The holidays are looming on the horizon and it’s time to get your holiday plans in order. At Cheese Not Cheese, we’re feeling especially high-spirited. Though we’re always willing to have an epic cheese platter party, no matter the time of year, this year is special because we’re celebrating OUR FIRST BOOK and we’re SO EXCITED that this project will soon be in the hands of many.
If you know anything about us, you know that we throw a smashingly good party. Especially cheesy parties. In fact, the cheesier, the better. We pass around vegan cheeseboards and beverages like nobody’s business.
The best part? Our cheeseboards are enjoyed by everyone because we serve gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free cheeses at every one of our soirees. So when we say these goodies are for everyone, we mean everyone. The following five cheeses happen to be non-dairy and plant-based, but that doesn’t mean a meat-eating, dairy-cheese-loving friend wouldn’t like it. In fact, we’ve served these artisanal vegan cheeses to friends with a variety of dietary preferences and it was a hit every time. EVERY. TIME.
You and your friends don’t have to be vegan to enjoy the non-dairy cheese on this list. The flavor profiles of these five selections will knock your holiday socks off. You’ll love them simply because they taste amazing. Then, you’ll love them more for their healthy, clean ingredients.
But enough talk. Let’s get to the cheese, pleeeease.
Bandit Barn Cat
Philadelphia-based Barn Cat cheese from plant-based cheese company, Bandit. Image courtesy of Bandit and owner Bo Babaki.
Like many of the non-dairy cheeses on this list, Bandit’s Barn Cat is visually stunning. The cheese looks fancy and expensive all on its own. All you have to do is unwrap it and place it on your charcuterie or cheeseboard.
And that’s just looking at it. Wait until you dig in.
Produced by owner Bo Babaki, Barn Cat is a truly one-of-a-kind cheese that will make anyone into a vegan cheese believer. Named after Bo’s wily cat, Barn Cat comes wrapped in a delicate, bloomy rind with a nearly indescribable flavor. Made from cashews and coconut oil with beautiful lines of vegetable ash, Barn Cat’s velvety interior gives way to a pleasingly mellow yet deep umami flavor reminiscent of a Humboldt Fog goat cheese mixed with a hint of Bleu.
We like to say that it’s wonderfully creamy and unctuous. Others have told us that Barn Cat reminds them of a buttery croissant. Either way, it sounds delicious and deserves a spot on your vegan charcuterie or vegan cheese platter this holiday season.
Pair this delightful plant-based cheese wedge with fennel or apricot jam on a hearty cracker.
Find more about Bandit on their website.
Read about Barn Cat in this New York Times article by Tejal Rao, “Vegan Cheese, but Make it Delicious.”
Rebel Cheese Truffle Brie
Plant-based Truffle Brie by Rebel Cheese. Image courtesy of Rebel Cheese.
Based in Austin, Tx, Rebel Cheese is a delightful deli, cheese, and wine shop with a completely plant-based menu serving customers from all over the world. Owners Kirsten Maitland and Fred Zwar have created 30+ house-made, plant-based cheeses in a variety of flavors and textures to suit a number of recipes and cravings. Their Truffle Brie is just one of the delectable flavors they offer.
Cave-aged to perfection with a cashew and coconut base, Truffle Brie is a glow-up take on their popular, classic Brie. It comes encased in a pillowy, bloomy rind, much like Barn Cat. Inside, you’ll find a creamy yet structured interior for slicing. They’ve layered their Truffle version with pureed black garlic for a palate-pleasing savory and sweet combination. Kirsten and Fred recommend pairing their Truffle Brie with sundried tomatoes and bold flavors.
According to our own Non-Dairy Fairy, Lisa Botts, there’s a certain finishing touch that follows your tastebuds after a bite of Truffle Brie, “something bright that lifts the palate at the end.” How intriguing! That alone should pique your curiosity to give this beloved dairy-free cheese a go on your holiday spread.
We love pairing the Truffle Brie with butter toasted crostini and arugala.
Visit the Rebel Cheese website here and get info on how to visit their shop in person.
View a lovely photograph and read about Rebel Cheese in Tejal Rao’s NY Times article.
Katona’s Kreamery Coco Blue
Blue cheese fans rejoice because we’ve got Coco Blue from Katona’s Kreamery on our holiday list. It doesn’t matter if you’re a dairy cheese fan, this non-dairy version is so identical to the dairy version, your guests won’t even skip a beat as they chow down on Coco Blue from Katona’s Kreamery.
Hailing from southern California, this gorgeously blue-veined vegan blue cheese, named Coco Blue by creator and owner Elizabeth Katona, adds a fun twist to your holiday cheese board. Just as distinctly pungent and sharp as you’d expect a blue cheese to taste, Coco Blue is best enjoyed in its raw form. Elizabeth suggests pairing it with figs, honey, or cherries on a cracker.
