As you could guess from its name, Romano cheese is an Italian cheese that originates from Rome. It is a hard cheese that is sharp and salty with a quite tangy flavor.
There are a few misconceptions when it comes to this type of cheese. The traditional Romano cheese bears the name “Pecorino Romano Cheese” and it has a special status in the EU, i.e. it has Denominazione di Origine Protetta (“Protected Designation of Origin”, or DOP) status.
The traditional type of Romano cheese, i.e. the true Pecorino Romano cheese, is made only from sheep milk.
On the other hand, most of them in the US are made from cow’s milk. They have a slightly different flavor profile than the traditional one, i.e. they have a slightly less tangy flavor.
Although it is a little less tangy, it is still quite strong and a lot of people do not like that intense flavor, so they are searching for alternatives. If you are one of those people, then you are in the right place.
In this article, you will find 9 great Romano cheese substitutes that will suit your dish quite well, whether it is pizza, pasta dishes, or any other savory dish.
So, take a look.
What Are The Best Romano Cheese Substitutes?
Here is the list of 9 great substitutes for Romano cheese that you must try.
1. Parmesan Cheese
I will start with another Italian cheese that can be a great Romano cheese substitute, known as Parmesan cheese. It has a similar story as Romano cheese since it also originates from Italy and has a DOP status in the European Union. It got its name from the Italian province of Parma.
True Parmesan cheese, known by the name Parmigiano-Reggiano, is only produced in some regions of Italy including Sardinia, Grosseto, and Lazio, and it has to be aged for years. However, just like Romano cheese, it is not regulated here in the US, so it is not necessarily aged that long.
Nonetheless, it has a very similar flavor profile to Romano cheese but is slightly less salty and tangy. There is also a nutty flavor to parmesan cheese.
The texture is also very similar to that of Romano cheese since parmesan is also a hard cheese.
So, if you like the flavor and texture of Romano cheese, but not the intensity, parmesan cheese can be a great alternative.
Parmesan melts well and that is also one of its great advantages when adding it to any type of dish. It is one of the best cheeses with turkey sandwich.
Use a ratio of 1:1 when substituting.
Second on the list is one of my personal favorites, Asiago cheese. That is perhaps the reason why it ranks quite well on the list of best Romano cheese substitutes since it has a slightly different flavor profile and texture.
But for those people who like a slightly sharper and nuttier flavor that is at the same time a little milder, this type of cheese can be a great option.
It is a type of cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk.
Aside from that, this cow’s milk cheese has a very smooth texture. Although it is not a soft cheese, it is a bit softer than Romano cheese. However, if you want it to become a little harder, you can wait for it to age a little bit.
When it ages, it becomes harder, i.e. it takes on a crystallized texture, as well as a sharp and pungent flavor.
Although it can be used in various types of dishes like pizzas, sauces, and stews, I mostly like to enjoy it on its own.
When substituting, you can freely follow the 1:1 ratio.
3. Spanish Manchego
Just like the traditional version of Romano cheese, Spanish Manchego cheese is also made from sheep’s milk. It originates from the La Mancha region of Spain. True Spanish Manchego cheese can be made only from the milk of Manchego sheep.
This type of cheese has DOP status as well and there are a few versions of it that are classified by the aging process. Younger versions are semi-hard cheeses, also known as “semi curado” and they have a grassy and fruity flavor.
However, as it ages, Spanish Manchego cheese becomes flaky and takes on a sharp flavor that is slightly sweet. All in all, Spanish Manchego cheese doesn’t reassemble the taste of Romano cheese since it is less sweet and has a flaky, sharp taste.
But, you can still use it for some savory dishes including pasta, pastries, baked recipes, etc.
Just make sure that you are using the so-called Manchego Viejo, the type that is aged for one year or longer.
If you eventually decide to do that, simply follow the 1:1 ratio and it will be good to go.
Another Italian cheese cousin named after the Piave river is the so-called Piave cheese. Piave cheese is a hard, cooked-curd cheese that is made from cows’ milk. There are some major differences between fresh and aged Piave cheese.
The fresh version is very soft, possesses light color, and has a slightly sweet flavor. However, when it ages, it changes in terms of color and flavor, i.e. it becomes straw-colored and takes on a strong flavor.
It can go well in place of Romano cheese in some sweet dishes like apple pies and baked apples.
However, when you’re substituting, you are free to add a little salt since Piave cheese is less salty than Romano cheese.
When it comes to ratio, you can freely use a 1:1 ratio.
We all love mozzarella. It is a type of cheese that goes well in so many delicious dishes and enriches them wonderfully. It can be a great Romano cheese substitute as well.
This Italian classic is known for its creamy texture and soft shell. It is also quite salty and possesses a slightly tangy flavor that reassembles the flavor profile of Romano cheese quite well.
The only problem is the fact that Mozzarella cheese is not as sharp as Romano cheese, so you will have to adjust its quantity when substituting. Do that according to your preferences.
