Lactose intolerance is one of the most common food sensitivities for people in the US. Since most dairy products such as cheese contain lactose, most of them need to be avoided by the lactose intolerant. Luckily, there are a few types and brands of cheeses that even the lactose intolerant can digest!
So, what are the best lactose-free cheese brands/types? Some of the best lactose-free cheese brands/types include Treeline, Violife, Field Roast, Miyoko’s Creamery, Kite Hill, and Daiya. They are all made with dairy-free alternatives such as soy, nuts, or root vegetables, and are easy to digest for people with lactose intolerance.
Read on to find out all about lactose in cheese along with our pick of the 11 best brands/types of lactose-free cheese you can enjoy without worry.
What Is Lactose in Cheese?
Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and milk-based products such as cheese. Upon consumption, it is broken down in the human body into simple sugars by an enzyme known as lactase.
People suffering from lactose intolerance do not produce adequate lactase to break down the lactose, which causes it to not be properly digested and leads to gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and nausea.
The level and severity of lactose intolerance may vary among people depending on how much lactase their body is able to make. Age is also a contributing factor as lactase production can decrease over time causing sensitivity to lactose.
Can Cheese Be Lactose-Free?
Many people who are lactose intolerant think that they have to give up all kinds of cheese. Luckily, that is not the case. There are a few options that lactose intolerant individuals can enjoy without facing any severe gastrointestinal issues.
With over 1800 different types of cheese in the world, many of them have a naturally low level of lactose in them. Cheeses made from sheep or goat milk are generally considered to have a low level of lactose compared to cheeses made from cow’s milk.
The exact lactose levels, however, depend on certain factors such as the cheesemaking process and the length of aging. As cheese ages, it loses moisture, leaving behind less lactose in the final product.
During the cheese production process, the milk is thickened and the whey is separated from the curds. Since the whey contains more lactose, a lot of it is removed from the mixture when the whey is drained before making the cheese.
Since softer cheeses like Brie have more moisture in them due to the presence of whey, they are usually high in lactose. Hard, dry cheeses like cheddar have most of the whey removed, which is why their lactose content is much lower.
Although low-lactose cheeses are much easier to digest for the lactose intolerant, if you are someone who simply cannot stomach any milk products without gastrointestinal discomfort, we suggest you avoid eating them completely.
The good news is that although dairy-based cheeses are a no-go for you, there are several varieties of non-dairy cheeses made specifically for people who cannot tolerate lactose.
Lactose-free cheese is made using non-dairy products such as soy, rice, cashew, and almonds. Since they are not made with milk, they may not have the exact same texture and flavor, but trust us when we tell you that they are pretty close alternatives.
Best Lactose-Free Cheese Brands/Types – Buyer’s Guide
When buying lactose-free cheese, there are a few things you need to consider such as:
Lactose-free cheese is made with ingredients other than milk. Cashews and root vegetables are often basic ingredients because they are naturally creamy.
Make sure, though, that you look out for any allergens in lactose-free cheese such as tree nuts, especially if you have a nut allergy. They may also include other allergens like soy.
Nutritional yeast may be added to give it a “cheesy” flavor and tapioca starch may be used as a thickener. Therefore, it is best to read the nutritional information on the packaging to be sure.
When it comes to lactose-free cheese, generally the more processed the cheese is, the more it will feel like actual cheese.
You may notice that the less processed ones have a grainy or even chalky texture because of the ingredients used. Although they may taste great, a change in texture is something that you’ll have to grow accustomed to.
Like regular dairy cheese, lactose-free cheese is available in a variety of flavors based on the type of ingredients used.
Some may use natural flavorings like nutritional yeast to achieve a similar flavor and texture as dairy cheese, while some may go through a similar cheesemaking process where a starter culture is used to break down the fats and proteins in nuts.
Shape and Format
Cheese, including the lactose-free variety, comes in different types of shapes and formats including blocks, rounds, shreds, slices, sauces, and spreads. Depending on how you want to use the cheese, you will have to choose between the different types.
