I would have never expected to say the words, “Yum, this vegan cheese is good.” And yet, here we are. I have eaten and enjoyed vegan cheese. Over the past few years, the category of plant-based, non-dairy cheeses has grown alongside the explosion of plant-based meat alternatives. Of course it makes sense—you want to maintain your plant-based lifestyle while enjoying an Impossible cheeseburger or a Beyond meatball sub.
So, the Sporked team sat down to try an array of “cheeses.” We tried them plain, we tried some on crackers, and we did some melt tests as well. As a mix of vegan cheese newbies (me) and regular consumers of vegan cheese (Sporked writer Jordan Myrick), we came at the category with both trepidation and excitement. And we all came out of it with a newfound respect for the fake cheese arts. Here’s what we picked as the best vegan cheeses on the market right now.
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- Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda
This “cheese” is extraordinary and an argument that there should be more smoked faux cheeses. The smoky flavor is key here. It covers up any obviously non-cheese flavors and is the star of the show—which is exactly how it is in real smoked gouda. The smoked flavor is powerful but not overwhelming, and it doesn’t taste overly fake. The texture is also smooth and creamy—not grainy at all like some vegan cheeses—probably due to the coconut oil base. It would be great on a sandwich or, honestly, for snacking. I really have to examine my self identity because I never thought I would recommend snacking on vegan cheese—and certainly never thought I would be craving it. But I would absolutely scarf down a slice of this one right now.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Albertsons
- Field Roast Chao Slices
According to Jordan, these slices “melt like a dream.” Another coconut-based product, this one also includes fermented tofu for a touch of that cheesy, funky taste. Sporked writer Danny Palumbo says it’s perfect for plant-based burgers and meatball subs, and I would add that it would be a fine choice for actual meat-based versions of those sandwiches too. If you’re avoiding lactose for whatever reason, these slices are the creamy, silky, melty toppers you’ve been looking for. I’m only docking them half a spork because I wouldn’t necessarily eat them on their own.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart
- Trader Joe’s Vegan Feta Cheese Alternative
Like so many Trader Joe’s products, this one came highly hyped. It has a bit of a cult following, so I was skeptical about the follow-through. But if you crumbled this faux feta onto a salad and told me it was the real dairy deal, I would totally believe you. It’s salty, creamy, and briny, which makes sense because it comes floating in a pool of brine—just like real, authentic feta. I’m no feta expert, but I did live in an extremely Greek neighborhood in Queens, New York, for years. So I’ve had my fair share of feta. Believe me when I say this is good. Maybe not give-it-to-your-ya-ya-good. But very good.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Trader Joe’s
- Daiya Cheddar Style Slices
These slices have more flavor than your traditional American cheese but less flavor than a clothbound cheddar—aka, just right for a grilled cheese. They melt into a stretchy semi-good, which doesn’t sound great as I type it, but is exactly what I’m looking for in a grilled cheese sandwich. Sure, you can eat these slices on their own—they have a nice, almost smoky flavor and creamy texture—but it’s almost like these slices were engineered for grilled cheese sandwiches, so you’d be missing out if you didn’t try.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Target
- So Delicious American Style Slices
If you’re looking for a replacement for Kraft Singles, go with this brand. It has that signature Kraft-style wiggle, that extra creamy, melty-even-though-it’s-not-even-warm texture, and that certain flavor that’s not quite cheese but definitely isn’t anything but cheese. There’s the slightest nutty aftertaste (even though these slices are made with coconut oil rather than nuts) that signals it might not be dairy-based. But melted on a burger (be it beef or veggie), this cheese will fool you into believing you’re eating the real deal.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart
Best of the Best
Best for Melting
Best for Salads
Best for Grilled Cheese
Best for a Burger
Rhett & Link’s Pick
Field Roast Chao Slices
“This isn’t trying to mimic anything, this is just trying to be Chao,” Rhett astutely noted during his and Link’s vegan taste test on Good Mythical Morning. “I think it’s pretty freaking great,” Link noted in an equally astute manner. It made it to the tippy top of their list and it just missed the top spot on ours.
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