A common complaint voiced by those who are apprehensive about going vegan is that they will miss the taste of cheese. It is not hard to see why; cheese is a popular ingredient that is extremely comforting and versatile. There are thousands of different types of cheese, and thousands of ways to use it beyond that.
The most popular foods that graced the list of people’s favorites, like pizza, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, and cheeseburgers all have cheese as a component. When making the plunge into a vegan lifestyle, finding a replacement for cheese is much harder than finding a replacement for meat. There are plenty of perfectly good meat substitutes, but the melty, variable taste of cheese may be harder to replicate.
That leaves one to wonder: what does vegan cheese taste like?
What vegan cheese tastes like will heavily depend on the brand you are buying. Some, made from chestnuts, will have a nutty, sweet taste, and will best replicate cheeses like mozzarella. Some vegan cheese will have a taste similar to the cheese found in prepackaged pastries.
What Does Vegan Cheese Taste Like?
As there are thousands of types of cheese, finding a vegan cheese replacement will depend on what type of cheese you’re trying to emulate.
Some cheeses, like parmesan, will need to have a nuttier, saltier taste. Mozzarella, meanwhile, will need to be sweeter, more savory, and perfectly melty. Even the same type of cheese may vary from brand to brand.
Vegan parmesan, processed by some brands such as Angel Food, has a salty taste. It carries a scent with it that is reminiscent of powdered parmesan. You will likely be able to tell the difference, as vegan cheese will be missing some of the creamier notes of Parmesan from dairy.
Ricotta cheese must be sweet, creamy, and distinct. A lot of vegan ricotta is made from tofu and olive oil. That allows it to be moist and crumbly, replicating the texture of ricotta cheese.
The taste of most vegan ricotta cheese is just that: creamy and sweet. It doesn’t taste exactly like ricotta, unfortunately, but it is not unpleasant either. In vegan ricotta, pleasant sweetness pairs well with an acceptable creamy texture that is similar to a soft tofu.
Most vegan brands of cheddar cheese will be made with water, coconut oil, flavorings, and salt. They will also include b-carotene to replicate the distinct yellow cheddar color. Vegan cheddar will be sold in slices, though it is not impossible to find it in block or shred form. Being sold pre-sliced makes it perfect for burgers and sandwiches.
Vegan cheddar is one of the better tasting vegan cheeses. As far as texture goes, the uncooked slices will feel astoundingly similar to actual cheese slices. The taste and smell will be similar to the sharp, salty flavors of good cheddar cheese. Some cannot even tell the difference between vegan and dairy cheddar.
To achieve meltability, most vegan mozzarella will be made from tapioca and arrowroot flour. They will often include plant oils, pea proteins, salt, and other vegan flavor additives.
The cheese has a creamy, melty consistency. That creaminess carries over into the flavor as well. While it won’t be as stringy as dairy mozzarella, you can still get a coveted ‘cheese pull’ from it. The taste is not identical to that of mozzarella – most find it to be somewhat saltier. The smell is often compared to Gouda cheese.
Vegan cheese will often get you close to the flavor of real dairy cheese. Those who have apprehensions about going vegan may find some suitable replacements for their favorite types. For example, vegan parmesan may not taste exactly like parmesan cheese. While this is true, the salty, nutty flavor will be a close approximation.