How to Use Parmesan Rinds in Soups, Risottos, and More

Parmesan rinds add big flavor with little effort.

So, you’ve slowly whittled down a block of Parmigiano-Reggiano, showering it over bowls of pasta and salads, and now you’re left with the hard, dry outer rind. Don’t throw away this golden, letter-stamped nugget. Parmesan rinds, an often discarded scrap, are a chefs and savvy home cook’s best friend, lending a savory and nutty depth to broths, beans or soups. (And yes, you should be splurging for real deal Parm, easily identified by the pin-dot “Parmigiano-Reggiano” lettering on the rind.) 

Just like the cheese itself, Parmesan rinds are loaded with rich, umami flavor. Unlocking the goodness trapped in these hard and chewy shells is easier than you think. Plus, it gets you more bang for your buck. Real Parmesan cheese isn’t cheap, and it’s typically sold by the pound. (You’re paying for the rind, too, so don’t waste it!) Here are our tips for making the most of your Parmesan rinds. 

Parmesan Rinds are a Cook’s Secret Ingredient

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling Ali Domrongchai

Are Parmesan rinds edible?

Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, Parmesan rinds are perfectly fine to eat. Unlike many other hard cheeses, Parmesan rinds don’t contain wax or other sealants. They’re formed naturally during the cheesemaking process. In fact, the rind is just dried cheese that slowly hardens on the exterior of the wheel as it ages in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms. To meet the legal requirements set by the Italian government, Parmigiano-Reggiano must mature for at least 12 months. Most blocks that you find in stores in the US have been aged for 24 to 36 months, which gives them that characteristic nutty flavor and crystalline texture. 

How to use Parmesan rinds

This is the easy part. Simply drop a Parmesan rind or two into a pot of simmering soup, Bolognese, tomato sauce, risotto, or beans. You can also make Parmesan broth, a satisfying vegetarian alternative to use in place of chicken or vegetable broth in recipes. You’ll need about one pound of rinds (roughly five or six pieces) to eight cups of water plus aromatics such as onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Once the rind is in the pot, your work is done. The gentle heat will slowly soften the rind, coaxing out all the earthy, salty, nutty, funky and slightly sweet notes we love about the cheese. Let it simmer for at least 30 minutes or up to a few hours. The rind will become malleable in the heat, but won’t completely disintegrate, so be sure to remove it from the pot before serving. For an added bonus, cut the softened cheesy bits into smaller morsels and stir them back into the pot to enjoy as tiny Parmesan rind dumplings. In addition to imparting delicious flavor, the rind will also help to thicken and add body, giving thin and brothy soups a silky consistency. 

How to store Parmesan rinds

You can keep a stash of Parmesan rinds in a ziplock bag in your freezer for up to 1 year. The rinds can be used straight from the freezer, no need to thaw before dropping in a pot of simmering soup or tomato sauce. 

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles