It is becoming increasingly popular to adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet, whether because of a food intolerance or to live a healthier lifestyle. A balanced vegan diet consists of nuts, beans, lentils, peas, and veggies. But who doesn’t love cheese, or at least the taste of cheese? Not every vegan cheese is tasty, and there are a lot out there that are pretty darn close to the real thing. No one wants to sacrifice taste for their diet, so that’s why we set out to find the best dairy-free cheese on the market.
A common misconception is that if you are vegan, you are at risk of malnutrition, especially for those who love to hit the gym. On the contrary, a study shows that vegan gym rats have a reason to celebrate. Using vegan protein works just as well to build muscle as animal proteins. The findings show the vegan alternative supports muscle growth during resistance training as well as in people who eat an omnivorous diet.
In an experiment, People eating a high-protein omnivorous diet showed a 5.7-pound increase in muscle mass. The vegan group, in contrast, gained 6.83 pounds in mass. Both groups showed an 8.3-percent size increase in their thigh muscles during the experiment.
Vegan protein as supplemental support to building muscle isn’t the only benefit of a vegan diet. Switching to a vegan diet may help people with chronic migraines ease their debilitating headaches, a new study finds. In the case report, study authors note that the patient was able to stop taking migraine medication after switching to the plant-based diet. In the eight years after making the diet change, he has not had a migraine since. Studies have shown that dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and watercress provide powerful antioxidants that can ease extreme head pain. Someone on a vegan diet typically ingests at least five ounces of raw or cooked dark green leafy vegetables each day.
So whether you want to hit the gym or experiment with new vegan ingredients, StudyFinds turned to ten expert opinions to find the top five best dairy-free cheese brands. Most of these winners have multiple variations of dairy-free cheese, so if there is a staple vegan cheese on your grocery list that we haven’t mentioned, we’d like to hear about it in the comments below!
The List: Best Dairy-Free Cheese, According to Expert Reviews
1. Miyoko’s Creamery
Miyoko showed up on most lists for several of their dairy-free cheese variations. Their organic cashew milk mozzarella even sounds delicious. The Food Network backs up its taste, “This cheese is soft and almost tofu-like but can be shredded on the large holes of a box grater with minimal crumbling. It’s available only in blocks. A pleasant, overall mild, milky flavor and a ‘lovely touch of salt’ earned it the winning spot — raw and cooked — on our list. On the downside, it barely melted, contrary to the package claim that it ‘melts, slices and shreds,’ nor did it brown.”
The World of Vegan offers some great recipes, in addition to the best dairy-free cheeses. If you crave pizza, you’re going to need meltable cheese. “This is the gold standard of vegan meltable cheese, in our book. It’s the perfect cheese to shred or slice atop pizza, in our vegan meatball subs, and anywhere else you want melty mozzarella goodness. The only downside is the price—it is a bit pricier than the other options because it’s an artisan and more gourmet product. But it’s so worth the price if you can afford it.”
Miyoko graces Switch 4 Good’s list of best dairy-free cheese twice. One with their Smoked English Farmhouse and the other, Miyoko Mozzarella. Of the Farmhouse Cheese Switch 4 Good describes your first taste, “you’re first hit with a sharpness that’s countered with a creamy smokiness that lingers on your tongue.” They go on about the mozzarella, “both the original and smoked flavors mimic the texture of dairy-based mozz so well; she’s even got the melting down. Of all the dairy-free cheeses, this might be the most addictive.”
2. Violife Vegan Cheese Slices
The Food Network sums up the different types of Violife Vegan Cheese splendidly. While some experts had a favorite type, The Food Network describes them in a general review, “VioLife handicaps itself by insisting that these coconut oil and modified starch-based slices are just like their dairy counterparts. They’re not. But: they are bright orange and bendable in a classic singles kind of way. Cooked, they immediately evoked grade-school grilled cheese sandwiches: oozy, mild, with a very slight tang, somewhere between American and mild cheddar. If it were up to us, we’d call them ‘Just Like Chamerican.’ If you really concentrate, you’ll notice a bit of an oily coating in your mouth, but it’s slight. We say: go retro, griddle a few slices of cheese and tomato between store-bought white bread, and serve with the bread-and-butter pickles. Or do the classic grilled cheese with tomato soup for a vegan flashback to your elementary school cafeteria.”
If you are someone who loves a thick sandwich and needs a slice of vegan cheese, Violife has you covered. Today recommends that you stick to sandwiches only when it comes to Violife’s provolone. “The Smoked Provolone is particularly successful in terms of replicating the flavor of the cheese. Sadly, try to use it in other recipes, and it reveals itself to be a dairy-free Jekyll and Hyde. Melted, it dissolves into a squishy puddle, as though someone left the butter dish too close to the radiator. It does melt into the sauce, but it’s going to be an oily sauce if you don’t stabilize it with flour or starch. It offers no resistance to the bite when melted on toast or in a quesadilla. This brand is one of the few that adds a little B12 fortification, though,” says Today.
