What is Daiya dairy-free cheese made of?

Daiya dairy-free cheese is a plant-based alternative to traditional dairy cheese. It is made without any milk, eggs, or other animal products. Instead, Daiya uses ingredients like tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and pea protein to mimic the taste and texture of real cheese.

Ingredients in Daiya Cheese

The main ingredients in Daiya dairy-free cheese include:

  • Tapioca flour
  • Arrowroot flour
  • Pea protein
  • Expeller-pressed canola and/or safflower oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Vegan natural flavors
  • Sea salt
  • Citric acid
  • Annatto extract (for color)

These plant-based ingredients are used to create the distinctive texture and flavor of Daiya’s cheese alternatives. Here is a more in-depth look at the key ingredients:

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour, which comes from the starchy cassava root, provides stretchiness and structure in Daiya’s cheese. It allows the cheese to melt and stretch similar to the casein protein found in dairy cheese. Tapioca flour is a common ingredient in gluten-free baking.

Arrowroot Flour

Arrowroot flour adds thickness and creaminess to Daiya cheese. This starchy flour, made from the roots of the arrowroot plant, acts as a thickener and gives the cheese a rich, indulgent texture.

Pea Protein

Extracted from yellow split peas, pea protein supplies a nutty, savory flavor reminiscent of dairy cheese. It also contributes to the gooey, sliceable texture consumers expect from cheese.

Expeller-Pressed Oils

The expeller-pressed canola and safflower oils in Daiya provide a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Expeller pressing is a chemical-free extraction method that retains the natural nutrition of the oils.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is added for its rich, fatty creaminess. It melts easily and adds a velvety texture to Daiya cheese.

Natural Flavors

Daiya uses natural vegan flavors to replicate the tangy, sharp taste of real cheese. These proprietary blends of yeast, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and other plant-based ingredients provide authentic cheese flavor without artificial additives.

Sea Salt

Sea salt enhances the flavor and also acts as a preservative.

Citric Acid

Citric acid provides a tangy cheesy kick and acts as a firming agent.

Annatto Extract

Annatto extract lends an orangey-yellow hue like cheddar and other dairy cheeses. The annatto comes from the seeds of the achiote tree.

Daiya’s Cheesemaking Process

Daiya uses an innovative proprietary process to transform these plant-based ingredients into realistic cheese alternatives. Here are the basic steps:

  1. The ingredients are combined and dry-blended into a cheese-like powder.
  2. Water is added to hydrate the powder into a thick paste.
  3. The paste is cooked and stirred until smooth and creamy.
  4. Natural flavors, citric acid, and colors are mixed in to achieve the desired cheese taste and appearance.
  5. The cheese paste is pumped into molds to set into blocks.
  6. The blocks are cooled then packaged and shipped to retailers.

By controlling factors like temperature, timing, and acidity, Daiya can create plant-based cheeses with diverse textures ranging from soft and gooey to firm and sliceable.

Types of Daiya Cheese

Using its signature process, Daiya produces a variety of dairy-free cheese styles, including:

Daiya Cheese Product Description
Daiya Cheddar Style Slices Mild, medium, and sharp varieties. Melts well.
Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds Great for pizza, lasagna, etc. Stretches and melts.
Daiya Pepperjack Style Aged pepper jack flavor. Can be sliced, shredded, or crumbled.
Daiya Cream Cheese Style Spread Spreadable, schmearable cream cheese alternative.
Daiya Greek Yogurt Alternative Non-dairy substitute for Greek yogurt. High in protein.
Daiya Cheesecake New York-style cheesecake made with Daiya cream cheese alternative.

Daiya also makes cheese-filled delis slices, cheese sauces, pizza crusts, cheezy macs, and other products featuring their signature dairy-free cheese.

Nutrition Facts of Daiya Cheese

One of the benefits of Daiya dairy-free cheese is its nutritional profile compared to regular cheese:

  • Lactose-free – Daiya contains no lactose, making it safe for the lactose intolerant.
  • Soy-free – Daiya is made without soy, good for people with soy allergies.
  • Lower fat – Up to 75% less fat than real cheese.
  • Higher fiber – Packs 2-3g fiber per serving, thanks to tapioca flour.
  • More calcium – Calcium is added to many Daiya products to match dairy cheese.
  • Vitamin fortified – Products like Daiya yogurt and cheese slices are fortified with vitamins B12 and D.
  • No cholesterol – Contains no cholesterol, unlike dairy cheese.

However, Daiya cheese is highly processed and not a whole food. It has added sugars, oils, and stabilizers. Still, it’s a healthier alternative for those avoiding dairy.

Where to Buy Daiya Cheese

Daiya dairy-free cheese products are sold at many major grocery chains in the refrigerated section, including:

  • Whole Foods Market
  • Sprouts Farmers Market
  • Kroger
  • Safeway
  • Publix
  • Wegmans
  • Target

You can also find Daiya at natural food stores like Earth Fare and Fresh Thyme. Daiya is sold online through services like Amazon, Instacart, and the Daiya website which offers subscriptions.

