If you don’t know, I’m pretty excited about this. Every vegan I’ve ever met in real life has said the hardest thing to give up was cheese and every non vegan has told me that they would never be able to give up cheese. Fortunately, due to amazing chefs like Miyoko Schinner, Jay Astafa, Somer McGowan, and Skye Michael Conroy, we are able to enjoy cheese-like products, without the cruelty. I’ve made several forays into the world of vegan cheese and learned a lot of different techniques from many different recipes. The particular recipe that I drew inspiration from for this is the cashew mozzarella developed by Jay Astafa. You can watch the YouTube video here. I noticed he uses soy lecithin as an emulsifier, which aquafaba has been shown to do in recipes like Nina’s butter and Peanut Butter and Vegan’s mayo. This inspired me to make this cashew mozzarella using aquafaba as the emulsifier. It also makes this recipe soy free, conveniently, for those who are intolerant.
Vegan cheese doesn’t create casein protein strands like dairy cheeses do, which is why we use tapioca starch to create that stretchy texture. Some places may have it labeled at tapioca flour, but they should be interchangeable. I find mine at an international market for a cheaper price. You can also add a bit of xantham gum to increase the stretchiness. If you don’t have any, feel free to omit it, the cheese will still be delicious! I use vegan lactic acid powder to create that dairy-like tang in this recipe. It’s definitely worth the purchase, but if you cannot buy it, substitute a tablespoon of lemon juice instead. Nutritional yeast also adds to this cheesy flavor. Refined coconut oil helps with firmness upon refrigeration and improves the mouthfeel and melt. Cashews can possibly be subbed for raw sunflower seeds for those with allergies.
Most vegan cheeses use either agar or kappa carrageenan as a binder to be sliceable and shreddable. I choose to use kappa carrageenan, as I prefer the melt and mouthfeel it imparts. I am well aware that many people choose not to consume it and I completely respect that; this recipe may be possible with agar powder, but I have not tested it. If you do test it, please contact me with your results!
Edited to add: Several people have tried with equal amounts of agar and have had a hard time getting it to set. I would suggest doubling the amount of agar powder (use 1 tablespoon and 1 tsp). Xanthan gum will not replace the carrageenan, it’s not a firm binder like carrageenan is, just a thickener.
If you like this recipe, be sure to check out these other vegan cheese recipes:
Meltable Soy-based Mozzarella
Soy/Cashew Buffalo Mozzarella
Smoked Coconut Gouda
Almond Milk Pepperjack
The Vegan Meringue group on Facebook is a great place for more aquafaba recipes as well.
• 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or boiled for 15 minutes
• 1 cup aquafaba (preferably chickpea or other light colored bean)
• 2 tbsp tapioca starch
• 2 tsp kappa carrageenan
• 1 tsp lactic acid**
• 1 tsp nutritional yeast
• 3/4 tsp salt*
• 6 tbsp refined coconut oil, liquid
*You may need to adjust the salt level a bit lower if using salted aquafaba.
**You can substitute with 1 tbsp lemon juice, but the lactic acid tastes better
1. Blend softened cashews and aquafaba in a high speed blender until as smooth as possibly. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any large particles and return to blender.
It should be very smooth after blending.
You may find there are still a few cashew particles if you’re using a lower quality blender or food processor, which is why I recommend straining.
2. Add tapioca starch, carrageenan, lactic acid, nutritional yeast, and salt and pulse in a blender to combine. *Please ignore the xanthan gum in this picture. It is not part of the recipe, but I used it in an early test, which is where this picture is from.
4. Heat in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat while stirring regularly. It will look like quite lumpy as the tapioca starch activates.
It will eventually turn glossy and smooth, like melted cheese. When it reaches 170°F, it is done. You will see it begin to bubble around the edges and maintain its thickness.
Obviously, the best uses of any cheese are either on pizza or fried into mozzarella sticks.