For some, the most difficult thing to give up when going Paleo or AIP is not bread but rather CHEESE. There is nothing quite like the rich, creamy, melty, stretchy, umami experience of cheese. There are already a lot of dairy-free Paleo cheese recipes out there, and zucchini cheese is popular for those on the AIP, but let me tell you, NONE of those recipes are anything like what I am sharing with you today: tapioca cheese, the best dairy-free Paleo and AIP cheese!
It melts without dissolving, and stretches, and will even brown. It was one of the best kitchen accidents I've ever had! This recipe was previously only available in my debut print cookbook Latin American Paleo Cooking. It's called Queso Blanco (white cheese) in the book to fit with Spanish recipe names and appears on page 170.
This truly is the best dairy-free Paleo and AIP cheese I've ever eaten....and I think this is going to make a HUGE impact, especially in the AIP community. I know how hard it can be and how limited it can feel to have to adhere to the AIP elimination phase, so it is just so amazing that this is compliant!
Tapioca cheese looks, feels, and acts just like fresh mozzarella. It has a mild flavor that works both as a topping for pizza and other savory dishes, and even in some dessert recipes as well! The Aborrajados de Platano (page 64) of my cookbook (VIDEO BELOW!) are one of my new favorite healthy desserts thanks to this Paleo and AIP cheese recipe.
This tapioca cheese is also the key to strict Paleo, AIP, and vegan Colombian Pandebono - soft fluffy buns of cheesy joy! Just look at how soft and cheesy these Paleo and AIP buns are!
A few other recipes that this tapioca cheese (aka queso blanco) is crucial for in my cookbook: Canoas de Platanos Maduros and Chayotes Rellenos. Having that Paleo cheese topping makes these feel all the more authentic!
Look at it stretch! This baked for 15 mins then broiled for 2 mins.
A Kitchen Fail Turned Fantastic Discovery
One of the key dessert recipes in my cookbook is Tembleque (page 136), a traditional Puerto Rican coconut milk pudding and one of my husbands favorites. Traditionally it is made using corn starch, so when I was working on making a strict Paleo and AIP version, I said, "hey, why not try tapioca starch in its place?"
Well....what happened is that I ended up making this weird sweet cheese-like stuff. It was kind of awful, but I knew immediately that I had discovered something utterly amazing with how tapioca starch behaves when heated with coconut milk.
So I tested, and tested, and eventually discovered the perfect ratio of tapioca starch to coconut milk, with the minimum ingredients necessary to give it that flavor just like fresh mozzarella cheese. You only need 4 additional ingredients for this recipe!
Part of why I think this is the best dairy-free Paleo and AIP cheese ever developed is how FAST and EASY it is to make. Seriously, it comes together from start to clean up in 10 minutes.
Tips and Tricks for Tapioca Cheese, the Best Dairy-Free Paleo and AIP Cheese
- I prefer the flavor of lard, but you can use any fat you like. Use a high quality extra-virgin olive oil for a vegan option. If you tolerate it, ghee is wonderful. Including an animal fat results in a cheese with more depth of flavor and signals to your taste buds and brain "animal product", which makes it taste all the more believable as a cheese replacement
- You can use it freshly after cooking it, however for best results chill first. It is sticky when it is still hot, and much easier to handle once chilled!
- Tapioca cheese will withstand heating in the oven and melts without dissolving.
- I thought nutritional yeast contributed to candida overgrowth. Is that true? - No, this is a myth since nutritional yeast is heat killed and is purely a supplemental form of many B vitamins, RNA, and minerals. Of note is that on Dr. Terry Wahl's autoimmune healing protocol, she recommends 1-2 tbsp per day in individuals who tolerate it well. Some individuals may find they are sensitive even to killed yeasts and will need to avoid things like nutritional yeast, products made via yeast fermentation (i.e. vinegar), even mushrooms.
- Can I leave out the nutritional yeast? - Yes! But you will want to add some additional seasonings to the cheese. Try adding in 1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic powder and/or onion powder, or use a blend of dried herbs like rosemary and thyme.
- Can I use arrowroot starch instead? - I'm not sure, I have not tested it. Arrowroot does not have the same elasticity that tapioca starch has, so I am not confident that it will have the same cheese-like texture. If you test it using arrowroot, please report back to let me know how it worked!
- Is tapioca flour the same thing as tapioca starch? - Yes. Some brands confusingly label it as flour rather than starch. I've never seen a brand that calls it flour that isn't actually starch. If you're not already confused, tapioca starch is the extracted starch from the yuca/cassava/manioc root, which is where cassava flour comes from. But, cassava flour is the whole dried root whereas tapioca is the extracted starch - like the difference between cornmeal and corn starch, or potato flour and potato starch.
- What is a tapioca slurry? - A general rule of thumb for using tapioca starch in liquids, like this recipe OR to thicken sauces/soups/stews, is to first dissolve it into an equal amount of water to make a slurry. You'll need to stir/whisk it kind of vigorously to get it to dissolve, but it should be completely liquid with all of the starch suspended in the water. If you're having trouble, try adding the water to the bowl first then adding the starch a little bit at a time, stirring well each time. DO NOT LET IT SIT for a long time before adding to the pot, or the starch may settle out to the bottom of the bowl.
Watch how easy tapioca cheese is to make!
Sound on for some awesome techno music while you watch
The Best Dairy-Free Paleo AIP Cheese - Tapioca Cheese! Nut-Free, Vegan Option
Makes about 9.5 ounces
- 3/4 cup (175ml) full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp finely ground unrefined salt
- 1.5 tsp (6g) nutritional yeast flakes, or more if desired (linked brand is the only one I use since it is NON-fortified)
- 1.5 to 2 tsp (8 to 10ml) fresh lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 tsp lard or extra-virgin olive oil for vegan
- 4.5 tbsp tapioca starch dissolved in
- 4.5 tbsp filtered water
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk, salt, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and lard and heat over medium heat until the lard melts. Mix the tapioca starch and water together in a small bowl and whisk to form a slurry. Ensure that all the tapioca has dissolved. Pour the tapioca starch slurry into the pan.
- Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken. Then whisk constantly and watch as it gets very thick and gooey, almost curdled. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until you see it pulling away from the bottom and sides as you whisk and also sticking to itself, 5 to 7 minutes total. It will look like a big pot of melted cheese, as it should, once it is done cooking.
- Transfer to a glass container with a lid. Use a spatula to help remove it from the pan. It is extremely sticky and may not pour easily. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator until set, about 2 hours.
- Once set, this “cheese” behaves like a fresh mozzarella. You can slice it or break it into small chunks to use in other recipes.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 7 mins.
Total time: 10 mins.Tags: AIP, Paleo, Autoimmune Protocol, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Cheese, Tapioca Starch, Queso Blanco
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