Are you ready for an easy whole food plant-based cheese-making adventure? I have a new cheese recipe that ticks all the boxes. It’s made with chickpeas instead of raw cashews or sunflower seeds, making it suitable for people with allergies or on wfpbno diets that often avoid nuts and seeds. Something that no store-bought versions do!
Today, we’re creating the best vegan cheese for followers of a whole food plant-based way of eating. Even without added oil, it slices, it melts, and it’s about to become your new favorite dairy-free cheese that’s made with pantry staples.
Watch my how to vegan jack cheese recipe video on YouTube and see the same techniques being used. You can even cook along with me!
How Does It Resemble Dairy Cheese?
- Flavor: Achieved using nutritional yeast and lactic acid, offering a cheesy taste without any dairy.
- Texture: It slices, melts, and shreds beautifully,
- Uses: Perfect for sandwiches, cooking, or even a cheese plate. I love slices on apple slices!
What you Don’t Need – Oil, Nuts, or Seeds!
Most vegan cheese recipes have added oil, which doesn’t really add much to the taste and certainly adds tons of calories. If you are eating a whole food plant based diet like tDr. McDougall’s Starch Solution.
That means you don’t need coconut oil – refined or not, olive oil, or even nuts or seeds. This delicious vegan cheese is made with beans! Chickpeas are called for in the recipe, but you can use white beans if you have some in your pantry.
But I Can’t Have Carrageenan
My students have successfully substituted agar agar powder or agar flakes, but it will not be the exact same sliceable texture. so, in other words you can swap, but the cheese won’t have the same stretchy texture when melted.
You can also just leave it out and have a nice cheese sauce for your vegan mac.
What’s Vegan Lactic Acid?
It’s a tart powder that’s made from non-GMO beets. It adds a fermented special flavor that makes vegan cheese that’s not cultured taste as if it had been aged. It’s a perfect vegan ingredient!
What Can I Use in Place of Lactic Acid?
If you don’t have any lactic acid you can use about 3/4 teaspoon of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, sauerkraut juice, or even some miso paste would give it some tang.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe and links to ingredients you might need!
- 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (yes, chickpeas! Trust me on this one – other beans can work in a pinch)
- 3 tablespoons tapioca starch (the secret to melty bliss)
- 2 tablespoons kappa carrageenan (texture’s best friend)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (for that cheesy, nutty flavor)
- 2 teaspoons salt (or go salt-free and use your favorite salt substitute)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lactic acid (or apple cider vinegar for a tangy twist)
- A teaspoon each of onion and garlic powder (where the layering of the flavors start)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or use reg paprika if you aren’t a fan of smoky flavors)
- A tiny 1/16 teaspoon dry mustard powder (to make it taste sharp)
- 1/8 teaspoon of dried turmeric (just for color)
Crafting Your Vegan Cheese
- Blend It Up: In your high-powered blender, combine hot water, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, and all those spices. This is your first step towards cheesy heaven.
- Cook & Whisk: Pour the mixture in a small pot and stir in tapioca starch and kappa carrageenan. Keep whisking over medium heat for a few minutes until you see a glossy, smooth texture.
- Mold & Chill: Pour your cheese directly into a mold like a Pyrex or bowl. Let it set at room temperature for about 30 minutes or let it set in the fridge.
- Unmold: Turn over on a cutting board or even in your hand, then place it where you’d like to slice or grate it.
- Slice, Melt, Enjoy! Your Vegan American Cheese is ready to rock your world. Slice it for cheese sandwiches, melt it over tortilla chips, or just enjoy it as is.
Vegan Cheese: The FAQs
How Does Vegan Cheese Get Its Melt?
It’s all about tapioca starch and kappa carrageenan. These pantry staples work behind the scenes to give you that creamy and melty texture.
How Can I Make It My Own?
Feel free to play around with spices and herbs. Make it spicy, make it herby – make it yours! If you make it exactly like the recipe card says, you’ll end up with a mild American cheese flavor.
You can make it plain by leaving out the spices, then you can start fresh and add the herbs of your choice, or add extra mustard powder to make it sharper for a vegan cheddar.
You could even make a regular mozzarella flavor with no herbs or spices or add the garlic powder and extra lactic acid.
Your vegan cheese will stay happy in the fridge for about a week to ten days. Just keep it snug in an airtight container.
Can I Freeze It?
Yay all the way! Freezing is totally doable. The texture might change a bit, but it’s still delicious. Since it’s a grateable vegan cheese, I like to do that first then freeze on a cookie sheet, before storing in the freezer in a resealable bag.
Then just grab the amount you want whenever you need it!
More Homemade Vegan Cheese Recipes
- Nut-Free Okara Ricotta
- Pasta Cheese Sauce for Mac and Cheese
- Vegan Cashew Pub Cheese
- Vegan Goat Cheese – no nuts
- Almond Goat Cheese
- No Oil Vegan Pizza Fondue – Made with Oats
- Almond and White Bean Fondue
- DIY Oat Vegan Cheese Powder Recipe
- Easy American Vegan Melty Cheese Recipe
- Oil-Free Pepper Jack Cheese Recipe
- Easy Vegan Parmesan Recipe: Nut-free, Soy-free, and Made with Oats!
- Nut-Free Oat Vegan Queso
- Instant Pot Cauliflower Queso
- Bean Queso
- Vegan Torchy’s Queso Copycat
Vegan Melty Cheese Recipe – American Style No Oil or Nuts
- 2 cups water
- 1 (14.5 oz) can chickpeas or about 1 1/2 cups cooked
- 3 tablespoons tapioca starch
- 2 tablespoons kappa carrageenan
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt or use salt substitute to keep salt-free
- 1.5 teaspoons lactic acid or 3/4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/16 teaspoon mustard powder add more to make sharper
- Blend all the ingredients together in your blender until very smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a large saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking continually.
- Continue cooking, whisking continuously, for about 7 to 9 minutes until the mixture has thickened nicely and is very glossy.
- Pour the cheese into a smallish container that can contain a minimum of 2 cups volume. I like to use small loaf pans or glass bowls.
- If properly cooked, the cheese will start to set right away.
- Allow the cheese to set at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Then cover and refrigerate the cheese to finish setting for 3 to 4 hours.
- If the cheese doesn’t set up properly, that means you haven’t cooked it long enough, if this happens to you, throw it back into the saucepan and cook for a few minutes more!
- It’ll re-melt, and then you can pour it back into the mold for it to solidify.
- Remove the cheese from the mold and serve. Store leftovers in the fridge.