Are you looking for a midnight snack to enjoy with our crackers? Do you want to shred it over your pasta? Or do you want to make a melty grilled cheese?
Labels and Certifications
When buying lactose-free cheese, look for labels on the packaging that clearly states that the product is lactose-free. If the product is vegan, which lactose-free cheese normally is, the packaging will include certifications from Natural Food Certifiers and The Vegan Society.
11 Best Lactose-Free Cheese Brands/Types
If dairy-based cheeses aren’t working for you, you don’t have to go through all that discomfort to enjoy them. Luckily, there are lactose-free cheeses available in the market that not only taste great but are also easy on the stomach.
Here are our top picks of the 11 best lactose-free cheese brands/types to help you choose:
|Treeline Creamy Soft French-Style Cashew Cheese
|Made using a creamy cashew base with a texture similar to dairy cheese
|Violife Just Like Parmesan Wedge
|Wide variety of lactose-free cheeses made with a coconut oil base
|Field Roast’s Chao Range
|Made with fermented tofu and coconut oil base
|Owned by celebrity chef Miyoko Schinner
|Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread
|Follows a production process very similar to actual cheesemaking
|Daiya Deliciously Dairy-Free Cheese
|One of the most popular and most credible brands of lactose-free, vegan cheese in the current US market
|Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Cheese
|Made with a soy or pea protein base
|So Delicious Dairy-Free Cheese
|Made with a coconut oil and starch base
|NOOCH IT! Dairy-Free Cashew Grated Cheeze
|America’s first fair trade vegan cheese
|Tofutti Better Than Cheese
|One of the first dairy-free cheese brands to hit the market
|365 by Whole Foods Market Plant-Based Cheese Alternative
|Made with a few simple ingredients including coconut oil and modified potato starch
1. Treeline Creamy Soft French-Style Cashew Cheese
Treeline has been making vegan cheese since around 2010 and is one of the best lactose-free cheese options in the market. Using a creamy cashew base, it is pretty close to dairy cheese in terms of texture and is a top choice for the lactose intolerant.
Its French-style cheese is made with organic cashews and is available in four standout flavors – Chipotle-Serrano Pepper, Herb Garlic, Scallion, and Sea Salt & Pepper. It is free from dairy, soy, and gluten, and its soft, spreadable, and creamy texture makes it a perfect accompaniment to bagels.
Treeline also makes plant-based cream cheese and aged artisanal cheese that can be enjoyed on a cheeseboard, sliced on a sandwich, or grated over your favorite soup or salad.
2. Violife Just Like Parmesan Wedge
Violife is a Greek brand that has quickly become a favorite among vegans, particularly those looking for vegan, lactose-free cheese.
With a wide variety of lactose-free cheeses to choose from, all of which are made with a coconut oil base, the brand offers a range of flavors and textures, from sharp cheddar to creamy feta, crumbly parmesan, and even a few smoked varieties.
With a stellar ingredient list and a great flavor, all of Violife’s cheeses not only taste a lot like actual cheese but also have a stretchy texture and melt easily.
Other than being dairy-free, they are free from soy, gluten, nuts, and GMOs as well, making them a great option for people with allergies and dietary restrictions.
3. Field Roast’s Chao Range
Field Roast is a Seattle-based company that sells vegan cheese under its ‘Chao’ banner. Made with fermented tofu and coconut oil base, the brand’s vegan and lactose-free cheeses come in shreds, slices, and blocks, and in a variety of different flavors.
Although their cheeses aren’t soy-free, they are dairy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO. Field Roast is one of the top-performing vegan brands and their lactose-free cheeses have a rich texture that melts just perfectly in a good old grilled cheese sandwich.
4. Miyoko’s Creamery
Miyoko’s Creamery is a relatively newer brand owned by celebrity chef Miyoko Schinner. With a loyal fan following among vegans and non-vegans alike, Miyoko’s Creamery offers one of the most popular artisanal vegan cheeses suitable for the lactose intolerant.
