Real Cheese Vs. Fake Cheese Taste Test
Brandon Wetherbee | Aug 15, 2017 | 10:00AM |

You probably already know the results of this taste test before you read it.

Real cheese and fake cheese are not the same thing. In fact, one is cheese and the other is not cheese. The not cheese doesn’t really taste like cheese. But we wanted to figure out if the perception is reality. So we had BYT’s Chloe, Jenn, Kaylee and Marissa try all of the real and corresponding fake cheeses we could find at local Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Marissa is a vegan so she only ate the not real cheeses. Forcing lactose on anyone is cruel.

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

The cheeses were presented in bowls, melted in tortilla chips, spread on crackers and toasted on white bread in the toaster oven (for the American cheese, obviously). The participants did not know the product they were sampling. Marissa was given a master list of the vegan cheeses but did not know the product. We asked the three diary eaters to guess if they were consuming real or fake cheese. All participants wrote their thoughts and rated each product 1 to 5. The cheeses were not sampled in this order. Participants ate at their leisure so it woudn’t be clear which products are vegan. We didn’t really need to worry about this. The taste let everyone know what products are vegan.

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

A. Trader Joe’s Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Jenn: Real, no taste. 2/5

Kaylee: Real, doesn’t taste like anything. 2/5

Chloe: Real, not very sharp flavor. 3/5

B. Trader Joe’s Almond Mozzarella Style Shreds

Kaylee: Fake, doesn’t taste like anything, but it looks upsetting. 1/5

Jenn: Fake, also no taste, like my ex-boyfriend. 2/5

Chloe: Fake, covered chips better than A. 3/5

Marissa: Pretty safe nacho cheese. I feel like this is Daiya. I love Daiya, but know many vegans don’t. I like Daiya because it’s weird not because it tastes like cheese. Not offensive, great on nachos. 3/5

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

C. 365 Pepper Jack

Chloe: Real, tasted like popcorn butter. 2/5

Kaylee: Real, has a subtle pepper flavor. I feel like this would be good on nachos. 3/5

Jenn: Real, has a bit of a kick to it but I’m fairly sensitive (both inside and out). 3/5

D. Daiya Pepperjack Style Shreds

Jenn: Fake!! Dear God, no. No. 1/5

Kaylee: Fake, looks like vomit, has an upsetting spongy texture. 1/5

Chloe: Fake, covered chips well but a bit plastic-y, nice spice to it though. 2/5

Marissa: I love it. Everyone hates it and it makes me so happy. It is spicy, great consistency. It’s pretty fun. A fun jazzy cheese. Can’t wait to put it on things. 4/5

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

E. Pub Cheese Cheddar with Jalapenos

Chloe: Real, texture good, tasted mostly like peppers. 2/5

Kaylee: Real, pimento cheese is weird and I don’t really like it on a cracker. 2/5

Jenn: Real, but tastes very processed. And whew boy that color. 2/5

F. Heido Ho Spicy! Chia Cheeze

Marissa: This might be vomit. Same consistency. 1/5

Chloe: Fake, not sure what flavor this is supposed to be, too moist. 1/5

Jenn: Fake… Never feed me this pureed pumpkin shit ever again, I want to die. 1/5

Kaylee: Fake, cheese should not look like this. 2/5

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

G. Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs

Kaylee: Real, your classic kind of store bought. 3/5

Jenn: Real… Don’t give this spreadable garlic masterpiece to any vampires, though it is yummy. 4/5

Chloe: Real, awesome flavor/texture, would eat this all of the time. 4.25/5

H. Treeline Creamy Soft Herb-Garlic Flavor

Jenn: Fake… Do you like eating clay? Have at it! 2/5

Kaylee: Fake, I think it’s fake but I like it. 4/5

Chloe: Fake, too gray to be real cheese, but good flavor- would eat again. 4/5

Marissa: This is delicious and actually tastes like cheese. Yummy and herby. 5/5 would buy. The most cheese-like. 5/5

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

I. 365 Medium Cheddar

Kaylee: Really orange, which means it’s only real using the American definition. 3/5

