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The 5 Most Suitable Substitutes for Pecorino Cheese

The most suitable substitute for Pecorino cheese is Asiago or Parmesan cheese. However, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly substitute, shredded Parmesan or Asiago should do fine. Dairy-free substitutes include nutritional yeast, vegan Parmesan, or soy Parmesan.

The 5 Best Pecorino Cheese Substitutes:

  1. Asiago
  2. Parmesan
  3. Manchego
  4. Piave
  5. Grana Padano

While shredded Parmesan cheese is similar tasting and a great budget replacement, it won’t make much sense to add it to your charcuterie board. Additionally, for allergen-friendly recipes, you’ll be better served to add more fruits and veggies to your board (and possibly flavoring or seasoning them) than a bowl of nutritional yeast.

Below, I’ve detailed what replacement works best for each category and how they might be used.

Budget ReplacementsMost Similar TastingDairy-Free
Great for pasta dishes*Shredded Parmesan cheese
*Powdered Parmesan cheese
*Asiago cheese flakes
*Asiago cheese
*Piave cheese
*Grana Padano
*Manchego
*Nutritional yeast
Great for charcuterie boards*Asiago cheese *Parmesan cheese*Asiago cheese
*Piave cheese
*Parmesan cheese
*Grana Padano
*Manchego
*Vegan Parmesan
*Soy Parmesan
*Nutritional yeast + garlic + blanched almond flour

As you can see, while some make it on the list more than once, each substitute has its own best uses. The most suitable substitute for Pecorino cheese will be what fits your budget, flavor profile, and allergy needs the most. Additionally, it should make sense in the dish (or on the board) that you’re cooking. 

Though these will make great replacements for Pecorino cheese, each will be best served in different circumstances. Below, I’ll break down these circumstances and talk about the unique characteristics of Pecorino cheese.

A bowl of grated italian pecorino romano cheese
Pecorino isn’t that different than a few readily available options

The Most Similar Substitutes for Pecorino Cheese

The most similar tasting substitutes for Pecorino cheese are Asiago, Parmesan, Piave, and Grana Padano. Asiago and Parmesan will likely be the easiest to find, but the others share similar textures and flavor profiles. 

You might be looking for substitutes for Pecorino cheese because a recipe calls for it, and you have none on hand or can’t find it carried in the store. Hopefully, you can easily get some Asiago or Parmesan if you’re in this situation. They share a flavor profile and texture with Pecorino.

However, suppose you’re in a situation where you’d like a block of fancy cheese, just not Pecorino. In that case, the other two options are delicious without being as commonplace. They’ll be just as hard to find, but will bring bold flavors and a hard texture to those who are Pecorino averse.

Besides, suppose you have people who won’t eat or drink sheep products at the party. All the other cheeses listed use other types of milk.

1. Asiago

Asiago cheese slices on a wooden cutting board

Pecorino cheese is made with sheep’s milk and is usually aged 5-8 months. Asiago is made with cow’s milk and aged for about a month. A little bit softer than Pecorino but still robust in flavor, this makes for a great-tasting substitute. You can substitute on a 1:1 basis. 

2. Parmesan

Closeup of grated aged parmesan falling from spoon

Parmesan isn’t only a budget pick, but a common ingredient in most people’s fridges. This cheese is made with cow’s milk, is robust in flavor, and has the same texture as Pecorino. 

However, beware if you’re serving vegetarians and have tossed out Pecorino as an option—it technically isn’t vegetarian because of rennet—a type of enzyme used during its production that comes from goat stomach.

3. Manchego

Shredded and unshredded manchego cheese on a cutting board

This Spanish cheese has a high melting point, which allows you to easily substitute it for Pecorino in most recipes without having to change anything.

Just like Pecorino, Manchego is made from sheep milk, giving it a similar flavor. It’s aged between 60 days and 2 years and has a buttery texture. Manchego will work just as well in salads as in a charcuterie board.

4. Piave

A piave cheese wedge

Piave is a cheese made with cow’s milk and is named after a river in Italy. It has the same texture as Pecorino. Just know that the flavors vary slightly. Piave has a slightly sweeter taste than Pecorino. 

Piave can be aged anywhere from 20 days to 18 months. Just like Parmesan, it’s a hard cheese, but its texture is more tender.

5. Grana Padano

Whole and shredded grana padano cheese on a wood cutting board

Grana Padano is made of cow’s milk, and if you can find it, it’s often less expensive than Parmesan cheese. The only reason it doesn’t make it to the budget list is that it isn’t nearly as easy to find.

This has a similar taste profile and texture to Pecorino cheese, although it’s milder and less crumbly. This cheese is also made with rennet, so it isn’t vegetarian-friendly. 

Grana Padano is aged for two years and has a dry, flaky interior.

The Best Dairy-Free Substitutes for Pecorino Cheese

The best vegan substitutes for Pecorino cheese are nutritional yeast, vegan Parmesan, and soy Parmesan. Some make their dairy-free cheese blend by combining nutritional yeast, blanched almond flour, and garlic. For a charcuterie board, you might consider adding extra fruits or veggies.

Cheese is one of the most difficult things to replace for vegans and plant-based eaters alike because of its unique taste and texture. However, many have found success in either buying pre-made vegan cheeses or creating their own cheese. Plant-based eaters might also consider a nutritional yeast and garlic blend or adding more fruits and veggies.

For charcuterie boards, things aren’t as straightforward. Charcuterie boards are all about the meat and cheese, and vegan knocks two of those out as options. However, though rare, you can find vegan places that sell blocks of cheese. Making your vegan hard or soft cheeses is a lengthy process, but it can be done if you’re dedicated.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a miracle food for vegans and plant-based eaters. This yeast is grated up like Parmesan and, when added to foods, adds a robust nutty flavor similar to that of cheese. Not to mention, nutritional yeast has numerous health benefits.

