Chao and Daiya: A Grilled Cheese Sandwich Tasting


I always figured it’d be the simple cravings that would be the hardest to beat. One of the simplest of them all? The classic grilled cheese sandwich.

It’s fast, it’s crispy and melty and just a little greasy, and it’s perfectly satisfying with a nice bowl of tomato soup. The only question is: Can I make an adequate grilled cheese sandwich with vegan cheeses?

Only one way to find out.

The Contenders
Grilled cheese sandwiches are supposed to have orange cheese, right? So, very scientifically, I picked up the orange options at my local health food store, which happened to be Daiya Cheddar-style slices and Field Roast Chao slices in cayenne-tomato. I assembled them in sandwiches with plain white sandwich bread and Country Crock margarine on the outside, then fried them in a nonstick pan before serving them to the whole family with some ultra-ritzy Campbell’s tomato soup.

grilled cheese sandwiches with daiya and chao vegan cheese

How They Fared
We tried all of them uncooked first, just to see. The Daiya was, shall we say, disappointing. The texture is tolerable, but it tastes nothing like cheddar, or even like cheese, really. My husband spit his piece out and spent a minute pawing at his tongue like a dog that just ate peanut butter. The kids were impressed, though. We eventually realized that it tasted exactly like the nuclear-orange powder in a box of Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese, only in slice form.

The Chao, fortunately, was much better suited to an adult palate. It doesn’t taste like fancy cheese, but it’s kind of like a supermarket pepperjack. I’d be very happy to eat it on a sandwich with pickles and mayonnaise. The kids were affronted by the spiciness, unfortunately, but my husband liked it.

Well, 50% of the cheeses tasted were good, right? So that’s okay. Ultimately, I was pretty happy about the result, because I expected them to be 100% nasty. It’s good to know that I can still have a tasty grilled cheese sandwich whenever I want one, even if it’s a little on the crazy expensive side. Next time, I plan to try the non-orange styles, even if it feels a little heretical.

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