Vegan steamed rice cheese

by in Basics
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Time: Preparation time , cooking time , total time
Serves: 1 pound of cheese
Vegan steamed rice cheese

This is not a low carb recipe, but it is so awesome I wanted to share it here anyway. For a long time I've wanted to make a vegan cheese that was similar in texture to Violife (Europe) or Chao (US). I've tried many times with different ingredients and methods and this steamed rice flour based cheese is the closest I've come. It has a lovely firm texture that allows it to be grated and sliced super thin. It's nice to eat cold, but also works well on grilled cheese and pizza, although it doesn't melt quite as well as the store bought variety. It's also soy free, gluten free, fodmap free and very cheap to make. A real game changer!

The idea for this cheese came from an Indonesian dessert called kue lapis, where a mixture of rice flour and coconut milk is steamed to create a sticky cake. I accidentally made a slightly too dry version of it, and David said it would be a good texture for cheese, so I started experimenting!

The flavors are super adaptable. In this recipe I keep it really simple, but you can add as many herbs, spices and flavorings as you want. I would really like to try it with lactic acid instead of vinegar and some commercially available vegan cheese flavors, but I'll have to order those online which I haven't gotten around to yet.

Also try my other cheese recipes, like the super flavorful blue cheese and the lovely garlic herb cream cheese.

Ingredients

  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) water
  • 110 gram (+/- 1 cup spooned and leveled) white rice flour (NOT glutenous rice flour)
  • 75 gram (1/3 cup) melted neutral tasting coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon mild French mustard
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • a pinch of turmeric (optional, for yellow cheese)

Instructions

Bring water to a boil in your steamer pot

Put all the ingredients in the jar of your blender or foodprocessor, and blend until it forma a completely smooth milky mixture, without lumps or visible oil droplets.

Pour the cheese mixture into a glass or ceramic mold (I used a cereal bowl). Choose a mold that is plenty high enough to accommodate the liquid as it will bubble up during the steaming.

Keep the water at a rolling boil and steam the cheese for about 45 minutes. After the steaming, the cheese will still be quite soft. Don't worry, it will firm up once it cools. If a thin layer of water dripped onto the cheese from the pot's lid, drain this off carefully. Let the cheese cool to room temperature and then cover it and put it into the fridge overnight to firm up.

Once it is firm, you can release it from the mold and store it in a lidded container for up to two weeks. The cheese tastes best if you leave it to firm and develop flavor for a day or two before eating, but I understand if you can't wait that long ;)

83 comments

Aliyanna op 1-9-2016 - 19:55

I was wondering if you could tell me more about the flavorings....I am enjoying your ideas and would love to learn more... If you are low carbing....you might want to watch the tofu for the goitergen problems...that causes weight gain and all the other issues as it messes with your thyroid. Just a thought.

Martine op 2-9-2016 - 9:20

Hey Aliyanna, I've considered ordering cheese flavors form this French company: https://www.meilleurduchef.com/cgi/mdc/l/en/shop/food/food-flavourings/cheese-flavourings.html They are all vegan: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Plantified/permalink/1145354845522679/

On the subject of tofu, research has shown that 2-3 servings of soy foods a day are actually beneficial for health (see for instance the paper by vegan dietitian Jack Norris on soy), so I am not worried about that at all.

Marcela op 25-2-2017 - 20:52

In my country is coconut oil expensive. Can I replace it?

Martine op 26-2-2017 - 8:24

Hi Marcela, you preferably need an oil that is solid at room temperature. if you have access to vegan shortening or a firm vegan margerine, you could try using that. Neutral flavored cacao butter or palm oil would also work.

Bett op 1-3-2017 - 2:02

Alas cheese flavors from that company cannot be sent to the USA! :-( This came up in my checkout page: Sorry, food items cannot be shipped to your country. Please remove this item before you confirm your order.

Martine op 1-3-2017 - 8:30

That's too bad! Thanks for letting us know Bett.

Anders op 19-3-2017 - 11:40

Really enjoying this cheese the texture is almost perfect could you add some cultures and age it or will the steaming kill of the bacteria?

Martine op 19-3-2017 - 12:53

Glad you like it Anders! Steaming will kill the bacteria, so aging this cheese is a bit difficult. The flavor will improve if you let is rest in the fridge for a few days up to a week. I also had comments on facebook from someone who subbed part of the rice flour with tapioca en was able to blend the cheese after steaming before letting it cool and set. You could experiment with something like that and add cultures during the blending.

Dareen op 14-7-2017 - 18:14

I don't have nutritional yeast. Is there any reason for it in the recipe other than flavour? can i omit it or is it a must?? and are there any other substitutes for it??

