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Easy Cashew Cheddar Cheese {vegan, oil-free}

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

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:

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

How to Make the Cheese

Step One: Soak the Cashews

Making the cheese involves blending and chilling, plus 2 additional, yet still simple, steps. The first is soaking raw cashews in 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: agar agar.  It 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!

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).

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). 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: 

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

Yield: 16 ounces/ 453 g

Easy Cashew Cheddar Cheese {vegan, paleo, oil-free}

Easy Cashew Cheddar Cheese {vegan, paleo, oil-free}

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.
  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

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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Sara

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

I would like to try this cheese but I'd like to use gelatin. Do you think it would be the same amount as the powdered agar? Or different? Or is that something you can even answer? I just thought I'd check before attempting to figure it out on my own. Thanks so much for your recipes! All of the ones I have tried have been great!

Shield Ontario

Monday 21st of December 2020

Wow let me begin by saying YOU ARE SUCH AN INSPIRATION oh my goodness gracious. In the midst of starting a vegan catering company, right now we just have 1 skew & are exploring to expand into more. Your Vegan Cheese recipes are so favourable I could so see these working as another part of our expansion. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your recipes !

Questions: Does this cheese melt? - If not how could we make one that has that ooey gooey texture once melted, minus all the uncanny additives in most store bought versions? seriously meditating on this right now maybe you could help !

Camilla

Sunday 27th of December 2020

Hi there! Thanks so very much for the kind review :) Congratulations, too, on your catering company.

This cheese does get melty, but not a lot like dairy cheese. I have found that vegan cheeses made with some agar agar or tapioca (following other recipes, not my own) melt better, but I am still experiment myself. But I would look for vegan cheese recipes with these ingredients :)

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