As a self-professed fromage super fan, I never thought I’d endeavor to eat any vegan cheese, let alone a large cross section of what’s available on the market. But in the middle of doing Whole30, a month in which I gave up all forms of dairy (among other foods) I found myself wondering if I could ever make the switch, and what my vegan friends were facing in this brave new world of fake dairy products in fancy-looking packages.

So I went to several Boston-area markets, including Star Market, Whole Foods, and Cambridge Naturals, bought a variety of brands, flavors and types of vegan cheese, and got to work.

Most of the selections fell into three categories: slices, spreadable and what I’ll call “faux aged wheel”. The slices were the most successful of the bunch, especially melted - mimicking the gooey, plasticky texture and mild cheesy salt flavor of American process cheese slices. Good work, vegan cheese scientists! Spreadable cheeses were a mixed bag both in terms of texture and flavor. Vegan cheese makers have the most work to do in the “pressed and aged” wheel-style cheese. Many of those were funky in a bad way, with a putty-like texture that was truly off-putting, though I’ll note that Fauxmaggio’s Fauxmesan, while not appealing plain, really shines in a homemade pesto.

With the help of two other dairy cheese fanatics and one real-deal vegan, we set out to see what vegan cheese manufacturers hath wrought and what’s worth bringing home - testing for flavor, texture and meltability.

Many were quite good. Some went straight into the trash (poor trash). We found that among brands, there was no stand out. Many of the brands produced both products that we enjoyed and disliked. Read on for the results.


Left: Daiya Classic Blend Shreds // Right: Treeline Classic
Emily Balk

Daiya Classic Blend Shreds

  • Tasting notes (unmelted): Every taster had problems with these shreds straight out of the bag, from the tsunami of salt to the rubbery texture. One taster thought it had a “fish food aroma.”
  • Melting notes: “Not a great melt, texture is plasticky. Don’t bother.” “The flavor doesn’t hold up well melted.” “Definitely keeps an artificial flavor. Stays spongy.”
  • Overall verdict: The most complimentary comment noted that this product was “not unpleasant.” Most were put off by the strange flavor, smell and poor melting performance.

Treeline Classic

  • Tasting notes: Gray on the outside, smells sour, in a bad way. “Mustard-flavored Play-Doh.” “Stay away.” “If this was your introduction to vegan cheese, you would probably be turned off the concept forever.”
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: The only taster who could finish their sample of this cheese was the vegan. It was the solid loser of the bunch, in spite of the pretty package.


Left: So Delicious Mozzarella Flavored Shreds // Right: Kite Hill Ricotta
Emily Balk

SO Delicious Mozzarella Flavored Shreds

  • Tasting notes (unmelted, from the bag): A bit chalky and plasticky. Not good raw. “Bland and musty, somehow.” “Sawdust texture, empty flavor.”
  • Melting notes: “Flavor comes out in the melt, but it doesn’t taste like mozzarella.” “Not bad melted.”
  • Overall verdict: Don’t bother eating this raw. We did that for science. These improve greatly upon melting.

Kite Hill Ricotta

  • Tasting notes: Fluffy, cloud-like texture. It’s missing that sweet milky flavor and is a bit too tangy for a ricotta, but the texture is fairly convincing. “I tasted dill, but I’m crazy.” “This is good with strawberries.
  • Melting Notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: Some tasters were very into this ricotta based on its fairly true-to-form, ricotta-like texture, but it’s flavor was a bit too acidic for others.
Left: Nuttin Ordinary Italian Herb Cashew Cheese // Right: Fauxmaggio Pepper Jack Cultured Tree Nut Product
Emily Balk

Nuttin Ordinary Italian Herb Cashew Cheese

  • Tasting notes: Spreads like a creamy dip or a pub cheese. Very salty, very creamy and rich. Nice herb flavors. “Like a tangy boursin.”
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: Tasters agreed that this is a perfectly acceptable party cheese, great for spreading on crackers.

Fauxmaggio Pepper Jack Cultured Tree Nut Product

  • Tasting notes: Texture like hummus. Nice level of heat and tang.
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: Most liked this product well enough. It had a balanced spice and tangy flavor. There was one strong dissenter who thought it tasted like “hummus that had gone bad”.
Left: Heidi Ho Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheese // Right: Tofutti Plain Cream Cheese
Emily Balk

Heidi Ho Ne Chevre Pure Live Culture Cashew Cheese

  • Tasting notes: Not at all like chevre. More like a spread than a cheese. “Reminds me of mashed potatoes.” Tastes like hummus.
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: Meh. The Ne Chevre was far, far from the goat cheese we all know and love. This is cashew hummus.

