This vegan bocconcini recipe is easy to make and gives you small balls of cheesy goodness. Pale in colour and mild in flavour, this plant-based bocconcini cheese resembles its dairy counterpart in so many ways. They’re perfect for use in the way that you’d use any semi-soft cheese.
Unfortunately, vegan cheese is still expensive to buy and, most of the time misses the mark with flavour and texture. So creating one at home is the next best thing! This recipe is easy to follow, and I’m super happy with how this cheese turned out!
I think I’m onto a winner. Not only is it a great texture, but the flavour is also spot on. Not too cheesy, and there’s no overpowering flavour. I hope you love it as much as I do.
What can you use vegan bocconcini for?
There are so many different ways to enjoy this cheese! Here are a few ways that you can use it:
- On pizza
- Caprese salad
- As part of a vegan platter
- Grilled cheese
- Inside arancini balls
- Sliced on top of our stuffed mushrooms
- Tossed through a pesto pasta salad
- Before shaping it, you can use the cooked melted cheese on top of bakes like our lasagna, baked ziti, and moussaka in place of the bechamel and white sauce topping. It can also be used as a pizza base sauce in place of the classic tomato sauce.
What’s the difference between mozzarella and bocconcini?
The main difference between mozzarella and bocconcini is the size of the cheese and how firm it can be, depending on which kind you’re referring to.
One variety of mozzarella is for shredding and cutting thinly as it has a firmer texture and is yellow in appearance. You’ll generally find it in a ball tightly wrapped in plastic or pre-grated in packets.
The other variety is fresh, white in colour and has a softer texture and comes in brine. This kind is the size of an orange and can be torn apart with your hands. It’s typically made with cow or buffalo milk.
On the other hand, Bocconcini are smaller balls and are best used where a softer cheese is needed and typically comes as a fresh product in brine. Bocconcini is essentially a smaller version of the soft, fresh kind of mozzarella.
With the vegan version I’ve created, the bocconcini is a little firmer, so it’s also great for cutting. I wanted it to have that option, keeping its shape in salads and the like.
If you want to grate this cheese, you can freeze it first, so it firms up and then grate it onto whatever you like!
Want to make a vegan mozzarella instead?
If you want bigger cheese balls, instead of adding them to cold water, you can wrap them in cling wrap the size of a smaller orange and hang it in the fridge to set for 3-4 hours before use.
The trick I use is to tie the ball with a rubber band (at the top of the cling wrap) and suspend it on a chopstick over a glass. It will make two balls.
If you’d like more information about making the cheese this way, please let me know below.
Marinating the dairy-free bocconcini in herbs and olive oil
I wanted to create a recipe that was a little different. A cheese that can sit in herbs, spices, olive oil, or a salty brine. It looks more impressive in the olive oil with all the colours from the herbs and spices. It also makes for a great gift!
It takes only a couple more minutes to prepare and is the perfect addition to a vegan platter or spread on toast. The marinades I’ve used for this cheese are made of the following ingredients:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh or dried red chilli pepper
- Fresh thyme
- Fresh oregano
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon zest
- Fresh rosemary
What’s in this vegan bocconcini recipe?
All the ingredients in this recipe play a role in the resulting flavour and texture. Here’s what you’ll find:
- Raw cashews are used to add creaminess, thicken it and create the right structure for the cheese. The great thing about raw cashews is that they’re pretty much flavourless and work perfectly for a cheese like this.
- Unsweetened soy milk adds another element of creaminess and a needed liquid for cooking the cheese to create that cheesy textural integrity. You can use creamy oat milk in its place if you’d like to make this a soy-free cheese.
- Unsweetened dairy-free yoghurt adds that sour note known in fresh mozzarella and bocconcini cheese. It comes from the lactic acid in the yoghurt. Make sure you pick one that you like the taste of, as otherwise, you may not like the cheese. I use natural coconut yoghurt.
- Salt is crucial for savoury notes and balance.
- Nutritional yeast for that all-important but subtle cheesy, salty flavour.
- Apple cider vinegar is used for the acidic balance and a slight tang. You could substitute it for lemon juice.
- Agar agar powder is crucial for the right consistency in this cheese. It’s a powder made from red algae. It gives the cheese a bouncy texture that’s so important in a bocconcini cheese.
- Tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch) makes it stretchy like cheese. If you want to swap it out, you could try another thickener like cornstarch, potato starch, or arrowroot flour. It won’t be as stretchy as tapioca but will act more like a thickener. I haven’t, however, tried the corn and arrowroot alternatives yet. Please let me know in the comments if you do!
Tips for making this vegan bocconcini cheese
- It will keep in the brine solution for 5-7 days in the fridge and up to a week in either olive oil or herb marinades.
- For soy-free cheese, replace the soy milk with unsweetened creamy oat milk.
- Want to make vegan mozzarella instead? See notes above for details.
- If you have a melon baller, you can use that in place of the spoon method. Simply scoop it out with a spoon once it’s in the baller. Swift actions help prevent it from getting too stringy when dropping it into the ice bath.
- Don’t skimp on the cooking time. You need to get it to that super thick stringy consistency to get the right texture in the cheese once set. It will be too soft to use and work with if you undercook it.
This dairy-free cheese is also oil-free (if you choose to keep it in the brine solution instead of the oil and herb marinade) and easily made soy-free.
When marinated, it makes for a beautiful and impressive gift! So next time your want to impress your vegan cheese-loving friend or relative, this recipe will undoubtedly hit the spot!
You’ll never repurchase vegan mozzarella cheese once you’ve tried this recipe. It’s so versatile and more affordable!
Other recipes you’ll love:
- Smokey Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
- Simple Creamy Vegan White Sauce
- How to Make Vegan Béchamel Sauce (Two Ways)
- Easy Garlic Parsley Sauce
- Chargrilled Capsicums in Garlic Parsley Oil (Red Bell Peppers)