Food & Drink

Smoked Cheddar from One-Hour Dairy-Free Cheese

Imagine if you could make your favorite decadent smoky cheddar at home in just one hour. Now imagine you could make this cheddar this without a drop of milk. Claudia Lucero’s One-Hour Dairy-Free Cheese will show you how to make dairy-free delights, starting with this gorgeous Smoked Cheddar, with your choice of seeds, nuts, and vegetables. This recipe calls upon sunflower seeds as well as red bell peppers to create a cheese that is rich in flavor, creamy in texture, and tastes just like the dairy-filled version.

Smoked Cheddar 8


3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (soaked for 8 to 12 hours or boiled for 20 minutes and drained) or the Substitution of your choice

1 cup water or unsweetened dairy-free yogurt of your choice

1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper

2 tablespoons tapioca starch or the Substitution

2 tablespoons refined coconut oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or the Substitution of your choice

2 teaspoons smoked salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon lactic acid

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus 2 teaspoons reserved for rind

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon agar powder

1/2 cup water, for agar mixture (omit if using quick-set agar)

EQUIPMENTSmoked Cheddar 9

Strong blender or food processor

Measuring cups and spoons

Sturdy wooden spoon

Silicone scraper (optional but useful)

Medium-size pot or pan (for non-quick-set agar)

Nonstick pan or heavy-bottomed stainless-steel pot, 2-quart capacity

Heat-resistant form or storage container with lid

Clean work surface, like a cutting board or parchment paper


For the Sunflower seeds (choose one):

1/2 cup blanched almond flour, no skins (not almond meal)

3/4 cup raw blanched almond slivers (soaked for 8 to 12 hours or boiled for 20 minutes, drained)

3/4 cup raw or roasted cashews (soaked for 8 to 12 hours or boiled for 20 minutes, drained)

3/4 cup raw or roasted macadamia nuts (soaked for 8 to 12 hours or boiled for 20 minutes, drained)

Not as dense and rich, but still very tasty:

1 cup cooked, drained white beans (cannellini, navy, or Great Northern)

1 cup cooked veggie blend: 1/2 cup carrots and 1/2 cup potato, both peeled

For the Tapioca starch: 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

For the Nutritional Yeast (choose one): 1 teaspoon tahini paste, 1 teaspoon coconut aminos, 1 teaspoon mild miso paste (preferably chickpea-based), ½ teaspoon onion powder


1. Combine the sunflower seeds, 1 cup water, bell pepper, tapioca starch, coconut oil, yeast, salt, onion powder, lactic acid, vinegar, and ½ teaspoon paprika in a strong blender or food processor to make Cheddar “milk.”Smoked Cheddar 12. Blend the ingredients on low and gradually increase to top speed until the mixture is completely smooth. Depending on your machine, this could take 1 minute to 6 minutes. (Stop every minute or so to scrape down the side of the container as needed.)Smoked Cheddar 23. If you are using quick-set agar powder, add it to the blender without the extra water and blend until smooth, then skip to step 6. Otherwise, place the agar powder in a medium-size pot or pan. Use a fork to whisk the 1/2 cup water into the agar. Let the mixture sit for 1 minute. The agar may thicken a little.Smoke Cheddar 34. Vigorously stir the mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes. The powder will dissolve completely, and the mixture should bubble, boil, and froth a little. When it thickens to look like dense and slightly glossy applesauce, it’s ready.

5. Quickly and very carefully scrape the agar mixture into the full blender before it solidifies. Use caution! Hot agar is painful and difficult to remove if it drips on your skin. Blend the mixture until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.

6. Pour the cheese mixture into a clean pot or pan. Stir it frequently over medium heat as the mixture simmers and starts to change from thin to lumpy.Smoked Cheddar 4

7. Stir the mixture continuously in order to eliminate lumps and create a smooth texture. It will thicken dramatically as it heats. Stir, fold, and knead for 5 to 7 minutes to fully activate the agar powder and cook the tapioca.

8. Lower the heat if you feel any sticking in the pan or if the blend “spits” too much. Turn off the heat when the Cheddar is shiny and coats the spoon thickly—you may even see stretchy strings.

9. Pour the hot Cheddar mixture into the form or container and allow it to cool, uncovered, in the refrigerator. It should firm up in about 30 minutes, depending on the brand and strength of the agar powder. (Note: You can speed up the cooling process with 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer—just don’t forget it there!)Smoked Cheddar 5

10. Once the cheese is firm, use a silicone scraper, if needed, to gently remove the Cheddar from the form.Smoke Cheddar 6

11. Your wheel is ready to enjoy now or you can continue to steps 12–13 to add a flavorful rind.

12. Spread the reserved smoked paprika on your work surface.

13. Gently roll the Cheddar wheel in the paprika, covering the sides and top. Rub to coat the wheel as desired.Smoked Cheddar 7

14. It’s ready to serve. Store this Cheddar in a dry, covered container in the refrigerator. It will remain most firm in the first 2 days but is good for about 1 week.


More about One-Hour Dairy-Free Cheese:

One-Hour Dairy-Free CheeseFinally, anyone embracing a dairy-free lifestyle (including vegan, paleo, or allergen-free) can make and enjoy the savory goodness of cheese—in one hour or less.

In ingenious, step-by-step recipes, traditional cheesemaker Claudia Lucero shows how to make 25 delicious plant-based cheeses using your choice of seeds, nuts, and vegetables to achieve rich flavor and creamy texture. There’s buttery Golden Swiss made with cauliflower and tahini paste—and a Brie made of cashews (or zucchini and potatoes), with a bit of truffle oil to capture its earthy essence. One-Hour Dairy-Free Cheese also shows how to make spreadable cream cheese, grated Parmesan, a smoky Cheddar, and even gooey cheese sauces.

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