Best Parmesan Cheese Substitutes That Will Make You Drool

Parmesan Cheese Substitute

Parmesan cheese has been called the king of cheese by people in the industry. Also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, the cheese originated in Italy and took the world by storm. Considering its popularity and substance, finding good parmesan cheese substitutes takes some careful choices. 

Preferences for a substitute can range from something that’s as similar to parmesan as possible, to options that fit a tighter budget, or those who want a non-dairy product. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive discussion, so there can be several reasons why someone would want an alternative for parmesan.

Whatever be your reason, we’ve got you covered! Let’s take a look at the best options to substitute parmesan cheese in your food.

Top Parmesan Cheese Substitutes You Should Know

1. Grana Padano

Grana Padano is often seen as a more affordable version of parmesan cheese. Don’t get me wrong here, grana padano isn’t cheap, it’s just less expensive than parmesan! 

The cheese shares a similar taste and texture with parmesan and gets overall quite close with its qualities. Grana padano is made from cow’s milk produced in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. So, it has a different geographic indicator than parmesan (which comes from Parmigiano Reggiano).

Grana Padano has a savory, nutty flavor with hints of browned butter. It has a granular, hard texture and is slow-ripened and aged. It is quite similar to Parmesan, with the geographic indicators setting these types of cheese apart. As such, it is an excellent substitute for parmesan.

2. Piave

Piave is another excellent cheese made from cow’s milk in Italy. This cheese is aged only 12 months, which is significantly lower than parmesan. On the other hand, this is an excellent gourmet cheese with great flavor and taste. 

When compared to parmesan, piave is a bit sweeter and creamier. It doesn’t have the same rich taste, though piave is quite delicious. This cheese can replace parmesan as a topping for toasts, pastas, and vegetables.

3. American Grana

American grana is a version of Parmesan developed in Wisconsin, USA. Since parmesan is protected by a geographic indicator, the name chosen for this product is American Grana. It puts together a granular texture with a sharp nutty flavor. This cheese is aged for 18 months in caves giving it a distinctly impressive flavor and texture.

4. Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano is one of the best and most easily available substitutes for parmesan cheese. It is saltier and has a sharper taste, so watch out for how much cheese you use. This type of cheese is made from sheep’s milk, so it has a different texture and higher fat content.

The cheese goes by the names of romano and pecorino romano. The name actually provides information on the origin, and to some degree, the flavor of the cheese. Pecorino Romano is made in Italy and its nomenclature is protected by EU law on geographic indicators. A similar variety of cheese, usually made in the USA is known simply as romano.

If you’re considering a substitution, Pecorino Romano is a better choice than romano, as the former has a flavor more consistent to that of parmesan.

5. Asiago Cheese

Here’s another excellent cheese that closely resembles the flavor of parmesan. Asiago cheese is made from cow’s milk and has a nuttier and creamier flavor in comparison to parmesan. This type of cheese is conventionally aged for about nine months, which plays a part in giving the cheese a sharper flavor.

Asiago is considered an alpine cheese and originates from Veneto and Trentino in Italy. It’s possible to use asiago in pretty much all recipes that call for parmesan. 

6. Soy Parmesan – non dairy substitute for parmesan cheese

Need a non dairy substitute for parmesan cheese? Give soy parmesan a chance! Soy parmesan manages to capture the flavor and consistency of parmesan cheese quite authentically. 

Well, to be fair, it doesn’t exactly take on the same flavors, but it gets impressively close. This vegetarian substitute for parmesan cheese is sometimes also considered a healthier alternative. It has practically 0 cholesterol. 

A few years ago, it would have been a daunting task to get hold of some soy parmesan. Now, it is much more widely available thanks to greater demand from the health-conscious as well as the vegan community.

7. Cotija Cheese

The hard and crumbly cotija cheese originated in Mexico and is often known as Mexican parmesan. Cotija is good for use with most recipes that call for parmesan. Though it’s not an exact replica, its sharp and salty taste evokes a similar sensation. Cotija is most commonly used with pasta, though it’s a good choice for other recipes as well.

