Parmesan Substitutes: 3 Cheese Options for Every Occasion

Maybe you’re on a dairy-free diet, or maybe you just don’t have any parmesan on hand.

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In any case, there are plenty of delicious substitutes that will make your dish just as tasty.

We’ve compiled a list of our favorites, broken down by closest taste, similar texture, and cheaper price.

So no matter what you’re making, we’ve got you covered!

Best Parmesan Substitutes by Closest Taste and Texture

  • Grana Padano
  • Pecorino Romano
  • Asiago

If you’re looking for cheeses with a similar taste and texture to parmesan, these are your best bet.

Grana Padano is a hard, crumbly cow milk cheese that’s very similar to parmesan. In fact, it’s one of the most compared cheese to parmesan, where Italian use them interchangeably in most recipes. The production took place in the same area as Parmesan and their procedures are highly similar – just that Grana Padano is a bit less strict by regulations and often sold younger. This results in an almost identical cheese but milder, therefore it’s also cheaper than parmesan.

Pecorino Romano is sheep milk grainy cheese that has a slightly sharper saltier taste than Parmesan. Think of it as parmesan cheese on steroids. They have a similar texture, but Romano has an earthier grassy taste. Read details on Parmesan vs Romano cheese.

Asiago is also a good option that has a very similar mild flavor to Parmesan. Asiago is less popular and a bit distant from parmesan, in fact, it’s classified as Swiss-style cheese, which is closer to Emmental and Gruyere. Asiago’s texture is more firm less crumbly, and is also slightly sweeter than parmesan. Read Asiago vs Parmesan for more.

In addition, these cheeses are all Italian cheese and by far have the closest sharp and nutty flavor reminiscent of parmesan, so they’ll blend right in.

Best Parmesan Substitutes by Cheaper Price

Parmigiano-Reggiano is the original Parmesan cheese and is often called “King of Cheese.” Due to these reasons, a pound of it can easily sell for $20-40, definitely on the expensive end. Budget-wise, you can get the domestic parmesan at about half its price but the taste won’t likely be the same.

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, these cheeses will do the trick without sacrificing flavor, much*.

  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Grated Cotija
  • Vegan Parmesan

Not only cheaper, but Nutritional Yeast is also a great option for vegan and dairy-free diets. It has a nutty, cheesy flavor and is often used as a cheese substitute in recipes. Sprinkled on top of soup or pasta dishes, it gives a cheesy flavor without the dairy. It’s also high in vitamins and minerals, making it a great healthy option. Just be reminded that the ratio for Nutritional Yeast to Parmesan cheese is about ⅓ cup of yeast to one cup of Parmesan.

Known as the Parmesan of Mexico, Grated Cotija is an interesting alternative yet affordable cheese that’s similar in taste and texture to grated Parmesan. It is an aged cow’s milk cheese that is often used as a topping for dishes such as tacos and enchiladas. It has a salty, crumbly texture with a slightly sour taste, somewhere in between feta and parmesan.

Similar to Nutritional Yeast, Vegan Parmesan is a vegan and dairy-free option that has a cheesy flavor. However, it can be made with different ingredients like potato starch, cashews, almonds, or walnuts. You can try this Just Like Parmesan by Violife that sells for $6.49 a block, It’s also non-GMO. For the same serving of parmesan, It contains 33% fewer calories and 38% less fat content. It’s also omitted most allergens like soy, nut, or corn.

There you have it!

Parmesan substitutes are aplenty. More importantly, the taste is a subjective matter, so YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).

Perhaps, you may want to try out other options that are more convenient for you. After all, the best substitute is going to be the one that you like the most.

Do you have a favorite Parmesan substitute? Let us know in the comments below.

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