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How Do I Choose the Best Imitation Cheese?

A.E. Freeman
Updated May 16, 2024
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The type of imitation cheese that is best for you depends on your cooking needs as well as whether you follow a vegan diet. Although all types of imitation cheese are made from non-dairy sources, some do contain dairy ingredients. Some imitation cheeses are designed to imitate Parmesan or non-melting cheeses, while others are made specifically for melting on foods such as pizza. Texture and taste are other things to look for in an imitation cheese.

The ingredients used in imitation cheeses differ. Some are made from nuts, while others are made from tofu or soy beans. Imitation cheese that is designed to melt is typically made from a starch, such as tapioca. If you have any allergies to the ingredients in an imitation cheese, that will rule it out. For example, nut-based "cheeses" aren't suitable for people allergic to nuts.

Texture is another concern with non-dairy cheese. Some imitation cheeses have the consistency of paste, which can be off-putting. Others are dry and chalky, while others are too soft when they melt. As the role of certain imitation cheeses is to melt and be used on pizza or grilled cheese, they are too soft and oily to eat unmelted. Some non-dairy cheeses will refuse to melt, even at very high temperatures.

The taste of imitation cheese will never be quite like the real thing, though some do come very close. Choose an imitation cheese that has a mild flavor so that it doesn't leave too much of an aftertaste in your mouth or impact the flavor of a dish you are preparing. Typically, imitation cheeses made from nuts are meant to have a strong flavor, similar to an expensive blue or other aged cheese.

Some imitation cheeses are meant to be sprinkled over pasta as a person might sprinkle grated Parmesan. Others are sold in individually wrapped slices, much like American cheese singles. Melting cheeses are commonly sold as grated shreds, though they may also be sold in a log shape.

If you follow a vegan diet, an important consideration when choosing an imitation cheese is picking one that is completely dairy-free. A few brands of fake cheese contain casein, which is a dairy protein and is not vegan. Scan the ingredients list to make sure the cheese is vegan. It may also be specifically labeled as vegan. If you're picking up imitation cheese because you are lactose intolerant or want a lower fat option, you don't need to worry as much about casein.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A.E. Freeman
By A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and retention. With a background in the arts, she combines her writing prowess with best practices to deliver compelling content across various domains and effectively connect with target audiences.
Discussion Comments
By bluedolphin — On Nov 18, 2013

@literally45-- I think that most of them are healthy with the exception of those made with tapioca or a similar starch.

I bought vegan cheese made from tapioca once and it had too much fat in it. Tofu cheese or cheese made from nuts are much better, especially the latter. You'll still be getting some fat, but it will be unsaturated, healthy fat.

I actually like the taste of vegan cheeses, but the price is usually the problem for me. Anything labeled vegan is usually very expensive.

By literally45 — On Nov 18, 2013

What is the best imitation cheese nutrition wise? I'm looking for low fat imitation cheese that's also low in calories.

By discographer — On Nov 17, 2013

I'm a vegan and I use a vegan cheese that's made with soybeans and cashews in baking. It's absolutely delicious, I think it's better than real cheese. It is soft though, so I can't use it for everything. But it's great for dips and desserts.

I completely agree that most imitation cheese tastes bad or has a bad texture. I think I'm lucky to have found something I like. Some vegans are very good cooks and can make their own vegan cheese at home using things like coconut milk or almond milk. Unfortunately, I'm not that talented so I buy my vegan cheese.

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and...
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