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Pecorino Cheese Substitute (Top 8 Alternatives)

From Parmesan to Cheddar, there is a Pecorino cheese substitute for you. Discover your options to swap without sacrificing your desired flavor.

Pecorino cheese stands out with its unique taste. But what if you’re craving that distinct flavor and don’t have this cheese? No worries! We’ll explore other options that can satisfy your taste buds.

Crumbled pecorino cheese on top of round serving board.

What Is Pecorino Cheese?

‘Pecorino’ is the Italian word for “sheep.” From this information, you’ll know that Pecorino cheese uses sheep milk.

However, Pecorino does not refer to single cheese. Instead, the term refers to a wide range of varieties in Italy, depending on the origin region.

It includes Pecorino Romano, Pecorino Sardo, Pecorino Toscano, and Pecorino Siciliano. Alt these kinds of cheese have PDO protection.

Pecorino has a soft, pale straw to a dark brown rind. It has a compact, white to pale yellow interior with small, irregular eyes.

These cheeses offer diverse flavors and textures based on aging.

Aged Pecorinos are also called ‘Stagionato’. It boasts a firm, crumbly texture with buttery and nutty notes.

Conversely, younger varieties can be ‘Semi-Stagionato’ or ‘Fresco.’ They have a softer, creamier texture with milder flavors.

Pecorino cheese is a popular ingredient in Italian pasta dishes. Its salty flavor makes it a popular alternative to the pricier Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Best Pecorino Cheese Substitutes

If you’re unable to find Pecorino cheese, these substitutes are the perfect solution. These options offer a diverse range of tastes to elevate your dishes.

1. Parmesan Cheese

Variety of cheese including Parmesan Cheese.

Known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, it is a firm cheese aged for at least two years. As a result, it has a rich, sharp taste and crumbly texture.

Parmesan cheese is a fantastic alternative to Pecorino. They share a similar texture, after all.

However, it uses cow’s milk. Plus, Parmesan offers a saltier and more savory flavor with less acidity. You should not expect the same sharpness from Parmesan as in Pecorino.


Reduce the amount of the other salty ingredients in your recipe when using Parmesan as a pecorino cheese alternative.

2. Asiago Cheese

Packaged slice of Asiago cheese at the grocery store.

Fresh Asiago cheese is another Italian cheese. It has a smooth texture and a gentle creamy taste. With aging, it develops a harder consistency. Its flavor gets sharper and more robust, too.

As it uses unpasteurized cow’s milk, Asiago has a nuttier taste than Pecorino. Even if you use the aged variety, Asiago will still be softer than Pecorino. 

For this reason, it is best to enjoy Asiago cheese on its own or use it as a part of a cheeseboard. There are better alternatives if your recipe calls for grated cheese.


Opt for an aged Asiago for the closest texture match. Its melting properties make it ideal for pasta, pizzas, and sandwiches.

3. Manchego Cheese

Sliced Manchego cheese on top of wooden cutting board.

Manchego, a Spanish cheese, has a tangy flavor similar to Pecorino since it’s also made from sheep’s milk. It hails from the La Mancha region and is a DOP cheese that uses only Manchego sheep’s milk.

Young Manchego cheese is soft with a fruity taste. In contrast, aged ones become flaky with a sharp and slightly sweet flavor.

The biggest difference between these two cheeses is their rind. Pecorino’s rind is edible, while Manchego’s is not.


For the best substitution experience, use Manchego Viejo in a 1:1 ratio. This variety is aged for only at least a year and is your closest option as a Pecorino swap.

4. Piave Cheese

Piave cheese is known to the cheese world as Parmesan’s cousin. It’s an Italian cheese that gets its name from an Italian river.

This DOP cheese undergoes five stages of aging. Younger Piave is white and mildly sweet.

Older varieties turn straw-colored and develop a robust, Parmesan-like flavor.

That said, the aged Piave is a better Pecorino alternative than younger varieties.


You can substitute aged Piave for Pecorino cheese in a 1:1 ratio. Since it is less salty than Pecorino, you may need to compensate by adding more salt to your recipes.

5. Grana Padano Cheese

Cubed Grana Padano cheese on the serving board.

Hailed as “poor man’s cheese,” Grana Padano is an affordable Pecorino alternative. Despite being a DOP cheese, it is available in more parts of Italy, so it has a lower price.

