Thursday, 29 November 2012

Vegan Unprocessed Cheese Slices

Vegan Unprocessed Cheese Slices

So, I have Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory to blame for my latest addiction here. It was that episode where he goes back to his mom's house annoyed at a prank his friends played on him. While there she makes him a grilled cheese sandwich and I instantly wanted it. Not a fancy grilled cheese but the old school style with white bread and processed cheese. They were easily my favourite growing up, sure, later on I loved a grilled cheese with some fancy artisan cheese as much as the next person but I would still come back to this style.

I know there are vegan "processed cheese" style slices out there but lets face it. They're gross. I've used them when I'm desperate but it's never satisfying. Then I remembered that The Un-Cheese Cookbook had a recipe for a grilled cheese where you basically made a thick nutritional yeast based cheese sauce and spread that onto toasted bread. I've always loved the way Chef Chloe's Macaroni and Cheese sauce recipe reminded me of a processed Velveeta style sauce so I adapted hers but made it thicker. I was really happy with the result but found making a sauce for a sandwich a little awkward, for example you have to toast the bread first and for me the golden rule of a grilled cheese is buttering both top sides of bread and frying it. It's essential.


Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Home Made 'Unprocessed' Cheese Slices.

So, I experimented with making slices using a gelling agent. First I tried agar as I figured more people can buy that but it didn't work. I only have flakes and they never dissolved properly. Next up was using Vege-Gel, a veggie gelling agent which is a fine powder and, success! Well, after several attempts with lots of rather expensive nutritional yeast, agar and vege-gel being dumped in the bin that is. But, it was worth it. These taste so much like my old grilled cheeses of my youth I couldn't get over it. They hold together as slices but be warned, are a little delicate, just not delicate enough to justify 2 sachets of vege-gel. They melt fantastic too, I even tried one grilled and they melted just like I remember processed cheese slices melting, by getting a little brown and puffing up in spots so these should be great topped onto a vegan soy burger and melted. Still, it's these grilled cheeses I'll be making often - so happy to have them back in my life!!!


Vegan Unprocessed Cheese Slices



Vegan Unprocessed Cheese Slices
Yields 6 large slices.

• 30g vegan butter (2 Tbsp) I used Vitalite.
• 30g plain flour (3 Tbsp)
• 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (240ml)
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast
• 2 tsp tomato paste (puree).
• ¾ tsp salt
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• 1 sachet vege-gel *

* I have only used the Dr. Oetker brand vege-gel here. Each sachet is about 6 grams each. Other brands may need some adapting to work. As I mentioned I tried agar flakes but it didn't work. Agar powder I feel will work but I can't buy that here. So I'm afraid if you can't buy this brand you'll need to do some experimenting of your own :-)  EDIT - A HUGE thank you to Laina who mentioned in the comments below that she had success using 2 teaspoons of agar powder. I've said it before I'll say it again, the vegan community...is awesome :-)

Line a 7.5" x 11" jelly roll pan with cling film so that it overhangs enough that you can cover the top.

Place the nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder in a mortar and pestle and grind until the yeast is a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the flour and vege-gel.

In another bowl whisk together the soy milk and tomato paste until the paste dissolves. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk really well until no lumps appear.

In a small saucepan add the vegan butter then pour over the mixture. Turn the heat to medium-high (I used my smallest element on high heat) and whisk all the while until the butter melts and incorporates into the mixture. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens and changes from a somewhat nothing colour to a vibrant orange. You can now change to a wooden spoon and keep stirring until nice and thick. It took 3 minutes for mine to get the the wooden spoon stage and another 3 minutes of simmering once thick. I kept the heat on high but again, I used my smallest element here.

With a rubber spatula scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread out with a knife until it fills the pan and is nice and even. Take the overhanging cling film and cover the top, pressing down slightly just to get it all nice and even. 


Chill until set, it'll take a couple of hours. Peel back the cling film then lift out of the pan and place on a chopping board. Slice into 6 large slices then they are ready to use. 


