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!