Substitute for Parmesan Cheese. Are there any cheaper options?

Substitute for Parmesan Cheese

“Parmigiano-Reggiano”, or commonly known as parmesan cheese, is a type of cheese from the family of the hard-grating cheeses originated from cow’s milk. But if you do not have it at home or it is on a tight budget and do not want to spend much and it is wondering what are the best substitutions for parmesan cheese, this article is for you.

The Italian government controls the production of parmesan cheese, made in the northern part of the country, and it is considered by many from the food industry the king of cheeses, so that is why the price is averagely bigger if compared to other popular cheeses.

It is a very versatile cheese, can be eaten alone or grated over your plate with paste, sauces or salads and it combines very well with all types of ingredients. It is filled with proteins, calcium, and vitamin D, which makes it a nutritious and a healthy option.

But it is an expensive type of hard cheese and can be hard to find at any stores. So, if you do not have it at home and the recipe requires it, below we will list the best parmesan cheese substitutions. These cheeses are similar to the parmesan but can have unique flavor and texture.

Substitutions For Parmesan Cheese

Just see what your recipe is using the parmesan cheese for and choose the replacement that works best for you. 

1. Grana Padano

Your best replacement for parmesan cheese is another type of hard gratin cheese: The Grana Padano.

Both of them originate from cow’s milk and have the same hard granular texture. The grana Padano is produced in Italy and also has its production controlled by the government, but it is produced on a larger scale, which makes it less expensive and sometimes even easier to find than the parmesan cheese.

The grana Padano can also be used in salads, sauces, bread, and pasta since it has a typical nutty and strong flavor, with hints of saltiness. So, you can substitute the parmesan cheese for the grana Padano in the same proportions.

2. Pecorino

The Pecorino cheese is also a type of cheese most people run to when there is no parmesan available. There are a few different Pecorino categories you can choose and are named after the region they were made: pecorino romano is the most popular one. Pecorino pepato is also quite common and has black pepper added in it.

The main difference between pecorino and parmesan is that the pecorino is made from sheep’s milk, instead of cow, and it has a saltier taste. “Pecorino” means “of sheep” in Italian.

Just be careful to adjust the salt in the rest of your recipe, especially when using it in salads, pasta, or sauces, since it is saltier if compared to other cheeses. But the texture is also hard, can be perfect to use for grating and it is also a good parmesan substitute.

3. Piave

This cheese, named after the Piave River, is a good parmesan cheese substitute. In fact, this can be considered a parmesan brother, since it also originated from cow’s milk and has the characteristic hard texture.

But, the main difference between them is the aging time. Parmesan is usually aged between 18 and 36 months, while the piave is aged for 12 months. So, there will be a flavor distinction if you compare them. The piave is sweeter and more creamy, so maybe your recipe will need more salt to balance it.

But it can also be used in replacement for parmesan in almost all the dishes.

4. Provolone

Although provolone is not as hard as the parmesan, it has a softer texture and it is considered a semi-hard type, it can be an incredible replacement, especially in cooking.

It is usually produced in a cone or sausage shape, aged for at least for months and originated from cow’s milk, perfectly good to be used in pizza, bread, and sauces of all types.

Just watch out for the texture and flavor: it is a little more creamy and buttery than parmesan, so pay attention to the parmesan role on the recipe, and since it is a little sweeter the salt levels should be adjusted too.

A good advantage of provolone is the price. It is produced in other places, not only in Italy, so it makes it more affordable and easier to find. Any supermarket will have it!

5. Reggianito

The reggianito cheese is also originated from cow’s milk, with a very hard texture and granularity, just like the parmesan.

This one was created in Argentina, due to the Italian immigration to there, and it was made as a type of copy of the parmesan cheese, or the “Parmigiano Reggiano”. So, another great replacement.

The flavor is fruity and not that salty, so you may need to add more salt to balance the other ingredients of your recipe. But other than that, you can use it instead of the parmesan in all types of recipes.

Conclusion

Parmesan is popular, widely used and required in a lot of recipes all around the world, since it has a very hard granular texture – perfect to gratin and be part of sauces, salads and breads – and a salty unique flavor and character to any recipe.

But it is an expensive type of cheese, so you may not want to spend so much on it or do not like the strong taste and would like to replace it.

So, for that, we listed the best parmesan cheese substitutes above. From more affordable types to more fruity and sweety in taste, you can find all those cheeses easily and finish that special recipe with mastery.

There are plenty of alternatives and we are sure that one will work perfectly for you.

Let us know if you used any of the cheeses mentioned on this list or if there is one you used, worked and it is not listed above.