This vegan nut-free cheddar cheese does everything dairy cheese does--it melts, shreds, and slices, but it’s totally free of any nuts, oil, or animal products! In 10 minutes of prep time and a brief time in the refrigerator, you can enjoy a delicious vegan cheddar on pizza, pasta, grilled cheese and more!
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Hey Internet, I’ve got another new cheese for you! Vegan cheddar cheese that shreds, slices, and most importantly, melts!
I know I already have a vegan cheddar cheese recipe, but some of you had issues making it, and even though it worked every time for me, I wanted to do better.
Many of you come specifically to me for nut-free vegan cheese, like my very popular vegan mozzarella. I wanted to produce a hard cheddar block that could do all that and more, and was easier to make.
I tested a format of this new recipe on my recent vegan feta cheese, which has worked for everyone who’s tried it (and told me about it, anyway), so I feel more confident in this cheese.
My hope is that this nut-free vegan cheese will work for everyone, and I can keep producing new and interesting flavors. I’m working on Gouda and Swiss next!
This cheese is also great for kids--pack slices in their lunches as a homemade lunchable or shred it into a quesadilla or mac and cheese. If you're interested in more kid-friendly stuff, check out my lists of 50+ vegan snacks for kids and 43 vegan meals (kid friendly).
This cheddar does require an ingredient you’ll most likely have to purchase online, so let’s talk about the ingredients for this recipe.
What You’ll Need
As usual, I used tofu to make this cheese--about half of a 16 oz block. Soaked cashews or sunflower seeds will also work.
I use firm tofu. Softer tofu will work, but you may need to add less batter. We are looking for a thick consistency.
For the cheese to change state from hard to melted, we will need two things: tapioca starch / flour (this makes it stretch) and kappa carrageenan, which is a seaweed-based substance that makes it harden but also melt.
Though it has the name carrageenan in it, kappa carrageenan is a seaweed derived food agent that is entirely safe to eat. Anything 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, “Is Carrageenan Safe to Eat” in my recent Vegan Feta Cheese recipe.
Everything else in the recipe is all about flavor, so when you’re blending this, I’m going to have you taste it before adding the Kappa Carrageenan and the tapioca. That way you can make sure you’re gonna love this cheese as much as I do!
I flavored my cheese with the following items, but feel free to play around: lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika (a good cheddar is a little smoky!), turmeric (mostly for color, but it adds a little something something to the flavor), and a pinch of salt.
You’ll also need a little unsweetened unflavored (i.e. not vanilla!) non-dairy milk. Any will work.
Water would technically work I think, but it won’t be as creamy, so don’t skimp!
TIP: If you’re out of non-dairy milk but you have any nut or seed butter, blend a tablespoon of that with 8 to 16 oz water. BOOM, non-dairy milk! You can also do it with coconut shreds!
What Substitutions Can I Make?
Like I mentioned above, any variety of tofu should work, but if your tofu is softer, you may need less liquid. You’re looking for a thick consistency. I do not recommend silken tofu, but if you try it and it works for you, please let me know!
You can also use soaked cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, even white beans.
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.
The other Vegan Cheddar Block recipe I made was made with Agar Agar, sometimes known as agar powder. This is the one that worked for me, but it wasn’t as hard as this cheese and it did melt but at much higher temperatures than this cheese does.
If you are making the above recipe, make sure you are using agar POWDER. If using flakes, you will need much more as they are not as concentrated.
Tapioca Starch (or Tapioca Flour)
Tapioca starch is the same thing as tapioca flour, 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 as it will thicken but not stretch. 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).
How to Make Vegan Nut-Free Cheddar Cheese
The method for this cheese is virtually the same as the vegan feta cheese. Blend everything together, cook it in a pot until it becomes glossy and stretchy, and add it to a container to set in the fridge.
Make sure this is all smooth before you go to the next step.
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.
Cooking the Vegan Cheddar
Heat the cheese over medium high heat, stirring constantly once it gets hot. Keep stirring until it begins to curdle or stick together in clumps. I like to use a wooden spoon, it seems to make the stirring easier.
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.
How to Release the Set Cheese
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 in vegan mac and cheese, but it’s also great on pizza, in grilled cheese, in a taco salad, or even just sliced on crackers!
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).
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. :)
- Melty Mozzarella (my most popular!) (Vegan)
- Feta Cheese (Vegan)
- Melty Cheddar (Vegan)
- Queso (Vegan)
- Soy-Free & Nut-Free Cheese Sauce (Vegan)
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 nut-free cheddar cheese is:
- A little tangy
- 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!