Vegan Cauliflower Cheddar “Cheese” – Fructose-Friendly!

Fructose-Friendly Vegan Cauliflower Cheese cradlerockingmama

Oh. My. Word. Y’all.

I’m happy dancing in my kitchen right now.

Ok, so you know how I shared that awesome recipe for vegan cheese that I’d found? The one made from coconut milk?

I love that recipe.

Sadly, we had to retire it, thanks to Jed’s Fructose Malabsorption. He can’t ‘do’ coconut without having a total meltdown and tummy cramping, so…no more vegan cheese for him!

Until two days ago, when, just as a mental exercise, I tried to think how I could make a bacon cheeseburger for Jed.

  • Grass-fed beef patties? Check!
  • Safe bacon? Check!
  • Lettuce and tomato? Check!
  • Bread? Not yet, but one day I’ll get it.
  • Cheese? Well, maybe if I…

And the tweak hit my brain, and it was like a ray of light enveloped me and a choir started singing “ahhhh!”


I knew that if this tweak worked, cauliflower would officially take its place as the Royal Ingredient of my kitchen.

Cauliflower has been crowned, y’all.

In fact, the cauliflower worked so well, I think it works even BETTER than the coconut milk did in the original recipe!

You’re gonna love this one: dairy free, fructose friendly, and melts beautifully.

Here goes:

I wanted to make a small batch of this at first, because it was a total experiment. If it went wonky, I didn’t want to have wasted too much. But I didn’t know how much cauliflower I would need to net the required amount of puree, so I just went ahead and steamed a whole head of cauliflower.

Cauliflower Steaming

Cauliflower Steaming

While that was going on, I gathered the rest of my ingredients.

The original recipe calls for two cans of coconut milk; each can is probably about 15 ounces (standard), which I noticed was almost exactly 2 cups of liquid. Since I wanted to make a half-batch, I just halved everything else and planned to use 2 cups of the cauliflower puree.

Once again, I cannot stress enough: with this recipe, mise en place is essential!

Mise en place ingredients

Mise en place ingredients

When the cauliflower had fully steamed, I pulled out the steamer basket and poured the water from the pan into a measuring cup. Wouldn’t you just know it? Exactly 2 cups of liquid!

In the end, I needed that full 2 cups to create the right consistency in the cauliflower puree.

Once it was pureed as smooth as I could get it, I added some bacon fat to the mixture. I wasn’t sure if the “full fat coconut” requirement was a clue that this recipe needs some fat to make it work, so I thought I’d give that a shot. Since I don’t use liquid smoke, I figured the nice flavor of bacon fat would add a little extra boost to the end result. (To make this Vegan, of course, simply omit the bacon fat and use a Vegan fat in its place!)

Then I poured it into a measuring cup and – another small miracle – it was exactly 4 cups of puree!

Perfect! Four cups of cauliflower puree!

Perfect! Four cups of cauliflower puree!

So then I poured 2 cups of the puree back into the pan and followed the rest of the instructions.

I poured in the vinegar, salt and agar flakes and whisked constantly as the mixture boiled gently.

Cauliflower, agar, salt and vinegar starting its' magic...

Cauliflower, agar, salt and vinegar starting its’ magic…

*Please note: the cauliflower puree likes to splatter and pop as it boils! Move anything off your stove top you don’t want to have cauliflower splatters, and maybe keep your little kids away from the stove while you do this. 

After 15 minutes, it had thickened beautifully.

See the thickening? It's really starting to gel!

See the thickening? It’s really starting to gel!

I quickly took it off the stove and did something I should have done before I’d even started: lined a small bowl with parchment paper.

I folded the paper in half twice, then cut small strips from the outside edge to approximately the edge of the inside of the bowl. When unfolded, it lined the bowl perfectly!

I folded the paper in half twice, then cut small strips from the outside to approximately the edge of the inside of the bowl. When unfolded, it lined the bowl perfectly!

Then the pot went back on the stove, and I added the paprika, nutritional yeast, and tapioca starch one at a time, incorporating each ingredient thoroughly.

Then I whisked until I thought my arms would fall off for another 5 minutes until it had thickened even more, and finally poured the concoction into the parchment paper-lined bowl.

Poured and ready to set!

Poured and ready to set!

After about two hours, I carefully pulled it out of the bowl using the parchment paper, set it on a plate and voila! A lovely soft, spreadable “cheddar cheese”!

A Gorgeous Snack!

A Gorgeous Snack!

Darrel and Jed both tried it and liked it. Darrel said it tasted just like the original recipe, but it was nice that it wasn’t as oily. 

After the taste test, I put it in the fridge to harden a bit and sure enough, a few short hours later it hardened into a block that – while tricky – could be grated.

I think we’ll be having quesadillas tonight!

I love cauliflower, and I love finding ways to make things that are dairy free and fructose safe for my son. I hope you like this!

(Oh, and with the other half of the cauliflower sauce, I made another delicious batch of Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese for dinner!)

