Friday, June 7, 2013

SHOWDOWN: Trader Joe's Vegan Mozzarella vs. Daiya

I've been on kind of a pizza kick, so I recently decided to pit Trader Joe's Vegan Mozzarella up against Daiya Vegan Mozzarella in a cheese to cheese battle of the best pizza; it had to be done.


When I'd initially spied the newbie to the vegan cheese world in my local TJs, I dismissed it; I'm a Daiya loyalist.  People kept telling me it was totally different, so when this big sign caught my eye, I figured the universe was trying to tell me something.


It was time to see what Trader Joe's had up it's sleeve in comparison to my beloved Daiya.


The TJ's shreds are smaller and drier in appearance and feel; it's similar to freshly grated, non-vegan, parmesan and has an out-of-the-bag taste as such as well.  I did not like it plain, as I was never a fan of Parmesan cheese.


The Daiya maintains a larger, wetter shred: similar to non-vegan mozzarella.  While I wouldn't eat it plain by the spoonful, it is pleasant enough out of the bag.


I have to admit that my lazy behind bought a ball of dough from my local pizzeria (check out this awesome dough-handling video) and I swiped a container of sauce out of VM's freezer.


In no time I'd created this not-so-symmetrical pizza taste-test-in-a-pan.


The TJ's mozz absorbed the sauce as I sprinkled.  Yet even though I piled it on and covered more than half of the pie with it, I still wound up with some left in the bag.  This worked out to my advantage because VM was able to test my parmesan theory and concur: right out of the bag, it does taste like fresh parmesan.


I piled the entire bag of Daiya on the unintentionally smaller side of the pie.


I set the oven to 450 degrees and the timer for 20 minutes.


While I was waiting, I compared the ingredients; they were much more different than I had anticipated.

Trader Joe's: natural vegan flavors
 
Daiya: vegan natural flavors

Then I noticed something interesting about the Trader Joe's cheese, "...do not microwave or freeze."  I don't know if you'll recall, but I'm all about microwaving and freezing my Daiya.  This could wind up being a deal-breaker.



It was about then that I noticed my oven temp had independently risen to 550 degrees, and the Trader Joe's cheese was seriously bubbling.  The Daiya was just chillin' out, per usual.  I opened the oven door to bring the temperature back down to 450 and let it continue to cook.


And then it was done!  It's been so long since I've seen a non-vegan pizza that I'm not really sure which side looks more authentic.


This was the TJ's side: it melted into a smooth layer of cheese.


The Daiya side retained the appearance of shreds, but also melted into a layer of cheesy goodness.


Who? Will? Win?

red pepper flakes!

Even though I let the pizza cool in the pan for about ten minutes before cutting, the Trader's Joe's side was extremely oozy: to the point of being liquified.  I'm not sure if this had to do with the cooking temperature and/or duration, but the dough wouldn't have cooked through had I cooked it for any less time or at a lower temperature.


The Daiya slice was perfection- even though I'd actually over-cheesed (yes; this is really possible).


In no time I had a generous slice of each on a plate for munching testing.


Should I start with the new?


Or the tried and true?


I don't even remember what I did; all I can tell you is that in no time I was in a pizza coma, sending photo texts and receiving drools in return.  As often happens, I'm sure there was a bit of what VM and I like to call the Ernie syndrome in full effect.  The whole thing was just delicious.

In order to prevent myself from eating the whole pie I decided it was a good idea to include the Esteemed Tasting Panel on the taste-testing of the leftovers (hooray for not eating everything at once!).  I probably ate more reheated pizza than fresh as a kid, and the reheated TJ's pizza looked exactly as I recall- even down to the burnt bits where the cheese oozed off the slice onto the pan.



The Daiya held it's shape like a champ!


Both VM and OD were surprised by how much they enjoyed the TJ's pizza.  My sincere appreciation for it was unexpected as well.  But, the suggestion not to microwave or freeze makes it less convenient.  Also, I'm not sure how it would hold up in other Italian recipes where the extreme oozification could cause a dinner catastrophe.  We're all still huge fans of Daiya, but it's nice to know there's a totally different option available.  Obviously more testing is in order.

40 comments:

  1. Hey Abby! I clearly never saw that note on the TJ's vegan mozz bag, as mine is in my freezer right now! And I've had it in the freezer and then used it on pizzas before and I've never had any problems. Still seemed like vegan cheese to me!

