Tangy Vegan Cheddar Cheese is so easy to make with just 8 ingredients! It’s firm, sliceable and delicious on cold sandwiches, grilled cheese or as an addition to a snack platter with crackers and grapes.
Making your own vegan cheese at home is surprisingly easy, and often tastes much better than anything you can buy at a store. Depending on where you live, quality vegan cheeses can be difficult to find and are usually expensive.
My favorite cheese used to be cheddar, and since giving up dairy, I have been searching for a vegan cheddar-type cheese that tastes good on a cold sandwich. There is one brand I really love (Violife Mature Cheddar Slices), but it’s pretty pricey and hard to find. So I set out to make my own.
Why this Vegan Cheddar Cheese Works
- It tastes great cold! The flavor is incredible, mild and tangy and reminiscent of cheddar. The texture cold is firm but still soft, and can be spread on a cracker. But it’s firm enough to slice for a sandwich.
- It melts well! Making my cheddar grilled cheese dreams come true.
- It’s seriously easy to make and takes only about 15 minutes of prep time, then you just have to wait for it to firm up in the refrigerator.
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How to make it
*This is simply an overview of the recipe with photos. For the full recipe, scroll down to the recipe card.
- Soak raw cashews for about 5 minutes in hot water.
- Drain the cashews and add to a high powered blender along with the lemon juice, refined coconut oil, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, paprika, turmeric, salt and 1 cup of water.
- Blend until very smooth.
- In a small pot, combine the other cup of water and the agar agar powder. Don’t turn on the heat yet.
- Add the cashew mixture to the pot with the water/agar agar.
- Bring to a boil and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes until it thickens.
- Pour into lightly oiled ramekins.
- Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until firm.
Once refrigerated and firm, turn upside down over a plate to pop the cheese out of the dish. Slice and serve in cold sandwiches, make a grilled cheese, or eat with crackers. You are officially a vegan cheese maker!
Tips for the best cheese
- Make sure to use REFINED coconut oil! This is so important, and nothing else will work. If you use unrefined, your cheese will taste like coconut.
- High powered blender – You really need a high powered blender such as a Vitamix to get the cheese smooth and free of chunks.
- Use raw cashews, not roasted. Raw cashews have a neutral, buttery taste that is perfect as a base for cheese.
- Store wrapped in paper towels and plastic wrap (or in a container). Paper towels will help the cheese stay dry, which I think helps it taste even better.
Want more vegan cheese?
- Shreddable Vegan Mozzarella
- EASY Stretchy Vegan Mozzarella
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- 5 Minute Vegan Cream Cheese
- Easy Vegan Nacho Cheese
Vegan Cheddar Cheese
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup refined coconut oil (make sure it is refined for no coconut flavor)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons paprika, smoked for smoky flavored cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups water, divided
- 1 tablespoon agar agar powder
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the cashews and let soak for 5 minutes. Prepare 2 small ramekins or 1 larger dish by lightly spraying with oil.
- Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Add them to a blender along with the lemon juice, refined coconut oil, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, paprika, turmeric, salt and 1 cup of fresh water (not the full 2 cups). Blend well, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed, until completely smooth.
- In a small-medium pot, add the remaining cup of water and the agar agar powder. Stir until it dissolves (this only take a minute). Now add the cashew mixture from the blender to the pot.
- Turn the heat on to high, bring to a boil and stir for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly. It will thicken somewhat in the pot. *See the photos in the post above for reference.
- Immediately pour the cheese into the prepared ramekins and smooth out the top with a spoon.
- Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until firm, then turn upside down on a plate to remove the cheese from the container. Slice and serve in sandwiches, make a grilled cheese sandwich, spread on crackers and eat as a snack.
- Storing: I like to wrap it in paper towels and then plastic wrap to keep it dry and firm. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5-6 days. I haven't tried freezing it but I think it will work okay.
- I can't stress enough that you use REFINED coconut oil, not unrefined. Refined coconut oil has no coconut taste whatsoever, and if you use anything else, it will not work.
- May sub tapioca starch for cornstarch if needed.
- I have only tested this using agar agar powder, but if you have flakes 3 tablespoons should work. You typically need more flakes than powder.
- Kappa Carrageenan - If you would rather use this than agar agar, it will work but the process is a bit different. Simply add 1 1/2 tablespoons kappa carrageenan to the blender along with 2 full cups of boiling hot water and carefully blend. The cheese will be more firm, and I don't believe it tastes as good cold. But it will shred better.
Hi Nora! Trying to find the perfect cheese for homemade pizza. Wondering if this cheese will melt so the edges sort of melt and it does not wind up looking like slices of cheese just sitting on a pizza if you know what I mean. Thanks!!
This would probably not be the best cheese for that, but try my Shreddable Vegan Mozzarella. It works well for melting on pizza.
Dear Nora, I have made your cheese recipe a number of times, and it hasn’t failed to impress yet. When my daughter was diagnosed with numerous food intolerance it terrified me. Your easy to follow instructions are brilliant and I look forward to your future recipes. Thank you soon much
Hi Cheryl. Thank you for your heartfelt words. It is an inspiration to me to know that my recipes are helpful in giving people living with food intolerance the opportunity to enjoy delicious food! Feedback on the ease of instructions is also encouraging! Wishing you all health, peace, and happy cooking!
