Aquafaba's Next Success: Vegan Cheese That Slices & Melts

July 19, 2016

​We've talked about aquafaba (the magical vegan egg replacer hiding in your jar of canned chickpeas) before...

...but our minds have been focused on desserts—vegan meringues, mousses, muffins—and mayonnaise.

The possible uses for aquafaba, it turns out, extend to the world of cheese, too. The same proteins and starches that make aquafaba a capable emulsifier in vegan mayonnaise also make it a key ingredient in semi-firm, melting vegan cheeses (which are a notoriously evasive source of much vegan grief: Soft cashew cheese and liquidy cashew queso are great, but not breaded and deep-fried.)

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On the blog Avocados and Ales, Lacey uses aquafaba as an emulsifier (in place of soy lecithin, frequently added to dairy-free butters and cheeses) to make vegan cheddar and vegan mozzarella that can be sliced, shredded, and melted.

You'll still need some specialty​ ingredients—either agar or kappa carrageenan to act as a binder and lactic acid (lemon juice can suffice as a substitute) to add tang—but the rest of the process is simple, as demonstrated in this video from Mary's Test Kitchen:

If aquafaba makes homemade vegan mozzarella possible, what's next? Tell us how you've experimented with aquafaba in the comments!

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The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sean Maggi
    Sean Maggi
  • Leanne
  • Cindy Grimmer Boyce
    Cindy Grimmer Boyce
  • Wyandotte
  • Martyn A J Legg
    Martyn A J Legg
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Sean M. June 2, 2018
lol, your spirit animal is an eggplant
Leanne February 2, 2017
I think maybe the audience here should focus on the food instead of giving the presenter a hard time about the way she speaks ... stop being so critical and lighten up!!
Wyandotte February 2, 2017
You are quite right, Leanne. There is nothing wrong with this presentation.
Mary May 17, 2017
Thanks, Leanne & Wyandotte! I used to hate my own voice but kind comments like yours made me feel OK about it. I'm not a professional; I'm just an ordinary person sharing recipes. Food52 didn't ask to embed my video (though it's nice!) and I wasn't prepared for all the criticism. It does hurt. - Mary from Mary's Test Kitchen.
Cindy G. December 8, 2016
our son has iodine issues and can't use seaweed based products. Is there a binder that can be used that isn't seaweed based?
Wyandotte September 1, 2016
I don't use canned beans. Is there any reason you can't soak then cook the beans yourself and drain off the water at the bottom of the pot or slow cooker? Thanks!
Amanda September 6, 2016
You can totally make your own, easily found instructions on Google. Basically after sorting and rinsing dried beans, you soak in water.
Wyandotte September 6, 2016
Thanks, Amanda.
Martyn A. August 27, 2016
Looks great but the verbal presentation is just appalling! Most of us on here would be adults, how about communicating in an adult manner, that way we may return.
Jori S. July 31, 2016
Is it just me or does the commentary feel like it's being "performed" rather than just, you know, spoken normally? It really bothers me. Just talk about the food. Don't give me a monologue with dramatic inflections and unnecessary emphasis on words. You don't need it. It's annoying. It makes me never want to watch another one of your videos again. I don't mean to be harsh but also feel the need to be honest. Just a suggestion from a first-time viewer.
Leslye D. August 14, 2016
I agree. Makes the video seem amateurish. Also, it's pronounced aqua-faaba, not aqua-fabba.
Wyandotte September 1, 2016
When in Rome, do as the Romans do (or speak as they speak), but this is America and we have our own way of pronouncing foreign words and phrases. If you go to non-English speaking countries, they too pronounce other languages in their own unique way. That's just the way it is.

AH-KWA FAH-BA sounds a bit pretentious in these parts. :)
Leslye D. September 1, 2016
Pretentious or not, that's the correct grammar.
Wyandotte September 1, 2016
As Dr. Kildare used to say, "Suture self." :)
Ana L. July 31, 2016
Is there anything that can substitute the cashews? My son is allergic to all nuts, dairy, eggs, and wheat. He can eat sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Amanda September 6, 2016
You can generally use sunflower butter (sunflower seeds processed in a blender or food processor) in place of cashew. Not sure with this recipe, but I know you can in most.
Julie M. July 24, 2016
I have a lot of food sensitivities, and carrageenan makes me feel awful. One of a few specific additives I've been able to pinpoint that I have a problem with, unfortunately.
jenny July 19, 2016
Can someone tell me the controversy of using carrageenan? It's vegan right? Thanks :-)
702551 July 19, 2016
It is vegan. Just because something is vegan doesn't make it safe or good.

Organic kidney beans? Yes, probably vegan. Consumed raw? Toxic although not fatal. The mushroom Amanita phalloides? Yes, almost always vegan (as it grows as a wild mushroom), but also frequently lethal.

The controversy around carrageenan revolves around the question of whether or not it is fully safe based on a large range of international scientific studies.

The Europeans do not allow the ingredient carrageenan to be used in infant formula. Here in the USA, carrageenan is allowed in both organic and non-organic preparations.
jenny July 19, 2016
Thanks cv, I remember now that it's considered mildly toxic in the UK and on the 'avoid where possible' list, but having lived in NZ for many years (where it's permitted) I'd completely forgotten that. I'd be interested to know if anyone has had success with agar agar or other substitute. Thanks.
702551 July 19, 2016
Isn't New Zealand one of the countries who have banned laundry dryer sheets? They are a typical consumer purchase here in the USA, but some countries have declared that the active ingredients in these things are carcinogenic and toxic. A similar non-food comparison.

Government agencies around the world don't always agree on what is acceptable or not for their constituents. Tennis pro Maria Sharapova had been taking a particular drug for years that was legal in her native country of Russia for years and allowed by international sports drug testing authorities and the tennis federation until 2016 when WADA (or the WTA) finally put it on their list of banned substances.

These lists change all the time. Whether or not something today is "good for you" or "vegan" may not be viewed the same next year, two years from now, or in the 2020s.

People who have philosophical dietary restrictions based on conceptual interpretations of what is "good for you" need to do routine re-evaluations of all of their behaviors on a frequent basis (perhaps annually like sports professionals do).
Flora V. September 1, 2016
Carrageenan is blacklisted by "Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills" as one of the pseudo MSG ingredients that cause unprovoked rages, inability to lose weight, brain fog (actually kills brain and other cells). Google it and after you read the article, you will never use anything again with ingredients like "natural flavor", or "spices", or "soy protein isolate", plus about 20 more names which are just names for kombo seaweed derivatives. Very dangerous stuff. All hotdogs have this crap in them.