Dairy-Free, Still Delicious: Parmesan Cheese Substitutes for Vegans and Lactose-Intolerant Foodies

For vegans and lactose-intolerant individuals, finding a suitable substitute for traditionally dairy-based ingredients can be challenging. Parmesan cheese, a staple in Italian cuisine, is a particularly potent ingredient that can be difficult to replicate. However, with the rise of vegan and dairy-free diets, many innovative alternatives have emerged that can provide the same nutty, savory taste and texture as Parmesan cheese.

One popular substitute is nutritional yeast, which is a type of yeast that is high in vitamins and protein. Nutritional yeast has a delicious cheesy flavor that makes it an excellent addition to many recipes. Other alternatives include vegan Parmesan cheese made from nuts or soy, or plant-based cheese and spreads made from cashews, almonds, and other nuts. These substitutes are not only delicious but are also packed with essential nutrients and healthy fats.

Whether you’re a vegan or lactose-intolerant foodie, experimenting with different Parmesan cheese substitutes can be a fun and tasty way to add new flavors and textures to your favorite meals. With so many options available, it’s never been easier to enjoy your favorite dishes without sacrificing taste or health.

Dairy-Free, Still Delicious: Parmesan Cheese Substitutes for Vegans and Lactose-Intolerant Foodies

The Quest for Dairy-Free Parmesan Cheese


Parmesan cheese is a staple in many recipes, but not everyone can enjoy it due to dietary restrictions. Vegan and lactose-intolerant foodies can still add that delicious umami flavor to their dishes with these parmesan cheese substitutes.

What to Look for in a Parmesan Cheese Substitute

The key factor in a good parmesan cheese substitute is the umami flavor. Umami is the fifth taste, alongside sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. It is described as a savory, meaty flavor that adds depth and richness to dishes.

When looking for parmesan cheese substitutes, check the label for the presence of glutamate, an amino acid responsible for the umami flavor. Other factors to consider include the texture, whether it is grated or shaved, and the overall taste.

Top Parmesan Cheese Substitutes

1. Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is often used in vegan cooking as a substitute for cheese. It has a nutty, cheesy flavor and a texture similar to grated parmesan cheese. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy addition to any recipe. Nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on top of pasta dishes, onto popcorn, or used in soups and sauces.

Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast

2. Cashew Parmesan Cheese

Cashew parmesan cheese is a dairy-free alternative to traditional parmesan cheese. It is made by blending cashews, nutritional yeast, and salt in a food processor until a fine powder forms. The result is a nutty, cheesy flavor with a texture similar to grated parmesan cheese. Cashew parmesan cheese can be used on pasta dishes, salads, and roasted vegetables.

Minimalist Baker’s Cashew Parmesan Cheese Recipe

3. Soy Parmesan Cheese

Soy parmesan cheese is a dairy-free alternative to traditional parmesan cheese made from soybeans. It has a nutty, cheesy flavor and a texture similar to grated parmesan cheese. Soy parmesan cheese is often used in vegan cooking and can be sprinkled on pasta dishes or used in soups and sauces.

McCormick’s Imitation Soy Parmesan Cheese


Just because you are vegan or lactose intolerant doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the delicious flavor of parmesan cheese. These substitutes offer a healthier and cruelty-free alternative while still delivering that savory umami taste.

cheese grater

Frequently Asked Questions: Dairy-Free Parmesan Cheese Substitutes

What are some common substitutes for Parmesan cheese?

There are several substitutes for Parmesan cheese, including nutritional yeast, cashew or almond-based Parmesan, and tofu Parmesan.

Is nutritional yeast a good substitute for Parmesan cheese?

Yes, nutritional yeast is a popular vegan substitute for Parmesan cheese. It has a nutty and cheesy flavor and is often used to add flavor to plant-based dishes.

How do I make cashew or almond-based Parmesan cheese?

To make cashew or almond-based Parmesan cheese, blend raw cashews or almonds in a food processor with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt until it forms a crumbly mixture. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Is tofu Parmesan a good substitute for traditional Parmesan cheese?

Yes, tofu Parmesan is an excellent substitute for traditional Parmesan cheese. To make it, blend firm tofu, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder in a food processor until it forms a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle it over salads or pasta dishes for a cheesy flavor.

Are there any store-bought dairy-free Parmesan cheese alternatives?

Yes, there are several store-bought dairy-free Parmesan cheese alternatives on the market, including Violife, Follow Your Heart, and Daiya. These plant-based options are vegan and often made from cashews or soy.

Can lactose-intolerant individuals consume dairy-free Parmesan cheese substitutes?

Yes, lactose-intolerant individuals can consume dairy-free Parmesan cheese substitutes as they do not contain any dairy products. These alternatives are also vegan-friendly and safe for people with dairy allergies.

grating cheese

Looking for Parmesan Cheese Substitute? Here Are Some Great Options

1. Pecorino Romano

If you are searching for a substitute for parmesan cheese, then Pecorino Romano is the best option. This cheese comes from sheep’s milk, and it has a salty flavor. Its texture is crumbly, just like parmesan. Pecorino Romano is the best substitute in pasta dishes, pizzas, salads and soups.

2. Asiago Cheese

Asiago cheese is a semi-hard cheese that has originated in Italy. Like Parmesan cheese, Asiago cheese is a flavorful cheese that is often used as a topping for pasta dishes, salads, and soups. It has a slightly milder taste compared to Parmesan cheese and often comes in two varieties: Asiago Pressato and Asiago Stravecchio.

3. Grana Padano

Grana Padano is another cheese that comes from Italy’s Po River Valley, just like Parmesan cheese. This cheese is like Parmesan cheese in flavor and texture, but it’s less expensive. It adds a nutty and tangy flavor to pasta dishes, pizzas, and salads.

4. Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Vegan parmesan cheese is a great option for those who do not consume dairy products. It is usually made from nuts or seeds, and it gives a cheesy flavor to various dishes. Vegan parmesan cheese is a great option for vegans and vegetarians who want to enjoy the flavor of cheese in their meals without consuming dairy products.


Overall, there are many great parmesan cheese substitutes available, no matter your dietary restrictions or budget. Whether you’re looking for a dairy-free option or an alternative within your budget, there are plenty of delicious and affordable alternatives out there. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t be afraid to try something new and experiment with different varieties of cheese!

Learn more about different types of cheese and their uses at Wikipedia’s page on Cheese!


Dairy-Free, Still Delicious: Parmesan Cheese Substitutes for Vegans and Lactose-Intolerant Foodies


  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Almond Parmesan
  • Cashew Parmesan
  • Hemp Seed Parmesan
  • Tofu Parmesan


  • Pecorino Romano
  • Asiago Cheese
  • Grana Padano Cheese
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • White Cheddar Cheese

Category – Cheese grater

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Hi, I'm Jennifer! I love creating original and delicious recipes and sharing them here. I cook and photograph food with my husband Jeff in Boston.


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