This homemade vegan cheddar cheese recipe will amaze you!  It has a rich and creamy texture with a sharp cheddar cheese bite!  You can slice it, shred it, and even make it meltable! Made with rich and creamy coconut milk and no cashews, this recipe gives you a silky smooth texture that can’t be beaten!

A wedge of vegan cheese on a wooden cutting board with some slices on crackers and red grapes behind it.

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Most vegan cheddar cheese recipes out there are made with cashews or some other nuts.  Unfortunately, my family won’t eat nuts, so I had to come up with an alternative.  I developed some delicious cheese recipes from coconut milk like provolone, mozzarella, and smoked Gouda.

These mild cheeses were delicious with the rich creamy coconut milk, but it took me a while to perfect the cheddar flavor.  After lots of testing, I finally did it!

I started to play around with lemon juice, onion powder, paprika, and finally, miso to give it that cheddar bite!  It came out amazing and my kids eat it up as fast as I can make it!

WOW!!! I just made this recipe and it was my first time making a sliceable vegan cheese and this did not disappoint!

—Judy

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free!
  • Finally a good vegan cheese without cashews!
  • You can whip up a batch in less than 10 minutes.
  • It can be sliced and grated.
  • You can make a version that melts and stretches too!
  • It has an authentic cheddar cheese flavor.
  • This recipe is much cheaper than store-bought vegan cheese or even homemade cashew cheese!

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Coconut Milk – a 13.5 oz can of full-fat coconut milk makes your cheese rich and creamy plus 1/2 cup of water.
  • Or you can use any plant-based milk that you want plus oil instead of the coconut milk:
    • Plant Milk:  I like soy milk because it’s fairly rich and thick, but you can use whatever plant-based milk you like.  Just make sure it is plain and not vanilla-flavored.  You can use sweetened or unsweetened depending on the flavor you want to achieve with your cheese.
    • Oil:  I like to use refined coconut oil, but any oil will work.  You can also omit the oil if you wish, it just won’t be as rich and creamy.
  • Agar Agar:  This is a clear vegan gelatin derived from seaweed and it’s absolutely essential for making the cheese firm.  If you leave it out you will have vegan nacho cheese sauce, which is delicious, but not sliceable cheese.  Use the powdered agar agar instead of the flakes if you can find it.  It can be expensive, but it’s a great price if you order it on Amazon.
  • Nutritional Yeast:  This is a yellow powder that has a cheese flavor.  This is a key ingredient to give it a cheesy flavor and cannot be omitted.  You can read more about it in this article about nutritional yeast.
  • Lemon Juice:  For the tang.
  • Onion Powder: For flavor.
  • Paprika: For flavor and color. (The red paprika mixed with the yellow turmeric gives it a beautiful orange color!)  You can also use smoked paprika for a delicious smokey flavor.
  • Miso:  For a cheesy bite.  This is a key ingredient in giving a cheddar flavor to the cheese.  (If you are making this cheese soy-free, you can use chickpea miso).
  • Water: For dissolving the miso paste
  • Salt:  To give it flavor.
  • Turmeric:  For color. (optional)
  • Tapioca Starch:  If you want a cheddar cheese that melts and stretches you can add tapioca starch.  (Tapioca flour is the same thing).  This will make the cheese softer, but it will melt easier and get stretchy when it melts.  You will need to add 2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. of the tapioca.  I know that this is a weird measurement, but that is the exact amount that I have found works the best. 

Helpful tools

  • Saucepan:  To cook the cheese on the stovetop.
  • Whisk: For stirring your cheese sauce.
  • Glass Container:  to use as the mold.  You can use any heat-safe container even just a plain bowl.  I like to use Snapware containers because they have a lid that seals tightly and will keep your cheese fresh.  (You can also use a silicone mold, but I think it gives your food a funny taste).
A round of vegan cheese with a knife slicing off a piece.

