How to make shredded vegan cheese

Grated Cheese VeganTired of buying expensive vegan cheese? You can make your own for about $4 a pound, depending upon the price of raw cashews in your area.

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Grilled Cheese Vegan

This cheese grilled on Trader Joe’s gluten-free multigrain bread

This cheese holds up to grating, melted well in a grilled cheese sandwich, and tasted good on a pizza. While it didn’t melt on the pizza, we liked the rich smoky flavor.

Cashew Cheese Pizza

Bob’s Red Mill GF pizza crust, spinach, pine nuts, home-made sauce, cashew cheese topping

Suitable for:

vegan, gluten-free, low-sodium, reduced-sugar diets

Not for:

migraine diets

This is the brand of agar I uses:

How to make shredded vegan cheese
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Shreddable, meltable cashew cheese.
Servings
1pound
Passive Time
4+hours
Servings
1pound
Passive Time
4+hours
How to make shredded vegan cheese
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Shreddable, meltable cashew cheese.
Servings
1pound
Passive Time
4+hours
Servings
1pound
Passive Time
4+hours
Ingredients
Servings: pound
Units:
Instructions
  1. Soak the cashews in filtered water (covering with an extra inch or so) at least 4 hours or overnight. Rinse and drain the cashews.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the agar flakes. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat to simmer and cook another 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the agar is dissolved completely.
  3. Put the drained cashews into the blender with all the remaining ingredients. Pour in the agar mixture, put on the lid and hold down the lid with a hot pad or towel. Blend on high until very smooth.
  4. At this point you can stir in other flavorings like minced dill, jalapenos, or cracked pepper.
  5. Pour into a glass dish that has been oiled or sprayed with vegetable oil. Refrigerate until firm. Remove the cheese by running a knife or spatula around the edge and it will pop out of the container. Store in an airtight glass or plastic container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days, like any fresh food.
  6. Grate this cheese using a box grater. It’s soft, so it might not hold up to grating in a food processor.
Recipe Notes

Per serving:

  • 45 calories
  • 3 g fat
  • 1 g saturated fat
  • 2 g monounsaturated fat
  • 1 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 0 g cholesterol
  • 126 mg sodium (1 mg sodium with salt omitted)
  • 59 mg potassium
  • 3 g carbohydrate
  • 1 g fiber
  • 1 g sugars
  • 2 g protein
  • 1 Weight Watchers Points Plus

You can substitute agar powder for the flakes. Use 2 teaspoons (5 g) of agar powder instead of the 2 Tablespoons of agar flakes. Reader tested and approved by Meaghan! If you can't find agar powder (also known as agar agar) in your local store, you can buy agar powder here. Do NOT try substituting gelatin for the agar. According to reader Amanda W., bad things happen. Try to find it online from a cooking supply store. There are lots of questions and ideas in the comments, so be sure to look there if you have questions. I had to close the comments because of spammers, but if you have a question that is not answered in the post or the comments, feel free to email me.

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Comments

  1. says

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  2. konshu says

    I look forward to making this; it seems wonderful. I do have a question:

    I’ve had a difficult time finding raw cashews in my area. How critical is it that my cashews be raw?

    Thanks :)

  3. Diane says

    Hello: I am thinking about using ground chia or flax seeds instead of the nutritional yeast. I cannot stand this stuff! Also, I like almonds better than cashews. How about using them is this recipe? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Diane,
      I know that nutritional yeast is not for everyone. I would simply omit it… if you add chia or flax seeds you are adding an additional binder which might affect how the cheese sets up. You can try, I just can’t promise you that it won’t affect the texture. You can use any type of nuts you like for the base. Let us know what you did and how it turned out!

  4. Autumn Miller-Wolfe says

    Can you please tell me how to convert this recipe in order to incorporate it into a raw food diet? Thank you.

    • says

      Autumn, I appreciate your question and know the value of a raw food diet. You might try experimenting with Irish moss as a thickening agent, which doesn’t need to be cooked. You have to cook agar in order for it to gel. Hope this helps!

