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I Tried 9 Non-Dairy Cheeses, & I'd Only Buy These 6 Again

Dairy-free cheese is a big 'hit or miss' product, but I tasted a handful of hits that I'd buy again.
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The world of non-dairy grocery products is not what it used to be. In the past, the only dairy alternatives you had to choose from were soy or almond milk, and maybe a few random tofu-based products. Nowadays, consumers can find a dairy-free alternative to just about anything, including coffee creamers, yogurt, and various non-dairy cheeses.

The quality of dairy-free cheese is rapidly improving as more and more people turn to a diet void of dairy, and people can find a dairy-less version of their favorite sliced, shredded, blocked, and spreadable cheeses. Whether it's because you're vegan, lactose intolerant, or just want to consume fewer milk-based products, there's an array of impressive non-dairy cheeses available for you.

My curiosity about non-dairy cheese began recently at my friend Linzi's birthday party. She eats a dairy-free diet, so her party featured a charcuterie board with a few alternative cheeses. I'll never forget one creamy, flavorful block of non-dairy cheese that everyone—dairy consumers and non-dairy consumers alike—dug into until it disappeared. It was the talk of the night. Unfortunately, much to our dismay, no one, not even Linzi, could remember the name or brand of this delicious cheese, and it's nowhere to be found at the store where she originally got it.

So when the opportunity presented itself to taste-test some non-dairy cheese brands, I jumped at the chance to hopefully find the mystery cheese again, and I of course recruited Linzi's dairyless expertise to help me. Spoiler alert: we still haven't discovered the missing non-dairy cheese. But, after trying nine different varieties, there are now six other dairy-free cheeses I'd happily buy again.

Read on, and if you're looking for more healthy non-dairy products that you'll enjoy, check out the 8 Healthiest Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives.

The non-dairy cheeses that actually taste good

Best: Daiya Jalapeño Havarti Style Block

daiya jalapeno havarti style block
Samantha Boesch

There are two main things I'm always worried about when it comes to trying a non-dairy cheese: flavor and texture. But I'll hand it to Daiya, their Jalapeño Havarti Style Block Cheese delivered in both categories.

As a fan of most pepper jack cheeses, I found the flavor to be satisfying with the perfect level of spice. Did it taste exactly like a pepper jack or havarti cheese? No, but the peppers did a good job of covering up any unwanted "funky" flavor that you get with a lot of non-dairy cheeses. The texture was firm and not too rubbery, and it maintained its shape when you sliced into it.

Linzi agreed that this one is a solid choice, and we both acknowledged that this Daiya block cheese would be great for charcuterie board lovers who miss eating real cheese.

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Best: Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda Slices

Follow Your Heart Gouda
Samantha Boesch

Linzi and I disagreed on the Smoked Gouda from Follow Your Heart. She didn't love it, saying that the texture was too plastic-y and that it tasted a bit too much like "smoked meat."

I agree that the smokiness gave it a meat-like flavor, but it's actually what I liked about it. The firmness of the slices resembled what you'd expect from a gouda slice full of dairy, which is what would make this option perfect for throwing together a quick sandwich at lunch.

Entirely soy-free and made mainly from potato and corn starch, this cheese would be perfect for those wanting to avoid soy, something that is sometimes hard to do with non-dairy items.

The experience of all of these non-dairy cheeses largely depends on your flavor preferences, and for Linzi, it's a no-go. But if you're asking me, this is an option I'm buying again.

Best: Miyoko's Creamery Smoked English Farmhouse Cheese

Samantha Boesch

Well, we thought the Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda was "smokey" and "meat-like," but that was until we tried the Smoked English Farmhouse Cheese from Miyoko's Creamery.

This spreadable cheese—made from cashew milk but resembling Spam—is about as close in flavor as you can get to a smoked sausage without actually being meat.

What was most unexpected to me was how much both Linzi and I loved this cheese. I had my doubts when I first took a bite because I didn't expect to be bombarded with the flavor of sausage while eating a cashew milk cheese. But the more we bit into this one, the more we kept talking about it.

According to Mikoyo's website, the brand achieves this smoky flavor by "cold-smoking" the cheese wheel over hickory chips and letting it age for four weeks.