How to make sliceable vegan cheddar

Step 1 Prepare a cheese mold by spraying a smooth glass container with a little oil.

Step 2 Pour all of the ingredients except for the water and miso into a medium-sized saucepan.

Step 3 Stir the ingredients and turn on the heat to medium.

Step 4 Cook your cheese sauce until it has slowly boiled for 6 minutes while stirring frequently.  (It needs to boil for 6 minutes to fully melt and activate the agar agar).

Step 5 Mix the miso and water until the miso is dissolved completely and pour it into the cheese sauce.

Step 6 Stir the cheese sauce until the miso is incorporated.

Step 7 Pour the cheese into the chosen mold.

Step 8 Cool for about 15 minutes on the countertop and then put it in the refrigerator uncovered for 2 more hours until it cools and sets completely.

Step 9 Serve or put in a sealed container.

A collage of 4 pictures showing the process of cooking the coconut milk and flavorings to make a vegan provolone cheese sauce and then pouring it into a mold to set.

How to make meltable cheddar

Step 1 Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan except only add 1/4 cup of water instead of 1/2 cup and only add 4 tsp of agar agar instead of 2 tbsp.

Step 2 Heat the cheese sauce over medium heat until it begins to boil.

Step 3 Turn down the heat until it is just barely bubbling and allow it to boil for 5 minutes while stirring frequently.

Step 4 Add 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp of tapioca starch (7 tsp) to 1/4 cup of cold water and stir until it dissolves.

Step 5 Mix the miso with the starch and water until the miso is dissolved completely and pour it into the cheese sauce.

Step 6 Add the starch, miso, and water mixture to the boiling cheese sauce while stirring it in with a whisk, and then cook for an additional 1 minute.  (Your cheese will become very thick and stretchy).

Step 7 Pour into a glass container and allow to cool uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before shredding.

 Pro Tips

  • Stir the cheese sauce very frequently.  Do not walk away from it while cooking.
  • Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Make sure to measure the ingredients carefully!  Slight changes in the amount of liquid, the agar agar, or tapioca starch can change the texture of your cheese a lot!
  • Simmer the cheddar cheese for 6 minutes to melt the agar agar and allow it to bind completely with the ingredients.
  • Adding the miso at the end makes it so you do not kill the beneficial probiotic in the miso.
  • Use the tapioca starch if you are using this cheese make anything hot like a grilled cheese where you would want it to melt.

Troubleshooting

Nearly everyone loves this cheddar cheese recipe and it works great for almost everyone.  Getting the cheese firm enough seems to be the only place people ever have trouble.  Occasionally people will say that their cheese didn’t set correctly or it’s like jello. 

These are my tips if this happens to you

  • Use agar agar powder, not flakes if you can, and measure carefully. Make sure to use 2 full tablespoons, not 2 teaspoons!
  • I use Telephone brand agar agar, since I can easily find it at my local Asian market.  It comes in small packs so it won’t go bad, and I know that it sets well every time. There are many other brands and there seem to be different strengths of agar agar, especially in Europe.
  • If your cheese is too soft or jello-like, your agar agar is not strong enough.  Increase the agar agar next time you make it.  If it is very soft you can add a tiny bit of water and remelt it then add more agar agar and boil it for an additional 6 minutes.
  • If your agar agar is not working, swap it out in equal parts for Kapa carrageenan.
A wedge of coconut cheese on a cutting board with some crackers and red grapes.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use arrowroot or any other type of starch?

No, unfortunately, the only thing that will make your cheese melt and stretch is tapioca starch, if you use something else in its place, it just won’t work as well.

What can I use instead of miso?

If you want to make it soy-free or don’t have miso, you can swap the miso out for tahini.  This will also give it a little cheddar-style bite.

Can I use agar agar flakes instead of powder?

Yes, you can, however, it doesn’t melt as quickly, and you will need more of it.  You will need to use 3 times as many flakes as powder, so use 6 tbsp of agar agar flakes instead of 2 tbsp of the powder to make this cheese.

