10 Hacks to Make Food Cheesy Without Adding Cheese

Adopting more of a plant-based diet means making some sacrifices and perhaps changing how you view food and what it tastes like. One difficult change is saying goodbye to dairy cheese, especially if it’s one of your favorite foods. You may have grown up with the comfort of rich, decadent dishes with loads of cheese, milk and butter. I can sympathize; I’m a lover of mac n’ cheese and relish in glory when I find or make a delicious vegan version. In fact, making your vegan dish have a cheesy taste and consistency is easy with some tricks. Here are 10 hacks to make something cheesy without adding cheese.

  • Cashews

    Cashew cream is a vegan cook’s secret weapon, as it helps add a creamy consistency to plant-based dishes. If you’re trying to make a cheesy sauce for a casserole or mac n’ cheese, blending cashews into a cream is your go-to method.


  • Macadamia Nuts

    Like cashews, macadamia nuts can be blended into a smooth paste as the base for nut cheese. Once the nuts are all blended and puffy, add lime juice and salt, then mix again. You can experiment with other liquids like lemon juice, too.


  • Nutritional Yeast

    These little golden flakes offer a quick source of vitamin B 12 and a cheesy taste to boot. Just a few tablespoons of this stuff is all you need when making a rich, cheesy sauce. Or, you can simply sprinkle the flakes overtop any dish as if it were a parmesan cheese shaker.


  • Non-Dairy Milk

    When it comes to cooking a cheesy, creamy dish, most vegan sauce recipes will call for some sort of non-dairy milk. Some dishes taste best with coconut milk for a sweeter taste, while others may call for soy or almond milk. Whichever type you use, non-dairy milk is an easy substitute for milk in any recipe.


  • Tapioca Starch

    A bit of tapioca starch can help you make a vegan cheese that stays in a melted form until baked, when it then forms a nice crusty edge. This recipe is great for making vegan pizza.


  • Arrowroot Powder

    Arrowroot powder will help thicken up your sauces to achieve a more cheesy, thick and creamy consistency. Just one tablespoon is all you need in this cheesy dip recipe.


  • Olive Oil

    For some dairy sauces, especially gravy, it is common to use animal fat for taste and consistency. For a vegan option, try olive oil, which can be used as a replacement for the animal fat in a recipe. Also, when mixed with flour and non-dairy milk, it can help create a thick, rich texture like dairy sauces.


  • Soya Yogurt

    Soy makes for great non-dairy milks, butter, and yogurt products. When you mix both Soya yogurt and soy milk together, it will create a white, creamy sauce that’s perfect as a base for a cheesy pasta dish.


  • Tahini

    Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds, and the end product is a thick, creamy paste with a similar consistency to peanut butter. To help thicken up a cheese sauce, use a couple tablespoons of tahini.


  • Vegan Cheese Shreds

    These days, one can easily walk into a grocery store and find a vegan cheese substitute. Try Daiya cheddar-flavored cheese shreds. Many packaged varieties will stretch and melt just like real cheese.

    Lead image source: Cheesy Vegan Mac n’ Yeast

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