If you have any left over after your holiday celebration (which would be surprising), Coco Blue melts beautifully in a risotto or spread over a warm galette.
We recommend pairing Coco Blue crumbled atop belgian endive leaves topped with chopped walnuts.
Drool over all the mouthwatering Coco Blue pics on the Katona’s Kreamery Instagram account.
Fun Fact: During the day, Elizabeth Katona turns her vegan cheese babies daily during the aging process. Now that’s love.
Violife Epic Mature Cheddar Block
When it comes to dairy-based cheese boards, cheddar is pretty much a given. You’ll find cubes or slices of this orange classic on every holiday spread. Well guess what?! We’ve chosen our favorite non-dairy version from Violife. This soy-free, nut-free, and dairy-free block of goodness is veeerry close to the dairy version. It’s truly epic and lives up to its name: Violife Epic Mature Cheddar.
This is a classic, standard, must-have vegan cheddar that won’t let you or your guests down. Versatile in its block form, you can easily slice it, cube it, or crumble it. According to Violife, their Epic Mature Cheddar Block comes with an “epic taste, epic crumble” and an “epic mouth feel.” We agree 100%.
And does this hunk of vegan deliciousness even melt? *slow nod* Yes, yes, yes… your grilled cheeses and warm pastas will taste so good, you won’t even miss the dairy version. Go buy some today.
Although headquartered in Greece, Violife is a brand with a wide reach. You can find their vegan cheeses in nearly every grocery store across the United States. Try it. You’ll like it. You may even want to keep it off your holiday cheeseboard, hidden away in your own personal stash of goodies…Shhh! We won’t tell!
We recommend pairing Violife’s Epic Mature Cheddar with plant-based carpaccio and a cornichon.
See what the packaging looks like so you can quickly find it at the store.
Then, discover their broad range of plant-based products here. (There’s something for everyone!)
Darë Balsamic Fig Plant-based Cheese Wedge
Balsamic Fig plant-based cheese wedge by Gwendolyn Hageman of Darë Vegan Cheese. Photo by Nick Levine.
Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, Darë Vegan Cheese makes plant-based cheese wedges almost too pretty to eat. But you must! Their Balsamic Fig plant-based cheese wedge is a delight to the senses. It looks pretty, smells pretty, and tastes pretty. Mmm, mmm, mmm… Made from a cashew base, the Balsamic Fig has all the velvety mouthfeel you’d expect from cashews along with sweet notes of fig balanced with acidic touches of balsamic vinegar.
The marbleized top will wow your guests and make an elegant statement on your vegan charcuterie board.
We enjoy pairing Dare’s Balsamic Fig with a piece of rich, dark chocolate.
Get an eyeful of all the beautiful things happening on the Dare Vegan Cheese website
Follow along with behind-the-scenes fun and get first dibs on all the new flavors on the Darë Instagram.
Time to Get Your Holiday Vegan Cheese Board in Order
Did we whet your appetite for these delightful, non-dairy cheeses? After spending time going over these five artisanal goodies, we’re about ready to raid our fridge (where we keep a constant stash of artisanal vegan cheeses at alllll times).
These plant-based cheeses are our top five and a must-have on every vegan cheese platter. They’ll wow your palate as well as your guest’s. We promise that you’re bound to like at least one, if not all, of these dairy-free cheeses.
If you’ve not tried any of these cheeses from Bandit, Rebel Cheese, Katona’s Kreamery, Violife, or Darë Vegan Cheese, you’re in for an entirely new vegan cheese experience. We won’t be surprised if you become a new fan and start craving these goodies on more than a holiday basis.
We’ve featured every one of these artisanal non-dairy cheeses in our new book, Cheese Not Cheese. In it, you’ll find everything you need to know about vegan cheese. Plus, you’ll get to read about the artisan cheese makers we interviewed and how they built their businesses. (Hint! We got to speak to the owner of Bandit, Rebel Cheese, Katona’s Kreamery, and Darë Vegan Cheese.)
Cheese Not Cheese will teach you how to build a vegan cheese board along with our pairing recommendations. Plus, we supply you with ideas for entertaining, tips for handling non-dairy cheese, tasty recipes, and more!
We’ll leave you with this excerpt from our book detailing our cheese board tips:
Cheese Board Tips:
✧ A good rule of thumb is to remember that non-dairy cheese functions best under cool conditions. A cheese board in an air-conditioned room works nicely. A cheese board outdoors for a prolonged amount of time at a summer party? Not so much.
✧ If you’d like to prep your cheese board ahead of time, put the board together, cover, then place it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Now get to it! Start creating the holiday vegan cheese board or plant-based charcuterie of your dreams.
Lots of Love & Stay Cheesy 🧀
Lisa & Lucie
Follow us on Instagram @thevegancheeseplate
Need more inspiration? Get your hands on our book, Cheese Not Cheese, here!