I'm super excited to finally share this recipe! Introducing vegan cheese slices that have a rich cheesy flavor and are insanely creamy! Perfect for burgers, grilled cheeses, sandwiches, pizza, bakes, and more!
After releasing the recipe for Fermented Tofu, many of you asked if it could be used to make vegan cheeses. The answer is yes!
WHAT IS CHAO?
Chao is a type of fermented tofu in a brine. It is widely used in Asian cooking as a condiment to make dipping sauces, marinades, and hotpot. It is usually aged for at least 1 month, but will keep for years, getting stronger in flavor. I released a recipe to make it from scratch, but you can find chao (also called fermented bean curd) in most Asian stores, or online.
So why are we using chao here? Because it has a fermented, tangy, and cheesy flavor, that is exactly what we need!
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN CHEESE SLICES
The process is very easy, so stick with me. First let's take a look at the main ingredients:
- Chao: A key ingredient in this recipe, there is no substitute for it here. It adds that rich, umami, and cheesy flavor.
- Coconut oil: It helps the slices firm up slightly once cold, melt once hot, and adds richness.
- Nutritional yeast: For that extra cheesy flavor!
- Dairy-free yogurt: Let's add some tang to our cheese.
- Starches: Potato starch and tapioca makes the cheese thicker, giving it more chewiness and a slight stretchiness.
- Anatto oil: While optional, the addition of anatto oil gives these slices a light orange color. It does not affect the flavor or the texture. I'm guessing you could replace some of the water with carrot juice to add that orange color, just like I did in my Vegan Cultured Butter recipe.
We simply blend all the ingredients together, then transfer to a saucepan and heat until it thickens. Transfer to a baking pan lined with plastic film, flatten, and refrigerate. Cut into slices and you are ready to go!
Note: Since this cheese doesn't contain kappa carrageenan, it won't completely melt, but will soften once hot. To keep this recipe easier, I chose to omit the use of gums/gels.
WHERE TO USE CHEESE SLICES
There are many ways to use these vegan cheese slices:
- Grilled Cheese: Probably one of my favorite way to enjoy these slices: two slices per sandwich, grilled on both side.
- Burger: Cook your vegan steak on medium heat in a skillet, covered, with a slice of cheese of top.
- Pizza: Cut your slices into thin strips and use them to top your pizza.
- Lasagna: Simply lay slices of cheese between the filling and the pasta sheets!
You can also use these cheese slices in cold sandwiches, it's delicious!
I recommend storing the slices unstacked, or place some parchment paper between each otherwise they might stick together. Since these slices contain coconut oil, they will also become a bit softer at room temperature.
I hope you will love these vegan cheese slices! Perfectly salty, a bit tangy, and so cheesy!
Looking for more vegan cheese recipes? Check out my free eBook "The Art of Vegan Cheese Making" for over 20 delicious recipes!
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Vegan Cheese Slices (10-Minute!)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ cup chao* fermented tofu/beancurd
- 2 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 3 tablespoon potato starch
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoon dairy-free yogurt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon anatto oil optional, for color
- 4 drops liquid smoke optional
- Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap, or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a blender. Blend on high-speed for 15-20 seconds.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Continue cooking for another 15 seconds.
- Immediately transfer to the lined baking sheet and use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread it into a thin and even layer. I recommend covering with another layer of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to flatten evenly.
- Let it cool a few minutes before transferring to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting into thin square slices.
- Use in sandwiches, burgers, on top of pizza, etc! Vegan cheese slices will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Avoid stacking the slices as they could stick together. You can stack them if you put a sheet of parchment paper between each.
Those look gorgeous! I wish I wasn't allergic to soy . . .
Hey Thomas! Brilliant recipe as usual ❤️ Do you think this is a good alternative to raclette? Would it melt enough under the grill?
It won't melt like a raclette and the flavor is quite different, so I would not say it's a good alternative. I have been working on creating an alternative to raclette but it still needs more work.