Martine op 15-7-2017 - 21:17

Hi Dareen, you can omit the nutritional yeast if you want. It is just there for flavor. There are no real substitutes. If you have it around, you could add a little miso to the cheese for savoriness, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

Pedro op 16-8-2017 - 9:41

Hi, can you please clarify how you steam this cheeze? Do I understand correctly that you pour a mixture into a mold first and then put this mold into a steam pan with a lid?? Why not cooking the mixture straight away in a normal pot, stirring constantly and then pour into a mold to cool down? I'm confused... :( Cheers!

Martine op 16-8-2017 - 10:06

Hi Pedro, you understand the process correctly. This cheese cannot be cooked in a pot. During cooking it becomes so firm that you cannot stir or pour it, so making it in a pot results in an unevenly cooked ugly cheese. Steaming it solves that problem, because the cheese can be cooked right in the mold. I hope this clears it up for you!

Pedro op 17-8-2017 - 23:04

perfect, thank you for your prompt response and clarification :) I will try making the cheese tomorrow! :)

Crystal op 23-8-2017 - 14:25

Hi! I just tried this cheese out and am so impressed. Above all, the texture is incredible. So many vegan cheeses are too soft or mushy, this has the texture of a firm dairy cheddar. As such, it's excellent on crackers or in a sandwich. On its own the flavour is pretty mild - although I'm thinking of different things to try, including red pepper flakes! This cheese doesn't melt like regular dairy cheese, but it does soften when heated. I am wondering, have you tried subbing out some of the rice flour for some tapioca starch to try and get it to be a bit melty/stretchy? Would this even work? I haven't made too many hard vegan cheeses so my experience is limited. Thanks for all your hard work on this recipe, you have a massive winner here :)

Martine op 24-8-2017 - 9:14

Hi Crystal, happy to hear you like this cheese so much! You can substitute 1/3 cup of the rice flour with tapioca, which might help with the melting. People are also experimenting with adding up to a tablespoon carrageenan, which also seems to work.

Retha op 6-9-2017 - 16:42

I only discovered your recipe today. Luckily had all the ingredients to whip up a batch. Have just substituted vinegar with apple cider vinegar. It is still hot of the stove, cooling now. Can't wait to taste it. Can I use it on pizza (vegan)?

Martine op 7-9-2017 - 8:26

Hi Retha, this cheese doesn't melt very well, but people have used it on pizza with nice results. Just grate or slice it finely, and put it directly on the sauce, underneath the other toppings for best results.

Taira op 7-9-2017 - 3:56

Hi! Can I use brown rice flour in place of white?

Martine op 7-9-2017 - 8:25

Hi Taira, you can use brown rice flour, but the cheese will be more grainy and have a less convincing texture.

Melissa op 7-9-2017 - 19:24

I love this cheese. It's so easy to make, especially with an electric steamer. The texture is spot on. I'm very pleased except I used yellow mustard and now my cheese tastes like it. It's ok because I like mustard but not so much like cheese. I assume I used the wrong stuff. Can you be more specific about what "mild French mustard" means? Google showed me dijon when I used that search phrase but that seems stronger than yellow mustard. Thank you!

Martine op 8-9-2017 - 7:58

Hi Melissa, glad you like it! Some people find the mustard flavor too strong. You can reduce the amount or leave it out entirely. I'm not sure about the different kinds of mustard. Here in Holland all the stores have 'French' mustard that is quite mild, but it might not be available in other countries.

Deb op 30-9-2017 - 4:13

Martine, First of all, thank you for responding to all the comments. Not many bloggers do that. Secondly, you have such a knowledge of all the different ingredients people have asked you about. Seems like you have experimented with these ingredients and/or, you have been a vegan for a while, and you know all about the different ingredients. I think I miss cheese the most. The two I miss the most are Swiss and Parmesan, because I like the tang they both have. Do you have a YouTube channel we can subscribe to, or do you only blog here, and on the Facebook page?

Martine op 30-9-2017 - 7:27

Hi Deb, thanks for the compliments! I really love it when people make my recipes, so I do try to respond whenever I can. That's what blogging is all about in my opinion! I have two Dutch blogs, vegetus.nl and gewoonvegan.nl (and those blogs have their own Facebook pages in Dutch). I also dabbled with Youtube for a bit in Dutch (the channel is also called Gewoon Vegan), but that was very time consuming so I took a break and I'm not sure if and when I'll get back to it. I may make another more general English blog in the future, for all my not low carb recipes. I already post the cheeses here sometimes even if they are not low carb, but I also have lots of baking and cooking recipes that I want to translate into English. I need more hours in the day, haha. :-D

Veronica op 20-10-2017 - 22:40

I would like to make this for my daughter who is allergic to dairy (and 20 other foods) but I do not have a rice steamer. Do you think it would work in either a bain-marie, or something similar to a double boiler (I dont have that but can submerge a mixing bowl into a pan of boiling water)?

