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Q&A

How do I get vegan "cheese" to melt?

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I sometimes cook for someone who needs to avoid milk products, so I got some plant-based "cheese" (listed as cultured vegan cheese) to use instead of the real thing. I'm having trouble getting it to melt properly; is that just how these imitation cheeses are, or does it require a different technique or temperature?

I first tried melting it on sandwiches (veggie burgers). For real cheese, if I'm warming up the burgers in the microwave, I can add cheese slices for the last minute of cooking time and I get nicely-melted cheese on the patty. With this cheese, after a minute it was warm but no less rigid, and after two minutes it was barely getting soft. At that point I was overcooking the burgers, so I stopped.

I then tried using it in an omelette. Mindful of the sandwich disappointment, I added the cheese, in small pieces, to the skillet before the eggs. (Heated oil, sauteed onions, added cheese partway through, and when the onions were soft I added the eggs and proceeded as usual.) Some of the cheese was melted, some wasn't. It didn't taste bad, but I was surprised that some bits of cheese were still more toward the solid end of the scale.

Is vegan cheese just not expected to melt well, and I should be focusing on ways to use it cold? Or is there a trick I'm not getting right? Or are there differences in vegan cheeses and I bought one that's not good for this purpose?

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I believe you will find this article both entertaining and useful: https://www.seriouseats.com/the-food-lab-vegan-nacho-sauce-as-good-as-the-real-thing-recipe-vegan-experience

(the recipe alone is at https://www.seriouseats.com/gooey-vegan-nacho-cheese-sauce-recipe-food-lab )

It documents the process of developing a vegan cheese sauce suitable for nachos, burgers, potatoes, mac-n-cheese, and so forth.

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