The Best Type Of Tofu To Substitute For Creamy Cheeses

These days, going vegan or dairy-free doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up your favorite cheese. With ever-growing options for vegan alternatives on the market, odds are you'll be able to find a plant-based substitute for any cheese variety your heart desires — and if not now, you likely will someday soon. But in some cases, you don't need to splurge on the best vegan cheese brands. When seeking a dairy-free substitute in your dishes for soft cheeses, which tend to be harder to find in the vegan aisle, you can turn to something that you most likely already have sitting in your fridge: tofu. 

Specifically, medium-firm tofu serves as a wonderful cheese substitute. It's soft, mild-flavored, and, best of all, easy to find at most grocery stores. Plus, coming in at under $3 per package on average, tofu is significantly cheaper than any of the vegan cheese options you'll find at the store, with more potential uses, too. Yes, tofu is delicious baked or fried and used as protein on your salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, and more. But it's just as good uncooked — whether it's sliced, cubed, or crumbled — and used as a cheese substitute for everything from the ricotta in your lasagna to the mozzarella on your homemade pizza.

Using tofu as a cheese substitute

Compared to soft tofu, which would most likely fall apart, and firm or extra firm tofu, which would hold its own a bit too much to pass for cheese, medium-firm tofu provides that perfect balance as a cheese substitute. It's soft, but not so soft it will make a mess, and just firm enough that it replicates the texture of soft cheese almost perfectly, with a slightly nutty yet neutral flavor to match. 

With the added benefit of being a fabulous source of plant-based protein, tofu is a true savior in any vegan, vegetarian, and dairy-free kitchen. And the best part about it is the variety of dishes you can use it in. Whether you slice it up to replace the mozzarella in between the layers of your vegan eggplant parmesan or mash it like ricotta and dollop it on top of your pizza, medium-firm works well. Just keep in mind that, like other vegan cheese alternatives, tofu won't melt like regular cheese. Outside of Italian food, tofu can also be used as a cheese replacement for paneer in many Indian dishes like besan chilla, or in place of crumbled feta in your Mediterranean-inspired bowls and salads.