Tell a friend you’re going vegan, and you're likely to hear, 'I could never give up cheese'. It's a fair enough statement - recreating a true cheesy flavour without dairy has been a tough nut to crack for years.
Nowadays, vegan cheese cynics may just have their minds blown by the stuff that you can get. A slice of Smoked Chili cashew cheese on a cracker for instance, or a life-changing Vegan Nacho Dip. Even the most hardcore cheese lovers could have their minds changed.
But cold cheese is one thing. Vegan cheese that melts? That's the true holy grail of dairy-free cheese making. For many, the most comforting form of cheese is when it's giving gooey, melty deliciousness to a pizza, pasta bake or toastie. But many kinds of vegan cheese notoriously refuse to melt.
Never fear: melty vegan cheese is no longer the stuff of dreams. Here, on earth, there are delicious dairy-free cheeses that pass the 'melt test' every time. We'll be explaining a bit about how and why dairy cheese melts, how vegan cheese can achieve this, and the best dairy-free melting cheeses out there.
Why some vegan cheese doesn't melt well
So - why do some vegan cheeses melt like their traditional dairy-based counterparts, and some remain stubbornly in an immovable state? Let’s investigate.
What makes cheese melt?
The magical melting powers of dairy-based cheeses lie in two factors: a high fat content and a protein called casein. Generally speaking, the higher the fat content, the higher the melting factor. Just think of a rich mozzarella versus a low-fat cottage cheese. Additionally, casein ratios determine dairy cheeses' stretch and melt abilities.
This meltage action can be replicated in dairy-free cheese by adding plant-based fats, such as olive or coconut oil. Full-fat plant-based milk, like coconut milk, can be substituted for the traditional dairy component.
How you heat makes all the difference
There can also be a little technique behind getting vegan cheese to bend to your will. A big part of that is how you heat them. Vegan cheeses tend to do best at lower, consistent heat.
Here's a general heating guideline for creating a vegan cheese sauce, or a creamy cheese consistency:
- On a stovetop; medium heat and stir for 5-10 minutes.
- In the oven; 175°C for 10-20 minutes.
- In the microwave; 5-10 second intervals until the desired melt is reached.
The best vegan cheeses for melting
The good news is, the dairy-free pioneers of this world have developed tasty vegan cheeses with supreme melting abilities. Here are three of our favourite #veganmelters.
Do you miss having a slice of pizza with hot cheese oozing out the sides? Mozzarellie is the melty, gooey answer to your vegan mozzarella dreams. Its creamy texture makes it the ideal candidate for a homemade pizza, pasta, or your next slice of toast.
If a good vegan cheddar is hard to find, a vegan smoked cheddar is the holy grail. This Smoked Block of cashew-based cheese not only slices up perfectly for a cheese board, it also melts onto your burger like a dream.
The Farmhouse Block cheese is Kinda Co’s best-selling flavour, giving sharp mature cheddar vibes that work well in any wrap, sandwich, or picnic basket spread. This block also melts fantastically into a sauce or dip.
Vegan cheese recipes
If you're just getting to grips with vegan cheese, melting them can open up a whole new culinary world. These cheeses can easily elevate a sauce's umami flavour, add depth and provide a silky, creamy texture. Now that you know which vegan cheeses melt best, here are some of our favourite ways to bring vegan cheese into the kitchen.
Tuna pasta bake
A vegan tuna pasta bake needs some cheesy harmony to really combine the flavours together. Add pasta, vegan chickpea tuna, corn, and a blend of Italian Style and Farmhouse vegan cheeses, and you’ll have the pasta bake of your childhood - but better.
A festive fondue
Whether it’s the holiday season or just a regular old Wednesday (we're not judging), a festive fondue is just the thing to brighten up your dinner. Think of a melty vegan cheddar-based fondue with roasted vegetables, potatoes, and crusty bread to dress up this classic ode to cheese.
A good amount of those who are chasing the 'melt' have quesadillas on their mind. Vegan block cheeses make a great base for all the fixings; avocado, black beans, and salsa. A Smoked Chili Block vegan cheese provides an additional kick.
Whether you're vegan or lactose intolerant, we know you'll never give up on nachos. This bold, perfectly spiced vegan Nacho Cheese supports this affirmation. No melting is necessary on this one - it's already perfectly saucy, ready to be poured on nachos or paired with potato wedges.
Toasties are an all-season snack that deserves a robust, meltable cheese to embrace the tomatoes, basil, pesto, and anything else you can throw between two slices of warm bread. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to press your toastie, consider a vegan cream cheese spread instead. Using any flavour of vegan cheese can take you and your toastie on a whole new journey.
Right up there with the cheesy vegan holy grails is a good vegan lasagna, featuring a layer of vegan cheese goodness. Mozzarellie can bring back the lasagna you’ve been missing, or just make a pasta bake even better. It’s a great substitute if you don’t have time to whip up a vegan bechamel sauce. Toss in herbs and some lentils for bulk, and you’ve got yourself dinner and meal prep done for the week.
No matter which vegan cheese journey your next meal takes you on, you're sure to find a delicious and satisfying option at Kinda Co. No funky stuff here, just pure natural, melty goodness.