As I already said, famous Mozzarella cheese can be added to many different types of dishes and when you use it as a Romano cheese substitute, you can freely add it to soups, pasta, pizzas, and other dishes in that line.
6. Cheddar Cheese
And there is the all mighty American known as Cheddar cheese. If you live in the US, you know how many dishes you can use. It is a cheese made from cow’s milk.
People here like it because of its strong flavor. As it ages quite long, Cheddar cheese becomes quite dry and hard. The hard texture makes it a good substitute for Romano cheese.
On the other hand, it’s quite strong flavor is something that differentiates it from Romano cheese since the Romano cheese itself has a quite mild flavor, i.e. definitely a milder flavor than Cheddar cheese.
However, since you can add it to almost any recipe that requires Romano cheese and since you can easily find it in almost any grocery store, Cheddar cheese might be a decent alternative.
I also have to emphasize that cheddar cheese is the best type of cheese for tacos.
7. Grana Padano
Out of all types of cheese, Grana Padano is the most similar to Romano cheese at first sight. The main reasons for these constatations include the facts that both are Italian cheeses and both are hard cheeses with very similar textures and rich flavors that are quite nutty.
It is made from aged cow’s milk and it is also a DOP cheese.
However, there are some slight differences between these two types of cheese. Grana Padano has a less crumbly texture and it is also a bit sweeter than Romano cheese.
So, if you are OK with that, you can freely add Grana Padano to almost any recipe that requires Romano cheese.
When substituting, simply follow the 1:1 ratio and you will achieve a delicious cheesy dish.
Vegan Pecorino Romano Cheese Alternatives
Since there are many people who follow the vegan type of diet, it would be unfair not to mention vegan alternatives. Also, there are people who really like cheese but are lactose intolerant, and since these are dairy-free alternatives, they are also great for those types of people.
1. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is the first vegan-friendly and dairy-free option that comes to my mind. It is the ultimate alternative for so many types of cheese including feta cheese, Cheddar cheese, etc. Romano cheese is not an exception.
Although the texture is nowhere near the texture of Romano cheese or any other type of cheese, nutritional yeast has a very similar flavor profile. It has a cheese and savory flavor, as well as a nutty and umami one that is quite strong, something very similar to Romano cheese.
Aside from that, nutritional yeast is also a very healthy ingredient that many people use for medicinal purposes as well. It is full of essential amino acids, as well as important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Actually, nutritional yeast is considered to be the best natural source of all the B vitamins. Personally, I would suggest you buy the unfortified version because, unlike fortified nutritional yeast, it contains only naturally produced vitamins and minerals.
Nutritional yeast can be used in so many dishes including spreads, dressings, soups, stews, and dips.
Also, it is not a bad idea to combine raw cashews with nutritional yeast to add some extra buttery and nutty flavor to your dish.
2. Tree Nuts, Soy, Or Gluten
I will end this list of Romano cheese substitutes with these vegan-friendly alternatives. Although it sounds a little odd, tree nuts, soy, or gluten can be a great option if you don’t have any Romano cheese or if you are on a vegan diet.
They can simulate the flavor profile of Romano cheese quite well and they are also quite healthy. Tree nuts are full of dietary fiber, plant proteins, antioxidants, and many important vitamins and minerals.
Soy and gluten also have a very rich nutritional profile. However, know that some soy alternatives contain casein. It is a milk protein that is not suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. So, check the label when buying it.
Also, if you are intolerant to gluten, it is not a very good idea to substitute Romano cheese with it.
If you eventually decide to use one of these options in place of Romano cheese, you can freely use a 1:1 ratio.
Can I Use A Mixture Of Romano And Parmesan Cheese?
Yes, you can. Indeed, many people love to make DIY cheese that is a perfect blend made from Parmesan cheese and Romano cheese.
By blending these two, you can get the best of both and use the mixture in many types of dishes, mostly savory dishes.
What Are The Benefits Of Romano Cheese?
Real Romano cheese, also called Pecorino Romano, can be very beneficial for your health. Since it is made from sheep milk, it is rich in so-called conjugated linoleic acid which is good for preventing cancer, diabetes, and inflammation.
This cheese is also rich in calcium which is great for your bones, heart, nerves, and muscles.
What Is The Best Substitute For Romano Cheese?
Parmesan is considered to be the best Romano cheese substitute. Both types of cheeses originate from Italy and both have a sharp and nutty flavor.
Their textures are also quite similar, i.e. they are both hard types of cheeses with a crumbly texture.
The only real difference is the fact that Parmesan cheese is a little less salty and tangy than Romano cheese.
Best Substitutes For Romano Cheese
As you could have seen, there are quite many Romano cheese substitutes that you can use in your cheesy recipe.
From famous Italian cheeses like Parmesan cheese and Mozzarella cheese to some vegan-friendly alternatives like nutritional yeast, tree nuts, soy, and gluten, each and every one of these substitutes can serve quite well if you know what you are looking for.
You just have to read a few important facts about them and I am sure that none of these would disappoint your taste buds.