  5. lylaleeya says

    Looks good. However I used nutritional yeast like some time ago with some meals and stuff. Did not like the taste at all! Does not taste cheesey to me. If I make it I’ll using gram dhal instead and just drops of lemon(lemon overpowers food easily). Too bad my blender is weak. and I have no food processor.

    • says

      Hi Iylaleeya, I agree that nutritional yeast is an acquired taste. I have grown to love it. Let me know how your version comes out using the gram dal. If you soak everything well, you should have no problems making it with a weaker blender. Good luck and please report back.

  6. Hannah says

    Your recipe sounds wonderful. Have you tried adding pimientos? I make a no-cheese macaroni and cheese that has piminetos in it and so looks like cheddar. Not sure if the taste is any different with or without it. Love hearing all of the different ways people are tweaking this recipe and where they find agar. Never thought to check at an asian market for it. Bet it will be much cheaper at our local “super” asian market than at Whole Foods or Sprouts.

  7. Corinne says

    This looks incredible and just what I have been searching for! Will try it tomorrow definitely!!!
    Can you tell me if you know of a way to make a vegan/soya free cream that whipps???
    Thank you! :0)

  8. Steph says

    I’m soaking the cashews right now to make this tomorrow morning :) couldn’t find smoked sea salt or smoked paprika, but I did find ‘liquid smoke’ and will be trying that as a substitute! This is my first time cooking with agar agar so wish me luck!

      • Steph says

        Ah I wish I’d seen your reply before I started this morning! Oh well, I ended up using a 1/4 teaspoon so I hope it’s not too big a difference. I’ll let you know! Thank you for your advice :)

  9. Traveller says

    Thank you for this recipe! This is the second time I have made it. The first time was good but I added too much garlic on accident and ended up using the bulk of it in a vegan lasagna which was phenomenal!!

    This time I used almond milk instead of water, eased up a little on the lemon and garlic AND it came out delicious! Thank you sooooo much! I cannot wait to make some nachos with it next time. This is perfect for my vegan, gluten free life!!

  10. Mabel says

    wow loks yummy. i have tried doing this but the flavor was yukky. i did it with amonds and nah did like it. does it have a very cheesy flavor or not? thanks for sharing.

  11. Louise says

    I’d love to know why my “cheese” doesn’t come out solid enough to grate. It gets solid enough to slice, though it’s still reasonably soft and no way will that grate. It’s delicious. But not grate-able. Any suggestions?
    I’ve tried using slightly less water, using less lemon juice, adding chickpea flour as a thickener, cooking the agar for longer. Nothing seems to help.
    My family loves the cheese, and I’ll keep making it, but it would be nice if I could get it hard enough to grate…

    • says

      Hi Louise,
      So sorry you’re having trouble. It sounds like you have done a ton of trouble shooting as well. My cheese turns out fairly soft… I can definitely grate it, but have to gently use the box grater to do so.

      I’m not sure what else to tell you to try. If I think of anything I’ll let you know. Glad you all like it so much!

      Thanks for reading.

      • Louise says

        Update:
        I’m still making this cheese… Using more agar flakes and/or less water hasn’t made a difference. My cheese slices well, but doesn’t grate. It is delicious and enjoyed by my dairy-free family. Especially on home-made crackers :-)
        I usually make a double quantity.

        • robi says

          Maybe your grater is old and dull?

          Dull graters force you to push harder, making the cheese fall apart..

          I have grated cheese on a new grater, then switched to an old one just to see and had it crumble as I applied more pressure…

          • Louise says

            I just made a new batch using agar powder that was brought for me from the USA. This time the cheese is much firmer, and will most definitely grate, as well as slice.

            I had been making only creamy cashew cheese for the last 2-3 weeks, since my packet of agar flakes had run out and I knew my agar powder would be arriving soon. We enjoy cashew cheese spread, but my kids were delighted today to be able to cut a *piece* of cashew cheese and put it on a cracker. We’re looking forward to making pizza with this cheese later in the week.

            “It’s grate!” was the joke around here today :-)

            Thanks again so much for this recipe. I have also shared it with several vegan friends.