The one hesitation I have is whether or not someone on a vegan diet would want a cheese that tastes this much like a meat product. For some, it might be a bit too much.

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Best: Miyoko's Creamery Cashew Milk Mozzarella

Miyoko's Creamery Mozzarella
Samantha Boesch

Speaking of Miyoko's, another pleasant surprise for me was how much I enjoyed their Cashew Milk Mozzarella Cheese. Linzi has purchased this one multiple times before and was already a fan, but I was a bit turned off at first by the look and feel of this cheese once it was outside of the package.

However, after one bite I was sold. It is mild, creamy, and void of the funky flavors I fear when I'm trying a new non-dairy product.

Would I dig into this one on its own? Probably not, but I can picture myself spreading some of this on top of a pizza before popping it into the oven. The texture is super creamy and the flavors are gentle, so I'd buy this one again without hesitation.

Best: Kite Hill Ricotta

kite hill ricotta
Samantha Boesch

The Kite Hill Ricotta is another instance where Linzi and I failed to see eye to eye. We were both looking forward to trying this one because of promising past experiences with other Kite Hill products (their cream cheese is a game-changer). But while I enjoyed the bolder flavor and creamy texture of their ricotta, Linzi's first thoughts were "playdough" and "cardboard."

Perhaps part of my enjoyment of this cheese was going into the tasting with the acceptance that there's no way you can replicate a dairy-filled ricotta. It's just too creamy, fatty, and full of flavor. So while I wouldn't choose this product over a regular ricotta, I could see how someone unable to eat dairy could use this as a replacement on pizzas, in pastas, or on toast with fruit and honey.

Best: Good Planet Pepper Jack Wedges

Good Planet Pepper Jack Wedges
Samantha Boesch

Anyone who has had to give up cheese and specifically misses those delicious spreadable triangles (I love the ones from Laughing Cow) will be pleased to know that Good Planet has made a satisfying substitute.

Linzi and I both loved the packaging, and the portion-controlled triangles are great for snacking. The pepper jack flavor had a nice spice to it, but it wasn't quite as spicy as the pepper jack option from Daiya. So, depending on your preference, this one may be better for those wanting a more mild option.

This was another one that Linzi had previously purchased, and she noted that because of a slightly sweet aftertaste to this cheese, it pairs well with your favorite pretzels.

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The non-dairy cheeses I wouldn't buy again

Worst: Nuts for Cheese Un-Brie-Leavable

Nuts for Cheese Brie
Samantha Boesch

I hate to say that there was nothing about this non-dairy "brie" that I enjoyed. This fermented cashew product from Nuts for Cheese has a strong, sour, almost musty flavor to it that both Linzi and I couldn't swallow, and unfortunately, it resembles nothing remotely close to a slice of brie cheese.

The one positive was its creamy and spreadable texture, but Linzi said it best when she said "I'd honestly rather have no cheese than this one."

Worst: Violife Parmesan

Violife Parmesan
Samantha Boesch

I've had a handful of products from Violife that I've thoroughly enjoyed, like their plant butter, cream cheese, and feta, but unfortunately, I will not be buying their Just Like Parmesan again.

This product is free of dairy, soy, nuts, gluten, and preservatives, which appeals to a wide range of consumers, and the fact that it is nut-free is rare in the world of non-dairy cheeses. Another benefit is that the texture and appearance very closely resemble a real parmesan. However, the flavor was so sour and funky that I couldn't take more than one bite, so it's safe to say I won't be adding this one to my grocery list any time soon.

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Worst: Field Roast Chao Creamery Original

Chao creamery original
Samantha Boesch

I had never heard of Field Roast's Chao Creamery, so I had high hopes that this one was going to be a pleasant surprise. But after a bite or two, I couldn't find anything I liked about it.

The texture was super rubbery and threw me off, and the flavor didn't taste like much of anything at all. One benefit of such a mild flavor is that it wasn't as off-putting as the Vio Life or Nuts for Cheese, but I still wouldn't spend money on it.

Linzi enjoyed this one a lot more than I did, saying she'd probably buy it again as long as she could melt it and put it in some mac and cheese.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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