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Vegan Cashew Cheddar Cheese {vegan, oil-free}

Healthy, delicious, easy-to-make vegan cashew Cheddar cheese! It is oil-free, naturally gluten-free, and easy to make, too.
Hunk of cashew Cheddar cheese with two slices cut out, surrounded by nuts and herbs

It’s Time for DIY Vegan Cheddar Cheese

I am not sure what took me so long to try making plant-based cheese. All that I can say is that I wish I had started sooner, because the process is so simple and, more importantly, the cheese is so delicious!

If you have been on the fence, too, I urge you to give it a try.

Cashew Cheddar Cheese Benefits

My easy Cashew Cheddar Cheese is a great place to begin. It is:

  • Vegan
  • Paleo
  • Oil-free
  • Grain-free
  • Packed with nutrition
  • Great for slicing, shredding, cubing or melting

Ingredients

The exact amounts of each ingredient are indicated in the recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Raw cashews
  • Agar-agar (powder or flakes)
  • Plain nondairy milk (I used cashew milk)
  • Nutritional yeast (this lends cheese-y flavor)
  • Lemon juice
  • Tomato paste
  • Sweet or smoked paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Dijon or yellow mustard
  • Turmeric (for color)
  • Salt

Step by Step Instructions

Making the cheese involves blending and chilling, plus 2 additional, yet still simple, steps.

Step One: Quick-Soak the Cashews

Place the raw cashews in a glass measuring cup, bowl, or a large mason jar. Cover the cashews with boiling water. Let the cashews stand in the boiling water for a few minutes until they are plump. Drain the cashews.

Step Two: Prepare the Agar (Plant-Based Gelatin)

Second, prepare the gelatin, which helps to hold the cheese together. The gelatin in this recipe is 100% plant-based (vegan): agar agar.  Agar is an all-natural product, made from various forms of seaweed. 

Agar is available in both powdered form or flakes. You can use either, but the quantities will be different depending on which type is used. For every teaspoon of powdered agar you will need to use 3 teaspoons of agar flakes.

Like traditional gelatin, agar must be dissolved and heated in order to work.

For this cheese, the agar is dissolved and simmered in nondairy milk. Any plain, nondairy milk will work, but I recommend something other than full-fat coconut milk–unless you are specifically opting for a coconut-flavored cheese :).

Step Three: Blend the Cashews

Blend the agar-milk mixture, drained cashews, and nutritional yeast in a high speed blender until completley smooth. This forms the creamy base of the cheese, as well as the essential cheese flavor (courtesy of the nutritional yeast).

Step Four: Add the Remaining Ingredients

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender to create a distinctive, sharp Cheddar flavor.

I use tomato paste (for umami and color), lemon juice and mustard for sharpness, and garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and turmeric for tang and depth. The turmeric also provides bold, yellow-orange color.

Step Four: Pour the Cheese into a Mold

Pour the cheese mixture into any mold of your choice, such as a loaf pan or a circular mold (for a wheel of cheese).

I used two small loaf pans (5×3-inches /12.5x 7.5 cm). I recommend lining the pans with plastic wrap, for easy removal. Oiling the mold or pan will also suffice.

Step Five: Chill the Cheese

Chill the cheese for at least 4 hours until firm and set, and then unmold.

If there are marks from the mold or plastic wrap, you can dip a knife in hot water to smooth them out.

Loaf of cashew Cheddar cheese on parchment paper, atop a wooden cutting board

Enjoy this cheese!!!

More Delicious & Easy Vegan Cheese Recipes to Try: 

Yield: 16 ounces/ 453 g

Vegan Cashew Cheddar Cheese {oil-free, easy}

Vegan Cashew Cheddar Cheese {oil-free, easy}

Healthy, delicious, easy-to-make Cheddar cheese, made with cashews! It is vegan, paleo, oil-free, and naturally gluten-free, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (4 oz/112 g) raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon powdered agar-agar or 3 tablespoons agar-agar flakes
  • 1 cup (250 mL) nondairy milk (I used cashew milk)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Place the cashews in a mason jar or glass bowl. Add 2 cups (500 mL) boiling water. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes until very plump. Drain and rinse the cashews.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the agar agar and milk in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over low to medium heat until the agar is completely dissolved. Continue stirring over low heat for 5 minutes longer until thickened.
  3. Place the drained cashews, nutritional yeast, and agar-milk mixture in a blender. Blend until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down sides several times. Add the lemon juice, tomato paste, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard, turmeric and salt. Blend until completely smooth.
  4. Taste the cheese; adjust the seasonings to taste.
  5. Pour the cheese mixture into a small loaf pan (or any mold of choice) that has been lined with plastic wrap. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until firm. Slice, grate, cube (or melt!) the cheese, as desired, for eating and cooking.

Notes

Overnight Soaking: If you prefer, soak the cashews in 2 cups cold water, at room temperature for 8 hours instead of using the quick soak method. Drain and rinse before using. I do not recommend soaking the cashews for longer than 8 hours (they can turn slimy).

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1 oz/28 g

Amount Per Serving Calories 51Total Fat 3.4gSaturated Fat 1.2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 93.9mgCarbohydrates 2.7gFiber 0.8gSugar 0.6gProtein 2.4g

Did you make this recipe?

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katarina Van den Broeck

Saturday 29th of October 2022

hello,

I was wondering how long can you keep the cheese fresh in the refrigerator?

Melody

Monday 5th of September 2022

Hi, I have a few questions regarding this recipe. How do I store this cheese to prevent it from going bad? And what are some substitutes for mustard and tomato paste? Or shoud I omit them and use more nutritional yeast instead? Thank you

Nat

Thursday 18th of August 2022

Hi! I made this last night but it never hardened to cheddar cheese like consistency. It's more like a thin cream cheese.What could have caused this?

Camilla

Thursday 18th of August 2022

Hi Nat! I am glad you decided to make the cheese, but sorry to hear that it did not set up. The agar agar is what makes the cheese firm, and since yours did not set up, it is almost certainly the reason. Don't worry, it is not an uncommon problem. Did you use the amount of agar agar powder or agar agar flakes specified? If so, than the issue may be in the thickening of the agar. The agar is first dissolved in the milk (that happens almost instantly with the powder, or in a 10 to 30 seconds with the flakes). Then, as per the recipe, it needs to be heated for several minutes longer (about 5, but it may be less) until thickened. If the agar-milk mixture is not thickened before adding to the cashews, the cheese will not set firm.

In the meantime, you can use the soft cheese as a spread, or add a bit more milker water to serve as queso :)

Teresa

Monday 1st of August 2022

Can the nutritional yeast be substituted for something else. I can not do any type of yeast. I want to be able to make this.

Judy

Friday 24th of December 2021

Camilla, this cheese sound wonderful, I have been watching for a good go-to-cheese and I finally found you! I will be making many more of your recipes. Can you tell me how long this cheese stay fresh in the refrigerator and and can the cheese be cut into chucks kept frozen, and if so for how long do you think, approximately? Thank you! judy

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