  12. Lisa says

    The sauce is amazing. I wanted to lick the blender clean. How long does it need o be I. The fridge to harden? Thank you for bringing back delicious cheese into my life. Amazing!!!

    • says

      Lisa, it should firm up in about 30 minutes or so. The nice thing about those cashew-based recipes is that even if they don’t firm up, you still have a delicious sauce or spreadable cheese. Let me know your results.

  13. Erika says

    try this recipe this morning, and definetely the lemon juice is WAY too strong.
    did a second batch (with no lemon juice) to mix with the overpowering lemon one.
    the mixture still had too much lemon taste and to counterbalance, i add agave nectar.
    much better!!!

    huge tip: use only drops of lemon!!!

    • says

      Hi Erika, thanks so much for writing in! Everyone’s taste is different, and lemons can also vary greatly in strength. Great tip to add the juice a little at a time. Thanks for reading and letting me know.

  14. Lesley says

    I made this cheese yesterday and had some this morning. It came out perfect. I’ve tried a few other cheddar recipes but was not happy with them. This one seems to have nailed it.
    I didn’t have any smoked sea salt so I used a little smoked paprika. I’m very happy.

  15. Marie says

    I’ve tried this recipe three times and it always comes out as a spread rather then a block of cheese. I’ve tried reducing the water ratio significantly and no luck..
    Anyone have any tips that might help?

    • says

      Marie, I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with the cheese recipe! It sounds like you’re not getting the correct firming action, which means that some aspect of the agar agar isn’t working. I would try a different brand, add a little more, etc. If you are using flakes, trying adding another tablespoon. If you’re using powder, try adding another teaspoon. It should visibly swell and get gel-like when you cook it, before adding it to the cashew mixture.

  16. Bethany says

    The consistency of this cheese was impressive. The overall flavor I had to tweak because the lemon flavor was way too strong. I used bottled lemon juice instead of fresh, could that be why? Dunno. I added some black pepper and some more salt. Once I combined the cheese with pizza sauce, the strong lemon flavor was undetectable. Thanks for the recipe! I will have to keep messing with it to get it right.

    • says

      Bethany, sounds like you’re renovating the recipe to suit your taste, something I heartily support. Yes, if you use bottled lemon juice the taste will be really strong. Glad you liked it enough to keep making it! Thanks for reading and reporting back.

  17. boop says

    I made the cheese tonight, put it in the dish to refrigerate, but tasted some off of my scraper from emptying my vitamix. Soo good. I got out a bag of chips and had nachos with cheese sauce. The cheese block tomorrow will be significantly smaller than it started out! Thanks for the great recipe, it was very easy to make.

  18. Deborah says

    This is yummy, thanks for posting the recipe. I left out the nutritional yeast as I am intolerant to it. I only had limes on hand so I used that instead of lemon, plus I added some dill. It tastes really cheesy and is quite moreish!

  19. Ange says

    This is the best vegan cheese recipe I’ve tried- I want to try tweaking it a bit though to fit my tastes more, so I have a couple questions- is the lemon there for flavor or is it necessary for another reason? I’d like to leave a lot of the lemon juice out. Also, I’ve seen some vegan cheese recipes that leave the cheese out for a day to “culture” it- probably giving it a more cheesy flavor. Would that be possible with this recipe?

    • says

      Hi Ange, thanks for the nice compliment! The lemon is mainly flavoring so feel free to experiment. I haven’t tried leaving it out for a day or two to culture it but don’t see any reason why you should try this. As with all culturing, fuzzy mold is okay (just scrape it off) but brightly colored molds are dangerous. If that should occur, throw the whole thing out and start over. Happy cheese-making!

  20. says

    This sounds like it could be very good, thanks! Looks like it came out wonderful on the grilled cheese, so if it melts gooey like that on there then it should work in a lot of recipes. I used one pic from here and linked to your post in a post with several resources for making your own vegan cheese. If that’s not ok please let me know!