Made with a base of cashews or oats, their lactose-free cheeses come in a wide range of flavors and textures, from smoky mozzarella to smoked gouda and classic chive.
Instead of trying to copy the real thing, Miyoko’s Creamery has made products that stand out on their own and are perfect for lactose-intolerant cheese lovers!
5. Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spread
If you’re looking for something with a spot-on flavor and texture, we suggest you put all your money on Kite Hill almond-based cheeses. Made from high-quality organic ingredients, Kite Hill offers a variety of different and delicious flavors that are sure to become a staple in your kitchen.
Free of any dairy, gluten, and soy, this lactose-free, vegan cheese spread has that familiar tartness of actual cream cheese and it spreads like a dream.
Kite Hill’s standout feature is that instead of using a blended nut base like other lactose-free cheese brands, they culture almond milk using enzymes, which is a process very similar to actual cheesemaking.
6. Daiya Deliciously Dairy-Free Cheese
Daiya is one of the most popular and credible brands of lactose-free, vegan cheese in the current US market. It offers a variety of dairy-free, plant-based cheese products that are primarily made with cassava root and potato starch.
Free from common allergens including soy, gluten, lactose, and nuts, Daiya cheese is available in shreds, slices, as well as blocks. The brand also offers vegan cheese sauces, mac and cheese, and other cream cheese variants.
7. Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Cheese
Follow Your Heart started as a simple sandwich shop years ago and has now turned into a well-established vegan cheese brand that offers a variety of cheeses suitable for the lactose intolerant.
Made with a soy or pea protein base, all Follow Your Heart cheeses are free of dairy, gluten, and nuts, and use non-GMO ingredients. Available in shreds, slices, and blocks, the brand also makes vegan cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo.
8. So Delicious Dairy-Free Cheese
So Delicious is another popular plant-based brand that makes a variety of dairy-free products including dairy-free milk, yogurts, ice creams, and cheeses, all of which are suitable for people suffering from lactose intolerance.
Made with a coconut oil and starch base, its vegan cheese offering includes shreds, slices, and cream cheese spreads, all of which are free from gluten, soy, and dairy.
You can use its shredded cheese for pizzas and tacos, whereas the slices are perfect for sandwiches and burgers. Even though it’s not actual cheese, it scores high in terms of melting, which is a property that is difficult to find in plant-based cheeses.
9. NOOCH IT! Dairy-Free Cashew Grated Cheeze
NOOCH IT! Dairy-Free Cashew Cheese is America’s first fair-trade vegan cheese made using organic and fair-trade cashews. Completely dairy-free and 100% vegan, it is the perfect product for the lactose intolerant for adding flavor to your salads, soups, and pasta.
Similar to nutty garlic seasoning taste-wise, it has a slightly funky flavor due to the presence of nutritional yeast. If you are someone who is familiar with the taste and enjoys it, you will certainly love this product.
10. Tofutti Better Than Cheese
One of the first dairy-free cheese brands to hit the market back in the ’80s, Tofutti offers dairy-free dips, sour cream, and desserts along with lactose-free, dairy-free cheese.
All three of its dairy-free cheeses – Better Than Cream Cheese, Better Than Ricotta Cheese, and American Slices – are gluten-free. However, since they are made with soy, it’s better to steer clear of these products if you have a soy allergy.
Tofutti Better Than Ricotta Cheese is a popular product that you can snack on as is or use in pasta, cheesecakes, cookies, pancakes, and so much more!
11. 365 by Whole Foods Market Plant-Based Cheese Alternative
365 by Whole Foods Market offers a range of food items including plant-based cheese alternatives for cheddar, mozzarella, and gouda.
Available in both sliced and shredded varieties, these lactose-free cheese alternatives are made with a few simple ingredients including coconut oil and modified potato starch.
A great solution for lactose intolerant individuals who want to enjoy cheese without gastrointestinal discomfort, this product not only tastes great but is also easy on the pocket.