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9 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
Tuesday 27 July 2021 13:11
<p>Vegan cheeses are typically made from nuts or coconut oil bases</p>

Vegan cheeses are typically made from nuts or coconut oil bases

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

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.

Read more:

The best vegan cheeses for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Nettle macadamia white, 150g: £12.50, Abelandcole.co.uk
  • Best soft cheese – Nush natural almond cream cheese style spread, 150g: £2.20, Ocado.com
  • Best for spice lovers – Mexicana vegan block, 200g: £2.30, 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: £2.30 Sainsburys.co.uk
  • Best cheddar alternative – Ilchester vegan melting mature, 200g: £2.35, Tesco.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: £8.95, Abelandcole.co.uk

Nettle macadamia white, 180g

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

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.

Nush natural almond cream cheese style spread, 150g

Best: Soft cheese

Rating: 7/10

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.

Mexicana vegan block, 200g

Best: For spice lovers

Rating: 8/10

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.

Honestly Tasty the full collection

Best: For cheese boards

Rating: 9/10

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.

Applewood vegan smoky cheese alternative, 200g

Best: Smoked cheese

Rating: 6/10

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.

Ilchester vegan melting mature, 200g

Best: Cheddar alternative

Rating: 7/10

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).

Bute Island sheese greek style block, 200g

Best: In salads

Rating: 7/10

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.

Mouse’s favourite camblue, 130g

Best: Luxury buy

Rating: 8/10

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. It’s currently out of stock but you can sign up to be notified via email when it’s back.

Palace Culture organic almond ricotta, 130g

Best: Organic brand

Rating: 8/10

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?

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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