Does almond cheese have casein?

Almond cheese, also known as almond milk cheese or vegan cheese, is a plant-based alternative to dairy cheese that is made from almonds. It has become a popular option for those who follow dairy-free or vegan diets, as traditional cheese contains casein, a protein found in cow’s milk that some people cannot digest. So does almond cheese actually contain casein?

Quick answer: No, almond cheese does not contain casein because it is dairy-free and made from almonds, not cow’s milk. Casein is a milk protein only found in dairy products.

Almond cheese gets its cheese-like flavor and texture from almonds, nutritional yeast, vegetable oils, and thickening agents. It allows people with casein allergies or sensitivities to still enjoy the taste of cheese in a plant-based form.

What is casein?

Casein is a family of milk proteins found in dairy products that accounts for about 80% of proteins in cow’s milk. There are several different types of casein proteins:

  • Alpha-casein
  • Beta-casein
  • Kappa-casein

These casein proteins coagulate together under the effects of rennet enzymes to form curds, which is how cheese is made. All dairy cheese contains significant amounts of casein.

Some people have a casein allergy or sensitivity and experience adverse reactions when consuming dairy products. Reactions can include:

  • Skin rashes or irritation
  • Nasal congestion
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

For people who react negatively to casein, eliminating dairy cheese and other milk products from their diet is necessary. This makes plant-based cheese alternatives like almond cheese an attractive option.

Why almond cheese has no casein

Almond cheese contains no casein because it is dairy-free and made from almonds. Here’s why almond cheese is casein-free:

  • It’s vegan – Almond cheese is completely plant-based and vegan, meaning no animal products are used.
  • No milk ingredients – Almond milk is used instead of cow’s milk to make the cheese.
  • No rennet – Rennet is an enzyme that contains casein and is used to coagulate milk in cheesemaking. Almond cheese uses different coagulants.
  • No casein added – Casein and caseinates are sometimes added to plant-based cheeses as a thickener or binder. Almond cheeses do not contain added casein.

While the exact ingredients can vary between brands, almond cheese is made using almond milk, thickeners like vegetable starches, vegetable oils, nutritional yeast, vegan probiotics, and natural flavorings. None of these contain casein.

Almond cheese has a similar texture and flavor to dairy cheese, but derives it from plant sources instead of casein. The cheese-like flavor comes from combining components like probiotics, nutritional yeast, non-dairy acids, and natural enzymes. Thickeners mimic the thick, creamy texture of casein without using casein.

Almond cheese ingredients

Common ingredients found in almond cheese that replace the casein found in dairy cheese include:

Almond milk – The dairy-free “milk” that makes up the base of almond cheese instead of cow’s milk. Gives moisture and flavor.

Nutritional yeast – Inactivated yeast that provides cheese-like umami flavor when used in large amounts. Does not contain dairy.

Vegetable starches – Starches derived from plants that help thicken and stabilize the cheese to achieve a melty, stretchy texture. Often tapioca, potato, or arrowroot starch.

Vegetable oils – Oils like coconut, olive, avocado, and sunflower oil lend flavor and creaminess.

Probiotics – Vegan probiotic cultures are added that generate tangy, cheese-like flavors as they ferment during aging.

Natural enzymes – Enzymes from microbial or vegetable sources used to help develop cheese characteristics. Provide enzymatic activity like animal rennet.

Sea salt – Provides salty flavor.

Nuts – Cashews, macadamia nuts, and pine nuts are sometimes used for additional creamy fat and texture.

Spices and herbs – Ingredients like garlic, onion, chives, basil, etc add cheese-like flavor notes.

So by using this combination of plant-based ingredients instead of dairy, almond cheese effectively replicates the taste, nutrition, and texture of cheese without containing casein.

Reading labels on almond cheese

When purchasing almond cheese, reading the ingredient label is the best way to verify that a product does not contain casein or milk derivatives. Names to look for include:

  • Casein
  • Milk protein
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Lactose
  • Whey
  • Caseinates (sodium caseinate, potassium caseinate, calcium caseinate)

If the almond cheese contains any of these ingredients, it is not vegan or casein-free. Stick to brands that list only plant-based ingredients like almond milk, oils, starches, yeasts, etc.

Also look for almond cheese products that are specifically labelled “dairy-free” or “vegan” on the packaging, as they are guaranteed not to contain milk-derived casein.

Homemade almond cheese

It’s possible to make homemade almond cheese yourself that is casein-free using simple ingredients:


  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons tapioca starch
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Soak almonds in water overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse almonds.
  3. Blend almonds and water until smooth and creamy.
  4. Strain almond milk through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth.
  5. Whisk nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, olive oil, vinegar and salt into almond milk.
  6. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and pour into cheese mold to chill in fridge 1-2 hours.

This easy homemade almond cheese has the same tang and creaminess of dairy cheese, but without any casein. Feel free to customize it by adding your own unique mix-ins too!

