Vegan cheese is a dairy-free alternative to traditional cheeses that rely on animal products. Vegan cheese recipes use plant-based ingredients like nuts, nutritional yeast, and tofu to approximate the flavor and texture of traditional cheese. \nUsing a few simple, whole-food ingredients and cheese-making techniques, you can make your own vegan cheese. Try making homemade vegan cheese if you’re lactose-intolerant, looking to save money on dairy-free alternatives, have special dietary requirements, or would like to experiment with healthy recipes. The best vegan cheese recipe is one that fits your specific needs. For example, many vegan cheese recipes involve cashews, but you can explore nut-free options as well. Similarly, gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free recipes can help you meet your dietary needs. \nPlant-based alternatives to dairy cheese exist to recreate the flavor and texture of real cheese, but they rarely taste exactly the same. While the flavor will vary depending on the product or recipe, dairy-free cheese typically has a subtler flavor than its traditional dairy counterpart. You can add acidic ingredients to mimic the sharpness of cheddar cheese or coconut milk to mimic the richness of mozzarella cheese, but be aware that altering the ingredients in a recipe may change the texture of the final product.\nThere are myriad options for cheese alternatives, whether you buy them in-store or make them at home. If this is your first time making vegan cheese, experiment with seasonings and textures to find which flavor combinations you prefer.\n\n1. __Pasta__: Vegan mozzarella cheese works great on top of pizzas or in a vegan cheese sauce in lasagna. Vegan parmesan cheese can add a flavorful twist to classic vegan mac and cheese.\n2. __Quesadillas, tacos, and nachos__: Melt vegan cheese between two tortillas for vegan quesadillas or shred firmer options to sprinkle on top of mushroom tacos. With the right spices, you can also make your own spicy nacho cheese.\n3. __Appetizers__: Firmer vegan cheese substitutes with a sharper flavor profile work well for appetizers and vegan cheese plates. Put a vegan spin on charcuterie boards with vegan cheese balls or cheddar-style cubes. Pair soft, vegan cheese dips with sliced veggies like carrots and cucumbers.\n4. __Sandwiches__: Sliced vegan cheese is useful for vegan grilled cheese sandwiches. Spread vegan cream cheese on a bagel or crumble vegan feta on an open-faced tomato sandwich.\nHomemade vegan cheese recipes tend to focus on soy cheeses or nut cheeses with a few vegan seasonings to recreate the cheesy flavor. \n\n1. __Tapioca starch__: Just like cornstarch is used to thicken sauces and soups, tapioca starch (or tapioca flour) is used to thicken vegan cheese and give it stretch. Other recipes may use xanthan gum, carrageenan, or arrowroot instead. If you want to make nut-free and soy-free cheese, simply mix five tablespoons of tapioca starch, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and a cup of hot water in a saucepan. Cook the mixture on the stove, stirring constantly until it reaches your desired consistency.\n2. __Agar powder (or agar-agar)__: While tapioca starch makes for great stretchy, melty cheeses, agar powder makes firmer, sliceable cheeses. This powder is a vegan alternative to gelatin and may only be available at specialty grocery stores. If you can’t find agar powder, cooked and blended chickpeas or chickpea flour can help thicken some vegan cheeses. \n3. __Lemon juice__: Lemon juice adds the slightly acidic, tangy flavor often found in real cheese.\n4. __Spices__: If you’re making queso, you’ll want to add smoked paprika or jalapeno. Ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and onion powder are popular ingredients for added flavor. \n5. __Coconut milk or coconut oil__: Coconut is a common ingredient as it adds the fat content needed to solidify your vegan cheese. You’ll often see olive oil in vegan cheese recipes as well.\n6. __Nuts__: Cashew nuts have a high fat content that blends nicely with water or coconut milk for thick, creamy cashew cheese. Macadamia nuts and tree nuts work just as well. You can also incorporate the almond pulp from a homemade batch of almond milk into vegan cheese.\n7. __Sundried tomatoes__: Sundried tomatoes add a unique flavor to vegan cheeses that pair well with Italian dishes. \n8. __White miso paste__: [Miso](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-miso-easy-miso-broth-recipe-with-chef-gordon-ramsay) is a fermented soybean paste from Japan used as seasoning throughout Asian cuisine. This ingredient is used to bring out the sharpness found in firmer cheeses like cheddar and cheese sauces. \n9. __Stabilizers__: Ingredients like pea protein, soy protein, and yeast-based casein frequently show up in store-bought vegan cheeses to improve the texture and help them melt like true dairy products.\nFor a classic approach to vegan cheese, look no further than this cashew-based vegan cheese recipe.