This is great ! A recipe without gums or agar agar, I love it already ! Now I need to find chao
I will let you know how it went
Thanks Kris, hope you will like it! 🙂
You are a genius! Would it be possible for you to develop a recipe for a really simple beginners small cheese block for slicing, without having to fernet tofu. I don’t mind fermenting cashews with probiotics for a couple of days. I’m finding it difficult to get hold of a good recipe that actually works. I have agar and carrageenan, but the cheeses always have a jelly texture. Thank you xx
To be honest I'm not very familiar with carrageenan and the other types of thickeners, but I will add that to my list!
Where do you find annatto oil? I haven been able to find in my area. I haven’t tried this recipe yet. Still locating ingredients.
Get annatto seeds usually found were the Spanish foods sold there spices looks like red brick colored peppercorn size chunks
You heat veg oil till but not dry hot in a side pan say 1 cup. Oil per 3-4 spoons of seeds You can make more won't spoil so dump seeds in very hot oil heat turned off and let sit a few hours strain oil filter it You should have bright orange oil store in the cleanest glass jar in fridge you can add it to rice to any frying oil to add a golden - or angry color That's what's in Puerto Rican food to color it yellow to Orange..lasts 4 ever I like to make it med dark if it's not dark enough filter reheat oil add more seeds it too orange and you don't like the smell add a bit more veg mild oil BUT I don't taste it in foods and you use so little You'll find out how much after making it and using it now many teaspoons of less to use or more ..that's how it's done annatto seeds mild veg oil no big deal but very useful in cooking essential in Puerto Rican cooking Good luck.
Not ANGRY ORANGEY.
All you need to find are annatto seeds. Then you can fry a teaspoon of seeds in about 1/2 cup of oil and you will have annatto oil.
Could you please recommend a coconut oil that is not from Thailand (where monkeys are enslaved - chained to the base of trees and made to collect coconuts all day). Please see PETA for more information. Thank you.
This is brilliant. But i'd like to share an alternative according to what is available in one's pantry. Sauerkraut adds a tangy umami taste as well. Sauerkraut in a blender with, say, citrus pith (no rind) or boiled potato and left to ferment for a few days makes a nice cream cheese. Or sauerkraut blended with plain tofu could substitute for the chao in a pinch. Keep up the good work.
Sauerkraut will not add the same flavor as chao, which is very cheesy. However it could make a good substitute for those who cannot find chao, thanks for sharing Maria 🙂
Thank you for sharing! Im always nervous to make fermented foods as I am scared that I will do it wrong and they will make me sick! But your clear guide is really helpful! I would love to give it a go 🙂
I'm really sorry to say this, but I tried this today and it tasted absolutely dreadful.. I bought ready made chao and used everything else as listed and was really excited but the end result was one of the worst things I've ever tasted. Texture and colour were great - looked just right for slices to top burgers with or go in a salad sandwich too..
So sorry to hear you didn't like the flavor Barbara! My guess is that you used a bad chao, there are many different brands and some taste very acidic and not so good while others have a buttery, cheesy flavor. Have you tried your chao by itself?
I made this last night! Tastes great. The texture is a little off, though -- it's way too soft, and a little grainy. I'm guessing that means I didn't cook it quite long enough?
Did you blend until it was smooth? Regarding the texture, yes I would guess it's because you didn't cook enough. Next time, try cooking longer while stirring constantly using a spoon or spatula until thicker.
Hi Thomas your recipes are amazing thank you so much for sharing them 🙂
You're welcome Chels 🙂
I tried again and this time make extra-sure I blended it enough and cooked it enough, and it turned out really well. I'm so excited! Delicious and inexpensive. Thanks!
Awesome! Thanks for your update Beth, really appreciate it 🙂
Hi Thomas, if we don't have potato starch on hand, can we replace it with more tapioca starch or corn starch? Thanks.
Hi Peggy, if you replace it with tapioca or cornstarch you won't get the same texture. Potato starch really helps thicken the mixture.
Oh WOW! I made the chao and eons later, finally made the cheese! You nailed this one 🙂 Its simple, super cheesy and quick...if you have the chao on hand. New favourite recipe and need to make more chao now, this will go fast!
Thanks Connie 🙂 I appreciate your feedback!
Hi 1/4 of demented tofu smashed is it?? Or in cubes??
1/4 cup mashed.
I'm not a fan of coconut oil. I was wondering if there was a good substitute for it?
I'm afraid there is not as coconut oil helps the slices firm up a bit once cold.