Vegan Parmesan or Soy Parmesan 

Non-dairy eaters can rejoice as more companies put out plant-based and vegan versions of dairy staples. They can still be hard to find, though. If you have a local health food store or a vegan restaurant nearby, you can give a quick call or stop in to see what cheese offerings they have. Even regular grocery stores have begun carrying big-brand vegan cheeses.

Nutritional Yeast + Garlic + Blanched Almond Flour

If nutritional yeast just isn’t doing it for you, you can make your own vegan cheese with the simple ingredients of yeast, garlic, and blanched almond flour. Combine these ingredients, mix them into your choice of plant milk and let them sit. This will give you a creamy “cheese” sauce fit for your pasta dishes.  

Adding More Fruits & Veggies

For your charcuterie board, all of the above options might not pan out. In this case, you’d be better served to add more fruits and veggies than a bowl full of nutritional yeast or shredded vegan cheese. Consider making a veggie dip or adding some seasoning to your raw veggies for the same kick of flavor.

The Best Budget Substitutes for Pecorino Cheese

A calculator next to a cheese wedge

The best budget substitute cheeses for Pecorino cheese are shredded Parmesan cheese, Asiago or Parmesan cheese blocks, or flaked Asiago. Shredded and flaked cheese will do its best in a recipe or dish. Blocks of cheese will do best on charcuterie boards but tend to be more expensive. 

If you find a good deal on a block of Asiago or Parmesan cheese, which are typically less pricey than our non-budget list of similar cheeses, you can easily shred those up to replace Pecorino. However, if your budget is tight, shredded, powdered, and flaked versions will still give the strong taste without the extra cash. 

For charcuterie boards, you’ll want to find a block or replace it with more fruits and veggies. You can’t return shredded, flaked, or powdered cheese to its charcuterie-appropriate form, and you shouldn’t try. However, many supermarkets have a discount bin of blocked cheese ends. This may be a great place to look for your discount charcuterie board accessories. 

Shredded or Powdered Parmesan Cheese

Shredded Parmesan cheese isn’t only one of the least expensive options—it’s also the item many of us already have on hand. Many of us have a packet or two in the condiment drawer from the last time we ordered pizza, or a little container in the fridge of the powdered version. Cooking is all about working with what you’ve got, so if this is all you have, add it to your recipe on a 1:1 ratio. 

This will work best when you want to add a bit of flavor to portions of pasta and other dishes, but it doesn’t work for texture. It’d be better to skip the Pecorino completely or melt it into one big cheese crisp if you need it for a sandwich or burger.

For charcuterie boards, look for another solution (unless you’re amongst friends who don’t mind taking a handful of shredded cheese for their crackers!).

Related Can I Use Grated Parmesan Cheese Instead of Shredded?

Asiago

Asiago cheese has a similar flavor profile to Pecorino. The main difference is the milk they’re made with.

Asiago cheese can work great for shredding and putting into plates of pasta or pizzas, shaving and adding to salads, or slicing and adding to sandwiches. It’s a solid cheese, so it will work great for your charcuterie board.

The downside of Asiago cheese is that you may have difficulty finding a discount cut. However, it’s usually less expensive than the other cheeses on the list (besides Parmesan).

Parmesan

Parmesan cheese will be your best bet for a discount charcuterie board cheese. This cheese is well-loved and easy to find at most grocery stores and even at convenience stores. If you manage to find a good, cheap cut, you can shred it, shave it, slice it, or serve it with crackers. 

Asiago Cheese Flakes

Asiago cheese flakes aren’t the cheapest item on this list, but they’re much cheaper than an Asiago block of cheese. You can typically find a container of Asiago cheese flakes in the regular cheese section of your grocery store and the specialty cheese section.

This one will work for recipes, but be cautious if using it for a charcuterie board. Flaked Asiago has a great texture, so you might get creative and consider pre-melting it or making a sauce.

Flavor and Texture of Pecorino Cheese

Pecorino cheese, often fully termed Pecorino Romano, is a hard savory cheese. This cheese is usually made from sheep’s milk, so the flavor profile is different from that of its goat or cow-milked cousins. Pecorino usually ages anywhere from 5-8 years. It’s described as strong, flavorful, and earthy—likely due to the sheep’s milk.

This cheese, along with a few of its cousins, isn’t technically vegetarian. This might be confusing to distinguish, as one might assume all cheese is “vegetarian,” but none is “vegan.” 

While it’s true no regularly crafted cheese is vegan, Pecorino isn’t technically “meat-free,” either. It contains rennet, which is found in a goat or calf’s stomach. It joins the list of things like gelatin and marshmallow that some don’t realize are a byproduct of animal consumption. 

Whether you’re replacing Pecorino because you’re a vegetarian, you don’t have any on hand, it’s out of your budget, or even because you just don’t like it, there are quite a few options for you to try. However, the best pick will depend on what you need it for. 

On your charcuterie board, Pecorino will play the role of a hard, strong-flavored, savory cheese. It will likely be cut thinly by guests and placed on crackers, paired with savory meats or sweet jams. To replace Pecorino cheese on your charcuterie board, you’ll want something with the same texture and flavor profile. These will be:

  • Parmesan
  • Asiago
  • Piave
  • Grana Padano
  • A vegan-friendly cheese block 

Those replacements will also do well once shredded up or thinly sliced in any other dish that calls for Pecorino cheese.

Final Bite

You can substitute Asiago, Parmesan, or even nutritional yeast for Pecorino cheese. Determine what suits you best by assessing whether you want something budget-friendly, allergen-free, or similar tasting.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss 8 Most Suitable Substitutes for White American Cheese.

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