  21. col says

    Hi, stumbled across your blog when looking for vegan cheese recipes. I noticed that some Australians were having trouble finding agar agar powder, im in Melbourne and l get my agar agar from asian supermarkets. Its cheap as, think the last packet cost me $0.70. I have noticed that there are generally 2 brands, the first one is a small white packet with red and blue writing on it, the other brand is a bright yellow colour, though this brand has agar in other colours so make sure you get the plain ‘flavour’. If you ask at the supermarket they will generally be able to direct you to wear its located, from memory l think its near the jelly section. Hope that helps the Australians out and happy ‘cheese’ making :D

    • says

      Thanks Col! Yes, I was surprised they were having trouble finding it. Thanks for the tips! I am pretty sure I buy the same brand, the white packet with the red and blue writing on it.

  22. Miranda says

    What could make a subtitution for the yeast other than legumes , what does the yeast do excatly so I know what I could better replace it with :) we do not eat yeast at all .

    • says

      Miranda, you can skip the yeast. It adds a pleasantly cheesy taste and is used in most vegan cheese substitutes. You could add additional spices or a toasted flour in the same amount in the recipe. Let me know what you try here in the comments. Thanks for writing!

  23. Kayla says

    Do you think if i substituted equal amounts of gelatine powder for the agar powder, it would still work?
    (I know i know, it wont be vegan anymore but I am having the HARDEST time trying to find agar powder/flakes in stores)
    Thanks so much! Your photos are so beautiful :)

    • says

      Hi Kayla,
      Someone else from Australia said she either couldn’t find it and/or it was insanely expensive. You can try searching online.
      I do think gelatine would work, I just haven’t tried it to know how much you’d need.
      I would suggest substituting the same amount of gelatine and making a half-batch as a start. That way if I doesn’t work, you haven’t wasted much cashews.
      (And I am not always plant-based, so no apologies necessary!)
      Please let me know what you discover and I’ll amend the recipe.
      Best,
      Stephanie

    • Megan says

      I wonder if pectin would work if you’re looking for something vegan? It’s typically used to make jams gel; it might not come out as thick, but it’s worth a try if agar’s not available.

  24. Amanda W says

    I bought the ingredients to make this today, however I’m going to have to use Gelatine :( Turns out here in Australia Agar Agar is really really expensive (nearly $30 a packet).

    Hopefully it still turns out.

  25. Ben says

    for the lemon juice: do you use fresh or the bottled stuff. I’ve heard fresh lemon juice (which I would prefer to use) doesn’t play well with agar agar

  26. Susana says

    Hello,

    I am excited to try out this recipe. I just have a question. Can I use other nuts instead of cashews? like almonds?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • says

      Thanks so much for the question. I would think that this would work with just about any kind of nut. Give it a try and let me know! I always love it for people to send me pix so I can post them on Facebook too. To get the nicest texture, I would soak the almonds and rub off the skins before using, although it would work fine with them whole. Hope this helps.

      • Susana L. says

        Hello!

        I tried this recipe using cashews (will use almonds next). I made it twice. The first batch was watery, and that’s because I added too much water to the agar powder. But it was a great spread for crackers. The second batch turned out better than the first. It was more firmer, but not firm enough to grate. (It was still very delicious! and would make it again). I wonder if I am adding too much water still. I added about 1 1/2C of water to the agar powder (last time I added nearly a tall glass of water). It had more of a cheesecake texture. Any suggestions?

        • says

          Hi Susana, I would try it with one cup of water and see what texture you get. Perhaps you aren’t completely draining the cashews after soaking, and it’s throwing the texture off. It should be a firm block, promise!

    • says

      Hi Brian!
      Thanks so much for the question. I really would NOT recommend trying this with corn starch. Agar is what causes the cheese to bind together in a block. You could try gelatin if you’re not vegan. Corn starch would thicken it but not create a block. Agar is very inexpensive and is pretty readily available. Hope this helps.

      Please visit again soon, and let me know if you try the cheese. :)

  27. zhang yuli says

    hi, can i make it with the onion and garlic powder removed? I am forbidden to eat the garlic-onion plant family.
    What can i used as a subtitute?
    And just a info, if you wants to search agar agar, try to search in asia store, or pecinan, because in my country(i am from indonesia) agar agar is really cheap and can be found even in local small store. it cost even less than a half dollar. It sold in medium sachet.

