Are you looking for suitable ways to substitute for Pecorino cheese? Here, you will find 10 different types of cheese that can be used instead of Pecorino in any dish!
Pecorino is a traditional Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk (pecorino means “little sheep”). There are several varieties of it, made in different regions of the country, including Pecorino Toscano, Pecorino Siciliano, and Pecorino Crotonese, but the most popular and often associated with the name is Pecorino Romano, made in the area around Rome. It’s the one we’ll be talking about in this article.
Pecorino Romano is a hard cheese with a brittle, crumbly texture and a sharp, piquant, salty flavor. Its typically used shredded, either as a topping or in dishes requiring grilling and baking.
But if you need a Pecorino cheese substitute, then what can you actually use?
What to substitute for pecorino cheese
If you have no pecorino cheese, or you can’t find it, you’re probably wondering what you can use in place of this type of cheese. This list below has 10 great pecorino substitutes worth checking out including:
- Romano cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Grana Padano
- Piave Cheese
- Ossau-Iraty Cheese
- Aged Jack Cheese
- Asiago Cheese
- Manchego (Viejo) Cheese
- Gruyere Cheese
- Mimolette Cheese
Each will be discussed in more detail along with substitute ratios.
Best Substitutes for Pecorino Cheese
Contrary to popular belief, Pecorino Romano and Romano aren’t one and the same, though there certainly are similarities. For example, Romano has a similar hard and crumbly texture.
The main difference is that Romano is made from cow’s milk and has a somewhat milder flavor. That said, it’s still quite sharp and salty and holds itself well against other ingredients with robust flavors. You can easily use Romano cheese as a substitute for Pecorino at a 1:1 ratio, but if you want sharper flavor, up the Romano ratio a bit to around 1.2.
Parmesan is the most common substitute for sharply flavored hard cheeses, and for a good reason. It’s readily available, its texture and flavor are versatile and familiar, and it fits almost any dish. The more Parmesan is aged, the saltier it gets, and while most common Parmesan varieties are usually milder than Pecorino Romano, you still want to taste it first before substituting. But generally, sticking to the 1:1 ratio is fine.
Grana Padano Cheese
Another hard Italian cheese, Grana Padano, is also a common alternative. Grana Padano is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a similar hard and crumbly texture and a rich nutty flavor. Pecorino Romano tends to be saltier, so you might want to adjust the amount of salt you add to the dish, but sticking to the 1:1 ratio is fine. If you want to skip extra salt, up the Grana Padano ratio to around 1.2.
Piave is Italian cow’s milk cheese from the Veneto region. The tricky part about substituting Pecorino Romano with Piave is choosing the one that’s been properly aged. Piave Vecchio (aged more than six months) is the best alternative, but you can settle for Piave Mezzano (aged more than two months) if it’s unavailable. Younger Piave has a milder flavor, so you might need to adjust the salt. Otherwise, stick to the 1:1 ratio.
This French cheese, made from sheep’s milk, has a medium-firm texture and a complex flavor with fruity and nutty tones, with a hint of sweetness. While not as savory and salty as Pecorino Romano, the flavor complexities make up for it. Keep to the 1:1 ratio so as not to overwhelm the dish, but give it a taste and add salt if necessary.
Aged Jack Cheese
Aged Jack, a variety of Monterey Jack, has a hard texture similar to Parmesan’s and a rich, nutty flavor with a sharpness to it. As it goes with aged cheeses, the strength of Aged Jack’s flavor depends on how long it’s been aged. Give it a taste before deciding how much to add, but generally, the 1:1 ratio also works in this case.
Asiago cheese has a softer texture and milder, creamier flavor than Pecorino Romano, but it works well enough as a substitute with certain adjustments. Use it at a ratio of 1.2-1.5:1 for Pecorino. Remember that a softer texture means it’ll melt faster, so adjust the cooking temperature.
Manchego (Viejo) Cheese
Manchego is Spanish hard cheese, traditionally made from sheep’s milk. Manchego’s texture and flavor are determined by its aging process. The longer Manchego has been aged, the firmer the texture and sharper the taste. To substitute for Pecorino Romano, you want Manchego Viejo (old Manchego, aged for about a year) that has a crumbly texture and robust, nutty flavor. Use at the ratio of 1:1. Also, feel free to read more on replacements for manchego cheese here.
Gruyere is a hard Swiss cheese made from cow’s milk that can be used as an alternative for Pecorino cheese. As with other Pecorino alternatives, you need to skip the young Gruyere with a creamy texture and mild flavor and go for the mature one, with its smooth but dense texture and a rich, nutty, and salty flavor. Give it a taste before using it. Generally, the 1:1 ratio works fine, but with the less salty variety, you can up it to 1.2.
Mimolette is a French hard cheese made from cow’s milk, easily recognized due to its bright orange color. Mimolette has a texture similar to Parmesan and is often recommended as a substitute for the latter. It has a milder flavor than Pecorino, but sharp and complex enough to make up for it. Therefore, it makes a good Pecorino cheese substitute. Use it similarly to parmesan, or up a ratio to 1.2:1 if you want the dish to be more robustly flavored.
FAQs about Pecorino cheese substitute options
What cheese is similar to Pecorino Romano?
There are quite a few cheeses that are similar to Pecorino Romano in terms of flavor and texture including Romano cheese, Parmesan cheese, Grana Padano, Piave cheese, Ossau-Iraty cheese, aged Jack cheese, Asiago cheese, Manchego (Viejo) cheese, Gruyere cheese and Mimolette cheese.
Is Pecorino Romano cheese the same as Parmesan?
No, Pecorino Romano cheese and Parmesan cheese are not the same. For one Pecorino Romano cheese is made of sheep’s milk while Parmesan is made of cow’s milk. Also, while they can be substituted for each other due to their crumbly, hard texture and complex flavors, they still vary quite a lot.