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Best vegan cheese 2022: The tastiest dairy-free cheese alternatives you can buy

Get the best alternatives to dairy-based cheeses, from cheddar to parmesan and much more

Ask vegans what they miss most about being dairy-free and there’s a good chance that cheese will be top of the list. Unless, that is, they’ve discovered the world of high-quality vegan cheeses. Forget the rubbery, tasteless concoctions of yesteryear; dairy-free cheese has come on leaps and bounds and you can now find tasty vegan versions of practically every variety of cheese. What’s more, you can indulge in the knowledge that all vegan cheese is produced animal cruelty-free.

It’s also worth noting that vegan cheese is cholesterol-free, and is often lower in fat too. So whether you’re craving a cream cheese bagel, cheddar-topped cracker or pining for homemade pizza, you’ll find a vegan cheese to sate on our list of faves. For more information on the types of vegan cheese available and how it measures up to regular cheese in terms of flavour, read our guide below.

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Best vegan cheese: At a glance

How to choose the best vegan cheese

What types of vegan cheese are there?

In the past, vegan cheese offerings were hard to come by, limited in flavour and often rubbery in texture. Today, whether it’s cheddar, blue cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, Wensleydale, cream cheese – and many more besides – you’re after, there’s a vegan version out there, delivering on both taste and texture.

Does vegan cheese taste the same as the real thing?

Despite the vast array of vegan cheese varieties now available, almost all will still fall short in terms of delivering the complex flavours of dairy-based alternatives. This is because traditional cheese production involves proteins physically bonding together, whereas with vegan cheese there isn’t any reorganising of proteins. One of the main differences you’re likely to notice is that vegan cheese isn’t as gooey when melted. Nevertheless, vegan cheesemaking has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, so who knows what the next few years will bring.

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How is vegan cheese made?

Many of the steps involved in making vegan cheese are those used for traditional cheesemaking, but the former uses plant-based proteins instead of animal-based ones. These plant proteins are separated using bacteria and, for firmer vegan cheeses, oils (such as coconut or palm), emulsifiers and thickeners may be added.

Is vegan cheese healthier?

Not so long ago, many vegan kinds of vegan cheese were highly processed, often no healthier than the kind of cheese you’d get in McDonald’s cheeseburger. But today’s vegan cheesemakers are increasingly opting for healthier ingredients such as nuts (especially cashews and almonds), coconut, seeds and soybeans.

It’s typically free of cholesterol and lower in fat, and it’s usually gluten-free, too. Always check the packaging, though: some vegan cheeses still include a very long list of ingredients, comprising starches and thickeners such as carrageenan and xanthan gum. It’s also worth noting that vegan cheese may be higher in sodium, and it isn’t a protein source like cheese made from dairy produce.

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The best vegan cheese you can buy in 2022

1. Violife Epic Mature Cheddar Vegan Cheese: Best Cheddar-style vegan cheese

Price: £3 | Buy now from Planet Organic 

Cheddar cheese remains a British staple, and while many vegan alternatives have tried to recreate that classic bite, few can match Violife’s Epic Mature. Free from dairy, soy, gluten, lactose and nuts, this coconut-oil based block packs a strong, convincingly savoury flavour. Its moreish taste makes it ideal for sandwiches or pairing with crackers and it melts well while cooking too. A versatile all-rounder, the Violife Epic Mature block gets two thumbs up from us.

Key specs – Quantity: 200g; Style of cheese: Cheddar

Buy now from Planet Organic

2. Applewood Vegan Smoky Cheese: Best vegan smoked cheese

Price: £2.30 | Buy now from Sainsbury’s 

This delicious vegan offering from Applewood is as close to real smoked cheese as we’ve found. It’s got the same bouncy texture as standard Applewood cheese, and the same quintessential smoked taste that works so well in sandwiches, toasties and salads. It melts particularly well, making it a great choice for topping oven-baked dishes, while its savoury moreish flavour pairs nicely with crackers too.

Key specs – Quantity: 200g; Style of cheese: Smoked

Buy now from Sainsbury’s

3. Violife Mozzarella Flavour: Best melty, vegan mozzarella alternative

Price: £2.69 | Buy now from The Vegan Kind

Stringy, melty and unbeatable on hot Italian food, a quality mozzarella alternative is one of the first things many look for after giving up dairy. Fortunately, Violife’s Mozzarella Flavour does just the trick, with a mild buttery taste and a creamy smooth texture that melts wonderfully. It grills convincingly into paninis and even works nicely sliced into a cold tomato sandwich. It’s available as a 200g block, or for easy-peasy pizza preparation, you can pick it up in pre-grated 200g bags.

Key specs – Quantity: 200g; Style of cheese: Mozzarella

Buy now from The Vegan Kind

4. Oatly Creamy Oat Spread: Best vegan cream cheese

Price: £2.05 | Buy now from Sainsbury’s

Best Vegan Cheese: Oatly Creamy Oat Spread

While dairy-free cream cheese can be tricky to get right, we think Oatly’s Creamy Oat Spread nails it. It’s thick, spreadable and deliciously rich. Made from coconut oil and oats it’s not as calorific as dairy and has less than half the saturated fats. Generously smeared across fresh bagels, it’s an absolute joy – and you can cook with it too.

Key specs – Quantity: 150g; Style of cheese: Cream cheese

Buy now from Sainsbury’s

5. Palace Culture Sacré Bleu: Best vegan blue cheese

Price: £12 | Buy now from Planet Organic

That true blue cheese tang is incredibly hard to replicate, but Palace Culture’s artisanal vegan Sacré Bleu is second to none. This cashew-based cheese is infused with white wine and Roquefort mold before being aged for a month, giving it its classic appearance and flavour. This fermentation process “creates beneficial enzymes and strains of gut-friendly live cultures, b-vitamins and minerals”. Impressively, despite having no artificial additives or preservatives, it keeps for four weeks in the fridge, and its beautiful packaging gives the cheese a rustic, quality look.

Key specs – Quantity: 145g; Style of cheese: Semisoft blue

Buy now from Planet Organic

6. Tyne Chease Vegan Cheese Selection Box: Best vegan cheese selection

Price: £20 | Buy now from Tyne CheaseBest Vegan Cheese: Tyne Chease Vegan Cheese Selection Box

Tyne Chease’s Vegan Cheese Selection Box is a real treat. The pack contains 10 individually wrapped miniature cheese wheels, each a different, delicious flavour. The cheeses are cashew-based and the texture varies from flavour to flavour, but they’re best described as semi-soft and perfect for a cheeseboard. The pink peppercorn and Ethiopian spice pair beautifully with crackers, while the truffle flavoured wheel is an absolute delight even on its own. The whole selection is beautifully presented, making it an ideal gift, but you’ll need to watch out for availability – Tyne Chease is handmade and is known to sell out quickly.

Key specs – Quantity: 10 x 20g; Style of cheese: Semi-soft vegan cheese selection

Buy now from Tyne Chease

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