Martine op 23-10-2017 - 16:00

Hi Veronica, I think your best option is to improvise a steamer with a regular pot and a colander, or by putting an inverted plate or bowl at the bottom of the pot, and then putting the cheese mold on top of that. Anything that will lift the cheese above the level of water at the bottom of the pot. A double boiler or au-bain-marie probably won't be hot enough, you really need the heat from the steam on all sides of the cheese.

Sheree op 21-10-2017 - 16:57

This is wonderful. I made it yesterday afternoon (used a Vitamix and small double boiler). I couldn't wait until this afternoon to taste it; tasted it this morning. It is awesome. Thank you so much for a great recipe that I will make often.

Martine op 23-10-2017 - 15:54

That's wonderful Sheree! Enjoy your cheese :D

Jokuh op 1-11-2017 - 6:55

Perhaps a silly question....But do you use raw or cooked rice? I cannot wait to make This cheese!!

Martine op 12-11-2017 - 10:43

Hi Jokuh, this recipe uses rice flour, which is raw.

ransomed op 13-11-2017 - 7:04

Can I use potato flour or a wheat flour such as cake flour?

Martine op 13-11-2017 - 8:07

Hi ransomed, different flours give very different textures. I recommend you use the specific type of rice flour for which I designed this recipe. If you use another type of flour, you will have to experiment with the amount of liquid to add, and you will probably not get the same texture as the original recipe.

ransomed op 13-11-2017 - 23:50

Thanks! I'll have to buy some rice flour to see how it's supposed to be. Then, if I like the original, I'll experiment with wheat flour and potato flour and let you know how it goes.

Nikki op 16-11-2017 - 21:36

I read all the comment's and tell only thing is how to steam the rice flour. Can I use an instant pot to steam it. Or put ramakins In a large pot with water and be heightened a bit with a trinket because I don't have a double boiler or a steamer.

Martine op 17-11-2017 - 16:00

Hi Nikki, yes you can! :)

Heddy Way op 18-11-2017 - 14:42

I made this on Thursday - it’s all gone now! 😋

Martine op 20-11-2017 - 11:15

Lovely! Make some more soon. :D

Paayel op 19-11-2017 - 11:25

Can I make rice flour by crushing raw rice in the grinder or should use store bought? How fine should the flour be?

Martine op 20-11-2017 - 11:17

Hi Paayel, the rice flour should be very fine to get a nice firm texture. You may need to tweak the recipe to get a good result with home-ground flour.

toni op 28-11-2017 - 1:56

is the oil necessary or can it be omitted?

Martine op 28-11-2017 - 7:42

Hi toni, the texture and flavor will be a lot less cheese-like without the oil. You would also have to experiment with the amount of water that has to be added to replace the oil. I do not recommend it.

Heddy op 30-11-2017 - 17:31

It’s now the 30th November - 12 days after first trying this recipe! I have now made it FIVE times and recommended it to many on FB. We’ve been invited out to friends for a meal tomorrow and they are very kindly cooking vegan so, I’m taking the half left from Monday’s batch but have another in steaming as I write. Thank you so much for this recipe. My only tweak is reducing the lemon juice to 1/2 tsp and adding 1/4 teaspoon of vegan lactic acid powder, as I like the lingering aftertaste, especially with a good chutney and oatmeal biscuits. But, to be honest I feel the cheese is amazing as it is. 😃

Martine op 1-12-2017 - 7:59

Hi Heddy, that's great! I am very happy to hear you like my recipe so much.

Linda Bauman op 5-1-2018 - 15:21

In ref to "vegan steamed rich cheese". I don't have any other steaming equipment other than a douple boiler.Can I use this to steam this cheese? Thank you, Linda

Martine op 8-1-2018 - 21:02

Hi Linda, a double boiler does not really provide enough heat to steam the cheese properly. Please see the other comments for tips on improvised steaming solutions.

Soconina op 8-1-2018 - 17:41

Amazing! I did 3 times now and I love it! Each time I made it with different flavors. Thank you for the recipe.

Martine op 8-1-2018 - 20:59

Hi Soconina, that's great to hear! Glad you like it so much.

Deborah op 9-1-2018 - 1:28

Hi. Do you think this ca. Be steamed in an Instant Pot? I was thinking of putting a cup of water in the liner and putting a 1 qt casserole in with the mix and steaming for 15 minutes with a 10 minute natural release. Do you think this would work?