That should be FOOD intolerances
Dear Nora, I have made this cheese a number of times and it never fails. My daughter has many good intolerances, and when I was faced with the diagnosis I have to admit I’ve never panicked so much in my life. Your easy to follow instructions are brilliant. Thank you so much, and I look forward to see future recipes.
I made this this morning and I love it…came out just as you said it would and IT MELTS…melted it in a tortilla with some pickled jalapenos and it’s wonderful…all melts & drippy. Thanks so much!
You are welcome! I’m so glad you loved the cheese! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review!
Can I substitute raw cashew butter for the whole cashews? If so, how much cashew butter? (I used cashew butter it in vegan cheese sauce recipe and it tasted great.)
I’ve never tried using cashew butter so I’m not sure if it will work or how much to use, sorry!
Haven’t made it yet but can sub corn starch for agar agar?
I haven’t tried it, but it won’t work the same. The cheese will likely just be mushy, more like a sauce.
Pretty good recipe! Keeps solid in the fridge. A bit more soft and spongy than dairy cheese, but still plenty sliceable!
Mine came out a little over-lemony, but that may be because I used the bottom of the jar of lemon juice, so it was all very pulpy and concentrated.
What is a serving size please? I have CKD and need to watch my potassium
I’m not a nutritionist or dietician and the nutrition information is an estimate only provided by an online calculator. There are 16 servings, so to be exact you would need to divide it yourself, I don’t want to guess how much a serving is and I don’t know exactly.
Can you leave out the agar or carrageenan to make a soft, spreadable cheese?
You probably could but I’m not sure. It’s quite spreadable with the agar agar.
Ok, I figured out out that this recipe needs double (3TBL) of kappa carageenan in order to firm up, if you are using this instead of the agar agar. Thought I’d share since 1.5 TBL came out more as a liquid form. Thanks for the recipe!
Sorry if this is a stupid question, is agar agar powder the same as agar powder? I can only find it with one agar
Yes, I’m quite sure it’s the same thing. 🙂
Fantastic! I cut the salt in half to reduce the sodium a bit and did use smoked paprika. Perfect! Thanks for developing this recipe!
You are welcome! I’m glad you like the cheese. Thank you or sharing your review!
I can’t use coconut oil. I need something that does not have a high saturated fat content. What would you recommend? Thank you. Noella
I haven’t tried it with anything else so it’s hard to say what would work. You might be able to just leave it out, but I haven’t tested that.
This cheese melts wonderfully. I definitely agree that it’s much better when stored wrapped in a paper towel (it gets pretty moist over time so it absorbs that). It didn’t freeze that great (became crumbly and really wet) but if you are just melting it into soups or anything whole cooking, it still works great! Thanks Nora!
It’s so awesome you love cheese! Thanks for sharing your experience, and I’m glad the tips worked well for you! I appreciate your awesome review! Happy cooking!
Tried this recipe and love the flavor. I was hoping it’d be a little more firm so I could slice and grate it. I’ll be making it again but I’ll be increasing the agar to try to get the texture more firm to make it sliceable. The flavor was really good, it was great with cheese and crackers as well as melted with salsa for a queso style chip dip.
Hi! Do you think I could put this into small square silicone molds for party tray stile cheese cubes?
Yes, that would be fun!
Hi there! I’ve made this to the T and it didn’t firm enough. It holds its shape but the consistency is much more like cream cheese. I’ll also try the Kappa version in the hopes of having a more cheese-like texture.
Love this recipe! It’s my go-to. I like it less tart so I half the lemon juice. And using smoked paprika is a game changer. Really ups the flavor!
Thank you! I’m thrilled it’s your go to recipe!
Hi, I want to try this but I don’t have a high-powered blender that can powder nuts. Can I use already ground nuts without soaking them?
hi Im not vegan but tried this and it tastes great but not firm enough to turn out of the bowl !! dont know how you did it? can Iota carrageenan be used instead of flakes ?? thanks
It should be firm enough once chilled, but it’s not super hard. Did you use agar agar powder? That is what I used, and if you used flakes that would explain why it didn’t firm up enough. You can use kappa carrageenan, I give instructions for this in the Notes section. Thanks!
This looks great! I’m allergic to tree nuts, any ideas for a substitute for cashews?
I haven’t tried it, but I bet sunflower seeds could work!
Holy heck! This is amazing!! One of the best vegan cheeses I’ve tried homemade or store bought! Thank you for another keeper!
Thank you, Lauren! Enjoy!
Super yellow, very “American” cheese. I am very impressed with the flavour. I will put in a bit more lemon next time. Without the agar agar, I can see it being a new favourite dip.
Love this recipe! I made it the second time and reduced the lemon as the first was way too sour. Just wondering though, each time I have made this it has been too soft. Is there a way to make it more firm?
Thank you! Agar agar makes vegan cheese a bit soft, not super hard, but you could try using kappa carrageenan instead. I give instructions for this in the notes section of the recipe. Hope that helps!
I had this exact question, it is a great “spread” texture, but if wanting to slice it for a more firm outcome, it’s good to know how . Thanks!!