Pecorino cheese or Pecorino Romano is a hard cheese that has its roots in Italy and is made from sheep milk.
When translated into English, the name actually means “sheep cheese from Rome” because it was a staple in the diet of the legionaries of ancient Rome.
Nowadays, it is mostly produced on the islands of Sardinia by its original recipe.
There are also some less-known types of Pecorino cheese and those include Pecorino Sardo, Pecorino Toscano, and one from Sicily known as “Pecorino Sicilian”.
However, Pecorino Romano is consumed in the US, mostly as a cooking ingredient in pasta dishes, soups, etc. But what if you don’t have any?
You shouldn’t worry at all because there are many Pecorino cheese substitutes that you can choose from.
Below, the best alternatives are listed.
Choose Your Ideal Pecorino Cheese Substitute
So, if you can not find Pecorino Romano cheese at your local grocery store or if you just want to make a change in your delicious cheesy dish, here is the list of 10 best Pecorino cheese substitutes.
1. Parmesan Cheese
I will start with the most suitable substitute for Pecorino cheese. It is a well-known Italian cheese that bears the name “Parmesan cheese”.
The true Parmesan cheese, which is produced only in some cities in Italy, is known by the name Parmigiano-Reggiano and it has a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) in Italy.
It means that it has to be aged for at least two years and only in certain cities in order to meet requirements.
However, Parmesan cheese is not regulated in the US, so you won’t be able to find the real thing because it is not aged that long. Despite the shorter aging process, Parmesan cheese made in the US is still hard and flavorful enough to substitute Pecorino cheese properly.
It also has that specific tangy flavor and a nutty flavor that is quite similar to Pecorino cheese.
But, when you decide to incorporate it into your dish instead of Pecorino cheese, be extra careful with the quantity because Parmesan cheese is much saltier than Pecorino itself.
2. Grana Padano
If you want to find a great substitute for Pecorino cheese and, at the same time, want to limit your calorie intake, you don’t need to look any further than Grana Padano cheese. It has a quite similar texture to Pecorino cheese and the flavor is quite the same.
However, you should know that there are different types of Grana Padano.
One type has a sweet flavor while the other one has a more salty flavor. Since Pecorino is known for its saltiness, it is logical that you will choose the salty version of Grana Padano to incorporate into your dish instead of Pecorino cheese.
Aside from that, Grana Padano is less expensive than Pecorino cheese and Parmesan cheese, so it is more affordable these days, which is a great thing.
So, if you eventually decide to use this as a substitute for Pecorino cheese in your dish, you can freely use a 1:1 ratio.
3. Asiago Cheese
If you want cheese that melts well and that is somewhat more creamy, Asiago cheese can be a great solution. It has a similar flavor to Pecorino cheese which is a little milder. I also have to emphasize that it has a bit of that sweet taste, but not to a high extent.
When it comes to texture, this cheese has a softer and creamier texture and it melts better than Pecorino cheese and previously mentioned ones. Some more aged versions are a bit harder, but they are still not harder than Pecorino cheese.
All in all, Asiago cheese can be a decent Pecorino cheese substitute, especially if you like a mild flavor and a cheese that melts well in some hot dishes.
The only real problem is the fact that Asiago cheese is hard to find and, even when you find it, it is still quite expensive.
4. Spanish Manchego
Finally, there is one cheese that doesn’t bear its roots in Italy. It is the Spanish Manchego cheese and it is quite obvious that it comes from Spain. Although they do not come from the same country, both types of cheese are made from sheep milk.
That makes them quite similar in terms of the flavor profile. Just like Pecorino cheese, Spanish Manchego can provide your dish with that specific nutty flavor that you are looking for.
The only difference is that Spanish Manchego is a bit sweeter than Pecorino cheese, so you should add a little more salt when using it in your dishes.
When it comes to texture, it depends on the aging process. So, when you are substituting this Spanish cheese for Pecorino, I would suggest you use the one that has aged more than 1 year because it has a harder texture that is more similar to Pecorino cheese.
5. Iberico Cheese
And here is another cheese that comes from Spain and its name is Iberico. It is quite popular in its homeland and, because of that, it is regulated by law. This means that all cheeses that bear the name “Iberico” must contain fresh milk in certain proportions.
I won’t go deep into that, but I will just say that every Iberico cheese must be made from three types of milk: 50% of cow’s milk, 15% of sheep’s milk, and 15% of goat’s milk.
The level of hardness of this cheese depends on its aging process, but all types are hard enough to replace Pecorino cheese.
Aside from that, Iberico cheese has a similar nutty, buttery flavor with a slight acidity, as well as a sharp flavor from the goat’s milk. So, it can be a decent Pecorino cheese substitute.
Besides that, I also have to emphasize that Iberico is quite similar to Manchego and that makes it a great Manchego alternative in case you find yourself in that situation.
6. Piave Cheese
It is another Italian cheese and its name is Piave. This cheese is also known as “Parmesan brother” because it really looks like Parmesan cheese and it is quite similar to it in terms of flavor and texture.
However, the exact flavor profile and texture depend on the aging process. There are 5 aging stages of Piave cheese. A young Piave is quite soft and creamy and it is not an ideal option to choose when substituting for Pecorino cheese.
