While we knew that vegan cheeses were different from dairy cheeses, it wasn’t until we started using them as dairy-cheese replacements in recipes that we learned how best to work with them.
Vegan cheese shreds hold their shapes when melted and don’t as readily form a cohesive mass like shredded dairy cheese does when melted. But what does that mean when cooking with them?
Below you’ll find a few tips we learned during our testing.
Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter
Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!
1. Use Finely Shredded Cheese
When baked in a hot oven, vegan cheese shreds don’t necessarily look like they’ve melted, but they actually have plenty of stretch and ooze when cut. If appearance is important to you, we found that the finer the shreds, the better they melted, looking almost indistinguishable from dairy cheese.
2. Press Your Grilled Cheeses and Quesadillas
To make sure that the cheese in your grilled cheese and quesadilla is nicely gooey, press down on them while cooking. We found that pressing with another pot or the flat side of a spatula helped the shreds melt and stick the two pieces of bread or tortillas together.
3. Shreds Are Best When Melted
While there are fewer applications where you might use uncooked vegan cheese shreds—perhaps sprinkled on a salad or on already-cooked vegetables or pasta—this was not our preferred way to eat them. Uncooked shreds had “rubbery,” “greasy,” “crumbly,” and “mealy” textures. Conversely, we found that vegan cheese slices melted quite well in a grilled cheese sandwich and that uncooked slices were perfectly acceptable in a sandwich.
All About Vegan CheeseWe explored the burgeoning world of vegan cheese, specifically vegan shredded mozzarella and cheddar, to find out just what’s in these mysterious shreds.
4. Cover with Foil When You Can
You’ll get glossier melted cheese and a slightly more impressive cheese pull when you cover the shreds while baking (such as when sprinkled over a lasagna).
5. Whisk Shreds Vigorously into Sauces
Vegan cheese shreds work beautifully when added to sauces, but you will need to whisk the sauce more vigorously than you would when using a dairy-based cheese in order to get the shreds to melt.