The Best Non-Dairy Cheese Alternatives  

Have you been working on switching to a meat and dairy-free diet? Or perhaps you want to add “Meatless Monday” to your weekly menu?

Flat lay view at Soy Bean curd tofu in wooden bowl

There are plenty of reasons to change things up. Cutting back on animal-based foods can boost your health, diversify your diet, and expand your palette.

Unfortunately, giving up cheese can be challenging for those of us who enjoy the occasional pizza or ranch dip. Many store-bought substitutes simply aren’t the same.

So if you’re left searching for the perfect alternative for your nachos or ravioli, you’re in luck.

Check out these seven non-dairy cheese substitutes worth incorporating into your weekly menu.  

Cheese Substitutes 

If you’re cutting out dairy, try these dairy free cheese alternatives.

Cashew Cheese

A few years back, I had a granola bar coated with cashew butter.

Unsurprisingly, it was absolutely delicious, so when I discovered cashew cheese was an option, I knew it would be a winner.

Not only are cashews tasty, but they’re an excellent source of minerals and have the perfect texture for spreads and sauces. 

The best part is how simple it is to make cashew cheese. You can whip up a batch of protein-rich cashew cheese in your kitchen with a bit of nutritional yeast, water, seasonings, and agar agar powder if you need your cheese to set.

The result will be a sliceable block for your charcuterie board or a nice spread for your crackers. 

Of course, if you’re allergic to most nuts, cashew cheese and other nut-based alternatives may not be safe for you.

Daiya Cheese

I snagged a coupon for Daiya cheese not too long ago. At first, I was skeptical, but I learned my lesson quickly.

This plant-based cheese substitute is excellent for creating dips, sauces, and anything else that calls for smooth, melted cheese.

Daiya comes in shreds, slices, blocks, and sauces, so it’s become my go-to for hot cheese dishes. 

Chickpea, potato starch, and coconut oil are a few of the ingredients that give Daiya its creaminess.

Plus, it’s free of all the major allergens, so it’s perfect for anyone with food sensitivities or a lot of allergies.

The main thing to be aware of is that Daiya’s cheeses tend to be high in sodium, so try something else if you’re aiming for a cheese substitute for your low-sodium diet.

Kite Hill Cheese

Like Daiya, Kite Hill offers a variety of non-dairy hard and creamy cheeses.

The most significant difference is that Kite Hill’s cheeses are made with almonds instead of chickpeas or other plants.

Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to skip this one if you have a tree nut allergy.

I like Kite Hill for dips and spreadable cheeses, but their ricotta and spinach ravioli are particularly tasty, too.

However, one of my favorite things about this company is that the cheeses are kid-approved. So, for parents with picky eaters on a meatless diet, definitely check out Kite Hill.

Almond Cheese

Almonds aren’t just for marzipan, milk, and macarons anymore. These nutrient-rich nuts offer one of the best non-dairy cheese substitutes available.

I’ve purchased almond cheese at my local grocery store, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make it yourself with a food processor. 

Almonds are ideal for cheese spreads, feta substitutes (my favorite), and even ricotta. Their mild flavor makes it easy to adjust seasonings to suit all tastes.

Just remember to soak your almonds overnight if you plan to prepare the cheese yourself, as they can be pretty dry. 

Zucchini Cheese

If you follow a plant-based diet, you’ve undoubtedly tried zucchini as a substitute for pasta and in desserts.

It’s versatile and perfect for sweet and savory dishes. But, most importantly, it makes an excellent snacking cheese and is high in essential nutrients

Zucchini cheese is so simple to make and works well for specialized diets, including the paleo, AIP, and GAPS diets.

Simply steam your zucchini, then puree it with coconut oil, lemon juice, gelatin, and any seasoning you want. Refrigerate for two hours to let it set, and you’ll be ready to start snacking.  

Tofu Cheese

Another cheese you can test out is tofu cheese. Although tofu can be challenging for newbies to work with, if you choose the right type, you can create delicious soy-based cheese.

Due to its texture, tofu is best for dishes that call for crumbly cheese, like feta, ricotta, or paneer.

What I like most about tofu is that it’s a bit like a sponge because it absorbs the flavor of everything around it, making it incredibly versatile.

It’s also perfect for non-dairy mozzarella sticks. Just be sure to choose firm tofu and press it thoroughly before working with it.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast, or “nooch,” is a flaky ingredient that’s perfect for creamy cheese recipes.

Nooch is a bit of a culinary multi-tool. It has a slight umami flavor, which is ideal for savory dishes. 

Nooch’s natural flavor has a savoriness you’d expect with cheese. Although it looks similar to crumbled cornflakes, once you combine it with a liquid like coconut milk, you’ll have a tasty, protein-rich cheese sauce.

You can also sprinkle it on top of salads, popcorn, and pasta dishes as a substitute for parmesan cheese.

Cheese Substitutes 

  1. Cashew Cheese
  2. Daiya Cheese
  3. Kite Hill Cheese
  4. Almond Cheese
  5. Zucchini Cheese
  6. Tofu Cheese 
  7. Nutritional Yeast

Final Thoughts

Switching to a meatless diet is easy for some and trickier for others.

Fortunately, you won’t have to give up your favorite cheese dishes when you switch because you have plenty of cheese substitutes to work with.

Personally, my favorite is Daiya, but each of the options here will give you what you need. Check out some meat substitutes to make a complete vegan meal!

If you’re okay with dairy but not gluten, check out some gluten-free parmesan brands.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.