Asiago VS Parmesan: Aren’t they the same?

Asiago and parmasan are both the popular cheese originated from Italy. Despite the fact, parmesan is better known as Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy which often referred as its real identity aparts from all the counterfeit product named “parmesan” outside of European Union, but that’s another story to tell. In this article, we are going to look into some of the key differences from many aspects for these highly popular and sought-after cheese.

Asiago and parmesan are not the same. They may look or sometimes even taste the same, but if you really taste them carefully side by side, you will notice some huge differences between the two. The main difference being the taste where the typical Asiago tend to be milder, sweeter, with a little bit of nutty flavour but overall creamier than parmesan. Parmesan, on the other hand, is nuttier and fruitier with a stronger hints of bitter/savoury taste.

For the aging period, parmesan normally aged for 12-36 months whereas asiago aged for only 2-18 months. For that reason, parmesan tend to be “older” than asiago and therefore has a stronger flavour overall.

Comparison Table

Asiago CheeseParmesan (aka Parmigiano Reggiano)
OriginVeneto, Trentino, ItalyEmilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Italy
TextureSemi-hardHard, grainy
TasteMild, creamy, rich, nutty, butteryFruity, nutty, bitter, sharp
ColorPale yellow, strawBrownish yellow, straw
Milk SourceCowsCows
Lactose ContentVery lowVery low to none (<1 mg)
HistamineModerate to highHigh (up to 581 mg/kg)
Aging Duration2-18 months12 – 36 months
Calories 100 per oz119 per oz
Price$13.79 /lb (on Amazon)$19.6 /lb (on Amazon)
A comparison table between Asiago and Parmesan.

Taste Differences

Asiago tastes milder, milkier and sweeter than parmesan. It has a stronger buttery taste with a little bit of bitter nutty aftertaste. Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano DOP) tastes stronger in its “side taste” or aftertaste, much better than Asiago. Also, parmesan has a more complex umami taste, with hints of fruity/nutty flavor, which you find lesser in Asiago.

The taste of asiago and parmesan has to depend on their aging duration. Typically, the younger the cheese, the creamier and sweeter it will be. Some said that asiago taste the same as parmesan, which is partially true if you compare a well-aged asiago with a moderate-aged parmesan, let alone the brands. The brands also play a big part of it. If you would want to enjoy the real deal, you gotta look for some reputable resellers which sells the DOP cheese, instead of just another counterfeit, fake parmesan with its flavour compromised. Of course, it can get a little expensive as good quality is never cheap.

Texture Differences

For texture, asiago and parmesan are both firm and solid. For the fresh asiago, it is semi-soft, smoother and lighter color. But for the aged version, you will typically find it denser, grainier or crumby, sometimes even flaky like parmesan. The color will also get darker and harder as its aged, likewise to parmesan which normally aged for a long time. You will also see some white crystal appeals on the aged version.

Can you Substitute Parmesan with Asiago?

Yes, you can absolutely substitute parmesan for asiago, or vice versa, most of the time. That will all depend on how you want to use it, say you want use it in pasta, pizza or soup, that will be quite a good substitution even though you probably will notice the taste is a little different but not totally the same. Asiago will have a flavour reminiscent of parmesan, but tend be creamier and milder, so if your dishes is going to be heavy to bring out the strong parmesan aftertaste, fresh asiago may not be the best option, but you can use the aged asiago instead.

Background Differences

Asiago and parmesan are both originated from Italy but on the different regions, where parmesan is made in the Emilia-Romagna whereas asiago in Veneto, right next to each other. They both PDO verified cheese and use unpasteurised partially-skimmed cow milk. The production steps are very similar, but parmesan tend to age for older.

Nutrition Differences

The nutrition information may varied from brand to brand.

Common Uses & Recipe Differences

Thanks to its strong flavor, chefs and home moms love to grate parmesan over pasta, soup or salad. Unlike asiago, parmesan is lesser to serve alone in sandwich, bread, or with crackers (doesn’t mean you can’t!). Asiago’s creamier and milkier taste gave it a more balanced flavor overall, which go super well with bread and sandwich, and has a broader common culinary uses, such as sprinkles on top of soup, pasta, or pizza as well.

Wrap up

Some would suggest to substitute asiago for parmesan, I would say it works fine in some circumstances when you really do not have a better option. In conclusion, asiago and parmesan are definitely not the same as there are many differences between these two type of popular Italian cheese as showed in the comparison table above. Also, the price for parmesan is also a little higher than asiago if that’s the thing you may concern.