One of the things we hear often is that people who give up dairy miss their favorite foods – especially the extra cheesy ones. Let’s face it: cheese is easy to miss! That gooey melt is the reason foods like pizza and burgers are so amazing.
Fortunately, non-dairy cheese and vegan cheese options give people a way to still enjoy all their favorites. However, if you’ve ever cooked with vegan cheese, you’ve probably noticed it’s a little different than dairy cheese.
The biggest difference is the melt. The melting point is different for different ingredients, so the best way to melt your plant-based or dairy-free cheese depends on the ingredients. Remember that oil-based dairy-free cheese, like Vevan, tends to have a more authentic cheese texture and melts better than other styles.
Melt like a magician
The first thing you might notice when melting dairy-free vegan cheese is that it doesn’t brown like traditional cheese. The brown color you see when cooking with traditional cheese is because of the dairy sugars and proteins (similar to the way baked goods or meat darken as they cook). Since non-dairy cheese like Vevan don’t contain any dairy, they won’t brown the same way.
There’s another visual cue that may throw you off. Even though dairy-free cheese is melted, it may still look like its original form. To be sure you’ve reached that perfect creamy melt, gently check the texture with a knife or fork.
For the best melting results, we turn up the heat. An oven set to 425°F will help you get the creamiest, dreamiest results.
Another trick: Try microwaving your recipe before moving it to the oven. This jump-starts the melt, so you have less cooking time in the oven or skillet. We make our Vevan grilled cheese by stacking on the ingredients, microwaving for 30 seconds on high, then brushing the bread with butter and toasting it golden brown in a skillet.
Remember that sometimes less is more. A big mound of dairy-free cheese won’t give you a terrific consistent melt as well as an even layer of great flavor spread across your dish.
For a classic like pizza, we think sliced Vevan Melts are the best vegan cheese for pizza and we use them instead of shredded cheese. We tear the melts into pieces and scatter them around the pie for a nice even cover of perfectly melted creamy vegan cheese goodness.
When it comes to sauces, though, a shredded cheese like Vevan Shred is the best choice for an extra cheesy, super easy vegan cheese sauce. Melting a handful (or two or three!) of dairy-free cheese into a liquid base like water or a vegan milk alternative is a super easy way to make creamy pasta dishes or a comforting classic like mac-n-cheese.
Be sure to visit the Indulge recipes section to find more delicious ideas and step-by-step tips for cooking with dairy-free cheese.