Are you making a recipe that calls for Romano cheese? Did you only just realize that you’re all out? Or maybe you’re looking for a nondairy option. Whatever it is, you can keep reading to find the best ways to substitute for Romano cheese right here.
Romano cheese is a type of hard, full-bodied Italian-style cheese made from either cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk or mixtures of two or all of the kinds of milk listed here. Romano cheese is known for having a flavor that is sharp, tangy, and salty with a grainy texture.
This type of cheese is popularly used grated or shaved over pasta, salads, vegetables, soups, stews, pizza, lasagnas, eggs, pesto, fish, chicken, and even added to cheeseboards.
Romano cheese will taste different based on where it was produced for various reasons. In the US you can find Romano cheese, labeled simply as ‘Romano Cheese’. This indicates that this cheese is produced from cow’s milk as American cheesemakers lack sheep’s milk on an industrial scale. This type of Romano cheese has a milder flavor and softer texture although it still has a bold flavor.
On the other hand, Pecorino Romano Cheese which is produced in Italy or Sardinia and imported to the US in large quantities is another type of Romano cheese. This one is made from sheep’s milk and has a sharp, salty flavor with an added funky flavor.
Therefore, American-produced Romano cheese should not be mistaken for Pecorino Romano Cheese as they are quite different. And, for this reason, Pecorino Romano cheese will be listed as a substitute for US-produced Romano cheese below.
Best Romano cheese substitute ideas
Pecorino Romano Cheese
If you do not have Romano cheese, consider using pecorino Romano cheese. As explained above, Pecorino Romano cheese is made in Sardinia from sheep’s milk and has a bolder, saltier, tangier flavor when compared to regular Romano cheese from the US.
Pecorino Romano cheese also has a more crystalized texture compared to the softer texture of regular Romano cheese. What’s more, pecorino Romano cheese also has some funkiness which regular Romano cheese lacks.
Nonetheless, Pecorino Romano cheese works well as a replacement for Romano cheese in dishes like pasta, soups, stews, and even pizza at a 1:1 ratio.
Parmesan cheese is another great cheese to use in place of Romano cheese. Parmesan cheese is an Italian cheese made of cow’s milk. Parmesan cheese is hard, and crumbly, and has a complex, rich and nutty flavor.
It works as a substitute for Romano cheese because it can easily be grated or shaved on top of dishes like pizza, risotto, soups, stews, pasta, and more.
A 1:1 substitute is ideal, but also add some extra salt in any dish where Parmesan cheese is used to replace Romano cheese as Parmesan cheese is less salty than Romano cheese. Read more about Parmesan cheese substitutes here.
Gruyere cheese is another type of cheese that can be used as an alternative to Romano cheese. Gruyere cheese is a hard Swiss cheese made of cow’s milk, originally from La Gruyère in southern Switzerland.
This cheese has a rich, creamy, salty, tangy, and nutty flavor with fruity notes which makes it a good cheese to use in place of Romano in certain dishes.
Aged asiago cheese
Aged Asiago cheese is another easy replacement for Romano cheese. Aged Asiago cheese is a hard Italian cheese made of cow’s milk with somewhat of a similar taste to Parmesan.
Fresh Asiago is semi-soft and smooth but takes on a more crumbly texture as it ages. It naturally has a mild, nutty, and, creamy flavor but also develops some sharpness in flavor as it ages and hardens. This makes aged Asiago perfect for grating and shaving over soups, stews, sauces, salads, and pizzas.
Grana padano is another hard Italian cheese made with raw cow’s milk. This cheese has a grainy, crumbly, salty interior texture encased in a thick outer rind. While it is less crumbly than Romano cheese, or even Parmesan cheese, it can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio with Romano cheese.
This cheese has a rich, nutty taste although it is more delicate. It does have less salt than Romano cheese, so you’ll need to add some extra salt if using Grana Padano in place of Romano in a dish that can do with the additional salt.
Like Romano cheese, Grana padano is excellent for shaving and topping salads like Carpaccio or even for grating over pasta. It also works well in cooked dishes as it melts quite well.
Manchego cheese is a semi-hard cheese produced in La Mancha Spain and made using sheep’s milk. Manchego cheese can be easily identified by its unique and inedible outer herringbone rind and its pale yellow interior.
Manchego cheese comes in many different varieties based on the age of the cheese. This includes:
- Fresco – aged for only two weeks
- Semi Curado – aged between three weeks to three months
- Curado – aged between 3-6 months
- Viejo – aged for 1-2 years.
The most likely substitute for Romano cheese among the varieties is Manchego Viejo because it is complex, rich, and buttery with a balance of flavors including fruitiness, nuttiness, sweetness, and tanginess as well hints of a grassy aroma. Manchego Viejo also has a crumbly texture which makes it perfect for grating over pasta and even adding to cheese boards.
Note, this type of cheese has a sweeter flavor than Romano. Read more about Manchego cheese substitutes here.
Cotija cheese is a Mexican cheese produced using cow’s milk that can be used as an ideal alternative to Romano cheese. Cotija cheese is from the Parmesan family and has a strong, milky, and salty flavor.
You can find this type of cheese young and aged. When young, cotija cheese is very similar to feta cheese in appearance in that it is white, salty, soft, and crumbly. As Cojita cheese ages it becomes more like Parmesan cheese in that it gets hard and crumbly and will work well grated over soups, casseroles, salads, stews, pasta, and more.
Piave cheese also makes a good sub for Romano cheese. Paive cheese is an Italian cow’s milk cheese that is somewhat similar to Parmesan cheese. This cheese has a dense smooth texture, that becomes harder as the cheese ages.
This cheese has a full-bodied flavor which is somewhat like Parmesan with a tropical fruity flavor. Regardless of the additional fruity flavor, it is easily used for grating over salads, soups, pasta, and more.
Dry jack cheese
Another cheese that can be used in place of Romano is Dry Jack. Dry Jack also called Dry Monterey Jack is a type of hard cheese produced in the Monterey Region in the United States from cow’s milk. This cheese is hard, with a crumbly, firm, and brittle texture and a mild ad nutty flavor.
Because of its texture and flavor, Dry Jack can easily be grated and used to top tacos, pasta, soups, casseroles, and even salads.
Non-dairy Romano cheese
Vegan Romano-style cheese alternative
Last but not least, you can try out a vegan Romano cheese alternative to replace Romano cheese. You can find this vegan cheese at Fortinos if you’re in Canada. According to people who use it, it tastes quite good and has a nice salty flavor.
Nutritional yeast flakes
Nutritional yeast flakes can also be used as a vegan alternative to Romano cheese. This is so because nutritional yeast flakes have a tangy, creamy, salty, nutty, and cheesy taste that will be great for adding to pasta, salads, casseroles, soups, and more. You can find some nutritional yeast flakes here on Amazon at a reasonable price.