    Your post is very well timed. I made pizza dough this morning for use in tonight's dinner! And I'm using the TJ's cheese that is currently in my freezer on it! I'm sure it will be great. Pizza for all!

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  2. I'm surprised at how different they really seem to be. Usually TJs stuff is really similar in ingredients and appearance.
    I don't eat pizza all that often, and it's rarely a cheesy slice so the gooey uber cheese TJ side looks a little much for me, but I guess I wouldn't complain :)
    Red pepper flakes, all the way.

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  3. I'm a convert to the Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella now. But Daiya is still my go-to for vegan cheddar :)

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  4. Molly, I hope your pizza was good! It's good to know that TJ's is really freezable. I may have made a Sicilian with mushrooms, peppers, and onions last night...

    foodfeud, I thought TJ's usually knocked things off too! Last night I made a pie and I sprinkled a boatload of red pepper flakes on the sauce before putting the cheese on; it was one of the smartest things I've ever done in my entire life. No more flakes falling off my slice!

    Ali, I've decided I like the TJ's version, but Daiya remains my favorite!

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  5. Your dedication to scientific product testing is impressive. :)

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  6. I think it must be a knockoff of a different brand of vegan mozzarella, because as you say, TJ's never charts new territories with its products. It just tweaks existing products.

    This was such a great blog post that I shared it with my vegan meetup group!

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    Replies
    1. It tastes exactly like Toffuti's mozzarella and shares the same consistency. I believe they tweaked that.

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  7. Andrea- This is hard work! ;-)

    Jeannie- Thanks so much :-)

    Glutenfreehappytummy- not sure it was much of a recipe, but you can't go wrong with bread, cheese, and tomato sauce!

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  8. Really fun and helpful post! I'm a Daiya loyalist as well, especially on pizza, but wasn't aware that Trader Joe's was offering a vegan mozzarella offering. I'm intrigued and will check it out!

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  9. The TJ mozz melts so easily I would think you could bake the dough and sauce and then put the cheese on after it was done, or throw it back in the over for a minute or 2. It really doesn't need to be cooked for 8 minutes like the package says at all.

    Being a more recent convert to veganism, I will say though that I think the TJ mozz has a much better "cheese" flavor than Daiya!

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  10. Hi there!!

    The TJ cheese appears to be very appetizing... and then I read be ingredients.


    To some, this may not be a concern however, to me it is.


    I'd like to encourage you to notice that the daiya ingredients often indicate non-GMO, organic, FILTERED water, coconut oil (amazing health benefits), and there's absolutely no corn substance.

    TJs has GMO products, corn (huge no no over here), celluose?? WHAT? I might be plan based but I don't want to eat wood chips).

    Now, at first glance, TJs may appear a great option however ... I wouldn't go there.

    Warm Wishes.

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    1. Trader Joe's Branded Products are sourced from Non-GMO ingredients.

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  11. Sorry to intrude, meat eater here, but my daughter has a milk allergy and LOVES cheese..... Any suggestions on good alternatives?

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    1. Since it wasn't mentioned; I have to give a shout out to Follow Your Heart American cheese slices which are my go-to for a grilled cheese sandwich! I tried the Tofutti slices and I did not like them much at all which surprised me because I love the Tofutti ice cream and cream cheese.

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    2. Hi Stacy,
      FYH is my fave for sammies! Their slices have their very own post; check it out!

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    3. Daiya is good, I've only had the mozzarella, used it on pizza and in tacos. Its fairly bland so i recommend spices but it has cheese stretch consistency.

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  12. Anonymous, Daiya is the clear winner overall. Also try Dr. Cow, Treeline, Tofutti... So many cruelty-free options for the lactose-averse and intolerant! Same goes for ice creams and the like. Best.

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  13. I am a Daiya fan and I tried the TJ cheese on pizza tonight and I HATED it!!! it left a weird taste in my mouth and a weird film on my teeth. It seemed to just dissolve into an almost clear film on the pizza. Never again!!

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  14. I wish I could "learn" how to enjoy and love Daiya cheese, or any other vegan cheese. I just cannot swallow them, at all. They all taste horrible to me!! Oh well, I'm on my quest in making my own vegan cheese, but thanks for the post!

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    1. I agree. I tried the Daiya mozzerella and it sticks to the front of your teeth. Gross.

