Tasty Vegan Appetizers/ Vegan Cheese-y Delights/ Vegan Recipes

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 unsweetened nondairy milk 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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You Might Also Like

47 Comments

  • Reply
    Kathy
    November 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Nava
    November 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Darlene
    December 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

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

  • Reply
    Nava
    December 19, 2011 at 9:46 am

    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!

  • Reply
    Janet Van Deren
    November 27, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    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?

    • Reply
      Nava
      November 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    Janet Van Deren
    November 29, 2013 at 8:26 pm

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

  • Reply
    Millie Kemrer
    December 4, 2013 at 7:38 pm

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

    • Reply
      Nava
      December 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Millie
    December 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Millie
    December 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Nava
      December 12, 2013 at 10:18 pm

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

  • Reply
    Millie
    December 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Nava
      December 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    Tessa Trow
    December 25, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Deanna
    March 2, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    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….

    • Reply
      Nava
      March 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm

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

  • Reply
    Kay
    March 3, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Nava
      March 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    Anita B
    March 3, 2014 at 7:18 pm

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

  • Reply
    Nava
    March 4, 2014 at 8:16 am

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

  • Reply
    Mary
    March 13, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    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”.

    • Reply
      Nava
      March 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    micky
    March 24, 2014 at 8:58 am

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

    • Reply
      Nava
      March 24, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Thanks so much, Micky! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    Louise
    December 3, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Can I make this in advance? How long will it keep?

    • Reply
      Nava
      December 3, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Louise, this keeps for a few days in the fridge. I’ve never put this in the freezer, but my guess is that it might freeze well. I may try it and report back.

  • Reply
    Annie
    February 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Firsty; thank you for such an amazing recipe! I love cheddar, and have tried to find a vegan substitute for a long time. Do you think it would be possible to use soy milk or any other plant based milk instead of the rice milk?

    • Reply
      Nava
      February 15, 2015 at 11:41 am

      Hello — yes, you can use any other kind of unsweetened nondairy milk. I should add that to the recipe. I hope you like it!

  • Reply
    phil
    March 9, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    In the off chance Mary should return, or anyone else has similar reservations, nutritional yeast along with vegan sour cream should give this a very cheesy flavor. Also, any good cheddar has a little bit of a bite to it, which is accomplished with the mesquite or liquid smoke. I use liquid smoke for my vegan bacon bits, and they turn out incredibly. Have faith folks, this is a very solid recipe, especially if you’ve been craving something nicer than the daiya prepackaged cheese.

    • Reply
      Nava
      March 9, 2015 at 9:47 pm

      Thank you, Phil — what a nice comment, and very helpful. I’m glad you enjoyed this.

  • Reply
    phil
    March 9, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Vegan cream cheese, not sour cream. My bad.

  • Reply
    Carrie Beresford
    February 11, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Could the agar flakes and nutritional yeast be substituted for anything else? Thanks

    • Reply
      Nava
      February 11, 2016 at 8:09 am

      Hi Carrie — the agar might be replaced by arrowroot powder, as it needs something to make it gel, though I have to admit I’ve never tried that. And the nutritional yeast gives it a little bite. If you leave both out, this could just be used as a dip. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Paayel Agarwaal
    May 26, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Any substitute for rice milk and liquid smoke?

    • Reply
      Nava
      May 27, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Paayel, I just changed the rice milk to any kind of unsweetened nondairy milk. As for the liquid smoke, I do have other options there, including mesquite seasoning or smoked paprika. Or, you can just use a tiny bit of any kind of spice you enjoy.

  • Reply
    Susan Gilmore
    September 4, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    I am allergic to mustard. Any suggestions for a substitute ingredient?

    • Reply
      Nava
      September 4, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Susan, you can just leave it out, or if you want to include something with a little tartness or bite you can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or horseradish.

  • Reply
    Margo
    October 10, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring
    on other sites? I have a blog based upon on the same information you
    discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors
    would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

  • Reply
    Anne-Marie Reymond
    November 12, 2016 at 1:34 am

    Bonjour
    Es ce possible d’avoir la recette en français s’il vous plais.?
    Anne Marie Reymond

    • Reply
      Nava
      November 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Bonjour Anne-Marie, Ma Française n’est pas tres bon, mais peut-etre vous pouvez essayer Google translate: https://translate.google.com/ — bon chance!

  • Reply
    Gayle
    December 17, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    I make this type of cheeze and named it “nochee” for no cheese. I use cashews and mashed potato.

    • Reply
      Nava
      December 18, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Sounds great — I love the idea of mashed potato — I bet sweet potato would work, too.

  • Reply
    Tania
    March 4, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Nava this recipe sound tasty!
    However I’ve made quite a few recipes that use Agar flakes to create a ‘hard’ cheese and it just came out “squidgy” like jelly rather than hard or grainy like real cheddar is. I hated the texture of the jelly- so will this turn out the same? – if so I’d rather just make a cheddar flavoured spread and skip the agar… Or is there a way to make it actually hard? e.g. maybe it depends on the brand of the agar- and its just the ratio of agar: liquid I’ve been using is wrong? Thanks

    • Reply
      Nava
      March 4, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Hi Tania — I would say this isn’t squidgy (love that word!) like jelly, but not super-hard. I’ve made this a number of times and it comes out quite sliceable for me. Give this a try and let me know how it turns out for you! It’s also good without the agar as a spread, if you’re leery.

  • Reply
    Kyra
    March 24, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Hello,
    I made this and it isn’t becoming sliceable. I used Agar like in the recipe. Can you think of any reasons?
    Could i try blending again with more Agar.
    Thank you

    • Reply
      Nava
      March 24, 2017 at 7:48 am

      Hi Kyra, so sorry this didn’t set up for you — I’m not sure why, as I’ve made it so many times. You could try blending it again with more agar (you’ll need to cook the agar). Did you give it time to set up in the fridge?

    Leave a Reply