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AIP Cheese (Dairy Free, Nut Free, Soy Free)

aip cheese

Let’s just say that I have a complicated relationship with the official food of my childhood home state of Wisconsin. I can eat a couple bites here and there of the good quality stuff and I feel fine, but the problem is that I love it too much to ever stop at just a couple bites… and after a couple bites, my body no longer feels fine. I’ll spare you the gory details, but will tell you my physical reaction brings meaning to the phrase “cutting the cheese”!

Turns out, I may not be alone. According to at least one medical doctor, the protein fragments in casein that our body doesn’t break down attach to opiate receptors in your brain, which is why some of us crave cheese and have a tendency to overdo it. And for a person like me who is both lactose intolerant and has an autoimmune disease that may be aggravated by the protein in dairy, that is an addiction I need to break!

Dairy and the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

Although some people are able to eventually reintroduce forms of dairy in their diet, it is initially eliminated on the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). According to Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, dairy leads to increased intestinal permeability (colloquially known as “leaky gut”), is a highly allergenic food, and is a potential gluten cross-reactor (that means that in the bodies of some people with gluten intolerance, dairy provokes the same response). There are arguments in favor of consuming dairy, provided you tolerate it and she summarizes all of that nicely in this post called The Great Dairy Debate.

Zucchini Cheese 2.0

While it was still in development, I titled this recipe for a new AIP cheese alternative “zucchini cheese 2.0” because I began with this recipe, posted almost three years ago on my blog but still one of the most consistently popular posts I have ever written. Ultimately, I had to abandon that name because my favorite version of the improved recipe ended up containing no zucchini at all!

I had several aims in this redeveloped recipe. Specifically, I wanted something with a more pronounced cheesy flavor, a brighter color, and I wanted it to be sliceable but also to be able to gently melt it, without it turning completely into liquid. It took some tinkering with different base vegetables and I ultimately settled on butternut squash because it had a nice neutral flavor and the vivid color that reminded me of Wisconsin cheddar. I ramped up the amount of nutritional yeast for more “cheesy flavor,” and then I played around with tapioca starch to give the cheese more body when it has melted.

Ingredient notes

  • Butternut squash – You can peel and chop it fresh, but I really like using frozen squash. I found a 5 pound package of organic butternut squash, individually packaged into one pound bags they intend you to steam in the microwave, at Costco that worked perfectly.
  • Gelatin – Make sure you use gelatin that dissolves only in hot liquids and not collagen. The orange can from Great Lakes or the green can from Vital Proteins are two examples that will work. I have used both and have no preference. Adjust the amount of gelatin you use to get the firmness you desire. Two tablespoons is just enough to make it barely sliceable but still quite soft; four tablespoons will give you something with a bit more bite. Omit the gelatin completely for a vegan option, but be aware that you probably won’t be able to slice it.
  • Nutritional yeast – If you know you have the MTHFR mutation, or if you aren’t sure, it is best to use a yeast that does not have synthetic supplements added to it. I like the Sari Foods brand.
  • Oil – You can use any kind of healthy AIP-friendly fat you like. I like avocado oil because it has a neutral flavor, but coconut or olive oil or even lard would work fine. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think bacon fat might be tasty and give it a “smoked cheddar” like flavor.

Now on to the recipe for AIP cheese… I hope you enjoy this as much as I do! If you are on Instagram, post a picture and tag me and use the hashtag #aipcheese2 so I see it!

AIP Cheese Recipe

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AIP Cheese (Dairy Free, Nut Free, Soy Free)


  • Author: Jaime Hartman
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 mins
  • Yield: varies

Description

This recipe is for all my fellow cheese lovers and cheeseheads who can’t have dairy, soy, nuts, or nightshades and still want to scratch that cheese itch!


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Put squash and about 1/2 a cup of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer until very soft (about 6-9 minutes).
  2. Drain water and discard.
  3. Transfer squash to a high powered blender, or leave in pan to use an immersion blender.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Line a small loaf pan or other container with parchment paper and pour the mixture in. Spread as evenly as possible.
  7. Place in refrigerator and allow to chill until set (about two hours, but this will depend on the depth of the pan or container you use).
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: American

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For more AIP cheese and dairy alternative recipes, be sure to check out this post.

Did you know this recipe is very freezer-friendly? An adapted version of it appears in the community cookbook Freezer Cooking for the Paleo AIP. Learn more about that incredible resource here!

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Shared on Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable

45 replies on “AIP Cheese (Dairy Free, Nut Free, Soy Free)”

It made way more than I thought and has been in my refrigerator for about a week. I didn’t think to freeze it. Is it still good?

Om in Australia and wondered what you mean by butternut squash. We have butternut pumpkin is this the same thing.

Thanks Rhonda

I made a loaf of this last night and it’s outstanding! I was a little nervous about how strong the nutritional yeast flavor was when it was just mixed, but that went away now that it set in the fridge. I also added a few shakes of garlic powder to it…just because I love garlic 🙂 This may be a horrible thing to say, but it totally reminds me of Velveeta (which is a good thing in my book…sad but true lol). I’ll be melting it on my pizza later today! Thank you for this recipe!

I totally get it… Velveeta was the “cheese” of my childhood and there is still something about it that appeals! I’m glad you liked it. Adding garlic powder is a great idea.