Chloe: Real, definitely standard cheddar, nothing special and nothing bad. 3/5

Jenn: Real,,, Cheddar baby! You can’t go wrong. 3/5

J. Daiya Medium Cheddar Style

Chloe: Fake, crumbles weird in my mouth, weird orange color. 1/5

Jenn: Fake… UNTIL YOU DO GO WRONG. Dear God the smell. 1/5

Kaylee: Fake, everything about this is wrong. 1/5

Marissa: Also tastes a lot like actual cheese. Nice and… wine-y? I’d put it on a nice vegan cheese board but not just buy it by itself. This is the second most cheese-like. But definitely too wine-forward. 4/5

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

K. Whole Foods Fresh Mozzarella

Jenn: Real, but I’m not entirely sure. Zero taste. 1/5

Chloe: Real, mozzarella taste like water, needs some balsamic and tomatoes. 1.5/5

Kaylee: Fake, this has to be fake because it truly lacks all flavor. 2/5

L. Miyoko’s Creamery Fresh VeganMozz

Kaylee: Fake, this looks like dirty snow but tastes better than it looks. 2/5

Jenn: Fake, less offensive than its real counterpart, but being less offensive does not a good cheese make. 2/5

Chloe: Fake, looks like clay, interesting taste. Don’t hate it, but don’t need it again. 2/5

Marissa: Nice and spreadable. Like a savory cream cheese. I like it, but I don’t LOVE it. I don’t think it tastes very cheese-like. Would be good on a bagel. 3/5

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

M. Farmsted Coach Farm Goat’s Milk Cheese

Kaylee: Real, tastes like it’s gone bad. 1/5

Chloe: Real, goat? Tangy and good. 4/5

Jenn: Real, I LOVE GOAT CHEESE. Though scientists had to make a spreadable kind. 4/5

N. Heido Ho Ne Chevre

Jenn: Fake. I’d like to die before ever eating this again. 2/5

Kaylee: Fake, less sour, less upsetting. 2/5

Chloe: Fake, the gray again really makes it easy to tell the difference but would totally eat this again. 4/5

Marissa: This is great. Nice soft cheese consistency, I am so happy. So, so happy. Savory, yummy. I’m a fan. 5/5

Real Cheese vs Fake Cheese

O. Trader Joe’s Organic American Slices Pasteurized Process Cheese Product

Kaylee: Real, tastes kind of like butter? Like butter between two pieces of bread. 1/5

Jenn: Real, why didn’t this melt? 2/5

Chloe: Real, brings me back to kindergarten. 2/5

P. Trader Joe’s Soy Slices Cheese Alternative

Jenn: Fake. The consistency is horrifying. My tongue didn’t know what to do with itself. 1/5

Chloe: Fake. Cheeto orange, was fine. 2/5

Kaylee: Fake. VERY upsetting color, less upsetting consistency. 2/5

Marissa: Okay it is CLEARLY supposed to be American cheese and I feel like it does a really good job of recreating that fake-cheesy taste. 4/5


Fake cheese is not cheese. It’s another thing. It’s not bad, it’s just not cheese. It’s its own category of food. It is not a good substitute for anything. It is good as not a substitute. A good example is the Heido Ho Spicy! Chia Cheeze. This did not test well in a blind taste test. The pub cheese substitute isn’t much like pub cheese. But on its own, presented as Ho Spicy! Chia Cheeze and not just in a bowl, it was better. Once the participants knew what everything was and re-tasted some of the products, they did better. On a heavy cracker and a clear label present, Ho Spicy! Chia Cheeze is not so bad.

If you’re throwing a party, use real cheese. If you’re throwing a party and want vegan to enjoy cheesy time, keep the labels present. Each of these, except for Whole Foods Fresh Mozzarella (the only cheese that tasted below 2.5 and was confused as fake cheese), has a place on a cheese plate.

Finally, fake cheese is too expensive (every fake cheese is at least 50% more expensive than its real counterpart, usually more) and never worth it. Unless you’re lactose intolerant. Or vegan. Or have a specific craving for a specific fake cheese.