Vegan Cheese Kinda Melts

Teese Vegan Cheese Alternative

Teese Vegan Cheese Alternative

I Paid: $3.99 for a 10-ounce log (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3 stars

Marketing: 2 stars

As a Wisconsin dude born and raised, I find the idea of vegan cheese to be absurd, vaguely offensive, and a little bit frightening. Why would anyone not drink milk and consume milk products at every possible opportunity? Well, the answer, of course, is if they're vegan. So it was with a monster chip on my shoulder that I tasted Teese, a vegan cheese product that comes in two flavors: mozzarella and cheddar.

Both cookie dough–like logs of Teese cut somewhat like mozzarella: relatively soft and dense. Not encouraging, but not particularly off-putting, either.

Then the test. I made a grilled sandwich with the Teese cheddar and a baked pizza with the Teese mozz.

The verdict: well, mixed. First, this stuff doesn't really like to melt. It takes an awful lot of heat and time, and when it finally does, it doesn't get very gooey. "Teese tastes, melts, and stretches better than any other dairy-free cheese alternative on the market," claims the product's website, and I believe that. I also don't know that it's a lot to brag about, since neither the pizza nor the sandwich picked up much browning or meltiness.

That said, it tastes OK. There, I said it. It's not bad. Cheddar Teese has a bit of real cheddar umami, and it eventually gets a bit creamy once it "melts." The Mozzarella lacked flavor punch, but it did the job of supporting the sauce and crunchy crust of my pizza. Neither Teese was oily or artificial tasting, two things that I'd feared, and their relative indestructibility by heat is far preferable to them doing horrible things (separating, shooting out green flames, vaporizing into a memory-erasing gas).

Teese won't be kicking cheese out of refrigerators any time soon. But if you're dairy-free, it's got some of cheese's goodness without any nasty drawbacks, and that's about the best you're gonna get.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.