Can I add spices to the cheese?

Yes, you can add whatever herbs and spices you would like.  A dash of smoked paprika or liquid smoke like in my smoked gouda recipe or you can use herbs like in my vegan garlic and herb cheese recipe.

Storage

Refrigerator: Store the cheese in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days

Freezing: You can freeze it for up to 3 months.  I find it easiest to slice or shred the cheese and then freeze it in an air-tight freezer bag. This way you can use small portions of it without having to thaw the whole block.

A vegan charcuterie board filled with crackers, vegan cheese, vegan pepperoni, vegan turkey, humus, and olives.

This cheddar recipe is great sliced on sandwiches or served with crackers on a vegan charcuterie board too!

More vegan cheese recipes

You can check out my guide on how to make vegan cheese if you want more information on vegan cheese making or get my vegan cheese cookbook, The Ultimate Guide to Easy Vegan Cheese Making.

A round of vegan cheddar cheese cut and sliced on crackers on a wooden cutting board.
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4.95 from 37 rating

Vegan Cheddar Cheese

An easy way to make homemade vegan cheddar without nuts, gluten, or dairy.

Ingredients

  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk, or 2 cups of any plain plant-based milk plus 3 tsp oil.
  • 1/2 cup water, (omit if using 2 cups of plant-based milk.)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons agar agar powder, (or 6 tbsp agar agar flakes)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric

Add after cooking:

  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 teaspoon white miso paste, (or any mild-flavored miso) you can also use tahini instead
  • 1 squirt spray oil , (to coat the cheese mold)

Add for cheddar that melts and stretches *optional

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon. tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour), (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Prepare a cheese mold by spraying a smooth glass container with a little oil.
  • Pour all of the ingredients except for the water and miso into a medium-sized saucepan.
  • Stir the ingredients and turn on the heat to medium.
  • Cook your cheese sauce until it has slowly boiled for 6 minutes while stirring frequently.  (It needs to boil for 6 minutes to fully melt and activate the agar agar).
  • Mix the miso and water until the miso is dissolved completely. Pour mixture into the cheese sauce.
  • Stir the cheese sauce until the miso is incorporated.
  • Pour the cheese into the chosen mold.
  • Cool for about 15 minutes on the countertop and then cover and put it in the refrigerator for 2-3 more hours until it cools and sets completely.

Notes

  • Once the cheese sauce begins to boil, turn the heat down so that it is bubbling, but not so hot that it will burn.
  • Be sure to stir the cheese sauce very frequently so it doesn’t’ burn.
  • Simmer the cheddar cheese for 6 minutes to melt the agar agar and allow it to bind completely with the ingredients. 
  • Adding the miso at the end avoids killing the beneficial probiotic in the miso. 
  • Leave out the tapioca starch if you want a firm sliced cheese for crackers or for eating cold.

How to make meltable vegan cheddar:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan except only add 1/4 cup of water instead of 1/2 cup and only add 4 tsp of agar agar instead of 2 tbsp.
  2. Heat the cheese sauce over medium heat until it begins to boil.
  3. Turn down the heat until it is just barely bubbling and allow to boil for 5 minutes while stirring frequently.
  4. Add 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp of tapioca starch (7 tsp) to 1/4 cup of cold water and stir until it dissolves.
  5. Mix the miso in with the starch and water until the miso is dissolved completely and pour it into the cheese sauce.
  6. Add the starch, miso, and water mixture to the boiling cheese sauce while stirring it with a whisk and then cook for an additional 1 minute.  (Your cheese will become very thick and stretchy).
  7. Pour into a glass container and allow to cool uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before shredding.
Serving: 0.25cup, Calories: 108kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Sodium: 399mg, Potassium: 160mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 62IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 9mg, Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review below!

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*This was originally posted on November 30, 2018.  It was updated on February 2, 2021, to include new images and more detailed instructions.