Feta is a Greek white cheese that holds a lot of flavor and saltiness. The saltiness of feta comes from the liquid it sits in called brine. Brine is usually made from a mixture of salt and water. Feta is very versatile and goes great on foods like pizzas, salads, vegetables, pasta, omelets, bread, and much more. However, while feta is a delicious cheese for many, some people have a concern over whether feta is a dairy product for personal or health reasons. Other people may just be curious. For whatever the reason, let’s take a look and see if feta cheese is a dairy product.
Is Feta Cheese Dairy?
A product is considered dairy if it is produced from milk. This does not only mean cow’s milk but all types of mammal milk. This may include goat, sheep, donkey, camel, yak, etc. Feta cheese is traditionally made from sheep and/or goat’s milk but it is also not uncommon to find feta-like products made from cow’s milk. Feta cheese is dairy because it is made from the milk of one or more mammals.
Technically, all cheese is dairy since milk is required as a base ingredient to make cheese. It doesn’t matter if it is mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, Chez Whiz, etc. It is all dairy. However, there are cheese alternatives like Daiya that try to mimic the flavor and texture of cheese but are actually made from non-dairy food items. Unfortunately, they do not have a non-dairy feta style cheese per their website. Here is an example of the ingredients for Daiya’s cheddar style shreds:
Filtered water, tapioca and /or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and /or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, inactive yeast, vegan natural flavors, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor), annatto, titanium dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral).
Feta Cheese Alternatives
An alternative to feta cheese that we have found is to use extra firm tofu that has been brined (added to saltwater). Tofu can do a pretty good job of mimicking the crumbling and texture of traditional feta cheese. However, sometimes tofu can be a bit bland for some. Try this Mock Feta Cheese recipe that adds spices, herbs, vinegar, and oil to jazz the tofu up a bit. Additionally, you can make your own dairy-free feta. Check out this recipe for Almond Feta Cheese.
Is feta cheese dairy? No, but there are viable alternatives if you cannot or choose not to consume dairy. However, nothing can truly match the taste of traditional feta. If you know of a good feta cheese alternative, comment below. We would like to see your thoughts!