Keep leftover slices on individual pieces of baking paper and covered with cling film in the fridge. 


I found it easiest to get them onto bread by picking up the paper and placing them down onto the sandwich then removing the paper.


The Ultimate Vegan Grilled Cheese

Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Home Made 'Unprocessed' Cheese Slices.

Essential rules: use good quality white bakery bread and butter both sides that are getting fried. Don't be skimpy with the butter either. A good grilled cheese should be golden, crispy and buttery on the outside. And, if you old school like me, served with a dill pickle on the side :-)

The Ultimate Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich.


These slices work great in a sandwich maker too! Look how melty that is!! This is a recreation of an old favourite sandwich of mine filled with 1 unprocessed cheese slice, 5 slices of Redwood Foods Beef Style slices and lots of French's mustard. Photo taken from my daily blog.


Nutritional Information: based on 1 cheese slice (not the sandwich).

Calories: 68
Protein: 3.1g
Fat: 3.7g
Sat Fat: 0.7g
Carbs: 5.9g
Sugar: 0.3g
Fibre: 0.7g
Sodium: 327mg
Calcium: 50.9mg


You Might Also Like:

Baked Almond Feta
Cashew-Chive
Cheese Spread

59 comments:

  1. Wow, this looks amazing! So Vege-Gel is basically a Dr. oetker product based on agar agar, did I get it right?

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    1. Thanks! It's actually a gelling agent based on carageenan which is a seaweed (agar is based on algae) When I tried it with agar flakes it didn't work but I feel that agar powder should work as it's powdery like the vege-gel, although it will probably take some experimenting :-)

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    2. Oh O.K., thank you. We have stuff called "Agartine" in Germany, I thought that might be the same. I'll do some research whether vege-gel is available here as well :)

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  2. Oh my - these will change the vegan blogging world forever.

    Words cannot describe how elated I am :) Thank you!

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    1. Haha, thanks :-D Hope you like them as much as I do!!

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  3. No veggie gel here BUT I do have agar powder...might just give it a run up the flag pole and see if it salutes (the worst that can happen is it doesn't work and I get to make macaroni cheeze with it ;) )

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    1. :-D Excellent!! Let me know how you get on, really hope it works with the powder!

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    2. Oh have you tried with the agar powder? I have this and also have carrageen powder i could use, but would be great to know quantities if anyone has testes it out....! Thanks :)

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  4. that looks amazing, can't wait to try it out!!

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    1. Thanks Dina! Hope you like them :-)

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  5. I agree. This is plain genius! You just made my day.

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  6. Wow I'm excited about that! Do these slices really melt? Do you think one could use them for raclette?

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    1. Hi Lisa! Well, when I said they melt I should have specified that they melt like processed cheese slices do, not like "real cheese" - meaning you won't get stringy melty cheese here but that they get soft and creamy like processed cheese slices do. I actually had to look up what a raclette was so I'm not sure if they would work or not, when heated they would turn soft and creamy enough to spread or dip, so possibly. It sounds good at any rate! :-)

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    2. Thank you very much for your answer :) Raclette is a popular meal for Christmas and Silvester in Germany. You should try it once, it's fun and great for a dinner with many people.

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    3. It does sound fantastic, thanks! Definitely going on the "to try" list!!

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  7. I made these on Friday and they were delicious! I also mixed 2 slices into a portion of hot mashed potato and is was yummy!! Thanks Debbie!

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    1. So glad you liked them Nicky! That's a brilliant idea melting them into mash, made me think they would be good melted on top of a jacket/baked potato too :-)

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  8. I have no idea what Vege-gel is but this is brilliant! You're so creative :)

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  9. I just made this with agar powder. I used about 2 tsp of agar powder and they set up really well. I also didn't have soy milk, so I used unsweetened coconut milk. I also used tumeric, I liked the taste of it with the tumeric better vs. without. Thanks for the recipe!

