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We talked to a cheese specialist on the best possible swaps for Parmesan.

By Sarra Sedghi
February 09, 2021
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When the world went into lockdown last year, the dairy industry got hit hard. Restaurant closures caused a rift in the supply chain, and dairy farmers had to rethink their milk production. After a bit of milk dumping, milk's production costs rose, leading to less milk. The supply chain has more or less evened itself out by now, but last year's lag has a current casualty: aged cheese, specifically Parmesan.

As its name suggests, aged cheese spends some serious time, well, aging before reaching stores or restaurants. Parmesan requires 10 months to age. That decreased milk production from last spring means that for the next six months, Parmesan prices are expected to rise significantly.

Parmesan has so many uses in the kitchen that it wouldn't be an understatement to call it a kitchen staple. So if you don't want to pay big bucks for Parmesan, it may very well be worth branching out to another cheese. I spoke to a cheese specialist about the best substitutes for Parmesan in its many different uses, from pasta garnishes and cheese board mainstays to the delightfully bubbly melted cheese in classic Italian-American fare.

Pecorino

Richard Morillo, American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional and market manager of Dedalus Wine Shop, Market, & Wine Bar in Burlington, Vermont, says a wide array of Pecorinos can make a nice substitute for Parm. Pecorino Romano is likely the first potential substitute to come to mind, and it's sharp, salty, and acidic — so if you like those qualities in your Parm, the Pecorino Romano route is a good one.

Morillo particularly recommends Fiore Sardo, an aged raw sheep's milk cheese from Sardinia. It's lightly smoked but also has the nuttiness and olivey flavor that's found in Parmesan, and it's ideal for snacking or just eating straight. Fiore Sardo would be right at home on your cheese board or grated atop pasta.

Manchego

If you're looking for a more budget-friendly Parm substitute, Morillo suggests an aged Manchego. Aged Manchego is especially nice for cooking with, as it has a more complex flavor. However, that also makes it a great contender for cheese boards. Best of all, Manchego isn't quite as elusive as other specialty cheeses, as you can find it nationally.

Asiago

Asiago cheese, especially aged Asiago, is a great melting cheese and makes a good Parmesan substitute for classic Italian-American dishes. It's got a nice bite and toasty woodsiness, and those flavors get sharper the longer Asiago ages. This cow's milk cheese is widely available and reasonably priced. Morillo is especially fond of Reverie, an Asiago-style cheese produced by Parish Hill Creamery in Vermont.

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This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com