Parmesan Cheese is a luscious Italian topping I can compare to ambrosia — the food of the gods.
Sometimes we can’t get enough of this aromatic ingredient, which is why we tend to run out of it pretty quickly.
So if you are out and can’t find this cheese in a nearby grocery store or are trying to switch it up, this page contains all of the alternatives you seek.
Some of the best parmesan cheese substitutes you can use are Manchego, Piave, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano, Asiago Cheese, Dry Jack, and Reggianito.
Also, you might want to read to the end to know which works best in an alfredo sauce and Parmesan cheese meatballs.
What Is Parmesan Cheese?
Parmesan Cheese is a dry, hard cheese made in the Parma region of Italy. It has a rugged, gritty texture and tastes fruity along with nutty traces. Among other things, this Italian specialty adds a heavenly touch to almost every meal.
Also, you can also eat it on its own as a snack with crackers. Sadly, Parmesan Cheese is not as pocket-friendly as you would imagine.
It is pretty on the pricier side because this masterpiece takes 18 to 36 months to age to be used, and this is the primary reason there aren’t many producers.
But regardless, there is no shortage. Production remains the same, but the price may always rise.
Best Parmesan Cheese Substitutes
I know saying all this makes you long for this cheese even more.
But you don’t have to worry if you are out or seeking a pocket-friendly alternative that easily adapts to your meals and tastes like Parmesan cheese.
Here are a few you might like:
Piave is likely to be the king of Italian cheeses. And you would love this cheese for two reasons:
Firstly, it is also an Italian cow’s milk cheese like parmesan. And it is the closest you can get.
Secondly, it is affordable and easy to find.
You don’t necessarily have to be an Italian to find the need to use this cheese.
Like Parmesan cheese, the Piave has a deliciously fruity and nutty taste, with a hint of almond bitterness.
Moreover, Piave is creamier and melts gracefully well in dishes. When replacing parmesan, you would relish them in roasted vegetables, pasta, and vegetables.
2. Pecorino Romano
You can always reach out for pecorino Romano whenever you are out of parmesan. They are pretty tasty and made from sheep’s milk.
It is also a hard Italian cheese but slightly saltier and shaper and best used for grating on pasta, soup, or salad.
This cheese NEVER disappoints in a pesto.
Lastly, you want to use Romano in moderation because of its saltiness.
3. Grana Padano
Grana Padano tastes delicious on its own, boasting a rich, slightly nutty flavor. It’s also the perfect accompaniment to pasta dishes or risotto.
Compared to Parmesan, Grana is softer, butterier, and more flavorful.
It is also an Italian cheese, and the longer it ages, the more aromatic it becomes.
You would enjoy them more for grating on salads, pasta, and whatnot.
Aside from those, Grana is an excellent cheese for cooking.
4. Asiago Cheese
Asiago is also an Italian cow’s milk cheese that flavors reminiscent of the parmesan, which is why it would work as an alternative.
But unlike Parmesan, Asiago is quite nuttier and creamier.
Also, they are soft cheeses, but when aged, you can find them in semi-hard or hard blocks —and the flavor tends to be sharper.
Whether soft or hard, you will appreciate them when eaten alone, grated, or shaved on pasta, salad, pizza, and sauces.
5. Manchego Cheese
Manchego is not an Italian cheese. Instead, it is Spanish cheese with a distinctive yellow color and small air pockets distributed within its body.
Manchego will work well with any Parmesan recipe because it has similar fruity and bitty flavors, only with a slightly salty finish.
In addition, it is made with sheep’s milk and aged between 60 days and two years.
6. Dry Jack Cheese
Dry Jack is another exciting Parmesan cheese substitute since it is firm and easily grated. Aside from that, Dry Jack cheese tastes quite like parmesan. They are made with cow’s milk and a sharp and nutty flavor.
Also, this cheese is aged for 7 to 10 months, and anything older than this will be more intense in flavor. And like parmesan, this cheese can be sliced, shredded, cooked, or even eaten as it is.
It will make a great Parmesan substitute for churning and grating over pasta, salads, soups, or tacos.
7. Reggianito Cheese
This rugged and granular cow’s milk cheese can also be a go-to option whenever you’re running out or want something more budget-friendly.
