Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vegan Cheddar Cheese Brick Substitute

(pictured: two slices of vegan cheese on cucumber rounds)

I don’t remember where I got the original recipe for this cheese. In fact I no longer have the original recipe. This recipe changes almost each time I make it. What remain consistent are the agar, water, cashews and yeast. The spice mixture seems to change continually.

We use this to make pimento cheese spread, sliced on crackers or to make grilled cheese. This cheese substitute is also good on quesadillas.

I have had non-vegan friends ask me if this tastes like cheese. Honestly it does not taste like cheddar, but it does taste good and has a cheese texture. The flavor is smoky from the paprika and cumin, with a hint of heat from the cayenne. If you know what nutritional yeast tastes like you can taste it in this cheese but it is not the dominant flavor. Raw cashews add fat and give the cheese the correct mouth feel. Overall, the texture is very close to cheese and the flavor is a reasonable substitute.

Vegan Cheddar Cheese Brick Substitute
Makes 1 brick or 6 - Three ounce servings


5 teaspoons of agar powder (not flakes)
1 ½ cups of water
½ cup of raw cashews
¼ cup of nutritional yeast
1 clove of garlic
½ tablespoon of kosher salt
½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon of cumin, toasted
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon of dry mustard
¼ teaspoon of turmeric


Put the agar powder in the water and stir to thoroughly incorporate the agar into the water in a saucepan. Allow this mixture to stand while you put the other ingredients together.

Place the remaining ingredients in your blender and process until things are powdered.

Turn the heat to medium under the agar pan and continue to stir so the agar doesn’t burn. When the mixture begins to simmer lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes continuing to stir.

After 5 minutes pour the agar mixture into the blender quickly (before the agar begins to gel). Blend until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Pour the cheese mixture into a heatproof container. I use a rectangular Pyrex dish. Allow the cheese to cool at room temperature and then refrigerate (takes about an hour). If you refrigerate the mixture while hot condensation will form in the container and result in an unpleasant texture on the surface of the cheese.

As soon as the cheese is cool it is ready to use. I have had it last a week in the refrigerator

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 65.05
Calories From Fat (46%) - 29.72

Total Fat - 3.55g
Saturated Fat - 0.63g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 670.07mg
Potassium - 376.17mg
Total Carbohydrates - 4.2g
Fiber - 0.74g
Sugar - 0.5g
Protein - 4.88g


This is a tasty cheese substitute that I prefer to the store bought varieties. I think the texture of this recipe is more “cheese-like” than the products I have purchased. Making your own cheese means you can add different flavors so the flavor suits your taste not those of the manufacturer.


  1. Why wouldn't I be able to use the flakes? I have used powder in the past and have never been pleased with the results. My success has always been with the flakes. I am going to try this recipe, but I wanted to know if there was a culinary reason behind using only powder, since I am inclined to use the flakes instead. Thanks!

  2. Melissa,

    If the agar flakes work for you stay with them. I have purchased different brands of flakes and they didn't seem to have the same gelling ability so I got inconsistent results. I find the powder to be more predictable (but it may because it is the same brand). That is the only reason I use powder.


  3. Thanks for your response. I really appreciate it. I just wanted to be sure I wasn't going to completely screw up the recipe by making that minor change. :o)

  4. Melissa,

    The amount of flakes you use is different that the amount of powder. Do you have that conversion or should I look it up for you and post it here?


  5. In case anyone needs the conversion of powder to flakes. Here is a link to Bryanna's post on it. According to her 1 teaspoon of powder = 2 tablespoons of flakes.


  6. Thank you. I knew the conversions but I was going to suggest posted it anyway just in case someone else wanted to try it. I'm very excited about trying this recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out.

  7. Melissa,

    I thought about others wanting the conversion after I pressed publish on the prior comment.

    I have served this to omnis and it has been well received. I hope it works out well for you too!


  8. Alicia, I finally made this recipe today. I made it exactly as written using the agar powder - I found it cheap at the Asian grocer so I thought it wouldn't hurt to try it. If it worked for you it should work for me, right? Well, it did! The flavor is great. It turned out terrific. I did, however, realize too late that I completely forgot to add the dry mustard . . . it's still good, though. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  9. Melissa,

    Yay! I am so happy your tried it and liked it. Wow, you found agar powder at your Asian market. That is a great tip. I need to check our local one again. I bought a large container on-line after not finding it easily locally.

    thanks for letting me know you liked it, ;-)

  10. You should be able to find it with the rest of the seaweed when you look for it. I found agar in a couple of different forms at my Asian grocer and it's very, very inexpensive. At least at mine. I can find just about anything there and the cost is only a fraction of what I would pay at one of our regular grocery stores. It's definitely worth a trip to see what you'll find there.

  11. Melissa,

    Ours only had agar flakes and sticks when I looked two years ago so it is time for me to look again. Our Asian market is always much less expensive too. Always makes we wonder why.


  12. Alexandra,

    If you have any questions feel free to ask.



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