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10 best vegan cheeses for pizza, pasta, toasties and more

Hankering for some fantastic fromage? These taste just as good as the real thing

Emily Goddard
Monday 10 October 2022 13:11 BST
<p>Vegan cheeses are typically made from nuts or coconut-oil bases</p>

Vegan cheeses are typically made from nuts or coconut-oil bases

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How many times have you heard someone say they couldn’t possibly go vegan because they love cheese too much? Dozens, we imagine.

There was a time when those people could have been excused. Makers of plant-based cheese alternatives have taken a while to perfect their wares, which were not always the most appetising to eat. But now vegan cheese lovers are spoilt for choice.

Today, countless brands offer cruelty-free fromage of all varieties imaginable. You can find cheddar, smoked, chilli, spreadable, grated, sliced and blue alternatives even in standard supermarkets.

Until recently, most vegan cheeses available on the high street were made from a coconut-oil base, which is fine and does lend itself to a good texture, but sometimes the coconut flavour could be a little overpowering. Now there are a number of options made from nuts, and many coconut-based recipes have been refined for a far superior cheese.

How we tested

We tested a wide range of plant-based contenders, including those from mainstream supermarkets and brands from more-specialist suppliers. We looked for those made from nuts and those from coconut oil, and aimed to include an assorted range of cheese styles. With all these options, you’re cheddar off without dairy.

The best vegan cheeses for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Nettle macadamia white, 150g: £12.50, Planetorganic.com
  • Best soft cheese – Nush natural almond cream-cheese-style spread, 150g: £2.33, Ocado.com
  • Best for spice-lovers – Mexicana vegan block, 200g: £2.40, Thevegankindsupermarket.com
  • Best for cheese boards – Honestly Tasty the full collection: £31.50, Honestlytasty.co.uk
  • Best smoked cheese – Applewood vegan smoky cheese alternative, 200g: £2, Sainsburys.co.uk
  • Best cheddar alternative – Ilchester vegan melting mature, 200g: £2.40, Thevegankind.com
  • Best in salads – Bute Island Sheese Greek style block, 200g: £2.69, Thevegankindsupermarket.com
  • Best luxury buy – Mouse’s Favourite camblue, 130g: £9.99, Planetorganic.com
  • Best organic brand – Palace Culture organic almond ricotta, 130g: £9, Abelandcole.co.uk
  • Best sliced vegan cheese – Cathedral City plant-based dairy-free large slices, 150g: £2.30, Tesco.com

Nettle macadamia white, 180g

Nettle white macadamia copy.jpg
  • Best: Overall
  • Vegan cheese type: Soft cheese
  • Base: Cashew and macadamia nut

It had been a while since our tester had eaten dairy cheese, but a taste of this luxuriously creamy, flavourful plant-based alternative transported them back to their pre-vegan days. The texture of this cashew and macadamia nut product is that of a rich, soft cheese, and is perfect for spreading on crusty seeded bread. The cheese comes in generously sized cubes, marinaded in a blend of extra virgin olive oil and cold-pressed rapeseed oil with garlic and thyme. It’s also studded with tangy black peppercorns, which are delicious. Another plus is that macadamia white comes in a glass jar, making it kinder to the planet than cheeses that come in plastic packaging.

Although it’s currently sold out, you can sign up to be notified when it’s back in stock.

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Nush natural almond cream-cheese-style spread, 150g

Nush Natural Almond Cream Cheese Style Spread.jpg
  • Best: Soft cheese
  • Vegan cheese type: Cream cheese spread
  • Base: Coconut oil

Having tried many coconut oil-based vegan cream cheeses and not being overly enamoured with them, we were praying this almond alternative might be the one we have been looking for – and our prayers were answered. The absence of coconut milk is welcome because Nush’s almond and live culture cream cheese is milder in taste, lighter and more closely resembles the traditional dairy product. Our only problem was that we opened a pot and a packet of breadsticks and struggled to stop. It’s a moreish delight.

  1. £2 from Ocado.com
Prices may vary
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Mexicana vegan block, 200g

Mexicana vegan block.jpeg
  • Best: For spice-lovers
  • Vegan cheese type: Block
  • Base: Coconut oil

Tangy and with a kick, Mexicana’s is among the finest chilli cheeses – vegan or not – we have tried. This is a coconut oil-based block, but the coconut is almost undetectable because the other, more exciting flavours are so powerful. It’s made with real peppers, chillies and jalapenos for an authentic Mexican taste that is gorgeous in a vegan burger. It melts brilliantly, so is also excellent grated on nachos or a bean chilli baked potato. Plus, this vegan cheese has added calcium and vitamin B12 for extra goodness.

Although it’s currently out of stock, the website states it will be available again soon.

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Honestly Tasty the full collection

Honestly Tasty the full collection (1).jpg
  • Best: For cheese boards
  • Vegan cheese type: Various
  • Base: Nuts

Are you one of those people who forgo pudding in favour of cheese and biscuits? If so, this scrumptious collection is going to be your new way to round off a meal. There is no scrimping on choice here because included are imposter camembert Sham, gorgonzola style Blue, smooth Herbi and spreadable mature cheddar alternative Ched Spread. We love all these nut-based cheeses – the flavours are sublime. But our favourite was Blue because it’s so close to dairy cheese (only a little less crumbly) having been matured for weeks and with real penicillium roqueforti for that authentic taste. And we challenge anyone in a blind taste test to detect a difference between Herbi and Boursin; we think it would be impossible. The full collection is out of stock right now, but we hope it’s back soon.

