Make Vegan Coconut Milk Cheese!

This recipe was inspired by the Bunny Kitchen’s 15 Minute Slice-able & Melt-able Vegan Cheese. First, I’m not a big fan of soy milk, but I am a big fan of fat. Yeah, I said it, I’m not a vegan for my health :p (Although this homemade vegan coconut milk cheese is cholesterol-free, and healthy enough if you don’t eat the whole block at once!) I changed up the seasonings to help mask the coconut flavor, and cut down on the nooch.
You can do this recipe paleo, grain free & gluten free.

How to Make Vegan Coconut Milk Cheese
I originally made my coconut milk cheese using an agar bar to set it, but you can also use agar flakes or powder.

And although I used cornstarch to thicken it, you can use tapioca powder as in the Bunny Kitchen recipe. If you use tapioca starch you can chill it in the freezer to get it nice and firm for grating, but if you use cornstarch it will turn spongy in the freezer.

How To Make Vegan Coconut Milk Cheese
Because the coconut milk has such a strong taste, I increased the salt and added more seasonings. I haven’t had dairy cheese in 15+ years, but I think this tastes kind of cheddar-y.

How to Make Vegan Coconut Milk Cheese
Just be sure to either use a silicone mold, or use parchment paper to line your glass mold for easy removal (you could also try oiling the glass mold, I haven’t attempted that yet).

How to Make Vegan Coconut Milk Cheese
During my experiments I noticed you may get a slightly different consistency using agar bars, flakes, or powder. You can experiment, too, and find the texture you prefer. My mom once added extra agar powder by accident and ended up with a cheese that was so sturdy, it sliced like meat and sort of tasted like bologna. So….yeah, keep that in mind 🙂

P.S. With no oil added, this cheese is perfect for a strict fasting day. And since it’s homemade and very inexpensive to make, I think it’s great for Lent!

Vegan Coconut Milk Cheese

1 can full fat coconut milk (approx 13oz)
2 tsp fine salt
1.5 tsp vinegar
1/2 agar bar* (or powder or flakes, see below for amounts)
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1 heaping tsp of smoked paprika (or to taste)
1/2 tsp of turmeric for color, optional
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
1/8 tsp onion powder (or to taste)
2 Tbsp cornstarch*, plus enough water to make it pourable

Put 2 Tbsp cornstarch in a cup and mix in just enough water to make it pourable, set aside. Bring coconut milk to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in salt and vinegar, and throw in the agar bar*. Stir and mash until it breaks down as much as possible. Strain. Put coconut milk mixture back in pan, stir in nutritional yeast, paprika, and turmeric (if using). Pour cornstarch mix into coconut while stirring rapidly. Continue to stir as you slowly bring the coconut milk to a boil again. Then remove from heat, and pour into parchment-lined dish or silicone mold.
The cheese will look very oily at first, but you won’t notice it after it has set.

*You can replace the agar bar with 6 Tbsp agar flakes, or 6 tsp agar powder, and skip the straining step.
To make the recipe paleo/grain-free, substitute 4 Tbsp tapioca starch for the cornstarch.

I use vegan coconut milk cheese in quesadillas, soups, cheesy mac, sandwiches…what will you do with vegan coconut milk cheese??

56 thoughts on “Make Vegan Coconut Milk Cheese!

    • Have fun!!! When I make it again I’m going to try adding more salt and vinegar to offset the sweetness, and maybe add a little onion powder. I also thought about trying a little miso paste. Just things to think about 🙂 Although it’s fine if you’re going to eat it with something else.

      • Thanks for the tips! I like the vinegar idea. I haven’t yet found a premade vegan cheez that doesn’t have at least one allergy-ridden ingredient for someone in my house. Silly pea protein…

  1. Glad you made a version of the cheese, it looks great! I’m with you on the coconut milk, I wouldn’t like that I’m sure! A soya cream would be good as it’s rich and fatty like coconut milk but without that flavour!

    • I try to avoid soy is the thing, and the other milk subs are all low fat/low cal. Well, we see what happens with the next batch, but so far this one is good when it’s mixed with other things. Thank you so much for the recipe!!!

      • I see Katherine. There is an alternative, you could use a nut cream instead of milk. Do you ever make your own almond milk? You can make it really thick and creamy so it is higher in fat and much richer. It’ll be even richer with cashews or macadamia nuts. Depending on where you are in the world (?) there are soy free ready made creamers available…

  2. I just ordered Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner along with agar agar, mirin, iIrish Moss, arrowroot and kadzu powder. I don’t mind eating daiya at a restaurant but so far have refused to buy it since I’d rather make my own. Katherine maybe you can stop by sometime and we can whip up some more cheese. I can whip up some rejuvelac and cashew yogurt!

    • Yeah, I buy Daiya for special occasions, but I’m too cheap to buy it all the time! Maybe you can also show me how to use water kefir grains, I wanna use them in my stinging nettle infusion if that will work…

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    • Well, we’ll use it all up now. The last batch I made was more like a spread, I dunno why it hasn’t firmed up the last two times. I WILL get it right next time!!!!

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  12. Hi Katherine! I am getting ready to make the coconut cheese (fingers crossed). I am going to make it with the agar powder – that seems easier for a Newbie. I was wondering if there is a difference in nutritional yeasts? There are a lot to chose from. Is there a brand that you have had luck with or are they all about the same?

    • Hooray – good luck! And thanks for the share 🙂 I’ve always just used Red Star brand because I can buy in bulk locally. I think that’s the most popular brand, and it’s done well for me all these years 🙂

  13. The one difference in using agar agar powder over the bars is you need to be very careful about cook time. I’ve gotten the best results when I added the agar agar in with the hot liquids and whirred it up together in the vita-mix. The next step will be to put it in a pan on the stove to heat to boiling. For this I’ve found it best to keep removing it from the stove top so it doesn’t get too hot. Too much time spent cooking will result in a less than desirable cheese. Not bad really, just not firm. Also, 1 tablespoon of agar flakes is equal to one teaspoon of powder. If you don’t have the nutritional yeast you can leave it out with no ill effects, in fact, I usually leave it out because the flavor is over powering ~ you can also leave out tahini and or oil.

    • There’s no tahini or oil in this recipe 🙂 Actually this is the one recipe I recommend leaving in the nooch because canned coconut milk has such a strong flavor – unless you like that, of course. I guess the fun part is experimenting and making it just to your liking.

  14. Yup, experimenting IS the fun part! I mentioned oil and tahini because they are prevalent in so many non-dairy cheeses. It’s good to know what can be left out and that it won’t affect the recipe in a bad way.

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  16. If this works out I might just be able to cut down on dairy cheese! (I’m not full vegetarian, but I have cut down about 75% of my meat intake, cuz honestly, no one needs that much meat.)

    • I hope it works for you! I’ve noticed there can be a difference in texture when you use powder vs. bar or different brands of coconut milk, so feel free to experiment. But I have gotten some really nice blocks from this recipe!

  17. I wonder if you can take a slice of this and grill it like paneer cheese? Would this work as a vegan substitute for Paneer cheese? I can’t have soy so using tofu for paneer is out. Thank you.

    • That’s a good question, I admit I’ve never tried grilling it. If it comes out firm enough and you’re quick with it on the grill, I think you could do it. You would probably have to adjust the seasonings in the cheese to get the right flavor, though.

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