Smoky Vegan Cheddar Cheez

Smoky vegan cheddar cheez

You can make this vegan cheese-y appetizer as a spread in no time, or let it set up into slices. I like it both ways and hope that you will, too. This is good with sliced fresh baguette, or serve it with whole-grain or gluten-free crackers or crispbreads. It’s also quite nice served with chunks of red bell pepper and peeled celery cut into short sections. Grapes served in small bunches on the side add a nice flavor balance. Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.

Serves: 8 to 10

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1/4 cup agar flakes, optional
  • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons mesquite seasoning*, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika,
    or 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, any of these to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of turmeric

Combine the cashews, carrots, and rice milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a rapid simmer, then cover and simmer gently for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the carrots are tender-crisp. If you plan to make slices, stir in the agar flakes and continue to simmer for 5 minutes longer.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor along with the remaining ingredients and process until very smooth. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula from time to time. It takes a good few minutes to make this smooth.

If you skipped the agar and plan to serve as a spread, transfer to an attractive crock. Allow to cool to cool, then cover and let stand at room temperature until needed, or cover and chill.

If you used the agar, transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled loaf pan (or 2 mini-loaf pans). Pat in as smoothly as you can. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, run a knife around the edges of the loaf pan(s). Turn upside down onto a serving platter. If you’d like, sprinkle a little extra mesquite seasoning over the top. Slice 1/4 inch thick, arrange with slices of baguette and anything else you’re serving with this, like the suggested grapes, and dig in!

* Mesquite seasoning is easily found among the grilling and barbecue spice blends in supermarkets. In my opinion, this gives the cheez spread the most delicious flavor — complex but not spicy-hot.

Smoky vegan cheddar cheez recipe

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25 Responses to “Smoky Vegan Cheddar Cheez”

  1. Kathy says:

    Thanks for this link, Nava. I am certainly trying this one. I don’t seem to have any problem with a vegan diet, except for the cheese aspect. I adore it – it is my ultimate comfort food. I am finding lots of great recipes to replace it, though. Thank you!

  2. Nava says:

    Kathy, make sure to try Daiya vegan cheese when you want a truly cheesy melt. I’m pretty confident that if I served a pizza made with Daiya mozzarella-style to a nonvegan, they wouldn’t notice the difference!

  3. Darlene says:

    Can any other nuts be substituted for the cashews? My grandchildren are allergic to cashews but do not have a problem with other nuts.

  4. Nava says:

    Darlene, blanched slivered almond would work well, too. Place them in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiled water and let them stand for about an hour; that way they’ll soften up a bit and blend better. Hope you and yours enjoy this!

  5. Janet Van Deren says:

    Hi, I would love to make this, but live in a country where I cannot get vegan cream cheese. Is there any sustitution? Blended silken tofu?? (I brought some back with me from a trip to the U.S.). Or am I just basically out of luck?

  6. Nava says:

    Janet, you can use some blended silken tofu, but you might try just increasing the amount of cashews — say, another 1/3 cup, which will add up to about 1/4 cup when cooked and blended. Good luck; I hope it works!

  7. Janet Van Deren says:

    Thanks! I am definitely going to try it. I will let you know how it works out! Love your recipes!

  8. Millie Kemrer says:

    Will this melt to make grilled cheez or Mac ‘N Cheez?

  9. Nava says:

    Millie, that’s a great question! I’ve never tried, so I don’t know … if you try, can you let me know? I should try it some time, myself.

  10. Millie says:

    I just made my first batch and will post a picture on FB with the recipe and give you credit for the wonderful recipe. The only problem was not with the recipe but all I have is an immersion blender (stick/wand but industrial hand held). So blending was a challenge but a little bit of nuts will be just fine. As soon as it’s set I’ll try to make a grilled cheese sammy. My husband loved his taste from the bowl. LOL

  11. Millie says:

    It went so well, and was glad to find Natural Mesquite . I wish I could post a picture of the cheeze. It doesn’t melt, but for Mac ‘n Cheese we’ll use your “Cheesy Sauce for Quick Mac ‘n Cheese.

  12. Nava says:

    Glad it worked for you, Millie, and thanks for your input. Hope you enjoy the vegan mac and cheese as well!

  13. Millie says:

    Please let me take the opportunity to say that I appreciate your recipes and philosophy on food. Every recipe you provide I really want to try. The list is huge for TO DO Recipes….LOL So many, many thanks to you and I’ll be in and out with comments, and let you know how my family and friends love your food.

  14. Nava says:

    Millie, thanks so much for your kind thoughts. I hope you and yours do enjoy all the recipes from VegKitchen that you’ll be sharing. Have a very good holiday season!

  15. Tessa Trow says:

    Hi Nava,

    I never post comments on food blogs or recipes (this really is my first!) but I just have to rave about this recipe. I had mesquite liquid smoke on hand and it worked perfectly. I made this as one of three appetizers for Christmas and it was an absolute hit. Best of all, it took only 10 minutes to make. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Tessa

  16. Deanna says:

    Can you use another vegetable besides carrots. Grandson has milk allergy but also allergic to carrots. Would sweet potatoe or rutabaga work trying to think of a firm vegetable….

  17. Nava says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of a carrot allergy! I think your ideas of sweet potato and rutabaga are both very good.

  18. Kay says:

    This sounds scrumptious Nava! I wonder if the cashews could be replaced with brazil nuts or sunflower seeds- not a big fan of cashews. Also maybe replace the nutritional yeast with organic miso and celtic orbhimalayan sea salt

  19. Nava says:

    Hi Kay — I’m not sure that brazil nuts or sunflower would yield the creamy texture we’re after. Miso might be an interesting replacement for the nutritional yeast — mellow white would be best. I think blanched almonds (whole, slivered, or sliced) would work in place of cashews. And I’d like to experiment with white beans instead of cashews, which are insanely expensive lately. If you try these tweaks, let me know how it works out!

  20. Anita B says:

    I know this is silly but I just have to know where you got that awesome knife

  21. Nava says:

    Anita, there are no silly questions! I will ask Hannah Kaminsky, who took this photo for me, to leave a reply about the knife.

  22. Mary says:

    How on earth can this be called cheddar cheese? It only resembles the real thing physically – the taste must be nothing like cheese. Call it a veggie loaf or something, not “vegan cheddar cheese”.

  23. Nava says:

    My goodness, such wrath! It’s called cheez, not cheese, as it simply alludes to a cheese-like quality, texture, and appearance. There are many vegan “cheeses” these days, and the meaning is definitely evolving.

  24. micky says:

    This recipe was absolutely amazing! I love the texture a real breakthrough to real tasty dairyfree cheese. Thank you

  25. Nava says:

    Thanks so much, Micky! Glad you enjoyed it.

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