The rules surrounding Whole30 Compliant Cheese can be murky! It’s definitely one of those gray areas, where we defer back to you! I hope this post about Whole30 Compliant cheese brands and where to find them helps you figure out if these dairy free cheese options are or are not good fits for your Whole30.
If you’re new to the Whole30, a question you may ask at the beginning is:
Can you have cheese on the Whole30?
Nope. You can’t have ANY dairy on the Whole30, including milk, cream, cheese, or ice cream.
I know, you’re so sad… The next question you may be asking is:
WHY isn’t dairy allowed on Whole30?
There are a lot of different reasons that dairy isn’t allowed on your Whole30. First and foremost, the Whole30 is supposed to be a 30-day health reset. We want you eating THE healthiest foods possible for 30 days. If anything is problematic for your gut, your brain, or your psychological response with food, it’s out. Unfortunately, dairy didn’t make the cut.
Some of the biggest issues are that the whey protein in dairy stimulates a huge insulin surge and casein, another milk protein, has the potential to trigger a histamine response. This can cause headaches, GI upset, asthma, and seasonal allergies.
Additionally, lots of people have an inability to convert lactose, a milk carbohydrate, into usable forms of carbohydrates: glucose and galactose. This leads to bloating, and GI pain. Ingesting even small amounts of lactose can contribute to an imbalance in gut bacteria.
Milk is an energy-dense hormone delivery system. Hormones are messengers, and the messages they send are biologically healthy and appropriate when you are a BABY COW! Milk promotes aggressive growth of a COW.
If you’re interested in the science of food nutrition, and why certain things are and are not on the Whole30, I would highly suggest reading their first book It Starts with Food. Snag it on Amazon here.
The exception to the no dairy rule: Ghee!
Yes, you CAN have ghee on your Whole30! Pastured, organic ghee contains none of the harmful proteins, growth promoters, or hormones found in milk but many of the beneficial compounds: vitamin K2, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and omega 3’s.
What is a good substitute for cheese?
The answer completely depends on what kind of recipe you’re using “cheese” in. If it’s more of a cream-based sauce, a good dairy-free and Whole30 compliant option is using Coconut Cream.
Adding nutritional yeast can add a “cheesy flavor” to most recipes, plus it is called nutritional yeast because it’s packed with vitamins!
There are some commercially-produced non-dairy cheese options, though be wary!! MOST are packed with gross additives, and definitely not a healthy choice for you.
Melissa Hartwig’s (Co-Creator of the Whole30) Comments on Dairy-Free “Cheeses”:
“In a 2016 social media survey, a surprising number of Whole30’ers said the food they comfort themselves with the most when they’re not on the program is cheese. (This finding backs up the years of seminars I’ve done, where we always asked, “What’s the one dairy food you miss the most on the Whole30?” Every single seminar audience save one said “cheese”… Alabama oddly said ice cream.)
Because cheese is so often a crave-worthy comfort food, and because the program is designed to help people break unhealthy attachments and emotional relationships with food, we’ve decided not to bring any cheese recreations into our official Whole30 Approved program. As we’ve learned, a Whole30 Approved endorsement is often seen in the community as carte blanche to enjoy the food or beverage while on the program without thinking critically about whether that item is appropriate for your Whole30.
As nut cheeses come with caveats, but the nuances of including these in your program are very hard to communicate once Whole30 Approved endorsement is granted, we’ve decided simply to leave these foods out of our partner program altogether.”
Melissa Hartwig’s Caveat with Non-Dairy “Cheeses”:
“Nut cheeses and dips ARE compliant on the program, with a strong caveat that these should be used with caution, especially if you know you rely on cheese as a comfort or stress-relieving food, OR if cheese is a trigger for other food cravings (like wine or crackers). As with Larabars or almond butter, Whole30 HQ and our Coaches all recommend that program participants use with caution, and think critically about whether including these foods in their Whole30 is a healthy choice, given their contexts and goals.”
Should you eat these non-dairy “cheeses”?
That’s totally up to you. As Melissa said, if you already know you have huge cravings for cheese and have an emotional relationship you need to break, I’d say absolutely not. But I know that’s not the case for everyone.
Even if you DO choose to try some of these Whole30 compliant cheeses on your Whole30, stick to the normal rules: eat a small bit, and consciously eat it. If you’re sitting down in front of the tv with a tub of Kite Hill Ricotta Cheese and sweet potato chips you made yourself and you ate the whole container, definitely not a good idea.