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    1. Hi Laina! Thanks so much for trying this with agar powder, so glad it worked out and thanks for letting us all know! Much appreciated :-)

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  10. How much agar agar powder would i use? It's expensive, but I have access to it. In fact, I have a small amount in the kitchen right now.

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    1. Hi Johanna, sorry I only published your question the same time as Laina's there, she had success using 2 teaspoons of the powder. Good luck!

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  11. From one vegan to another......THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. You're welcome! Hope you like them :-)

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  12. Hey, great news about the agar powder! Any idea if they freeze well? Im the only person who will eat these, so would be nice to have a stash made up so i can just take one or two out when needed....! TIA :)

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    1. Hi Tash! To be honest I'm not sure as I've not tried that yet but it's a good idea...I will try with my next batch for sure :-)

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    2. Thanks so much! I am yet to make these, been a busy xmas period! If i end up freezing some ill let you know how it goes if i try before you do :) Thanks!!

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  13. I froze mine, layering the slices between parchment paper. They froze really well. I made some Mac n' "cheese" and dropped a few of the frozen slices into the sauce and it turned out very yummy! I'm planning to keep a frozen batch handy to use in Mac and cheese and other dishes. It makes it quick and easy to throw some in, it melts fast.

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    1. Thanks so much again Laina, you're a star!!

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  14. Do you think almond flour would work instead of flour for those of use with celiac?

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    1. Hi! I'm afraid my knowledge of gluten free replacements isn't the best. The flour here is used as a thickener for the cheese sauce so if there is a certain gluten free flour you find works best in a roux or white sauce then I would use that and imagine it should work just fine. Best of luck!

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    2. I used cornflour and so far (fingers crossed) it seems to have worked fine!

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  15. Just made these! I only had agar flakes on hand so I ground them into a powder in the spice grinder. The only thing was that the mixture was very gluey when I was trying to spread it, so it took a while. Not sure if I kept it on the heat too long or if it was due to the agar flakes. Either way, turned out well!

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    1. Hi Kelly! Yeah, I had no success with the flakes either. I tried to grind mine up in a mortar and pestle but they still never fully dissolved so I had little jelly bits in the cheese - great idea using a spice grinder! It shouldn't have been so gluey though, it should be fairly easy to spread in the pan, as you said that may have been the flakes.... Glad it turned out well at any rate! :-)

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  16. Hi Debbie,

    Did you use nutritional yeast flakes? what brand did you use?

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    1. Hi Terri-Ann! I used Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes with B12. I do grind them up into a powder with a mortar and pestle before using in this recipe though :-)

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  17. Do you think coconut oil - in its solid state - would work similarly in place of the vegan butter? I haven't tried making my own vegan butter yet, and all of the vegan butters here in the US contain palm oil (which I'm trying to stay away from).

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    1. Hi! Although I haven't tried it I feel any oil *should* work in it's place, even olive, but using solid coconut oil would be a good starting point. What a shame all the vegan butters there contain palm oil :-(

      Sorry I can't give a more definitive answer, let me know if you try it and how you get on! I could do with another batch of these myself I might give olive oil a try myself today :-)

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  18. I tried it with the Agar Powder. My end product was a goop that stuck to the cling even after nearly 24 hours of chilling. My guess is that I either didn't stir the mix as long as I should have in the pot or I am just doing something completely wrong. I still used the remaining goop as a sort of cheese spread and made myself some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches all the same. I will have to do some more experimenting and try again. Thank you for the recipe! :D

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  19. Ah, shame it didn't work...I've only ever used the veg-gel and not agar powder so can't really advise on what went wrong. It should set almost immediately once spread in the pan (i.e - not be gloopy) it may have been an issue with length of cooking all right. Glad you enjoyed the "cheese spread sandwich" at any rate :-) Good luck experimenting!

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  20. how much does 1 batch cost to make for how many slices, it sounds expensive

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    1. Hi :-) Sorry but I honestly have no idea and the figures would vary hugely between different countries/currencies and brands used. I certainly don't feel that it would be that expensive, especially compared to the store bought ones, which are outrageous here!