On the other hand, a well-aged cheese is a lot harder and it can be used as a great alternative for Pecorino. However, as it ages, Asiago also becomes sweeter, so you should take that into consideration as well.
I would recommend you choose the one that is in the third stage of aging because it is still hard enough and not too sweet.
And, finally, I must emphasize that it is not good to use Piave cheese in hot food or cooked dishes because it becomes hard pretty quickly.
7. Cheddar Cheese
I am sure that you all know about this one. Cheddar cheese is a cow’s milk cheese that originated in England. It is a type of cheese that doesn’t have regional designation requirements, so it is widely produced and consumed all around the globe.
Cheddar can be used in various different recipes that require Pecorino cheese and that makes it a good alternative to Pecorino itself. Just like Pecorino cheese, cheddar cheese belongs to the group of hard cheeses, so it is not very suitable for hot dishes.
However, this cheese is a hard type of cheese just like Pecorino and it also has that specific tangy flavor. So, there are a lot of reasons to use it instead of Pecorino cheese.
If you eventually decide to do that, use 1/3 cup of cheddar to replace 1 cup of Pecorino.
8. Ossau Iraty
Ossau Iraty is believed to be one of the first cheeses in history. This fact alone makes it very unique. Aside from that, it originates in France and it is regulated by law there.
This means that Ossau Iraty cheese can be only made from three unique sheep breeds and that makes it quite hard to find and not very affordable.
But, if you happen to have it on hand, it might be a good option instead of Pecorino cheese, primarily because of the similar flavor profile. It has a fruity, nutty flavor that is quite intense, as well as an earthy aroma.
A little problem is in the texture. This cheese has a thick rind and its texture is smooth and creamy, which is not at all like the texture of Pecorino cheese.
So, it is up to you to decide in the end.
9. Monterey Jack Cheese
I am sure that you all know about the true “American” cheese called “Monterey Jack” or “Jack Monterey”. It originated in the Mexican Franciscan friars of Monterey, California, so it is no surprise that many people call it that.
It is a semi-firm, creamy cheese that is mostly used in Mexican and Spanish cuisine because it melts really well.
But, what is a semi-hard, smooth cheese doing on the list of Pecorino cheese substitutes because we are not talking about feta cheese or some other type of soft cheese? Well, it may be true that their textures aren’t quite similar, but it is a different story with their flavor profiles.
Monterey Jack cheese has a buttery flavor just like Pecorino cheese. The only difference is that Monterey Jack has a somewhat milder flavor.
This cheese is also highly available in many grocery stores and supermarkets, so you can easily find it when you decide to substitute it for Pecorino cheese.
This cheese goes well in most Mexican dishes like quesadillas, burgers, burritos, or chimichangas.
10. Nutritional Yeast
And, finally, there is one dairy-free Pecorino cheese substitute that’s not even the cheese. It is a type of yeast grown especially to be a food product and it is known as nutritional yeast.
It is quite obvious that it won’t reassemble the texture of Pecorino cheese when using nutritional yeast instead. However, this specific type of yeast has a quite similar taste to that of Pecorino.
It has that nutty, umami flavor that replicates the taste of Pecorino cheese very well. However, you should be aware of the fact that nutritional yeast has a quite strong flavor, so you should use only half the amount of it as you would Pecorino.
And I must also emphasize that nutritional yeast has one amazing nutritional profile as the name of it suggests anyway. It doesn’t contain that much calcium like most dairy products, but it has all nine essential amino acids and it is full of B vitamins.
Because of that, nutritional yeast is great for your heart health, fatigue, inflammation, as well as physical recovery.
Does Pecorino Taste Like Parmesan?
Pecorino cheese and Parmesan cheese have very similar flavor profiles. Pecorino cheese has a salty and spicy flavor, just like you are eating a bunch of seasonings. The rich earthy, nutty flavors make a perfect contrast to that.
Parmesan, on the other hand, also has a combination of tangy and nutty flavors. However, the real difference is in the fact that Parmesan cheese is much saltier than Pecorino.
Is Pecorino Same As Romano?
There are 6 varieties of Pecorino cheese. The most popular one is Pecorino Romano cheese and it is an Italian cheese that bears the name of Ancient Romans and is made from sheep milk.
Although the name as well as the flavor and texture are similar, it shouldn’t be confused with Romano cheese which is a hard, salty cheese mainly used in Canada and the US because this one can be made from all sorts of milk including cow, sheep, and goat milk.
Is Pecorino Like Monterey Jack?
Pecorino and Monterey Jack cheeses have some similarities and they are even interchangeable in some types of dishes. They have a similar buttery flavor and that connects them.
However, Monterey Jack has a milder flavor and softer texture, so it can not be used as a substitute in all situations like some other types of cheese.
What Is Your Best Pecorino Cheese Substitute?
Finding a good substitute in a dish that requires some specific type of ingredients is always a challenge. However, it is not impossible and you just have to give in some extra effort to get the job done.
Exactly because of that, this article is written. It will help you to find your ideal Pecorino cheese substitute that won’t disappoint your delicious cheesy dish and your demanding palate.
10 brilliant alternatives for Pecorino cheese are here. It is only up to you to choose and I am sure that you won’t go wrong.