Tofu is a great base for all kinds of vegan cheese recipes, and it’s especially perfect if you have a cashew or other nut allergy. Even if you are just looking for a less-expensive cashew alternative, tofu helps to make a more affordable vegan cheese as well! We use this tofu cheese method to make everything from dairy-free cream cheese to vegan cheese sauce to cheesecake. You can use tofu cheeses on pizza or nachos, and the best part: It’s super easy to make. In this post, we’re going to share our best tofu cheese recipes as well as some tips and tricks for using our methods to make your own!
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We love to make homemade vegan cheeses out of tofu. I know, I know: TOFU CHEESE? How stereotypically vegan can you be, right? It may sound a little weird, but no matter what it may SOUND like, tofu-based cheeses taste delicious.
Trust me, I wouldn’t be going out on a limb and sounding so ridiculous if it weren’t ridiculously good and something everyone needs to know about because it’s also SO easy! So anyway, here we are…tofu cheese.
You’ll be amazed not only at how good this is, but also how easy and versatile the process can be. We’ve used this tofu cheese method to make everything from tofu cheesecake, tofu cream cheese, tofu feta cheese, tofu cheese sauces and dips, and so, so much more.
What is tofu cheese?
Tofu cheese is simply cheese made from tofu (and not dairy!).
Just like people make vegan cheese using cashews or almonds, we like to use tofu! Tofu by itself is completely flavorless and comes in a variety of textures, so it’s a great canvas for a variety of dairy-free delights.
Looking for a soft herb cheese to spread on crackers? Not a problem. Something smooth and creamy for a spicy cheesy dip? Tofu has your back. Wanting something firmer with a little zip? Tofu can do that too.
How do you make tofu taste like cheese?
You may be thinking okay you say tofu is flavorless but how can you make it taste like cheese without…cheese?! Well, that’s precisely the point: Tofu IS flavorless, so it’s ready to suck up ALL the flavors you want to incorporate in it. And we have a few tricks up our sleeves here to help you out with that.
How to Achieve the Best Texture
Tofu on its own doesn’t make a great cheese substitute, mostly because it’s all protein and no fat and we all know cheese has a lot of fat. Hello, that’s what we LOVE about it in the first place!
That’s why, with the exception of our vegan queso dip, we create our cheesy base by emulsifying the tofu with some refined coconut oil in a food processor until the mixture goes from being grainy and a little chunky to super smooth and shiny. (That shiny part is key!) We’ve found this combination of protein + fat is the secret to achieving the best texture.
Coconut Oil Substitutions: Unfortunately, refined coconut oil is not interchangeable with olive oil or other oils you may have in your home. We use refined coconut oil to make tofu-based cheeses because it has similar fatty properties to animal fat — it hardens at around 75F which helps our cheeses firm up and be able to slice. With the exception of our vegan queso dip, we do not have an oil-free substitution option for these recipes.
- Make sure you’re using refined coconut oil and NOT something labeled “unrefined” or “virgin”. Refined coconut oil has no flavor. If your cheese tastes like coconuts, this is where it went wrong.
- Make sure you are melting your coconut oil fully before adding it to the cheese mixture, and add it last! Even if it’s a hot day and the coconut oil is already in liquid form, I always find it most effective when I heat it up a bit so it’s fully melted.
- We suggest using a high-powered blender or food processor for these tofu recipes. (The exception is the vegan queso.) Start blending on low and then slowly increase the speed as it gets easier to blend. We usually use our Vitamix, and the tamper it comes with REALLY comes in handy!
- Be patient; it can take some time to fully emulsify all the ingredients in these recipes. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed, and keep blending until the texture goes from being a little chunky to thick, smooth, and shiny. Shiny is really the key element to look for here. If your cheese comes out with a weird texture, this step is probably where it went wrong. See the photo below.
How to Achieve the Best Flavor
Flavor is the next element we need to address. We like to break it into two components: spices + fermented flavor. I think since tofu has no flavor of its own and therefore sucks the life out of anything you use to flavor it, you need to err on the side of overseasoning any flavor you’re making.
SPICES: Think about the taste of the cheese you’re trying to emulate and go from there. We like adding garlic and onion powder and some herbs to things like tofu pizza cheese, and some smoked paprika or hickory salt are always a good spice to add if you’re looking for a little hint of smoky flavor. We also like to add nutritional yeast for a somewhat nutty taste (depending on the type of cheese we’re making).
FERMENTED FLAVOR: Adding fermented flavors is a must when making vegan cheeses — miso paste, mustards, vinegar, even different brines like sauerkraut, kimchi, or kalamata olive — can help your tofu cheese achieve that classic fermented flavor without actually being fermented. Lemon juice and zest can also work here.
Vegan Tofu Cheese Recipes
Silken Tofu Recipes
Silken tofu is a soft tofu that’s perfect for blending into cheese sauces or used as the base for softer cheeses, like mozzarella!
Spicy Tofu Queso Dip (vegan nacho cheese)
This tofu queso dip is simple, oil-free, and tastes just like you remember. It’s obviously awesome with nachos, but we also love making vegan chili-cheese-fries just piled high and dripping with this quick, quintessential queso!
Tofu Mozzarella (for pizza)
You know the kind of pizza cheese that gets sticky-dropped all over the pizza and melts in delicious randomly-chosen patterns of goopy chaos? This silken tofu mozzarella is exactly that, packed with fantastic flavor and gooey goodness. We love it on our Vegan Baked Ziti Pizza, Vegan Chicken Parm Pizza, and Vegan White Pizza.
Firm Tofu Recipes
We like to use firm tofu for thick “whipped” style dips and vegan cheese sauces!
Simple and sublime. This tofu feta pasta is our Mediterranean-inspired take on the TikTok feta pasta fad! It is PACKED with veggies and flavor. This cheesy vegan pasta will definitely be making a weekly star appearance at your house!
Perfect for the patio or the poolside, or even just in your lap with your feet up watching your favorite shows. This tofu feta dip pairs perfectly with these air-fried pita chips for a healthy and delicious snack!
Extra Firm Tofu Recipes
We use extra firm tofu for a variety of recipes, but especially anything we want to REALLY firm up.
Vegan Tofu Cheesecake (infused with sparkling wine!)
Yes, tofu does that too! These creamy and dreamy decadent little tofu cheesecakes pair perfectly with a date night in and a bottle of bubbly. Top with fruit(s) of your choosing, or leave as is!
Tofu Cream Cheese (Veggie-Style)
This tofu cream cheese is quite possibly one of the simplest and tastiest recipes we’ve put together. And what’s a bagel without a big old schmear of veggie cream cheese?! Perfect for bagel sandwiches as well!
Classic. Elegant. The perfect centerpiece for your holiday hors d’oeuvres table or your summer charcuterie board. This vegan cheese ball is a year-round favorite and total crowd-pleaser!
Tofu Feta Cheese (sliceable block)
From falafel bowls to pita pockets to feta grilled cheese sandwiches, mixed in a salad, or served simply with apples and grapes, you’ll want to make this sliceable tofu feta recipe again and again to satisfy ALL your feta needs.
Do you have a question about tofu cheese? Have a tofu cheese tip you’d like to share? Leave a comment and let us know, so we can make this a more complete resource for future visitors!