Just because you break up with cheese doesn’t mean you have to break up with the foods you love. With a few simple tricks (and even some convenient store-bought staples), you can recreate your cheesy love affair without any baggage. All of these recipes are easy, comforting, and familiar, and they’ll love you back (unlike dairy cheese). From baked mac and cheese to gooey quesadillas, flirt with the dairy-free dating pool with these nine dairy-free cheese recipes.
Fun fact: dairy-free feta is ridiculously easy to make. It may not seem like it will work—it’s just marinated tofu—but something magical happens and boom! Dairy-free feta is born. Toss these delectably briny feta cubes in this fresh tomato and cucumber salad, stuff into wraps, or toss with pasta. If you don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen, start here.
This is less of a recipe and more of a how-to-embellishment. The thing is, there’s an art to grilled cheese. These little tricks can help a good grilled cheese achieve greatness. Choose your favorite dairy-free cheese slices (provolone, cheddar, mozzarella, etc) and get grilling!
Adding dairy cheese to a salad ultimately negates the health benefits of a salad. Sure, you’re still getting the micronutrients and fiber from the greens, but the cheese adds enough saturated and trans fats and cholesterol to turn that healthy choice upside down. Fortunately, this quick cashew-based queso won’t derail those salad goals. Liberally drizzle it all over this Mexican-inspired salad bowl and save the leftovers for taco night!
Two elements are critical in mac and cheese: the pasta shape and the sauce. This recipe uses medium shell pasta—a solid choice. This toothsome pasta is sturdy enough to hold up to a heavy cheese sauce and does a fine job at capturing all that saucey goodness. This dairy-free cheese sauce relies on butternut squash, nutritional yeast, and a few seasonings that combine to create a surprisingly decadent, cheesy coating for your al dente pasta. Feel free to stop at the stovetop level or take a little extra time to cover it with breadcrumbs and make it in the oven. Either way, it’s going to be gouda.
Tons of chains and independently owned pizza shops carry dairy-free cheese, but it’s also easy to make your own (this way, you won’t get charged $3 per extra topping). All you need is dough (store-bought is fine, try Trader Joe’s), jarred or homemade pizza sauce, and dairy-free mozzarella and/or ricotta (try Kite Hill). Pile on as much or as little veggies as you’d like pop into a pre-heated oven, and congrats, you just made dairy-free pizza. You don’t need dairy cheese to enjoy pizza. It’s not worth stringing it along.
6. Easy Lasagna
A solid lasagna recipe should be part of everyone’s culinary repertoire. This vegetable-heavy Italian casserole doesn’t skimp on the cheese—it just happens to be dairy-free. Pro tip: when you crumble firm tofu and season it with Italian spices and a bit of acid and nutritional yeast, it transforms into ricotta in both taste and texture. Layer on the noodles and marinara, and not even dairy cheese addicts can tell the difference. If you want to go the distance, heavily garnish each thick slice with a mound of homemade dairy-free parmesan.
Even if you don’t have a panini press, you can definitely hack your way to this perfect, cheesy panini. Just use something heavy to press down on the sandwich while it’s grilling in a pan. This messy, gooey grilled sandwich is stuffed with basil, tomato, and homemade cashew mozzarella. Of course, if you’re in a “need sandwich now” mood, store-bought vegan mozz (like Miyoko’s) works perfectly well.
The first thing this recipe developer says about these quesadillas is, “If I would have known vegan quesadillas could be this delicious and this easy, it wouldn’t have taken me so many years to give up dairy.” We think that statement stands for itself. Made with a gooey, stretchy, melty, homemade cashew cheese and spicy chipotle cream, you’ll learn to make dairy-free quesadillas that are better than takeout. Did we mention these only take 20 minutes? Win!
Don’t forget dessert! This is the cheesecake to soothe that broken heart, to mend the scars dairy cheese caused in your past relationship. The best part? It’s dairy-free and it comes together in a blender. This dairy-free cheesecake is the real deal, and the quick blueberry compote takes it over the top. It’s the kind of cheesecake you sneak bites of when you have leftovers for breakfast. This may be last on the list, but we highly advise you start with dessert!