I am curious how this will come out without the gelatin. Do you need to substitute something else if you are vegan?

If you leave out the gelatin, it will still cool to a solid-ish block, but it won’t be very sliceable. Think more like a brie than a cheddar. You could try adding some agar agar or perhaps even xanthan gum. Those aren’t ingredients I usually work with, so I haven’t experimented with them yet. Would love to hear results if anyone does.

Hi Jaime, I made the “old” zucchini cheese recipe vegan for my vegan son. Used 3/4 teaspoon agar powder instead of 1½ tablespoons gelatin. It turned out great, and I plan to try this recipe using the same ratios. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

This sounds so yummy. I was wondering if there was a replacement for the tapioca starch. I’m doing GAPS, therefore don’t use starches. Can’t wait to try this, if there’s a substitute.

I see this recipe pop up a lot on Facebook but I can’t even make this one because I know nutritional yeast doesn’t agree with me. I don’t feel anything when I eat everything else I’m sensitive to but right away when I’ve consumed NY my stomach goes into knots and I get a lot of bloating and gas. It’s not enjoyable! I did some research into it and due to how highly processed it is it can be really hard on digestion. So even though it’s technically AIP-friendly it doesn’t make it healthy. I use Aussie Paleo Chef’s dairy and nut-free melting cheese recipe he created a couple of years ago that is completely gut-friendly and absolutely delicious. This would be a great option for anyone not reacting well to NY.
Aimee x

Aimee, it sounds wonderful, but search with all my might, I can’t find the recipe you mention. Do you have a link for that recipe? I haven’t commented before, so I don’t know if it’s permitted to ask for a link. I’ve been going bonkers trying to find a good cheese substitute, and I also get sick from NY. I’d be very grateful for the help.

Tried them today and my family loved it, i used coconut oil instead of avocado oil and it was so delicious , thanks for sharing!

I never hoped to find something like this! Do you think I could use bone broth protein powder in place of the gelatin? I imagine I’d have to increase it, but proper bone broth will gel if its strong enough.

I love this recipe, been making basically since you posted it! Was just making a double batch, got in the fridge, everything cleaned up and just remembered I forgot the tapioca starch…. oh snap! Well… we will see how it turns out!

[…] Unfortunately, since I am lactose intolerant, I’ve had to get a bit creative for this comfort food recipe. I found a recipe for nondairy cheese which is actually pretty simple. I’ve used it here as a cheese replacement since I cannot have nut or soy cheeses too.  You can find this recipe at AIP Friendly NonDairy Cheese. […]

This is just what I was looking for! Cheesy flavor, healthy, and melts great too. Instead of parchment paper in a dish, I spooned the mixture into silicon muffin cups. Worked great – they popped out easily.

I absolutely love this recipe. I use it all the time for everything! It really tastes like Velveeta cheese!! Thanks for sharing this with us!

I followed this recipe perfectly, and it came out very smooth! It has a very cheese-like texture and look. I just was NOT a fan of the taste, sadly. It didn’t taste like cheese at all, definitely did not taste anything like velveeta cheese like the previous reviewer stated.. Which is what made me want to try it, so if you’re trying it because of that reviewer saying that for some odd reason, it tastes literally nothing like velveeta.. not in the slightest. The only similarity to cheese it has is the texture and look. Not knocking the recipe, it worked out fine and came out right, it’s just not even close to the taste of cheese. And not anything what I expected based off of other reviews.. It was a fun experiment though!

Hey, you might want to try some sort of coconut oil cheese? Bio cheese (which is not AIP) mainly uses coconut oil, starches and olive extract, and that stuff DOES taste like cheese. It would be worth an experiment if anyone is savvy enough.

[…] Said…” blog by Cheryl. and used an AIP nondairy cheese recipe which can be found here Gutsy By Nature by Jamie Hartman. Using these two recipes, some homemade veggie broth, and brown rice pasta I bought from Trader […]

I just made a double batch for the holidays and now am wondering if I can freeze it? If not, how long does it last in the fridge?
TIA for your suggestions.

This was so easy to make! I added extra nutritional yeast because I wanted a strong flavor, otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It turned out great! I melted some earlier and that was great, now eating it cold, that’s good too. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, I really appreciate it!

It looks very interesting to try, Jaime!. But I am curious to know how the tapioca starch may work without being cooked and if it is healthy in this way (raw). I’m not sure to try the recipe until you confirm me this. As I know, starches are not able to be eaten raw. Then, I look forward for your answer. Thank you!

I’ve never heard that you shouldn’t consume tapioca starch raw, so I don’t know how to respond to that. But if you follow the directions exactly, the squash is still hot when it goes into the blender with the other ingredient.

I know this is an older post but I tried this “cheese” today. So good! Love the way it melted over my spaghetti squash. Thank you, I plan on making this every week!

Jaime – I have made two of your recipes so far (this and strawberry shortcakes) and I have been in shock at how delicious both are!!! Thank you for sharing these amazing recipes.

This “cheese” has been a LIFESAVER for me! I love my cheese and was missing it on AIP. This is great for melting on burgers, putting on taco salads, melting over cassava pasta for AIP Mac & cheese, and so much more!

My only problem is that sometimes it doesn’t set completely when I use the gelatin. Anyone have a trick?

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