It’s Time for DIY Vegan 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:
- Packed with nutrition
- Great for slicing, shredding, cubing or melting
A complete list of the ingredients, with amounts and instructions, is located in the recipe card below.
- 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)
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.
Enjoy this cheese!!!
More Delicious & Easy Vegan Cheese Recipes to Try:
- Vegan Cashew Boursin Cheese
- Chickpea Flour Feta Cheese
- Chickpea Flour Cheddar Cheese
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Vegetable Nacho Cheese Dip
- Easy Cashew Cream Cheese
- Chickpea Flour Queso
- Chipotle Cheese Bread Bites