Vegan Cauliflower Cheddar "Cheese" - Fructose-Friendly!
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Vegan? Dairy-intolerant? Then you will LOVE this recipe. Make yourself an excellent cheese substitute that will satisfy the biggest cheese-eater!
Recipe type: side dish
Serves: 2 cups
  • ½ head of cauliflower
  • 1 c. reserved water from steaming cauliflower
  • ½ T. bacon fat or safe Vegan fat
  • 1.5 T. agar flakes
  • ½ tsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. tapioca starch
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  1. Cut the cauliflower into chunks and place in a steamer basket.
  2. Add 1.5 cups of water to a pan and place the steamer basket in the pan.
  3. Steam the cauliflower until tender.
  4. While the cauliflower is steaming, gather the rest of the ingredients and line a glass bowl with parchment paper (or oil it well).
  5. Once the cauliflower has steamed, reserve 1 c. of the steamer water and use it to purée the cauliflower.
  6. Add the fat to the cauliflower purée and incorporate fully.
  7. Measure 2 c. of cauliflower purée and put in a pan. Bring to a gentle boil.
  8. Add the vinegar, sea salt and agar flakes and begin whisking.
  9. Whisk and gently boil the mixture for 15 minutes until thickened.
  10. Add the paprika, tapioca starch, and nutritional yeast one at a time, incorporating each ingredient fully.
  11. Whisk constantly for 5-10 more minutes, until the mixture thickens even more.
  12. Pour the mixture into the lined (or oiled) glass bowl.
  13. Let sit for two hours to cool and firm.
  14. At that point, it is a spreadable, soft cheese that may be used. If you prefer a harder cheese, it can be placed in the fridge for easier slicing and grating.
  15. Enjoy your fructose and dairy safe cheese!

What’s the Royal Ingredient in your kitchen?


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20 Responses to Vegan Cauliflower Cheddar “Cheese” – Fructose-Friendly!

  1. louise says:

    Hi many thanks for this. My son has only 2 safe foods rice and beef and i made this with boiled rice puree and beef gelatin, i used it to trial nutritional yeast and we are now day 6 with no reaction 🙂 Thanks again x

  2. Kristie says:

    Hi there!

    This recipe looks awesome, but I’m having some trouble finding the ingredients. What is the tapioca starch for? Can I leave this out or does it help with the thickening?

    Also, where do you find the agar flakes? Do you order them special from somewhere or what section of the grocery store are they in?



    • Carrie says:

      Hi Kristie!

      The tapioca starch thickens it a bit; you could certainly try it without, or substitute arrowroot starch instead. If you try it without, let me know how it turns out!

      Agar flakes are typically found in three places that I know of: health food type stores (Whole Foods, etc., though I don’t actually know if Whole Foods carries them), Asian markets, and

      I was lucky that my local health food co-op carried them, but once they were out and I found some at a local Asian market. Lots of people who live in areas without any Asian markets or healthy stores report good luck finding them online.

      Good luck, and hope it works out for you!

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  4. Do you think this would come out ok with white vinegar instead?

    • Carrie says:

      Hi Susan! If that’s all you’ve got, give it a try! I think it will probably work just fine. The balsamic just adds a little “something extra”. With all the other flavorful ingredients, though, I think it will be hardly noticeable if you subbed the vinegars. 🙂

  5. Raquel says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I’m also on a dairy free/low fructose diet due to allergies. Cheese is the one thing I’ve missed the most. Nutritional yeast is a god send. I get my nutritional yeast from Vitacost.

    • Carrie says:

      So glad this could help, Raquel! I’ve been getting Bragg’s nutritional yeast from my health food co-op, but I’ll check into Vitacost.

      Fortunately, I got to eat this cheese once before I had to start my TED and I LOVE it! No, it isn’t ‘real’ cheese, but once you’ve melted it on to something you’d never know! 🙂


  6. Karen says:

    Wow, you are a genius, this looks amazing. Do you think it would work with coconut oil? I can’t wait to try it..

    • Carrie says:

      Thanks, Karen! Which ingredient were you thinking of subbing with coconut oil?

      The original recipe used coconut MILK instead of the cauliflower puree, but I can’t think of what the coconut oil could replace. 🙂

      • Karen says:

        The bacon fat Carrie.. I know it’s not much but its’ something I don’t have or get.. thanks for replying.. 🙂

        • Carrie says:

          Ugh! I’m sorry! I’m having one of those days! (I forgot to put the blade in my food processor before adding the food earlier, too.)

          Yes, coconut oil would work fine in place of the bacon fat, I’m sure. I never tried it that way, though, but I think any fat would probably work well.

          Let me know how it turns out!

          (And thanks for indulging my space cadet moment!) 🙂

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  8. Christine says:

    I tried this with multiple substitutions due to the ingredients I had on hand, and it still worked beautifully! I used arrowroot instead of tapioca starch, coconut oil in place of bacon fat, and red wine vinegar (I know, not ideal) instead if white balsamic vinegar. If like to see how substituting gelatin for the agar flakes would work. I also use a hand mixer to whisk. Delicious! Thank you for bringing back cheese into my world. I would love to see a mozzarella spin in this.

    • Carrie says:

      Christine, I’m in love with your modifications! I am ALL about tweaking recipes, here, so if that worked for you, then fabulous!

      I’d be interested in seeing how gelatin works instead of agar flakes, too, so if you try that, please let me know what happens! 🙂

      Mozzerella is in the works, actually. So stay tuned for that one! And…you’re welcome! Cheese was the toughest thing to replace after we went dairy free, so I get it. 😉

  9. Amanda LeFew says:

    For those that tried with modifications, did you leave out the paprika? Did it affect flavor? Thanks!! We cannot do paprika— even airborne peppers in our house=rxn.

    • Carrie says:

      Hi Amanda!

      I’d imagine you could leave the paprika out with little ill effect. I think it’s one of the spices that just gives the flavor a “little somethin’ extra” but doesn’t alter the overall taste, you know? Give it a shot! 🙂

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