Dairy-Free, Paleo Friendly Cheddar Cheese (Vegan Option Noted)

January 1, a new year, a new you.

While many people use this day to mark their new, fresh eating habits; while many of my friends have begun their sugar-detox, juicing or Whole30 plan, my next Whole30 won’t begin until this Friday.

“Why?” you ask?

Well, first off, Thursday is my husband’s birthday. And while Dallas & Melissa would say “don’t let that stop you!”, with my husband’s commitment to do his second Whole30 with me (this is my third!), I wouldn’t dare make him miss a piece of cake on his own birthday.

Only, this time I’m not just doing the Whole30 as I have done it in the past…this time I am following the Whole30 auto-immune protocol.

What does this mean?

Well…in addition to the standard Whole30 which is grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, no sugar or sweeteners of any sort for 30 days I will also be night-shade(tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, spices made from peppers), nut, seed and egg free. After 30 days I will slowly reintroduce these foods back into my diet and determine, by how my body processes this food, if I can truly tolerate these foods or not.

I have my suspicions, but time will tell.

I know that sounds like a lot to eliminate, but with the help of Practical Paleo, my friend Melissa Joulwan and her awesome book, Well Fed, and of course my own creative ingenuity, I have no doubt that this will still be a month filled with deliciousness and recipes to share!

That being said, I still have a couple of recipes to master and share before then…

This ‘cheese’ comes to you for a number of reasons.

#1, I love cheese. Before learning that I cannot tolerate dairy or casein, before my daughter was diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy; my motto was “everything is better with cheese.” And while I have learned to live and love food without, every now and then a bit of cheese is exactly what you need.

But this couldn’t just be any cheese…this had to be sliceable cheese…


And shredable cheese…


And this cheese had to melt, too! (sorry, no picture, but it does melt!)

#2, and probably the primary reason why I needed to invest time into perfecting this recipe; I was given a challenge to ‘paleocize’ a delicious looking recipe from my friend, Shirley over at Gluten-Free Easily. A challenge I gladly accepted and have been diligently working towards since.

Funny thing is, this isn’t the first recipe I have been inspired to create a recipe so that I can replicate or duplicate one of Shirley’s recipes.

Not only does she have some great ideas, like me, Shirley is dedicated to creating foods that her family loves in a new and better-for-them, gluten-free fashion.  This often means that, while our means may be slightly different, our goals and inspiration can be one and the same.

So…before I share my ‘paleocized’ version of Shirley’s Garlic-Cheese Biscuits, I first must share the recipe for the cheese you need to make these with!

This ‘cheese’ not only meets the requirements listed above, it taste delicious, pairs well with fruits like pineapple and grapes and is pretty much everything that someone who can’t eat cheese would want their dairy-free cheese to be.

Except stretchy.  Sorry, without the use of grain or corn-based ingredients like xanthan gum, I haven’t been able to get a stretch into the cheese.

Still, not to pat my own back or anything…this is, hands down, the most perfect grain-free cheese I have had since going dairy-free; even my dairy-eaters couldn’t get enough!

I hope you and your family agree!


Dairy-Free, Paleo Friendly Cheddar Cheese (Vegan Option Noted)


  • 1 ½ c water
  • 2 Tbs Unflavored Gelatin*
  • ½ c Raw Cashews
  • ¼ c Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 3 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbs Sesame Tahini
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp onion powder
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp dry mustard


  1. Using palm or coconut oil, generously grease a 1-quart glass or ceramic bowl or casserole dish, set aside.
  2. In small sauce pan, bring gelatin and water to boil for 1 minute. Quickly move this and all other ingredients to blender and allow to blend at highest setting until mix is completely smooth.
  3. Pour sauce into prepared bowl, refrigerate uncovered for 3 hours. Cover and chill overnight. Store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.
  4. Slice, shred, cube, serve.
  5. Makes approximately 2 cups.
  6. *For a vegan version, agar agar can be used in place of the gelatin. While I have not tested measurements on this recipe, generally speaking 2 tbs gelatin = 1 ½ tbs agar agar powder or 5 tbs agar agar flakes. If you do a vegan version of this, please let me know what measurements work for you!



  1. Kathy in Idaho says:

    You do realize that both cayenne and paprika are a kind of pepper don’t you?

    • Yes, I do. And cashews are a nut and tahini is made from seeds. At no point do I say that this recipe fits in to the autoimmune protocol which I will begin on Friday; I am sorry if you were under the impression that it would.

  2. I would like to try this with blanched almonds instead of cashews – think it would work?

    • Almonds are more difficult to blend down to a smooth texture. That being said, if you soak them first you might have success. Please let me know if you try this and how it turns out! xoxo

      • Spirit Wolf says:

        I make an almond-based mayonnaise. Soaking the almonds helps; but I find what works even better is to grind the almonds into flour and then use them that way, as flour, in this recipe. It works great for me. I do it with almost all my almond recipes. Try it. I think you’ll like it.

  3. This looks great! I have a similar vegan cheese sauce posted on my site (my mac and cheese recipe), but you used more nutritional yeast and added some spices I didn’t use… I will definitely be trying your version, it looks sooooo good!!! BTW- I recently found your site and just love it!

