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Dairy Free Mozzarella Cheese

This dairy-free mozzarella cheese is better than anything you’ll find at grocery stores. It’s easy to make, is cost-effective, and will satisfy any cheese cravings.

Although no dairy-free cheese will ever taste exactly like real cheese, this recipe is very close. I’ve made several different versions, playing with different ratios and ingredients, and this one was the clear winner. Bold statement, but it really is the best vegan cheese.

The first time I made this, I served it to dairy eaters and was told that if you didn’t know otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to tell this wasn’t the real thing.

Whether you have a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance, having a dairy-free mozzarella cheese option is an essential ingredient for bolognese pizza, Caprese salad, Italian pasta saladgluten free chicken parmesandairy free spinach artichoke dip, antipasto platter, and so much more. 

Main Ingredients

This homemade version has a much better mozzarella flavor than any store-bought dairy-free cheese I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot). 

To replicate the similar taste, texture, and mouthfeel that real mozzarella emulates, we want to use ingredients that mimic those same qualities. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Raw cashews – this fat source gives the cheese a nice, creamy texture.
  • Unsweetened plain dairy-free yogurt – adds the tanginess that traditional cheese has and gives it a creamy mouthfeel. I love the Cocojune brand, but make sure to use something with a thick texture.
  • Tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) – this helps give the cheese a stretchy texture.
  • Refined coconut oil – helps with the texture and also helps the cheese soften when heated. Make sure to use refined coconut oil (not virgin) so it has no coconut taste.
  • Nutritional yeast – adds an umami, cheesy flavor.
  • Vegan lactic acid – this is the key ingredient as it adds a delicious tanginess that real dairy cheese has. I highly recommend getting some because it makes dairy-free cheeses taste like the real deal. I use this brand
  • Kosher salt – gives it flavor and helps create the brine that the cheese sits in.
  • Agar agar powder – this is the vegan version of gelatin and gives it a semi-firm texture and makes it easier to slice.

See the recipe card for the full list of ingredients.

How to Make Dairy Free Mozzarella Cheese

Step 1. Soak the cashews in hot water for 20 minutes then drain and rinse. Add them to a high-powered blender along with filtered water, plain unsweetened dairy free yogurt, tapioca starch, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, vegan lactic acid (or lemon juice), and kosher salt until completely smooth. This could take a couple of minutes depending on the power of your blender.

Step 2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1/2 cup of water and the agar agar powder. Whisk together and heat up until bubbles start to form and it slightly thickens.

Step 3. Pour the cheese mixture into the saucepan and whisk thoroughly to combine with the agar mixture.

Step 4. Switch to a silicone spatula and stir around the edges folding the cheese mixture into itself. It’ll start to thicken as you continue to stir in this motion. It’s ready when the cheese starts to form a loose ball and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. Remove from the heat.

Step 5. Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and ice-cold water. Add a hefty pinch of kosher salt and give it a quick stir. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the cheese into balls and release them into the ice bath brine. Continue with this process until you’ve used up all the cheese. 

Step 6. Cover and place the mozzarella balls in the brine in the fridge for a couple of hours before enjoying. The cheese will continue to harden as it chills and will be easier to slice. To store, transfer the mozzarella in the brine to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Making It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this dairy free mozzarella cheese using what you already have? Here are some ideas…

  • No raw cashews? – you can also use raw macadamia nuts.
  • No tapioca starch? – you can also use arrowroot powder, potato starch, or corn starch, but it won’t be quite as stretchy as it is with the tapioca.
  • No agar powder? – you can leave this out, but the cheese will be less firm.
  • No refined coconut oil? – you can also use avocado oil or light olive oil.
  • No vegan lactic acid? – I recommend ordering some (you use such a small amount each time that it lasts a long time) but if you want to make it right away, you can also use fresh lemon juice for added tanginess.
  • No kosher salt? – you can use sea salt, but it’s typically much saltier so you’ll want to use less.
Gluten free chicken parmesan with dairy free mozzarella and fresh basil on a bed of spaghetti noodles.

gluten free chicken parmesan

Helpful Tips

No high-powered blender? If you don’t have a powerful blender, you can boil the raw cashews in a saucepan on the stove for 15 minutes. This will help soften them and make it easier for your blender to break them down. Unfortunately, a food processor won’t work as it won’t get the cheese mixture smooth enough.

Want it melted? Although this dairy free cheese doesn’t completely melt, it does get soft when heated. To help it achieve this, you first need to remove it from the brine and gently pat it dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Then let it sit out for at least 20 minutes to allow it to come to room temperature before you put it in the oven.

bolognese pizza

How To Serve

There are so many ways to enjoy this dairy free cheese, but here are a few ideas.

Use it to make Italian pasta saladgluten free chicken parmesantomato avocado toast, vegan pizza, bolognese pizza or butternut squash pizza with caramelized onionsMargherita pasta, grilled cheese sandwiches, deconstructed burger bowls, pasta dishes, Caprese salad, added to Italian green bean salad or peach Panzanella salad, and more.

More Vegan Cheese Recipes

Dairy Free Mozzarella Cheese

5 from 5 votes
A bowl of dairy free mozzarella cheese balls in brine.
This dairy-free mozzarella cheese is better than anything you'll find at grocery stores. It’s easy to make, is cost-effective, and will satisfy any cheese cravings.
Author: Lindsey Jenkins
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Soak the cashews in hot water for 20 minutes then drain and rinse. Add them to a high-powered blender along with filtered water, plain unsweetened dairy free yogurt, tapioca starch, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, vegan lactic acid (or lemon juice), and kosher salt until completely smooth. This could take a couple of minutes depending on the power of your blender.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1/2 cup of water and the agar agar powder. Whisk together and heat up until bubbles start to form and it slightly thickens.
  • Pour the cheese mixture into the saucepan and whisk thoroughly to combine with the agar mixture.
  • Switch to a silicone spatula and stir around the edges folding the cheese mixture into itself. It’ll start to thicken as you continue to stir in this motion. It’s ready when the cheese starts to form a loose ball and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. Remove from the heat.
  • Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and ice-cold water. Add a hefty pinch of kosher salt and give it a quick stir. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the cheese into balls and release them into the ice bath brine. Continue with this process until you've used up all the cheese. 
  • Cover and place the mozzarella balls in the brine in the fridge for a couple of hours before enjoying. The cheese will continue to harden as it chills and will be easier to slice. To store, transfer the mozzarella in the brine to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Notes

See the blog post for step-by-step photos and helpful tips.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

No raw cashews? – you can also use raw macadamia nuts.
No tapioca starch? – you can also use arrowroot powder, potato starch, or corn starch, but it won’t be quite as stretchy as it is with the tapioca.
No agar powder? – you can leave this out, but the cheese will be less firm.
No refined coconut oil? – you can also use avocado oil or light olive oil.
No vegan lactic acid? – I recommend ordering some (you use such a small amount each time that it lasts a long time) but if you want to make it right away, you can also use fresh lemon juice.
No kosher salt? – you can use sea salt, but it’s typically much saltier so you’ll want to use less.

4 Comments

  1. Chauncey Myers says:

    Could I use dairy free shredded mozzarella instead? If so how much would I use?

  2. Chauncey Myers says:

    Dairy free mozzarella for the artichoke dip, sorry I didn’t realize I commented on the vegan mozzarella recipe.

    1. Lindsey Jenkins says:

      Unfortunately, that won’t work because dairy free mozzarella shreds won’t give you the same creamy consistency.

      1. Chauncey Myers says:

        Okay thank you.

5 from 5 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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