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Applewood vegan smoky cheese alternative, 200g

Applewood Vegan Smoky Cheese Alternative.jpeg
  • Best: Smoked cheese
  • Vegan cheese type: Smoked block cheese
  • Base: Coconut oil

When asking our vegan pals about their favourite cheeses in anticipation of writing this article, Applewood’s vegan smoky cheese got the most mentions. Our tester would not usually go for a smoked cheese but tried it in the name of journalism and would definitely go for it again. The texture is smooth and not too firm, and the block looks like an authentic smoked cheese with the dusted burnt orange edge. We were super impressed with how well this cheese melted, although patience is required because it does take longer than dairy cheese.

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Ilchester vegan melting mature, 200g

Ilchester vegan melting mature (1).jpeg
  • Best: Cheddar alternative
  • Vegan cheese type: Block
  • Base: Coconut oil

The cheese we miss most since going vegan is cheddar, and it has not been easy to find a worthy alternative we can turn to again and again. This newly launched block from Ilchester is quickly becoming a favourite though. It does indeed melt as advertised (like most vegan cheeses, it takes a smidge longer than dairy cheddar), and the flavour has that familiar cheddar tang that works well in so many different ways and dishes. We used this block shredded in a bechamel sauce for macaroni cheese, and although grating was not that straightforward because it tended to crumble quite easily, the flavour was spot-on. We also loved this cubed on cocktail sticks with pineapple (yes, we went there).

Although it’s currently out of stock, the website states it will be available again soon.

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Bute Island sheese greek style block, 200g

Sheese Greek style.jpg
  • Best: In salads
  • Vegan cheese type: Greek style block
  • Base: Coconut oil

In summer, we can live off Greek salad, but it’s not quite the same without a generous helping of feta. This block is an excellent replica to satisfy those cravings. The cheese is a little firmer than traditional feta and not quite as salty – but put enough olives in your salad and you will never know the difference because the creaminess and flavour are so similar to that of the real deal.

Although it’s currently out of stock, the website states it will be available again soon.

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Mouse’s favourite camblue, 130g

Mouse's Favourite camblue.jpg
  • Best: Luxury buy
  • Vegan cheese type: Camembert
  • Base: Cashew

One look at this cruelty-free camembert would have few people questioning its authenticity. Snow-white rind, check. Ripe smell, check. It’s only when you cut into the round that you notice it is somewhat different to non-vegan camembert – the centre is laced with blue veins. We baked this cashew-based wonder in the oven and dived in with some crusty sourdough. Dipping was not as easy as it is with dairy camembert because camblue is pretty firm and not gooey, but the flavour was a close match. This is a stunning cheese to share between two for an indulgent feast.

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Palace Culture organic almond ricotta, 130g

Palace Culture organic almond ricotta.jpg
  • Best: Organic brand
  • Vegan cheese type: Ricotta
  • Base: Almonds

It’s almost impossible to believe that a mere four natural ingredients can create a remarkably authentic vegan cheese alternative like this. Handcrafted from organic almonds, live cultures, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, Palace Culture’s plant-based ricotta has the most beautiful creamy taste and an almost whipped texture. The cheese is also made using a traditional fermentation process, which results in gut-friendly cultures, B vitamins and minerals. That means we can eat as much as we like of it, right?

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Cathedral City plant-based dairy-free large slices, 150g

Cathedral City plant-based dairy-free large slices, 150g .jpg
  • Best: Sliced vegan cheese
  • Vegan cheese type: Cheddar-like block
  • Base: Coconut oil

Cathedral City is not a name we’d usually associate with vegan products, but the launch of its plant-based cheese range is changing all that – and we couldn’t be happier. The dairy-free range is available in a 280g block (£3.60, Tesco.com), as a 150g bag of grated vegan cheese (£2.30, Tesco.com) and large slices – our favourite for convenience, especially when it comes to making sandwiches. Naturally, we had to give these a whirl in a grilled cheese sandwich. As it cooked, we could see the cheese was melting beautifully, which resulted in a pretty perfect toastie texture.

When it comes to the flavour, we didn’t really know what to expect from this but did slightly fear that overpowering coconut taste you can get with some coconut-oil-based vegan cheeses. But our fears were unfounded – the flavour was creamy with a slight cheddar-like tang. Ultimately, it gets our approval, and we were delighted to see another big dairy name entering the vegan-alternative sphere.

  1. £2 from Tesco.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Vegan cheeses

Taste-testing these vegan cheeses confirmed what we already knew: nut-based vegan cheeses reign. Their flavour and texture are so similar to traditional dairy cheese, and they are ultra-creamy. Of all those we tried, Nettle macadamia white is our best buy for its outstanding flavour and smoothness. We had never tasted plant-based cheese like it. We also love the Honestly Tasty full collection for creating a showpiece cheese board on special occasions, and the Mexicana vegan block for its tang, kick and versatility.

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