    • 🙂 Thank you, Cassidy! Your site is adorable…I look forward to getting to ‘know’ you! xoxo

    • J'Marinde says:

      Hello Cassidy;
      I have been all over your site and your Pinterest, but I cannot find this recipe or this Mac & Cheese – – could you send a direct link to both? thanks.

  4. Sunny, you always amaze me with your creations!!! I’m “subbing out” all my needs for paleo/grain-free versions to you! 😉 Thanks for the sweet words, too, dear. 🙂


  5. yum!! so creative.. and so similar to my nacho cheese sauce…can’t wait to try this!!

    • 🙂 There is just a little kick to this, but it’s sooo good and it makes a wonderful sauce! Sometimes we need something a little more solid and this one does the trick. I hope you like it, Tess. xoxo

  6. Sunny, you rock and I can’t waitto try this!! It is nutritionally far superior to any dairy-free cheese I’ve found. Thanks a bunch for developing and posting this recipe. I can’t wait to try it!!! 🙂

  7. Natalie says:

    I made this cheese over the weekend. I was expecting it to be hard like regular cheese. Instead it was spongy. Is this normal?? I’m new to paleo and I love cheese. Is there anything I could use to replace the smoked paprika? I felt it was too overwhelming for me. Sorry, I’m not complaining. I just didn’t really know what to expect!

    • 🙂 Hi Natalie! Yes, most homemade dairy-free ‘cheese’ comes out spongy, totally normal but a great question all the same! While I love the smoked paprika, you might want to try regular paprika if it was too overwhelming. As with anything, playing with the spices to make it to your own desires is always a great way to perfect your dishes. <3 I hope you find many uses for this cheese. It is one of our all-time favorites. xo

  8. Made this over the weekend! Not the greatest in it’s hard form but melted on duck tacos was AMAZING!

    Warning- Don’t know if this happened to anyone else but the blender exploded on me when I put in the hot gelatin and turned it on.

    • So sorry your blender exploded! Definitely keep a hand on it just in case! Glad it all turned out well in the end, thanks for letting us know. xoxo

  9. For some reason this came out VERY spicy — I’m sure my husband will love it, but too spicy for me.
    SO – I just remade a second batch for myself with about 1/8 the seasonings (except for full salt) and from the finger lick on the remains from the blender (pre-chilled), it tastes like a cross between: Provolone, Havarti, and Butterkase — ALL of which I used to love!!! Very excited. Can’t wait until tomorrow to truly taste it once it has it’s overnight rest… Time to make crackers! THANK YOU!!!!!

  10. What can I sub the Tahini with? Maybe almond or cashew butter?

    • Any nut butter would probably work but will change the flavor properties slightly, feel free to play! I look forward to hearing your review.

  11. Chirtie says:

    Can cashew butter be subbed in for the cashews? If so, how much should I use?

    • Chirtie, I am sure it can! Unfortunately I am not 100% sure on how much you should use as I have not done it this way (I find it much more affordable to buy raw cashew seeds and make it that way). I would start with the same measurements included in the recipe then adjust down based on your results.

      I appreciate you letting me know how it goes!

  12. Cashews are considered a legume, and are not permitted in a Paleo diet. Almonds might be a better option.

  13. do you have sub for the tahini? Can’t do that on the challenge I’m on now.

    • Brian, you can either leave it out or use more cashew instead. It does add a nice depth of flavor but isn’t a make or break ingredient. 🙂 I hope that helps!

  14. Makenna says:

    I haven’t ate cheese it feels like in forever!(It has only been 3 months)Cheese is such a staple in my house and everybody eats cheese! I am always drooling at everybody who eats cheese. Now that I have found this recipe and have all the ingredients I am super happy. I have one question though can I just use nutritional yeast instead of nutritional yeast flakes?

  15. Ranbout says:

    Hello, i am not a fan of gelatin, any substitutes please?

  16. Sandhya Chander says:

    Can I make this without nutritional yeast? Will it alter the taste? Or any substitute for nutritional yeast?

    • Sandhya,

      You can try to make it without the nutritional yeast, maybe adjusting the herbs to meet your needs would help, but the nutritional yeast is fundamental for the “cheese” like taste so I am unsure of what exactly you’ll need to do or how it will affect the recipe. That being said, as a recipe developer, I am always open to experiment!

      May I ask why you would want to exclude it?



  17. Veronica Andrade says:

    How long is it good for? Can you freeze it to preserve?

  18. Erin Hackett says:

    Will this taste ok without the nightshade, I’m allergic.

    • I have not tried it without the nightshade. If you do choose to play with it, I suggest getting some smoked salt to help with the flavor. Let me know how it turns out!

  19. Jackie V. says:

    I just made this today with agar agar powder, I used 2 Tbsp and it was solid forming before I could get it all poured out of blender! Looks good, should be very firm for grating, I added Tumeric and a tad more Nutritional yeast.

  20. Can chia be used instead of the agar or gelatin?

    • I have not tried using chia in that way (although they are great for replacing eggs!). You are always welcomed to experiment! Please let me know if you try this and how it works for you.


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