This Italian cheese uses cow’s milk.

Grana Padano has a sweeter flavor and less crumbly texture than Pecorino Romano cheese.

Still, it is a good swap as it adds complexity to dishes without overpowering other flavors.


You can use it as a 1:1 substitute for Pecorino Romano. Add more salt to your recipe, though, as Grana Padano is less salty than Pecorino.

6. Iberico Cheese

Iberico cheese is a Spanish cheese that combines cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s milk. This cheese has no fixed formula; the milk proportions change depending on the season.

Iberico cheese is normally aged for two months to a year. The resulting white cheese is white, with a firm texture with an oily mouthfeel.

This cheese has a nutty and buttery flavor profile. Iberico cheese’s taste and appearance closely resemble Manchego.


Many people use Iberico and Manchego interchangeably in recipes. Manchego is a 1:1 alternative to Pecorino, so the same ratio applies to Iberico.

7. Ossau Iraty Cheese

Like Pecorino cheese, Ossau-Iraty uses sheep’s milk. It has a smooth and creamy texture with a thick rind. This French cheese is aged for about eight months. As a result, it develops an intense aroma and a fruity, nutty taste.

It can be a suitable replacement for Pecorino cheese, offering a rich and complex flavor profile. Although Ossau Iraty Cheese may not taste exactly like Pecorino, it comes close, so it is an excellent alternative.


To save time and effort, order this cheese from online retailers. They are more likely to have it than local groceries and specialty stores.

8. Cheddar

Block of cheddar cheese on top of cutting board.

While Cheddar cheese may not be your best substitute for Pecorino, it can still do the job.

After all, it has a tangy flavor like Pecorino and boasts excellent melting abilities.

Unlike Pecorino, Cheddar does not have specific regional requirements. In fact, it is widely available, making it one of the most popular cheeses globally. That said, it is a quick replacement.

With its smooth texture and firm bite that will remind you of Pecorino, Cheddar is a decent option when you have nothing else.


Opt for aged white Cheddar cheese for the best results. It won’t have the exact flavor of Pecorino, but it makes a good grating and melting cheese.

What Is The Closest Cheese To Pecorino Romano?

Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Parmesan, is the closest cheese to Pecorino Romano. It has a similar texture and flavor; it’s just slightly milder. Like Pecorino Romano, Parmesan is a hard cheese you can grate over pasta and add to sauces.

What Is A Substitute For Pecorino In Cacio E Pepe?

When making Cacio e Pepe, the best Pecorino swap is Parmesan cheese. It has an almost similar salty and nutty flavor that complements the dish well. Parmesan may not precisely replicate the taste of Pecorino. However, its great melting ability enhances the dish’s texture by making it creamy.

Does Pecorino Romano Taste The Same As Parmesan?

Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheese share certain similarities. Still, their flavors are not identical. Pecorino Romano boasts a robust and salty taste with tanginess from sheep’s milk. In contrast, Parmesan has a milder profile with nutty undertones. Their flavor profiles have a slight difference, offering distinct experiences.


There are several substitutes for Pecorino cheese that you can choose from. Despite a saltier flavor, Parmesan can easily replace Pecorino with its comparable texture. Asiago brings a nuttier taste, while Manchego boasts a tangy profile.

Piave, Grana Padano, and Iberico cheeses are also great replacements. In a pinch, even Cheddar may be a decent option. In pasta and sauces, each Pecorino cheese substitute can elevate your recipes.

Crumbled pecorino cheese on top of round serving board.

Pecorino cheese substitute.

Natalia-Flavorful Home
From Parmesan to Cheddar, there is a Pecorino cheese substitute for you. Pecorino cheese stands out with its unique taste. What if you’re craving that distinct flavor and don’t have this cheese? No worries! Pick the option from our list to satisfy your taste buds.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • Parmesan Cheese
  •  Asiago Cheese
  • Manchego Cheese
  • Piave Cheese
  • Grana Padano Cheese
  • Iberico Cheese
  • Ossau Iraty Cheese
  • Cheddar


  • Pick the best substitute from our list for your recipe.
  • Adjust the recipe if needed.
  • Adjust the seasoning if needed.


Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Parmesan, is the closest cheese to Pecorino Romano. It has a similar texture and flavor; it’s just slightly milder.
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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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