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6 Easy (And Vegan) Parmesan Substitutes

Parmesan substitute
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Engin_Akyurt

Parmesan substitutes are a tasty alternative to parmesan cheese. Surprisingly to some, parmesan isn’t even vegetarian – learn why, and try these delicious replacements.

When it comes to cheeses, not all are vegetarian-friendly. Parmesan, along with a number of other cheeses, including Grana Padano and gorgonzola, contains rennet — an enzyme harvested from a calf or goat’s stomach, meaning that animal slaughter is involved in cheese-making. This, of course, means that such cheeses are not vegetarian, nor cruelty-free. Due to this, many vegetarians and vegans look for alternate ingredients for their recipes.

Parmesan substitutes can be found in stores, but it’s super easy and tasty to make your own replacement topping — especially as parmesan itself has a nutty, tangy taste. Try one of our five plant-based suggestions sprinkled over pasta dishes, garlic mushrooms, or any other recipe you choose to garnish. Keep scrolling for a delicious vegan parmesan recipe.

5 Parmesan Substitutes

Powdered hemp seeds make an ideal parmesan substitute.
Powdered hemp seeds make an ideal parmesan substitute.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / sweetlouise)

You don’t have to look far for some quick and easy parmesan replacements. Here are five easy-to-use ideas, and if you want to get creative, keep reading for how to mix certain of the below, with other ingredients, for the perfect texture and tang.

  1. Nutritional yeast: This tasty ingredient may be a staple in many a vegetarian or vegan pantry. It comes in flakes or as a powder and has a long shelf-life. This savory delight tastes wonderful on pasta, chili, or added to soups. Its nutty and intricate flavor makes it an ideal parmesan substitute. Nutritional yeast is full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins, and has a beautiful yellow color which adds to its wow factor.
  2. Cashews: Also packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats, cashew nuts are a perfect parmesan substitute and add a little crunch to your meal. Blend them finely in a food processor.
  3. Breadcrumbs: Sometimes parmesan is used to thicken sauces. Breadcrumbs will do this job for you, and add an extra savory, salty flavor. You can also blend them finely for toppings.
  4. Hemp seeds: Another rich and nutritious alternative — hemp seeds contain healthy fats, protein, and various minerals. Blend until powdery for the best results.
  5. Combination recipe: You can make your own substitute parmesan recipe quickly, all you need are four ingredients and a blender. Read on for the recipe.

Make Your Own Vegan Parmesan

A combination recipe for vegan parmesan.
A combination recipe for vegan parmesan.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / ReadyElements)

Making your own vegan parmesan substitute is simple. Make sure to source organic and fairtrade cashews, or from a company that explicitly states that the workers are protected. Although water intensive, locally grown, organic almonds would also be delicious. If you have a nut allergy or are avoiding nuts for any reason, you can replace the cashews with hemp seeds, which also have a distinctive flavor, and will work well in this recipe.


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 4 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. onion powder


  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and quickly blend. You want to mix until you get a fine texture, but don’t over-mix, or you will end up with more of cashew cream.
  2. Store what you don’t use in an airtight container, where it should last for several weeks.You can also freeze the mixture for up to 3 months.

Vegan Parmesan Recipe Ideas

Try one of our delicious recipes.
Try one of our delicious recipes.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pexels)

Now you have your parmesan substitute, what about using it? How about as a topping on pasta or risotto? You could also garnish your scrambled tofu, or sprinkle over roasted vegetables or salad. Here are some mouth-watering ideas to get you started:

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