It is a salty, grating cheese with a crumbly and grainy texture. The funniest thing about Reggianito is it is often sold as parmesan in the States.
Additionally, Reggianito is not an Italian cheese. But it was made in Argentina by Italian farmers there. This diary product is ideal for cooking and grating over pasta dishes.
Lastly, it only ages for 5–6 months.
Parmesan Cheese Substitute For Alfredo Sauce
Parmesan is a vital ingredient to Alfredo sauce, and you know it.
You can’t just use a random cheese and expect a well-prepared delectable meal.
Whenever you lust for an Alfredo sauce but don’t have parmesan cheese on hand, Gruyère and Mozzarella cheese can step in and save the day.
NOTE that these Parmesan cheese substitutes are not vegan — well, we will discuss more on this below.
While each of these substitutes works perfectly in alfredo sauce, the Gruyère might take a while to cook compared to parmesan.
On this flip side, the cheese is rich and creamy, with slight saltiness, along with traces of nuttiness. It adds this sophisticated touch to the recipe.
Mozzarella is another attractive option, and you can shred and add it over the sauce for a lip-smacking experience.
It adds flavors without compromising the taste of other ingredients.
Substitute For Parmesan Cheese In Meatballs
It would be best if you had parmesan for parmesan meatballs.
But as I previously mentioned, Pecorino Romano is very similar to parmesan cheese to be used as a substitute.
Aside from taste, Romano behaves like parmesan cheese, which will work in making meatball recipes.
But you would have to use ⅓ less of the cheese. Remember, it is pretty saltier with a distinct nutty flavor, and you don’t want to overpower the other ingredients in your dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is parmesan cheese healthy to eat?
Eating Parmesan cheese alone is highly nutritious, let alone pairing it with another meal. Parmesan is a rich source of high-quality protein, ready-to-use fat, and vitamins. The cheese is abundant in vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B6, and B12, calcium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc.
A harder parmesan tends to be the best option. Aside from that, considering most of the world’s population is suffering from a deficiency of lactase, parmesan tends to be a healthier cheese for them because it is naturally lactose-free.
Lactose is a crucial part of cheese making because it is a significant type of carbohydrate in milk. Meanwhile, lactase is the enzyme that helps break down lactose into glucose.
Why Is Parmesan Not Vegetarian?
Parmesan cheese is not a vegetarian option because it involves calf rennet —an enzyme found in the lining of a calf’s stomach. And it cannot be left out because it is so intrinsic to the production.
Unfortunately, it is not only parmesan. Gruyère, Pecorino Romano, orgonzola, Manchego, and most Italian cheeses use it too. That is why we’ll show you how to make the vegan option.
Can You Eat Parmesan Cheese By Itself?
Yes, you can eat parmesan cheese by itself! Parmesan is not only for grating over pasta and other recipes; you can eat it alone as a snack. Also, you can choose to pair it with some fresh fruit or with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.
Most Italians often eat the hardened outer layer of this cheese, and they will advise you to do so too. That is because, according to producers, it is the nutritious part.
What Can I Do With Dried Parmesan Cheese?
Parmesan is a hard cheese; it becomes harder than it has already been with time. And you may find it challenging to grate or trim the dry-out part to reveal the softer interior. Whenever this happens, don’t worry. You are not about to toss yet another precious parmesan in the trash can.
You can still put even the driest cheese to use. Just throw it in the food processor for a quick blend. Then put is it in a plastic bag and store it in the fridge. After that, you can use it for topping a salad, rice, beans, and roasted veggies.
Again, parmesan and most of the other cheeses are not vegetarian options due to the use of calf rennet.
The good news is:
You can still avoid the animal rennet and enjoy your precious parmesan cheese — if you would make it at home.
Moreover, making one won’t be as expensive compared to the already made type, and it only takes 5minutes to prepare.
The only difficult part is knowing the recipe. And that’s why I’m here.
All you need is:
- 1 cup of raw, unsalted cashews
- Four tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- One tablespoon salt
- One tablespoon of garlic powder
Gather and mix all ingredients in a bowl, then blend in a food processor or blender. Please don’t over blend the mixture, or it will get buttery instead of cheesy. You can add some spices to make it tastier.