8. Reggianito

This is a very interesting choice as it has several qualities similar to parmesan. Reggianito is produced using a method quite similar to that used for parmesan. Made from cow milk, this cheese originated in Argentina by farmers who migrated to the country from Italy. 

Although we’ve focused on the similarities, there are some differences in the overall taste and texture as well. Reggianito tends to be somewhat smoother, as the salt in this cheese doesn’t crystallize. Yet, it does still possess the hard and granular texture of parmesan cheese.

In fact, reggianito is often sold in the USA as parmesan. This usage skirts around the law on nomenclature, which puts a GI (geographic indicator) on Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

9. Manchego

Manchego is a Spanish cheese with a lovely yellow color. Its unique name comes from the origin of the milk used for this cheese. It is made from the milk of the Manchega sheep. There is an interestingly wide period for aging this cheese. You can find manchego cheese aged for anywhere between 60 days to two years. 

The cheese has a sharp and salty flavor that makes it a good substitute for parmesan. It goes well with most recipes, though it’s popularly used with pasta, tacos, and similar recipes. 

10. Dry Jack

The pleasant nuttiness of dry jack secures it a place on our list as one of the best options to use. Dry Jack is conventionally aged for 7 to 10 months, which gives it a sharper flavor. The longer the cheese has aged, the sharper its flavor. Dry Jack can work with salads, but it is phenomenal when used as a snack wine. 

11. Nutritional Yeast

Is soy parmesan not good enough to fix your vegan choice for parmesan cheese? Nutritional yeast can be the answer to your choices. It has the same touch of nutty flavors as parmesan, though it’s not as sharp or salty.

This powder is easy to use with most recipes and since it is already powdered, it’s a quick solution. Besides, if you miss the sharp and salty flavor of the original, adding some salt and garlic powder should fix it all up in no time!

Another advantage is that nutritional yeast stays true to its name. It is rich in several minerals, vitamins, and essential amino acids. The yeast is rich in Vitamin B-12, which vegans commonly lack in their diet. So, including nutritional yeast in your diet can be a healthy choice. While it’s most relevant for vegans, others should consider this excellent and nutritious choice too.

FAQs About Parmesan Cheese

Can I Substitute Parmesan Cheese For Parmesan Rind?

Parmesan rinds are not as famous and often end up getting overlooked. The rinds are a great way to add flavor and good texture to many recipes. Should you need an alternative or substitute, there is always parmesan cheese! Grated parmesan cheese can be used in place of parmesan rind. This method will provide the same flavor and maintain the texture of the food.

Can You Substitute Cream Cheese For Parmesan?

Using cream cheese in place of parmesan is not a good idea. There is a huge difference in the texture, taste, and profile of both these products, even if they’re both cheese. For most recipes, this change would be overwhelming and alter the basic texture and taste of the prepared food.

Does Parmesan Cheese Go Bad?

As a hard cheese, parmesan is incredibly resilient and will last a long time without a hitch. Authentic parmesan cheese is aged for at least two years, so it should last a fair bit, right? Well, the aging process is carefully controlled and once the cheese is out into the market, there is a limit on how long it will last. It will go bad after some time.

Unopened and stored properly, the cheese should last 7-9 months or slightly more. It could also go a couple of months beyond the “use by” date on the package (though going beyond the use-by date is an unnecessary risk). Once opened, it can last 1-2 months, if stored properly.

Is Parmesan Cheese Vegetarian?

Parmesan cheese, especially authentic parmesan cheese, can never be vegetarian. And the problem isn’t just milk, which vegans would say “no” to, but not necessarily all vegetarians.

Apart from the geographic indicator for Parmigiano-Reggiano, the cheese must be made according to its classic recipe. This essentially involves the use of animal rennet, which means the cheese cannot be vegetarian.

Finding The Parmesan Substitutes

Finding the right parmesan cheese substitute is entirely possible if you give closer attention to some of its competition. This cheese is protected by geographic indicators, but there are several similar options available. While a few options do a good job to provide a taste and texture very similar to the original, some substitutes take a different approach and might surprise you by how well they affect the recipe!

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