Martine op 9-1-2018 - 6:54

Hi Deborah, I think that would work yes! You may have to experiment with the timing a bit.

Jesse op 17-2-2018 - 4:16

There is a Filipino sweet cake recipe called Palitaw which uses rice flour as well. I accidentally stuffed up the mixture one day and kneaded the dough too much that it turned into a hard sweet cake, but the texture was so much like cheese that I revised it adding mashed fermented tofu as a savoury ingredient. I ended up with a hard vegan cheese I can grate! With Palitaw you don't need a steamer. You actually drop the small round dough into boiling water till it floats! Then you spoon them out and let it harden in the fridge. I usually dust it with extra rice flour to absorb excess oil.

Martine op 19-2-2018 - 10:07

That's really interesting Jesse! I'll look up a recipe for Palitaw.

Silvya op 13-3-2018 - 14:26

I made it with blender-grinded rice... It is like cous-cous casserole. :D So really fine rice flour is really necessary.

Silvya op 19-3-2018 - 21:07

The cheese is sliceable even though like "cous cous casserole" at first. And the taste is very good. It tastes like cheese! I have been eating the first block for over a week and the taste gets better with time. I definitely will make it again and again. I am very happy for this simple cheese recipe. I replaced coconut oil with self-made vegan butter, because it tastes like butter, not coconut. I don't like coconut oil taste. I also replaced vinegar with lemon juice as it is healthier. I think it worked well. :) Thank You so much for sharing this recipe!

Martine op 25-3-2018 - 8:04

Glad it worked out in the end Silvya! If you use refined coconut oil, the cheese will not have any coconut taste, but of course using your own vegan butter is also fine.

Miri op 26-5-2018 - 7:04

Hi I tried making this today and it’s in the fridge cooling. When I wizzed the ingredients up it was smooth then went all lumpy and curdled which wouldn’t smooth out so went ahead and continued with it like that and hope it tastes ok as I didn’t want to waste the ingredients. Do you know why this would have happened? Thank you

Martine op 28-5-2018 - 7:26

Hi Miri, that's weird! I've never had anything like that happen. Maybe the batter got hot in the blender, so it started to congeal? Next time blend is just until smooth. I hope the cheese still tasted good.

Janice op 12-6-2018 - 19:23

When you say rice steamer are you referring to a rice cooker I have one. With a steam basket.

Martine op 12-6-2018 - 20:50

Hi Janice, yes you can use your rice cooker with the steam basket, or any other type of steaming pot.

Juno Carrano op 19-6-2018 - 0:53

I loved your recipe! I only have one question related to the texture, it was difficult to take it from the glass/ceramic mold without breaking it (maybe silicon? or a sous-vide?), it's not very elastic. Do you think a little bit of tapioca flour, chia seeds or something like that would solve this? Besides, instead of coconut oil (couldn't find a neutral one in here) i used sunflower seed oil. Thanks a lot!

Martine op 19-6-2018 - 6:38

Hi Juno, I'm happy you like the recipe! If you use sunflower oil instead of coconut, the cheese will be less firm and more difficult to release from the mold. A silicon mold could help here. Tapioca may make the cheese a bit more elastic. Generally, I wait untill the cheese has firmed up completely and then loosen the edges with a table knife and then use the knife as a lever to whip the cheese out of the mold. That als works perfectly for me, but I don't know if it works for cheese that was made without coconut oil.

Vegan Newbie op 16-7-2018 - 22:44

This came out DELICIOUS! Wow! Thank you. I did put a little too much turmeric, hence the yellow color. I added to your recipe 1/2 teaspoonful of onion powder. I did not have the mustard you used, I substituted with yellow mustard. So, so tasty! My texture was a little grainy. Next time I will grease the bowl or add plastic wrap to the bowl, to get the cheese out more easily. I have to cut it inside the bowl, otherwise it will come apart, sticking. Very yummy!!! Thank you!!

Martine op 17-7-2018 - 8:29

Happy you liked it so much Newbie! For me it comes out of the bowl perfectly if I just let it firm up completely and then loosen the edges, but greasing or plastic wrap will probably work too.

Kim Scott op 18-7-2018 - 22:09

I tried a slight variation of your delicious rice cheese recipe last night, and couldn't wait to taste it this morning. So good! I tried a slice and then grated it on top of a seitan/bean/garlic sausage pizza... did not melt, but worked just fine anyway. I made a variation with sun dried tomatoes and garlic, with miso and sauerkraut juice replacing the lemon and vinegar. The basic white version is a perfect place to start experimenting from. Thanks so much!