      Sorry I can't be of more help on that one...

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  21. I know this is a relatively old post , but I just had to comment - I think these are awesome! I have tweaked the flavours to suit my tastes (funnily enough using the recipe from the uncheese cookbook that you mentioned). I never tried processed cheese slices, but did try the vegan versions when I lived in the UK and liked the idea of the slices more than the flavour. Here in NZ you can't get the vegan version so that was that.....until I saw this posted on interest a few weeks ago. Now I have a batch of these in my freezer most of the time - so convenient and like you say much easier than making a sauce for a sandwich and all that palaver!

    And to toe poster who said it sounded expensive...I *think* for the double batch I made last night it would've been about NZD 3.50 for all the ingredients.....but I can't really say if that is cheap or not as I just cannot buy cheeze slices here. I bet if I were to make the recipe in the UK it would be cheaper as ingredients are generally cheaper there. I get 12 smaller slices from 1 recipe (about the same size as those you would buy), so 24 slices for NZD3.50 / GBP1.75 seems cheap to me. (Can't comment on the states as I have no idea how much things cost there)

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    1. So glad you like them Shell - the great thing about them is that you can adjust the flavourings as you see fit too. I'm definitely going to have to get aboard freezing these as well!

      Thanks so much for figuring out the costs (I'm terrible at that side of things!) The tofutti processed cheese slices cost euro 3.20 here for a pack of 8 slices, so if I convert that into NZD just to evenly compare it works out like this:

      mine - .15c per slice
      tofutti - .63c per slice

      That makes the tofutti ones almost 4 times more expensive. Of course, that's making the smaller 12 slices like you did but as you say they would be closer in size to the tofutti ones anyway. Prices of the slices and ingredients will vary everywhere but that's still a good indication that they are quite reasonable!

      Thanks again for the info!! ♥

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    2. shell, Im in NZ also and a complete newbie, did you use the same ingredients?

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  22. with the vege gel, do you prepare it like it directs you on the packet? so sprinkle into 200ml of coldwater? or just add how it is? thanks x

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    1. Hi Lucy! Don't follow the packet instructions here, just add the powder with the flour as instructed above. Good luck!

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  23. Can this be made into a cheese block rather than slices? Your recipe looks so good I would like to try. : )

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    1. Hi! I would say the recipe as is would be too soft to make a block out of but it *may* be worth experimenting by increasing either the vege-gel or agar. I wouldn't be able to say how much though...it would never be firm enough to grate though as it is a soft cheese :-)

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  24. Can rice or almond milk be used instead? I have soy sensitivities.

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    1. Hi Alyson! I haven't tried either but I would imagine it would be fine. I would opt more for the almond milk over the rice as it's creamier. Another commenter here had success using coconut milk too. Good luck!

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  25. Hi, I'm a recent "convert" from Vegetarian to Vegan. Can't wait to try these, thanks for supplying this recipe.

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  26. We tried it today. Yes I know... we are a year (or so) late ;-)
    But better late than never! ;-)
    And... we adopted it!
    Thank you!

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  27. We love grilled cheese in our house, but being a new gluten free vegan I'm wondering if there was any success with other milk alternatives and do you think gluten free flour can be used?
    Thanks so much.

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    1. Sorry for the late reply here. Any dairy free milks can be used but unsweetened is best. I'm afraid I just don't know about the gluten free flour as I have such little experience in working with them. If you have a flour you like to use to make a roux I would start with that as that is the role of the flour in this recipe. Another possible alternative is to double the gelatin and omit the flour altogether (but that's a guess!)

      Hope it works out for you :-)

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  28. This sounds promising, although as a complete newbie im going for the whole dairy, soy and gluten free thing for my son with ASD so may have to adapt a little? he LOVES pizza though so I have to find something and as far as I know there is nothing we can buy here that acts as a substitute. will keep you posted :o)

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