Violife’s parmesan is great for grating or slicing for a nice charcuterie board. The Spruce Eats describes how well this block of cheese grates and, “melts easily atop hot dishes—and also how it does equally well as larger shreds on salads. Make sure to store this in an airtight bag or container so it doesn’t dry out. The texture is smoother than real parmesan, but the flavor is still complex and nutty.”
3. Kite Hill
If you are looking for a scrumptious cream cheese look no further. VegNews is confident in their dairy-free find, “The search for the best vegan cream cheese ends with Kite Hill. The almond milk-based vegan cheese company makes a perfect replica of thick, New York-style cream cheese that won’t weigh you down. Kite Hill’s ricotta (and ricotta-filled pasta) are also products to check out if you’re in the mood for gourmet Italian.”
Most of Kite Hill’s products are in the yogurt category, but its expansion into dairy-free cream cheese has been a home run. “Kite Hill uses an almond milk base for its cream cheese along with enzymes, xantham gum, and mushroom extract (which the brand notes is used to preserve freshness). There are several flavors of dairy-free cream cheese available, including strawberry, garden veggie, chive, and everything. We purchased an 8-ounce container of the original cream cheese for $6.19, which makes it one of the most expensive cream cheeses we sampled,” informs Tasting Table.
If you love lasagna, you’re going to need a good ricotta to layer in between that pasta. Even to just dip your cracker in, “The almond milk-made ricotta rendition, however, is an essential vegan cheese. The texture is light and fluffy, although it’s a bit drier than regular ricotta. Bottom line, the sweet and subtle flavor makes it a crowd pleaser, and it’s incredibly versatile,” says Thrillest.
4. Babybel Plant-Based Cheese
Even if you aren’t into eating dairy cheese, you’ve probably heard of Babybel. Maybe you have always wanted to peel off that stretchy, red wax wrapper. You can with their plant-based version while enjoying the vegan snack inside. Eater says of the brand, “Long beloved for their portability and cheery red wax wrappers, Babybel went plant-based in 2022, introducing a vegan version of its most classic snack. The wrapper on this cheese is green, a nice nod to the idea that dairy-free cheese is more environmentally friendly than its non-vegan counterpart. The cheese itself is soft and chewy, with a mild flavor that’s slightly reminiscent of cream cheese. Pro tip: Add a shake of everything bagel seasoning to really drive home that vibe.”
Again, Babybel did a great job at replicating the fun of peeling off the wax wrapper. The non-dairy version is much softer than the regular cheese. If you like mild cheeses, Today says, “this might be a favorite, but if you’re looking for the usual Babybel flavor, you’ll be disappointed. The common problematic coconut oil mouth-coating effect is thankfully absent. They contain little protein, but they’ve added some calcium and B12, and the flavor and texture rounds out a snack of fresh fruit or crackers very well.”
Although still on their list of best dairy-free cheeses, Tasting Table admits that Babybel snacking cheeses are limited in scope because the lineup only contains one product. “Unlike other dairy-free cheeses, it’s made for snacking rather than for melting. Peeling these tiny cheeses is like a little bit of euphoria from our childhood, and the inside of the cheese resembled almost the exact flavor of cream cheese. There was a subtle tangy aftertaste on the cheese that made it feel like we were eating a ball of mozzarella. The texture was a bit like biting into a piece of clay — which was equally as disturbing as it was cool.”
5. Follow Your Heart Slices
Sliced cheese is an American staple. You don’t have to give it up if you decide to part ways with cheese. Switch 4 Good agrees, “The creators of the famous veganaise also make fabulous dairy-free cheese in pre-sliced form. We’re fans of the Provolone and Smoked Gouda slices in particular. Pile atop a veggie sandwich, stuff into gourmet grilled cheese, or stack slices on crackers or a savory afternoon snack.”
Follow Your Heart is up there for VegNew’s best dairy-free cheeses. They are so confident in the delicious choices that they claim that these brands are doing dairy better than dairy. “This 52-year-old company makes more than just Vegenaise, and it does it well. The shreds, slices, and blocks are terrific as-is or melted on a beefy vegan patty, gooey grilled cheese, or luscious pasta sauce. The variety is extensive—from feta crumbles to smoked gouda slices. We encourage you to try them all and find your favorite. Oh, and a pro tip for that grilled cheese: spread a thin layer of vegan mayonnaise on the outside of each bread slice for the crispiest, melt-in-your-mouth bite of sandwich you’ve ever eaten,” says VegNews.
If you love crumbles on your salads, Follow Your Heart has a dairy-free feta version. Thrillest gets specific about Follow Your Heart Feta Crumbles, “its plant-based feta is one of the best. One of the few feta alternatives currently on the market, it’s crumbly, tangy, and everything a good feta should be. So needless to say the large crumbles are right at home atop Greek salads or melted into flaky spanakopita.”
You might also be interested in:
- Best Vegan Cookbooks
- Best Vegan Burgers
- Best Dairy-Free Ice Cream
- Best Dairy-Free Yogurt
- Best Vegan Chocolate
- The Food Network
- World of Vegan
- Switch 4 Good
- The Spruce Eats
- Tasting Table
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.