Nutrition of almond cheese

Here is a nutrition comparison between almond cheese and dairy cheddar cheese:

Nutrient Almond Cheese Dairy Cheddar Cheese
Calories 60 per oz 115 per oz
Fat 5g 9g
Saturated Fat 0.4g 6g
Protein 2g 7g
Sodium 150mg 180mg
Calcium 10% DV 20% DV

While almond cheese is lower in protein than dairy cheese, it provides healthy fats and is cholesterol-free unlike dairy cheese. It has half the saturated fat of regular cheese and about a third less calories per ounce.

Almond cheese makes a nutritious plant-based swap for dairy cheese, without any casein. Those with casein sensitivities don’t have to miss out on cheese-like flavor.

Types of almond cheese

There are many varieties of almond cheese available:


The most popular type, mimics the sharp, tangy flavor of cheddar dairy cheese. Colored orange. Good melting ability.


Stretchy when melted, ideal for pizza and casseroles. Mild and creamy flavor.

Pepper Jack

Aged almond cheese blended with spicy peppers. Great snacking cheese.

Smoked Gouda

Smoky, savory flavor of gouda crafted using almond milk.


Aged and grated hard cheese with robust umami flavor. Works as topping.

Cream cheese

Smooth, spreadable cream cheese texture and tang made from almonds.

Nacho cheese

Oozy, nacho sauce made using almond milk and nutritional yeast.


Crumble-able Mediterranean cheese with salty, tangy flavor.

Blue cheese

Almond blue cheese offers the pungent flavor of blue cheese without the dairy.

There are also many original almond cheese flavors like chive, basil, sundried tomato, jalapeño, etc. Brands are continuously innovating, so new varieties are frequently launched.

How to use almond cheese

Because it melts and stretches like dairy cheese, almond cheese can be used in all the same ways:

  • Sandwiches – Slices on sandwiches, burgers, paninis, etc. Provides creamy texture.
  • Cheese boards – Pair with fruit, nuts, and wine like dairy cheese.
  • Charcuterie – In charcuterie board displays. Works with cured meats.
  • Snacking – Cheese chunks or slices as snacks.
  • Baking – Melts well on casseroles, gratins, bakes.
  • Pizza – Use as pizza cheese topping.
  • Quesadillas – Fills out quesadillas nicely.
  • Pastas – Mix into creamy pasta sauces.
  • Salads – Crumble into green, grain, and veggie salads.

Almond cheese can be substituted in just about any recipe that calls for regular cheese. The flavor and meltability varies between brands though, so some may work better than others depending on the application.

Potential issues with almond cheese

While almond cheese avoids casein entirely, some people report issues consuming it:


Those with tree nut allergies cannot consume almond products, including almond cheese, due to potential anaphylactic reactions. Always check for nut allergies first.


Some almond cheeses have a grainy or chalky texture unlike the smooth melt of dairy cheese. However, many brands now blend almond cheese very smooth.


It doesn’t taste exactly like dairy cheese. The flavor can be one-note or overly nutty. However, many people enjoy the unique almond cheese taste.

Digestive issues

Some report bloating or upset stomach after eating almond cheese, likely related to the vegetable starches used as thickeners. Start with small amounts first.

As with any new food, start slowly when introducing almond cheese to see how your body handles it. But for most people tolerating nuts well, it makes a delicious plant-based cheese swap.


Does almond cheese really taste like dairy cheese?

It comes very close! When well made, almond cheese can mimic the flavor notes and creaminess of dairy cheese quite convincingly. It doesn’t taste exactly the same, but satisfies cheesy cravings for many people.

Why is almond cheese so expensive?

It’s pricier than dairy cheese because of the special ingredients needed to create the cheese-like characteristics, like nutritional yeast, starch thickeners, natural enzymes, and nut milks. Being dairy-free, it also occupies a specialty food niche.

Can you shred almond cheese?

Yes, firmer almond cheeses can be shredded to use as toppings or in dishes needing grated cheese. The shreds may be a bit drier than dairy cheese though.

Does almond cheese melt?

Melting ability varies by variety, but many almond cheeses can nicely melt, bubble, and brown like dairy cheese. Mozzarella and cheddar style almond cheeses tend to melt best.

Can you freeze almond cheese?

Freezing is not recommended, as this can negatively impact texture. Almond cheese is highly perishable and best consumed within 1-2 weeks of opening. Unopened, it stores in the fridge for 2-3 months.


Almond cheese delivers the delicious taste and texture of cheese without the dairy or casein found in traditional cheese that some people cannot tolerate.

By using almonds and plant-based ingredients instead of cow’s milk, almond cheese avoids casein entirely and gives those sensitive a cheese substitute. While some adjustment to its unique flavor and melt may be needed, almond cheese can replace regular cheese in many instances.

Reading labels to verify no casein, introducing almond cheese slowly, and finding favorite varieties maximizes enjoyment of this innovative dairy-free cheese option. Almond cheese means those with casein issues don’t have to give up their cheese fix.

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