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Cashew-Based Smoked Cheddar Cheese

Updated: Jan 5

An amazing plant-based, vegan-friendly, soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free Cashew-Based Smoked Cheddar Cheese recipe that makes approximately 20 ounces/servings, taking about 15 minutes to prepare, with 40 minutes for cook time.


Vegan smoked cheddar cheese on a red plate, half covered with a cheese cloth.

As an Italian, cheese is vital to many delicious recipes I enjoy. But as a person with a dairy sensitivity, my love for health grew far beyond my love for traditional cheese.

When I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, I quickly learned dairy cheese was major in my body’s inflammation. Not only did the inflammation affect my physical health, but it also impacted my mental health, which influenced me to write, Foods to Improve Mental Health.

When discussing a transition to a plant-based lifestyle, the number one thing I hear from people is, "I’m addicted to cheese; I just can't give it up."

They’re right, cheese is hard to give up, but that’s because its compounds are literally addicting. When you consume cheese, casein in breaks down into compounds known as casomorphins (1). Casomorphins can cross the blood-brain barrier and attach to dopamine receptors in your brain, creating a dopamine response related to feelings of pleasure and reward (2). In mammals, casomorphins stimulate a strong bond between mother and baby and ensure that infants drink their mother’s nutrient-rich milk (3).

So yes, cheese is delicious, but it’s also addicting and can harm your health. Not to mention, better, cleaner alternatives exist (or you can make them).

Cheese is often one of the only things holding vegetarians back from becoming plant-based. Did you know only about 10% of enzymes in cheeses are not vegetarian-friendly? Some enzymes are derived from the stomach lining of young cows. Other enzymes, such as vegetable enzymes, are derived from fig tree bark, nettles, cardoon thistles, mallow, ground ivy, or creeping Charlie. Microbial enzymes are made from molds, such as rhyzomucor miehei. Genetically modified enzymes are derived from bacteria, fungi, or yeasts. The worst part is that the package doesn't specify what type of enzyme the cheese contains (4).

Enzymes derivation aside, cheese is made from milk, and growing up, we were told to drink our milk if we wanted strong bones, but this has since come back false. Actually, besides containing hormones and gross amounts of pus, consuming milk has been linked to quite a few risks, such as:

  • Increased risk of broken bones

  • Increased risk of diabetes

  • Increased risk of ovarian cancer

  • May cause antibiotic resistance

  • Contains hormones (5)

That's just from consuming milk, but it takes 10 pounds to make a single pound of cheese. That means the number of hormones, steroids, cholesterol, saturated fat, and other associated health risks increase (6).

So without further ado, I introduce my cashew-based smoked cheddar cheese recipe. This recipe is plant-based, vegan-friendly, soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free Cashew-Based Smoked Cheddar Cheese recipe that makes approximately 20 ounces/servings and takes about 15 minutes to prepare, with 40 minutes for cook time.


Cashew-Based Smoked Cheddar Cheese


  • 2 cups filtered water

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight)

  • ½ cup nutritional yeast

  • ¼ cup refined coconut oil or vegetable shortening

  • 4 tbsp. lemon juice

  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tbsp. agar agar powder

  • 1 tbsp. arrowroot powder

  • 1-2 tsp. smoked paprika (I use 1 tsp.)

  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke

  • 1½ tsp. pink salt

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1 tsp. onion powder

  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder


  1. Gather your ingredients, preferably organic: filtered water, soaked raw cashews, nutritional yeast, refined coconut oil or vegetable shortening, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, agar agar powder, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, pink salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric.

  2. After you've gathered your ingredients, if you forgot to soak your cashew overnight, as I did, simply boil water and pour over the cashews until they’re completely covered. Let sit until the water cools to room temperature before continuing.

  3. After soaking your cashews, blend everything except the arrowroot and Agar Agar powder in a high-speed processor/blender.

  4. After you’ve achieved a smooth, runny consistency, add the arrowroot and agar agar powder. Blitz for a few seconds to incorporate them well into the mix.

  5. Pour the mixture into a pot and heat up over medium-high heat. Stir continuously. Remove from the heat when the mixture thickens to a cheese sauce consistency.

  6. Immediately pour into a chest mold and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours (I refrigerated overnight).

  7. Keep in the fridge for up to 7 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.

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What's your favorite kind of cheese?

Sarena-Rae Santos



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