Martine op 20-7-2018 - 7:42

Sounds lovely Kim, thanks for sharing!

Nita op 25-7-2018 - 16:47

I am confused about the measurement of the rice flour called for in the recipe. Is it 1 cup?

Martine op 26-7-2018 - 11:32

Hi Nita, yes it is 1 cup, measured by adding in the flour with a spoon and then leveling it with a knife so the top is flat. If you fill it any other way, for instance by scooping it from the bag with the cup, the flour will be compacted into the cup, so you get too much flour. You can see pictures of this method here (scroll down): http://www.goodthingsbydavid.com/2013/03/ultimate-coconut-cupcakes.html

Nita op 26-7-2018 - 14:35

I've gathered all the ingredients and I'm almost ready to get it a try. But first, I have a question about steaming the recipe in an Instant Pot. Is the timing the same for using the Instant Pot steaming function?

Martine op 27-7-2018 - 8:16

Hi Nita, I do not have an instant pot, but I thing the timing would be the same, as long as it has a regular steaming function and you are not cooking under pressure.

denise op 28-7-2018 - 15:29

Thank you for this great recipe! Even though my cheap bullet type blender didn't blend it completely as it was quite thick, it still came out a perfect texture. I made this in Instant Pot on low pressure, for 30 min. letting pressure release on it's own. I used a 4 cup glass pyrex, it came out easily after chilled. I used 1/3 cup tapioca starch, 2/3 cup rice flour. I also added miso, 2 teas lemon and 1 of white balsamic, smoked salt, and a little more nooch. I'll be making this often playing with different flavors. Next time fresh chives and roasted garlic. Then jalepanos and dried tomato. Such a good cheese to have with fruit! Mine softens when heated, which is better than most vegan cheese that just dissolve into stickiness!

Martine op 29-7-2018 - 9:09

Thank you for sharing you recipe tweaks Denise!

Purbali op 6-8-2018 - 6:34

Thanks for the recipe just looking for exactly something like this

Martine op 6-8-2018 - 7:32

That's lovely Purbali, enjoy your cheese!

Lesley op 9-8-2018 - 17:49

Hi again, I've accidentally bought glutinous rice flour - will it be a disaster?

Martine op 13-8-2018 - 9:15

Hi Lesley, that's too bad! The texture will be very different if you use glutinous rice flour. I do not recommend it.

Bob op 11-8-2018 - 3:34

Martine made up your vegan steamed rice cheese several times. Fabulous recipe. Latest was with sliced up pickled jalapeno peppers. Steamed for 30 minutes instead of 45. Results was very satisfying. Will try more or your precipices. I put the information on on fb vegan cheezes. Best wishes, Bob - Thailand

Martine op 13-8-2018 - 9:15

That's great Bob, glad you like it!

Teresa op 21-8-2018 - 3:50

Can you place the cheese in a steamer insert over boiling water or does it need to be immersed in water?

Martine op 22-8-2018 - 9:32

Hi Teresa, the cheese should ideally be suspended above the water, not immersed. So yes, a steamer insert is great to use!

Patrick op 3-9-2018 - 18:38

First of all - thank you so much. I've been vegan for 12 years and this is hands-down the best homemade cheese I've ever made. This is a life changing find. Mine firmed up right away - I used my instant pot on the steam function for 45 minutes with the valve sealed, so maybe that's why. It tasted very much like the vacuum packed dry mozzarella cheese my mom bought when I was a kid. I planned to wait until tomorrow, but uhhhhhhhhh. Instead I immediately made air-fried mozzarella sticks and they were incredible.

Martine op 5-9-2018 - 9:53

Hi Patrick, I'm really happy that you like this recipe so much. Enjoy experimenting with it!

Véronique op 8-10-2018 - 20:04

Hi Martine, I’m just making the cheese right now but I have a question about the rice flour quantity, I weighed the flour and 1/2 cup gave me 157g, so I left it like that because I thought that 1 cup would give me way too much flour, what do you think?

Martine op 8-10-2018 - 20:30

Hi Veronique, yes 157 grams is already too much. Unfortunately, cup measurements will always be less accurate than weight. This is why the recipe says 'spooned and leveled'. This is a specific technique for filling the cup. If you fill the cup by scooping from the bag, you will end up with much more flour packed into the cup, than if you fill the cup one spoonful at a time.

Max op 18-11-2018 - 15:12

Where can you get vegan cheese flavors? What website? Cheers

Martine op 19-11-2018 - 9:51

Hi Max, the cheese flavors are available from this French webshop: https://www.meilleurduchef.com/fr/rech?kw=arome+fromage I do not know any other place that ships them internationally.

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