But you may find you really love the taste of eggs with some of the Whole30 compliant cheeses below, and you don’t see any issues with it. Then great! Carry on, warrior!
My goal here is always to scour the corners of the internet to find easy, compliant options for your Whole30 (that’s why we have such a slew of Whole30 resources on this site!). Whether or not you choose these foods below is totally up to you, and I support your choice!
List of Whole30 Compliant Cheese Brands and Where to Find Them
Siete Spicy Blanco Cashew Queso
Ingredients: Water, cashews, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, onion, green bell peppers, distilled white vinegar, jalapenos, sea salt, flax seed, fermented extract (oregano, flax seed, plum), coconut milk powder, lactic acid, onion powder, garlic powder
Mild Nacho Cashew Queso
Ingredients: Water, cashews, tomatoes, carrots, green bell peppers, nutritional yeast, sea salt, distilled white vinegar, flax seed, fermented extract (oregano, flax seed, plum), coconut milk powder, lactic acid, onion powder, tomato powder, garlic powder
Where to find Siete Queso: You can find them in the refrigerated dip aisle of Whole Foods Market locations nationwide.
Pamela Creamery Creamy Nutcheese Original
Ingredients: Cashews, Water, Coconut Oil, Sea Salt, Lactic Acid, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, and Cultures.
Pamela Creamery Creamy Nutcheese Kalamata Olive
Ingredients: Cashews, Water, Coconut Oil, Kalamata Olives (olives, water, salt, vinegar, spices, olive oil), Sea Salt, Lactic Acid, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, and Cultures.
Pamela Creamery Creamy Nutcheese Black Pepper
Ingredients: Cashews, Water, Coconut Oil, Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Lactic Acid, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, and Cultures.
To find Pamela Creamery products near you, use their Store Locator.
Core + Rind Cashew Cheesy Sauce
Ingredients: water, pumpkin, cashews, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, sea salt, tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric powder
You can find Core + Rind Cashew Cheesy Sauce on Amazon here!
Ingredients: Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Cashews, Organic Tapioca, Agar, Sea Salt, Cultures.
Use Miyoko’s Store Finder to find Miyoko’s Mozzarella near you!
Ingredients: Almond milk (water, almonds), salt, enzymes, tartaric acid, cultures.
You can find Kite Hill Ricotta at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Publix, Target, and more! Use their Store Finder for a location near you!
Treeline Treenut Cheese
Scallion French-Style Soft Cheese
Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, onion powder, sea salt, dried scallions, lemon juice, L. Acidophilus.
Chipotle-Serrano Pepper French-Style Soft Cheese
Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, sea salt, lemon juice, chipotle pepper flakes, L. Acidophilus, smoked serrano pepper powder.
Green Peppercorn French-Style Soft Cheese
Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, green peppercorns, sea salt, lemon juice, L. Acidophilus.
Herb-Garlic French-Style Soft Cheese
Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, sea salt, lemon juice, dried scallions, garlic powder, white pepper, onion powder, L. Acidophilus, dried basil, dried oregano.
Classic Aged Nut Cheese
Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, hickory smoked salt, vegan lactic acid, L. Acidophilus.
Cracked Pepper Aged Nut Cheese
Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, sea salt, vegan lactic acid, L. Acidophilus, black peppercorns.
Find Treeline Cheeses using their Store Locator.
Punk Raw Labs
Ingredients: organic cashews, water, culture, salt
Ingredients: organic cashews, water, culture, salt, herbs
Ingredients: organic cashews, water, culture, salt, smoked salt, black pepper
Ingredients: organic cashews, water, culture, salt, carrot, lemon, green onion, pickled pepper, sunflower lecithin
Cashew of the Woods
Ingredients: organic cashews, water, culture, salt, mushroom (shitake, crimini, button), black and white truffle, celeriac, white pepper
If you are in the UK, this brand looks amazing!
Nush Cheese Natural
Ingredients: Almond M*lk (95%) (Almond / Filtered Water), Carob Gum, (Thickener), Potato Starch, Enzyme, Live Vegan Cheese Cultures.
Nush Cheese Chive
Ingredients: Almond M*lk (93%) (Almond / Filtered Water), Carob Gum, (Thickener), Potato Starch, Chives (3%), Enzyme, Live Vegan Cheese Cultures.
Find out where you can find Nush near you using their Store Locator!