Pecorino is a name in Italian that represents all Italian cheeses made using sheep milk. It covers a big range of cheeses produced around Italy. However, only six of them enjoy the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) which is enacted by the European Union Law. Among the six types, Pecorino Romano is the most popular outside of Italy to countries like the United States. Besides, it has been the best export market for this product since the 19th century.
Pecorino is mostly on the island of Sardinia, but it is also produced in Tuscan provinces, Siena and Lazio. Other pecorinos include Toscano from Tuscany, Siliciano from Sicily, and Sardo from Sardinia. All are PDO licensed. Typically these cheeses appear like a drum shape, contain brownish color rind and are always hard.
They are mostly produced between November and June. Most people like Pecorino Romany because it has a nice salty and tangy flavor. You can use the cheese on salads such as the Arugula, on pasta or even use it on your cheeseboard. The best substitute for a pecorino cheese is another Pecorino type. However, if you cannot lay your hands on them, try the following substitutes for pecorino.
Best Substitutes for Pecorino Cheese
You can also call it by its original name Parmigiano Reggiano. Although it is produced from cow’s milk, Parmesan makes a great substitute for pecorino cheese. Especially when it comes to hardness. So if you like the pecorino cheese because it’s hard the parmesan will be a great second choice for you. However, you should note that it has a less sharp flavor compared to other Pecorino cheeses.
The name Parmigiano Reggiano comes from the provinces where it is made. These provinces include parma, Bologna, Reggio, Mantua, Emilia, and Modena. Besides, the cheese contains a gritty texture, a nutty and fruity taste. You can grate it over pasta, risottos or even soup. Besides, you can also it as a snack on its own.
The cheese is available in many outlets but you have to take note of the fake ones. They mostly have a bitter taste hence they might tamper with your flavor. It is prepared from unpasteurized dairy milk and the preparation process takes approximately 12 months. It is put in a brine for 20-25 days to absorb salt and up to 12 months in the aging rooms.
Parmesan makes a good substitute for pecorino cheese because of its hardness. However, it has a less sharp flavour compared to the Pecorinos. Always buy parmesan from a trusted vendor otherwise you will end up getting fake cheese.
Asiago is also an Italian Cheese with a mild flavor and a smooth texture. It is a great alternative because it forms a hard texture and a sharp pungent flavor as it ages. The only difference between Asiago and Pecorino is the type of milk used. Asiago is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk while pecorino is made from a sheep’s milk.
Asiago has a more pungent and nuttier flavor compared to Romano or Parmesan. You can grate it over your favorite dishes. Furthermore, you can eat it as part of a cheeseboard or by itself.
Use a 1:1 ratio while substituting pecorino cheese. There about 3 types of Asiago Cheese Mezzano, Vecchio and stravecchio. Mezzano takes the least time to age 3 to 8 months. While Vecchio takes 9 to 18 months and lastly stravecchio takes more than 18 months.
Another cheese made from cows milk but it shares flavours similar to pecorino. Just like many alternatives, Asiago hails from Italy as well. There are three types of Asiago to choose from depending on your ageing preference.
3. Grana Padano
Grana Padano is an Italian cheese just like the Pecorino. It is hard with a rich flavor and a crystalline texture. Unlike other DOP cheeses, Grana Padano is produced in a much larger area making it a less expensive option. Besides that this cheese is made from an aged cow’s milk. It tastes sweet with a more subtle flavor and a less crumbly texture. Because it is a flavourful substitute use 1:1 ratio for Romano cheese. But, you can add more salt depending on your recipe.
If you are looking for a less expensive option to replace Pecorino cheese then Grana Padano is the best choice. It is DOP licensed but produced in a large area hence reducing the costs. Substitute it in a 1:1 ratio and also add salt when necessary.
4. Spanish Manchego
Despite not being Italian the Spanish Manchego makes a good substitute for pecorino cheese. It is semi-hard and it has a tangy flavor too just like the Romano. Besides that Spanish Manchego is produced from sheep’s milk. It is produced in a Spain region known as La Mancha. Furthermore, it is D.O.P licensed. Although it can be prepared using other types of milk true la Mancha can be made from Manchego sheep’s milk. Just like other cheeses, Spanish Manchego consists of several types classified according to their aging time. Semi Curado is the youngest of them all and it contains a soft grassy, fruity flavor. It becomes flaky as it ages. Furthermore, you can feel the slightly sharp and sweet flavor.
While looking for an alternative for Romano you can choose Manchego Viejo. Choose one that has aged for at least 12 months. Although it is sweeter than the Romano cheese, Spanish Manchego tastes good when baked into a pastry or grated over pasta.
Spanish Manchego is not Italian but it makes a good substitute for pecorino cheese. Furthermore, it is made from the Manchego sheep’s milk increasing similarities to the Romano cheese. Manchego Viejo that has aged for at least 12 months makes the best option.
Piave is referred to as a parmesan cousin sometimes. Furthermore, it is produced in a region known as Belluno Italy. The word Piave comes from the Piave River. The interesting bit about this cheese is that it can be sold at about 5 points during the aging process. Another similarity to the pecorino cheese is that Piave is DOP licensed and it’s a hard-cooked curd. It is sweet and white when young but gets straw color as it ages. Besides that, it tastes sweet when young but obtains a full-bodied flavor as it ages.
You can substitute at a 1:1 ratio for pecorino cheese while less salty. But, you may be required to adjust the amount of salt depending on your recipe.
It has many traits that compare it to parmesan cheese. Besides, it is POD licensed and can be sold at 5 different stages of its ageing process. It makes a good substitute for Pecorino Romano cheese and can be substituted at a ratio of 1:1.
Facts Summary Table
|Item||Calories (per 100g)||Total Fats (g)||Carbohydrates (g)||Proteins (g)||Source||Works Best In|
|Parmesan||431||29.4||3.4||38.4||Hard cow’s milk||Grating, sauces, risottos|
|Asiago||353||27.4||2.2||22.1||Hard cow’s milk||Grating, snacking, salads|
|Grana Padano||387||29||3.7||25.4||Hard cow’s milk||Grating, cooking, snacking|
|Spanish Manchego||376||30||1.6||23.2||Sheep’s milk||Snacking, tapas, cheeseboards|
|Piave||386||29.6||2.3||28.5||Hard cow’s milk||Grating, cooking, cheese platters|
Can I use mozzarella instead of pecorino?
While you can use mozzarella as a substitute for pecorino in some dishes, it’s important to note that they have different flavors, textures, and melting properties. Pecorino is a hard, salty cheese with a distinct tangy flavor, whereas mozzarella is a mild, semi-soft cheese that melts well. If you’re using mozzarella instead of pecorino, the dish’s overall taste and texture might be altered.
Can I use Romano instead of Pecorino Romano?
Yes, you can often use Romano cheese as a substitute for Pecorino Romano in recipes. Both cheeses are hard and salty, with similar flavor profiles. However, keep in mind that Pecorino Romano is made from sheep’s milk, while Romano is typically made from cow’s milk. This might result in a slightly different flavor.
What is a substitute for pecorino in cacio e pepe?
If you’re looking for a substitute for pecorino in cacio e pepe, you can use Parmesan cheese, which is also a hard cheese with a savory flavor. The taste will be different, but Parmesan can still provide a nice texture and flavor to the dish.