Daiya suggests checking the store locator on their website to find a retailer near you. They have a wide distribution network across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia.

Daiya compared to other dairy-free cheese brands

Some other popular dairy-free cheese brands include:

  • Go Veggie – Uses potato starch, tapioca, and peas for a lactose-free alternative.
  • Follow Your Heart – Vegan and soy-free, made with coconut, starch, and natural flavors.
  • Kite Hill – Nut-milk based soft cheeses made from almonds and artichoke.
  • Miyoko’s – Handcrafted from cashews, coconut oil, and cultures.
  • Violife – Protein-rich recipe based on coconut oil and starch.

Most brands use similar base ingredients like starches, nuts, coconut oil, and vegan flavoring.

Daiya stands out for its smooth, melty textures that work well melted or cooked. Their products extensively mimic the handling of real dairy cheese. Daiya shreds and slices are the go-to choice when a recipe calls for melted or stretchy cheese.

Reasons people choose Daiya cheese

There are several reasons why consumers opt for Daiya dairy-free cheese products:

  • They are lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy
  • They follow a vegan or plant-based diet
  • They want to reduce saturated fat, cholesterol, or calories
  • They prefer the taste compared to other dairy-free cheeses
  • Daiya offers their desired cheese textures and melting properties
  • It’s a convenient option at mainstream grocery stores

Daiya cheese makes it easier for people with dietary restrictions to still enjoy cheese-like flavors and textures. Their products melt, stretch, and taste remarkably similar to regular cheese.

Taste and Texture of Daiya Cheese

Here is how Daiya’s dairy-free cheeses generally compare to regular cheese in terms of taste and texture:

  • The flavors are quite realistic, though some varieties are tangier or sharper tasting than dairy cheese.
  • The texture is smooth and creamy when melted. Unmelted, it can be somewhat gummy unless well-chilled.
  • When cooked, the cheeses melt extremely well. They can be stringy and gooey like true melted cheese.
  • Flavors range from mild to extra sharp, similar to dairy cheese.
  • Firm cheeses slice and shred cleanly but are softer and wetter crumbled straight from the fridge.
  • Soft cheeses like cream cheese spread nicely but taste more tangy and vinegary.

Results vary based on specific Daiya product. Their shreds and slices mimic the meltability of real cheese better than other brands. But unmelted, the texture lacks the dense, fatty mouthfeel of real cheese.

Pros and Cons of Daiya Cheese


  • Dairy, lactose, soy, gluten and cholesterol-free
  • Melts smoothly when heated
  • Shreds and slices useful for cooking
  • Wide range of cheese types and flavors
  • Mimics taste and texture of dairy cheese quite closely
  • Nutritionally superior to regular cheese
  • Readily available at grocery stores


  • More processed than whole food options
  • Higher in sodium than real cheese
  • Not identical to dairy cheese in flavor and texture
  • Relatively expensive compared to regular cheese
  • Contains oils, thickeners, and stabilizers
  • Some consumers don’t like the tangy or vinegary taste

Overall, Daiya is one of the tastier and more usable dairy-free cheese options for cooking, baking, and snacking. But it is a processed food without the full nutrition of real cheese.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Daiya cheese healthy?

Compared to regular dairy cheese, Daiya cheese is generally healthier, being lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol and containing no dairy allergens. But it is more processed than whole foods and higher in sodium.

Is Daiya cheese gluten-free?

Yes, all Daiya cheese products are certified gluten-free. They are made without wheat, barley, rye, or oats.

Is Daiya cheese vegan?

Daiya cheese is completely vegan and made without any animal products including dairy, eggs, honey, or meat.

Is Daiya cheese soy-free?

Daiya cheese contains no soy ingredients, making it soy-free. The pea protein is made from yellow peas, not soy.

Does Daiya cheese melt?

Yes, Daiya cheese melts smoothly when heated. It can be gooey and stretchy, ideal for melty cheese dishes like pizza, grilled cheese, and casseroles.

Can you bake with Daiya cheese?

Daiya cheese performs well in baked goods like mac and cheese, lasagnas, cheese soufflés, biscuits, and more. opt for shreds over blocks.

Does Daiya cheese taste like real cheese?

Daiya has an impressively realistic cheese flavor and texture when melted. But unmelted, it can taste tangier and gummier than real cheese.


Daiya dairy-free cheese stands out for its melting properties, making it a versatile choice for cooking, baking, and topping foods. Its recipe is free of dairy, soy, gluten, lactose, nuts, and cholesterol. While not identical to real cheese, it mimics the taste, stretch, and melt of dairy cheese quite closely. Daiya cheese is a widely available and nutritionally improved cheese alternative for those avoiding animal products or allergens.

Leave a Comment