Rice cheese is a cheese substitute made from rice products. Being both lactose-free and soy-free, it is popular among consumers who are allergic to or choose not to consume dairy products. It's different from other cheese substitutes that typically are made from soybeans, making it a better choice for those with both a dairy and a soy allergy, or those who do not eat dairy but do not favor soy cheeses.
The ingredients in rice cheese include rice, oils, cheese-flavored seasonings, and, in some cases, casein. Casein is a protein much like gluten, which is found in wheat products, and is used as a binding agent to hold the rice and oils together. It is a milk protein, but it is used in such small amounts that typically doesn't bother those with dairy allergies, and the cheese is still usually labeled as lactose-free. People who choose not to use any animal products may want to check carefully to make sure that the cheese they choose does not contain this protein, however.
This variety of cheese is typically found in gourmet grocery stores, health shops, or vegan-/vegetarian-focused food stores. It is often stored in the refrigerated dairy section of these markets and comes in a variety of conventional flavors, including cheddar and mozzarella. The cheese is often sold in brick form for immediate cutting and consuming, but it can also be sold grated or pre-sliced.
Consumers are able to enjoy the rice cheese just like regular cheeses. It can be melted, shredded, baked, and eaten straight just like any other type, and it can serve as a substitute for other varieties. This makes it even more ideal for those who at one point in their lives enjoyed the taste of cheese but no longer consume dairy.
Rice cheese is distinctive for its smooth texture, which is much like the texture of soy products, like silken tofu. It is different than other cheeses, including other cheese substitutes, because it has an added flavor of rice that many people enjoy.