Fantastic! I Made only 2 substitutions: 1 TBS soy butter instead of 2 TBPS coconut oil and 1 tsp turmeric powder instead of anatto oil (I don’t know where buy it).
Thanks for your feedback Titti!
Regarding the anatto oil, it's just anatto seeds sautéed for a couple of minutes in oil.
I made the Chao 2 months ago and it's really a magical flavour in cheese recipes. Thank you so much for that.
About the cheese- Can I make a block and slice it after it will firm in the fridge?
Thanks Sakra! It is 🙂
Regarding a sliceable block, you might want to look at another recipe since this one is pretty soft in the refrigerator.
Could this make a thick cheese sauce with none (or less) of the starch? I'm thinking of using it in a seven layer dip as the base for the queso. I just don't know how much starch it needs to thicken it without turning it solid.
I would probably go with 1 tbsp tapioca starch and 1 tbsp potato starch.
Do you have a recommendation for store bought Chao? Are there any brands that you recommend? Thanks and can't wait to try!
I'm afraid I haven't, the brands keep changing at my local Asian store. So I'm usually making my own 🙂
I just had dinner with these vegan cheese slices on a chickpea-flour- waffle and it was awesome. Really good and if you have the ingredients, it is really easy. Thanks a lot Thomas
Great! Thanks for your feedback Rebato! 🙂
Hi! If I wanted to add kappa carrageenan which step do I add it to?
Hi Tess, I am not familiar with kappa carrageenan, so unfortunately I can't help you with this.
Totally awesome Thomas
Thankyou for all these recipes - fermented and cultured is humans healing food xxx
Cheese slices beautiful with ferm. tofu - how creative !! It will also be my new cheese sauce for veg bakes xx ( thinned out) delicious!
Cultured butter another new staple, thanks (i used quinoa rej in both recipes.
Glad you are enjoying the recipes Aurora 🙂
Thanks for your feedback!
I wanted to try your recipe, but I live in a country (Benin, Africa) where nutritional yeast is not available and most shipping services don't work, so I would like to know if I can just omit the nutritional yeast or would you recommend to substitute it with something else?
Thank you in advance.
Have a good day! 🙂
There is no good substitute for it I'm afraid, and if you leave it out you won't get a very cheesy flavor.
Have a good day too!
Thank you for the answer Thomas! I was actually really hoping you’d say you’re working on a Raclette recipe. You’re such a superstar! I just tagged you on my latest cheese pics on Instagram (mango_garden), because for the Camembert I of course used your fool proof recipe. So looking forward to the raclette!
Thomas, gratidão pela sua generosidade. Eu ainda não fiz nenhum da forma com ensina. Vou começar agora. Estou ansiosa. Ainda vou comprar as culturas. Eu não comecei porque minha geladeira fica cheia com as preparações, então estou pensando em comprar uma adega. Você acha melhor comprar uma geladeira pequena ou uma adega? As cestinhas que usa para colocar os outros queijos são de que material? Parecem de palha ou bambu. Não consegui ver direito. Mais uma vez, gratidão.
Thanks for your kind words Eliane,
I have never used a wine fridge so I cannot tell, but I am using a small refrigerator where I changed the thermostat to control the temperature better. Be aware that you can totally make cheeses in a regular refrigerator, set at its highest temperature.
Regarding the mat, I used to use bamboo mats but now I would recommend using a plastic grid. This way the mold won't stick as much and it will be easier to handle. Hope this helps!
Thank you so much, Thomas. God keep blessing you a lot!
ELIANE SANTANA LOGRADO
Thank you so much, Thomas. God keep blessing you a lot!
I've made some chao, following your recipe - thanks for that - but it has disintegrated a bit, I suspect I may not have pressed the tofu for long enough. Should I strain out the solids for this recipe, or use a mixture of solids and liquid?
This recipe works best with the solids of the chao.
Hi Thomas! thanks for the recipe. I am going to give it a try this weekend 🙂 Is there any store-bought dairy-free yoghurt that you recommend? If not...did you use a nut based yoghurt or maybe a coconut yoghurt? Thanks in advance
Yes, soy or coconut yogurt, as long as they are unflavored and unsweetened work great!