March 12, 2013

Product Review: Trader Joe's Vegan Mozzarella Shreds

I was shopping at my neighborhood Trader Joe's yesterday when, what did my wandering eyes see?

Oh yes.  It's finally here.

I had hoped and asked through the company's online product comment form for Trader Joe's to start carrying vegan cheese.  (I hoped that other like-minded folks were doing the same from their home computers, too!)  Now, I realize that there is already an excellent vegan cheese substitute on the market.  I don't think it would be exaggerating if I said that Daiya has revolutionized the vegan and allergic worlds with its completely milk-free, top 8-free cheese substitutes.  It tastes great and it melts.  In my inquiries to Trader Joe's about vegan cheese, I specifically mentioned Daiya by name as a product that the company should consider offering.

This winter Trader Joe's finally started selling vegan cheese and, of course, took it one step further: they are selling vegan cheese until their own label.  I found Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella shreds selling for $3.29 for an 8-oz bag.  This is significantly less than the $5 that I pay for packs of Daiya.

General observations about TJ's shreds:  The shreds are thinner, drier, and more translucent than Daiya shreds.  They kind of reminded me of parmesan shreds.  TJ's mozzarella shreds come in a convenient resealable package, an improvement over Daiya's packaging.  To me at least, TJ's shreds smelled like real cheese when I first opened the package, so much so that I momentarily got a little nervous about serving it to my kids.  (I admit, I reread the ingredients after the smell check!)  I mention the scent because I have read that some people really do not like the smell of uncooked Daiya.

I decided to test-drive TJ's shreds on some homemade pizza.  I made a barbecue pizza and a sauceless vegetable pizza using Trader Joe's fresh, whole wheat pizza dough.  If your family is okay with wheat and gluten, TJ's pizza dough is a great option for tasty, thin crust pizza.  I baked the pizzas according to the dough directions.  I took the pizzas out when the crusts were golden around the edges at around 11 minutes.

TJ's shreds melted completely.  They melted well -- almost too well -- it was hard to tell that there was vegan cheese on the pizza.  It was definitely on the gooey side taking on a sheen like glazed donuts.  It would be nice to have a more whitish look to the cheese like real mozzarella but what I really cared about was the taste.  Would it be a worthy substitute for the real thing?

TJ's shreds were pretty good. They had a nice flavor that tasted more like the real thing to me than Daiya.  After my second time of making pizza with TJ's shreds, I did detect a slight powdery aftertaste.  I'd say texture-wise, TJ's shreds are on one end of the spectrum and Daiya is on the other, with real mozzarella shreds right in the middle.  Daiya melts and stretches to a point but not as readily as real cheese.  TJ's shreds melt more than real cheese would.  Beyond taste and texture I was ecstatic to see that TJ's vegan shreds are fortified with calcium.  They provide 25% of the RDA for calcium per 1 oz (about 1/4 cup) serving.  Daiya Vegan Shreds provide a mere 2% of the RDA for calcium.

Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella shreds will definitely be a regular in our carts!
With a very good taste, meltability, calcium-richness, and competitive pricing, I definitely recommend Trader Joe's vegan shreds to anyone who is looking for a milk-free mozzarella substitute.  Daiya's growing product line (including vegan pepperjack and cheddar shreds, wedges, and spreads) is still a lifeline for cheese-longing vegans and individuals with milk allergies.  I do love their products but I will now buy my mozzarella shreds exclusively from Trader Joe's.  What's more, I hope my frequent purchases will keep vegan shreds on the shelf and encourage Trader Joe's to expand their vegan cheese products to more flavors.


  1. That's so exciting, Irene! My pizza-loving, dairy allergic kid will thank you! Can't wait to try...

  2. Apparently the vegan shreds hit the shelves sometime in December. I am so used to walking right past the cheese section that I didn't notice it until last weekend! Hope your family enjoys it.

  3. I have made pizza with these shreds two days in a row and I agree that they are tasty. I personally don't like the other two top-named brands of vegan shreds due to their taste and texture (as well as how my body responds to them) so I was ecstatic to try the TJ's shreds. Thanks for your review.

  4. I'm sorry, are they okay for celiac?