The Best Simple Parmesan Cheese Substitutes

Parmesan Cheese Substitutes

Looking for an alternative to Parmesan Cheese? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for my favourite simple Parmesan Cheese Substitutes both dairy and dairy-free.

What is Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan is a hard Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It has an incredibly deeply savoury cheesey flavour.

The Best Parmesan Cheese Substitutes – Dairy

1. Pecorino

Pecorino is very similar in style to parmesan but it’s made from sheeps milk and had a sharper, more acidic flavour. Texturally they are the same so it’s an easy substitute.

2. Halloumi

While the texture of halloumi is softer and less crumbly, it provides a similar substance and salty kick to parmesan and can be grated over dishes in a similar way.

3. Feta

Feta is saltier and won’t melt as well as parmesan – but will give an intense boost of flavour so will be better than no cheese.

4. Goats Cheese

Fresh goats cheese is tangier, creamier and less salty than parmesan but will add some cheesy goodness. Goats cheese won’t melt in the same way as parmesan so may not be great in cooked dishes.

5. Cheddar

Cheddar isn’t as hard or flavour packed as parmesan – but finely grated it will still give a pleasanty cheesy flavour. And it will melt well for cooked dishes.

6. Ricotta Salata

Salted ricotta is saltier and less complex than parmesan so it’s won’t add the same depth of flavour. But it will be better than nothing.

7. Gruyère Cheese

Similar to cheddar, Gruyère isn’t as hard as parmesan but it has a lovely cheesey flavour that is a great substitute for parmesan.

8. Comté Cheese

Comté is to French people as Parmesan is to Italians, meaning it’s their go-to cheese. Like cheddar and gruyere, Comté is slightly softer than parmesan but it can easily be grated and used wherever you use Parmesan.

The Best Dairy-Free Parmesan Cheese Substitutes

1. Brazil Nuts

Can be grated with a miroplane to make a dust that looks a lot like parmesan. I also make a sprinkle I call Brazil Nut ‘Parmesan’ which is delicious sprinkled on pasta dishes or any where you’d normally grate over some parmesan.

2. Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Aren’t as salty as parmesan but they do add a similar hit of deeply savoury umami flavours.

3. Olives

If you’re looking for a salty burst of flavour, a handful of olives is a good best dairy-free and vegan alternative to parmesan.

4. Sun Dried Tomatoes

A similar idea to olives, sun dried tomatoes are bursting with flavour and will add a little sweetness to your dish instead of a salt hit.

5. Salted Roast Almonds

For texture and salty hit roast almonds will take your dish in a different direction but it won’t be lacking in flavour or crunch. Excellent to use as a dairy-free alternative to parmesan in pesto.

6. Sea Salt Flakes

Another option to replace the salty hit from parmesan is to sprinkle your dish with sea salt flakes. It won’t provide the same visuals or substance as greated or shaved cheese but you will appreciate the salty flavour explosions.

7. Capers

Work in a similar way to olives. Salted capers will be the best choice although capers in vinegar are better than nothing.

8. Toasted Breadcrumbs

In Italy toasted breadcrumbs – called ‘pan gratato’ are also known as poor mans Parmesan. They are great for adding crunch and visual interest when sprinkled over pasta.

How to Store Paremsan

Parmesan can be stored for months in the refrigerator. I generally ignore the best before date and eat it even weeks after it is out of date. As long as there’s no mold growing on it. Parmesan can be frozen although there’s generally no need because it lasts so long in the fridge.

Parmesan Cheese Goes with…

  • Basil & Parmesan
  • Lemon & Parmesan
  • Pesto & Parmesan
  • Chicken & Parmesan
  • Tomato & Parmesan
  • Olives & Parmesan

More Ingredient Substitutes

Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x