Toffutti Plain Cream Cheese

  • Tasting notes: “Weirdly sweet and lacks tang.” “It’s like extra creamy vanilla tofu.” “Not bad, but someone who eats dairy wouldn’t go for this.” “Tofu-y texture.” “Tastes like ‘product’.”
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: Not all that convincing. Some tasters were ok with it, but it was a hard pass for others. The sweet flavor was hard to get past.
Left: Kite Hill Soft Fresh Truffle, Dill & Chive // Right: Fauxmaggio Fauxmesan
Emily Balk

Kite Hill Soft Fresh Truffle, Dill & Chive

  • Tasting notes: Spongy texture, light, with a strong truffle flavor. Hard to spread on a cracker. Cottage cheesy. “Dill-forward, or like a dill angel food cake.” “Dill air/dill cloud.”
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: Do you like dill? Do you like light and fluffy food? If so, you will enjoy this.

Fauxmaggio Fauxmesan

  • Tasting notes: Texture not at all like parmesan. “Soft and pasty.” This one had a parmesan-like aftertaste, but an unpleasant flavor up front. Very salty and tangy.
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: The texture of this cheese is too close to Play-Doh, and the flavor sliced straight off of the wheel is hard to describe. Most didn’t like it. However, I have since made very delicious pesto with it.
Left: Fauxmaggio Aged Rainbow Peppercorn // Right: Chao Field Roast Coconut Herb with Black Pepper
Emily Balk

Fauxmaggio Aged Rainbow Peppercorn

  • Tasting notes: Sweet, tangy, a little smokey, acidic, nutty, very smooth. “Intriguing, but I wouldn’t want more than a bite of it.” “A bit too much flavor.” “Play-doh texture. Too tangy.”
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: Most were ok with the first bite, but did not want to keep eating it after that. It was overpowering on all fronts.

Chao Field Roast Coconut Herb with Black Pepper

  • Tasting notes (unmelted): Nice subtle cheesy flavor with herby notes.
  • Melting notes: Very gooey. “Sticks to everything. Feels like I’ll never get it off my teeth.”
  • Overall verdict: Tasters noted that it was hard to separate the slices from each other in the package, but many liked the flavor. The soft gooeyness of the melted slices was polarizing. Some said it would make a great grilled cheese, others found the stickiness of the melted texture off-putting.


Left: Kite Hill Plain Cream Cheese // Right: Miyoko's Double Cream Chive Vegan Cheese Wheel
Emily Balk

Kite Hill Plain Cream Cheese

  • Tasting notes: Creamy with a slight tang. Very mild. “Way better than Toffuti.”
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: This one is quite good. Great creamy texture with a mild acid tang.

Miyoko’s Double Cream Chive Vegan Cheese Wheel

  • Tasting notes: Creamy and spreadable like boursin, tangy and salty in a good way. “Great on fresh bread.”
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: All tasters enjoyed this cheese. Super creamy, dense texture and pronounced, but pleasant chive flavor. One of the better cheeses we tried.
Left: Chao Field Roast Creamy Original // Right: Daiya Swiss Style Slices
Emily Balk

Chao Field Roast Creamy Original Slices with Chao Tofu

  • Tasting notes (unmelted): Texture is a bit like Kraft singles. Flavor is very mild.
  • Melting notes: Melts really well. Much better flavor melted than not.
  • Overall verdict: This is a totally serviceable substitute for Kraft singles. Not bad.

Daiya Swiss Style Slices

  • Tasting notes (unmelted): Very nice flavor, but not really Swiss.
  • Melting notes: This would make an excellent grilled cheese. “It’s gooey with good flavor.” Mild.
  • Overall verdict: Most liked this cheese raw, but everyone especially liked it melted.
Left: Daiya Smoked Gouda Style Farmhouse Block // Right: Follow Your Heart American Style Slices
Emily Balk

Daiya Smoked Gouda Style Farmhouse Block

  • Tasting notes: This cheese came in a block, rather than slices, and impressed everyone with its firm, cheese-like texture and balanced smoke flavor and aroma.
  • Melting notes: N/A
  • Overall verdict: This was an overwhelming favorite among tasters, vegan and non-vegan alike. “You could fool people into thinking this is real cheese.”

Brand: Follow Your Heart American Style Slices

  • Tasting notes (unmelted): Another processed cheese slice with a very mild, but palatable cheddar flavor.
  • Melting notes: Everyone loved how this cheese melted. “This makes a damn fine grilled cheese.” “Processed, but in a good way.” “Really tasty and nice. Gooey but not runny melted texture.” “Soft texture, very enjoyable melted.”
  • Overall verdict: Don’t expect much personality from these slices, but they’re a fabulous Kraft single analog with great melting power and a nostalgic, mild saltiness. Everyone loved how it melted on bread.