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    2. I agree. I tried the Daiya mozzerella and it sticks to the front of your teeth. Gross.

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    3. Dayia cheese makes me gag violently. I tried every kind and just can't do it!

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  15. Oh wow, this solved a mystery for me! I bought the TJ's mozz once and assumed it was just Daiya in disguise, but it oozed everywhere when I used it and made a mess, which is not how I remember Daiya working, but now I know it's actually entirely different from Daiya! Thanks for the research into the matter!

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    1. Important work! Glad I could help :-)

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  16. I tried the TJ's cheese just two days ago. I tasted it out of the bag and it was horrible! I'm a vegan wannabe... Been a lacto vegetarian for 42 years and am able to eat practically anything non-animal that others might have a problem with. But I have a serious problem with eating this. Thanks much for the article. I enjoyed reading it and will try the cheese cooked like you did. But, if I can't munch it out of the bag and enjoy it, I'm not sure if I will buy it again.

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    1. I definitely recommend cheeses like Treeline or Dr. Cow for out-of-the-bag munching! Good luck on your journey :-)

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    2. Thank you Abby!!!! I have bookmarked your site. I found it by searching to see what others experience has been with this TJ vegan cheese. I've been pure vegan for breakfast and lunch now for quite some time. I will make it over to the vegan side in the near future! Thanks again. -Will

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  17. I'm looking over the list of ingredients on each and neither seem to have soy either. Am I right on that on? I have a daughter with milk and soy intolerance. All non-dairy alternatives seem to be made out of soy instead, but not these? TIA I'm new to this!

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    1. Hi there and welcome! I've posted the ingredients from the time of consumption, but I'd definitely check the respective websites for the most up-to-date info. Good luck!

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    2. Thanks! Yes the TJ vegan mozz is the same currently as the pic you posted. I'm just shocked that there's no soy and thought maybe one of the uncommon ingredients could be a hidden soy protein, but I think not. I had a hard time finding cheese alternatives and couldn't believe that I just stumbled on TWO options in the this post!

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  18. I'm wondering if the ingredients in vegan cheese are actually good for you? It seems like a lot of things I don't know what is. Does anyone know? Thanks! :-)

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    1. Hi Emily, I wouldn't say that vegan cheese is "good for you," but it's certainly better for you than cheese made from the milk of another species that has been pumped full of hormones, etc., to prepare it for human consumption. The dairy and egg industries are some of the cruelest out there, so it's certainly better for the animals as well!

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  19. I normally use Daiya and enjoy it very much. I bought a bag of the TJs and just made a pizza. It was oozy, grainy, clear, sticky, and tasted horrible. Ruined a perfectly good pizza. Never again.

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  20. I hate Daiya. I love TJ's. Yay for this test! (by the way your review had me laughing LOUDLY at my computer).

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  21. I'm just starting a bag of "cheesier, stretchier" daiya mozzarella shreds, and I'm actually wondering if it's spoiled, because the new taste is so much "sharper" (sour!). Anybody else had this experience? I'm talking about a brand new recipe.

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  22. Yes! I came to this site looking for something to replace Daiya mozzarella, which I used to love! So sad they decided to "improve upon" the original formula. The flavor of the new one is intolerable.

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  23. Thank you for this great review. I just learn of my dairy intolerance and cried thinking I wouldn't be able to ever have cheese and apple again or a great gooey pizza. I'm on my way to the store right now to find me some Daiya and some of the other brands mentioned so I know I don't have to live without cheese!!

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  24. Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella cheese acts like normal mozzarella cheese I've discovered when baking. If you had a third section with normal cheese it would have bubbled, and "oozed" with how you cooked this. You completely over-baked/cooked this pizza. TJ cheese tastes WAY better than Daiya IMO. It didn't melt like the TJ cheese the right way just as normal cheese would have over melted.. if you baked this as you would a normal pizza, the TJ cheese would have been melted and tasted great.. and the Daiya would have been non-melted and more artificial. Daiya is good fresh, but when heated it can't compete because it doesn't melt like real cheese does and that, changes everything else you're cooking.

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  25. Ok so after reading this review we made a pizza with the TJ pizza. I found days to have a slimy texture. The TJ cheese stuck to our teeth & the top of our mouths. Tonight I used both cheeses mixed together on a penne & marinara dish. We liked the mix! We will do a pizza like this and see how it goes.

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