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9 Good Pecorino Cheese Substitutes You Should Consider

Pecorino cheese is a type of cheese that originates from Italy. It has a sharp, salty taste and is often used in dishes such as pasta or pizza.

If you are looking for a substitute for pecorino cheese, there are several options available.

What is a Good Substitute for Pecorino Cheese?

The following options are also great substitutes for Pecorino Romano cheese since romano cheese is a type of Pecorino cheese.

Parmigiano Reggiano

parmigiano reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano, also known as Parmesan cheese, is the best Pecorino cheese substitute due to its similar hardness and tangy flavor.

Pecorino cheese is made from sheep’s milk while parmesan is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk but has a similar nutty flavor to Pecorino.

Parmesan doesn’t have the same sharpness as Pecorino, though. It also may be less salty, so taste it before adding it to your recipe to determine if you need to add salt.

Parmigiano has a Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) seal in Italy. The DOP seal means the milk and cheese can be produced only in certain cities. There are also requirements for aging. Parmesan must be aged for at least two years.

There is no regulation of Parmesan in the United States. If you’re looking for a U.S.-made Parmesan, look for an aged version as aged Parmesan will have the best flavor.


aged asiago

Asiago is a smooth cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It is generally available in three versions depending on its age.

  • Asiago is a tasty Pecorino cheese substitute, especially when it has been aged for at least ten months.
  • Asiago that hasn’t matured long enough will still be delicious; however, it won’t give you the same tangy flavor as Pecorino.
  • As Asiago ages, it develops a harder, crystallized texture and its nutty, sharp flavor deepens. It will still be softer than Pecorino.

Like Parmesan, Asiago also carries the DOP designation in Italy.

Grana Padano

grana padano

Grana Padano also has a DOP designation in Italy but can be produced in more locations than Parmigiano and Asiago, so it’s less expensive. Therefore, it is sometimes called “poor man’s cheese.”

Even so, Grana Padano is delicious and can hold its own against Parmesan. It’s made from unpasteurized, semi-skimmed cow’s milk and is aged for two years.

Grana Padano has a grainy texture and sweet flavor. As it ages, it becomes more crumbly. And Grana Padano melts quickly, or it can be grated. It is a wonderful Pecorino cheese substitute.



Piave, known as Parmesan’s cousin, is another cheese with DOP designation in Italy. It is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and has five levels of maturity.

In its young stages, Piave is white and smooth. It becomes harder and straw-colored as it ages and develops a nuttier taste.

Piave has a dense and flaky texture with a sweet taste that becomes sweeter as it ages.

This hard, artisan cheese is a bit creamier in texture than Pecorino, and you’ll notice a bit less tang when you use it as a Pecorino cheese substitute. Nevertheless, it’s an ideal substitute.

Spanish Manchego

spanish manchego

Manchego is a DOP cheese made in Spain. Authentic Manchego uses only the milk from Manchego sheep.

Because it uses sheep’s milk, like Pecorino, Manchego has a similar tangy, nutty flavor, making it a suitable substitute for Pecorino cheese.

Manchego is aged between 60 days and two years, making it a younger cheese. It has a thick consistency with a buttery texture.

As it ages, its texture becomes flakier, and its nutty taste deepens. Its flavor has also been described as fruity and sweet.

Iberico Cheese

iberico cheese

Iberico cheese is a Spanish cheese made from a blend of cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s milk. The amount of each milk depends on the season in which the cheese is made.

Iberico is a hard cheese with a firm and oily texture. It is similar in appearance and flavor to Manchego.

Iberico needs to be aged anywhere from two months to one year. It is a white cheese with a nutty, buttery flavor.

Some say Iberico is interchangeable with Manchego cheese. Both make delicious Pecorino cheese substitutes.

Ossau Iraty

ossau iraty

This French cheese made from sheep’s milk is said to be one of the first cheeses ever made. The cheese is regulated in France and may only be made from the milk of three unique sheep breeds [1].

The ivory-colored cheese has a thick rind. The texture is smooth and creamy with small indentations.

Ossau Iraty is aged for about eight months, with four months at the least. It has an intense, earthy aroma and a fruity, nutty taste, making it a suitable Pecorino cheese replacement.

Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is sold in specialty grocers and health-food stores. It can be used as a Pecorino cheese substitute for vegans, people with dairy allergies, or anyone else looking for a dairy-free alternative.

Nutritional yeast has a tangy flavor and may be sprinkled on food or baked into recipes.

Nutritional yeast can also be used as a recipe ingredient [2] to make a more substantial Pecorino alternative.



While Cheddar cheese might not be your first choice as a Pecorino cheese alternative, it works. It has a tangy flavor similar to Pecorino, and it melts well.

Cheddar gets sharper the longer it ages. It’s compact and crumbly, making it easy to use in recipes.

Cheddar cheese has no regional designation requirements. It is made from cow’s milk and originated in England. It is now one of the most widely produced and eaten cheeses globally.

FAQs About Pecorino Cheese

Here are a few more things people ask about when it comes to Pecorino.

What’s a good Pecorino cheese substitute in pesto?

One of the ingredients in pesto is Pecorino cheese. This cheese can be expensive and hard to find, so many people choose to substitute it with other types of cheese.

Some good substitutes for Pecorino cheese in pesto are Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese. These cheeses are all similar in flavor to pecorino cheese and are easy to find at most grocery stores.

Whichever cheese you choose to use as a substitute, just be sure to adjust the amount you use depending on the flavor of the cheese.

Is Pecorino Romano the same thing as Romano cheese?

Yes and no. Romano cheese is a type of Pecorino. Pecorino means “sheep.” Pecorino Romano means the Pecorino cheese was made in Rome.

In Italy, there is also Pecorino Sardo, made in Sardinia; Pecorino Siciliano, made in Sicily; and Pecorino Toscano, made in Tuscany.

Can I substitute other cheeses 1:1 for Pecorino?

In most instances, yes. Some Pecorino cheese substitutes are not as salty as Pecorino. Taste the cheese and decide if you need to add more salt.

Do Pecorino cheese substitutes melt and grate as well as Pecorino?

Yes, they do. While some substitutes are creamier and crumblier when they are younger, they become grainier and flakier as they age. Of all the Pecorino cheese substitutes listed here, Parmigiano Regarrio will be your best choice.

Can I use pre-shredded cheese substitutes?

While you can, it is not recommended. These cheeses often include additives and preservatives. You won’t get the same umami flavor as you would if you buy a block of cheese off the rind and grate it yourself.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the top pecorino cheese substitutes, it’s time for you to make your meal with one of them. No matter which of these substitutes you choose, you’re sure to add some delicious cheesy flavor to your dish!

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I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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