    • says

      Hi Zhang, thank you for your question. Where in Indonesia do you live? I have been to Java and Bali and loved them both.

      Yes, you can make this without those powders. You could use any kind of spice you want to try: hot dried pepper, curry, or seeds like caraway would all be very good. Yes, agar agar is sold here in Asian stores.

      Thanks for reading!

    • says

      Hi Rhonda, I am sorry that I don’t know the answer to this. Maybe another reader might be able to comment on it… you could ask the question on my Facebook page. The recipe is so quick and easy that I don’t actually see the benefit to preserving it through canning. I also don’t know enough about canning safety to feel comfortable answering the question. Thanks for reading!

  28. Jeannie says

    I am so glad I found your wonderful and easy recipe! I love to melt this cheese on crackers and then put a slice of avocado on top (yum!) and I also made pizza with it tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I plan to try lasagna with it soon! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My husband and I are both thrilled. :)

  29. EveAllease says

    WONDERFUL! going to try this for the kids! Has this been kid tested yet? I’ll post again after my lil judges reach a verdict :D

  30. says

    Another recipe I’m excited to try – once I find the agar. I’m sure with a little hunting I can find it. Love how unprocessed this vegan cheese is!

  31. noelle says

    I made this and it was a great addition to my beans and rice this morning! It was so easy to make–I will definitely be making again–and adding in other flavors like peppers or dill, etc. Hooray!

  32. Simone says

    Hi, can you please tell me what, if anything, can be used to replace the agar flakes? I can’t find it in my local supermarkets. Is that what contributes to the cheese melting in the grilled cheese sandwich?

    • says

      Hi Simone, sorry you have not been able to find the agar flakes or powder where you live. I added a link to the post so you can buy them online. While I’m not a chemist by any means, I do suspect they are key to creating a product that does then melt in a grilled cheese sandwich. Thanks for your question and let me know if you try the cheese!

    • says

      Agar is more of a gelatin replacement – it holds the ‘cheese’ together and makes it grate-able. The melting part is just from heating it in the sandwich.

  33. Meaghan says

    I made this yesterday with 2 teaspoons of agar powder and it turned out so well! This is my first time making vegan cheese and it was so easy. I think I like it the best in grilled cheese. Thanks so much for this recipe :)

  34. Nellie Stadtherr says

    This looks great! Do you have any recommendations for yeast substitutes? I’ve heard cayenne might add the same flavor. I am on a yeast and sugar free diet and am gluten, dairy, and soy free.

    Thanks so much!

    Nellie

    • says

      Nellie, I would try, but am not sure how it will work, 1 T. of smoked paprika plus 3 T. of garbanzo bean flour instead of the nutritional yeast.

      I think this would have about the same effect in the recipe. If you try that substitution, let me know how it forms up and tastes. The smoked paprika will make the cheese orange-red, but should provide the smoky flavor of the yeast. The bean flour is about the same texture as the nutritional yeast, and also is high protein, which should work in the recipe. :)

  35. Joy says

    This is a really inventive use of two things I use regularly: soaked cashews and agar agar. I’m so glad to have found your recipe! I just made this and it is setting up in the fridge right now. I took out 1/4 cup of water and replaced it with some tahini, ume plum vinegar, and teaspoon of white miso (for extra tangy cheesiness). I’ll let you know how it turned out!

    • says

      Joy, Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I am so excited to know you are making the cheese right now. Those renovations sound amazing. Please let me know how it turns out! Yum!

  36. Melissa says

    Yay! A vegan cheese recipe that does not require a cheese cloth. So excited to try this. What is the best way to store it after making it and how long does it stay fresh for?

  37. says

    wow, this looks incredibly interesting and delicious! i am not a fan of buying “daiya” or other vegan cheeses so, i’ll definitely be trying this :)

    • says

      You could try that… it might not firm up as much but would be an interesting experiment. You might need to press it with cheesecloth to get more moisture out of it. Let me know! Agar seems like a slightly more common and less intimidating ingredient for people than Irish moss, and really does a great job of firming things up.

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