All hell breaks loose when I run out of Romano.
Okay, that may have been a lie.
But I put that shit on everything.
I mean it.
No matter what comes out of my pots, pans, and oven, you can pretty much guarantee that it’ll get a healthy dusting of “fairy dust,” as we like to call it.
But all good things must come to an end, as does a jar of Romano cheese.
Lucky for me (and for you, dear reader), I’m a fiend for all different kinds of cheese, so my fridge is always freshly stocked.
I’m not kidding, I could bite it off of the block.
And through my many years of taste testing, trial and error, many many antipasto platters, and a family that thinks I am slightly insane, I have conjured up this list:
The best substitutes for pecorino Romano cheese (no, this list doesn’t include nutritional yeast. Sorry to all of you on a vegan diet).
Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese)
The most obvious answer out of all of these is good ol’ parmesan cheese.
I’d even be willing to bet that you have used pecorino Romano thinking that it was parmesan.
I know I have.
This cheese is similar to pecorino Romano in taste and texture, with a slightly milder flavor profile.
If you’re looking for the classic sharpness of Romano, you won’t find as much of it with parmesan, unless of course you are going with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that’s been aged over 30 months.
And if you’re going with that, you’re either a) in the motherland of Italy itself, or b) have 10s of 1000s of dollars to drop on cheese.
Which, hey, if you do, all of the power to you.
Regardless, this is an excellent substitute for Romano, probably my #1 choice.
This Italian cheese is also a good substitute for pecorino Romano, with a sharp and nutty flavor.
A semi hard cheese with a more mild but similar flavor to Romano, Asiago is made from cow’s milk and is one of my favorite cheeses of all time.
Sweet and nutty with a slight tang, this is actually an optimal option for all of your pastas, sauces, and even pizzas if you’re wanting to try something new.
It offers a creamier texture than pecorino Romano, and is sure to be a standout flavor in your food.
Although, I must say, when combined with a tomato sauce, it’s difficult to tell the difference between this, Parmigiano Reggiano, and pecorino Romano.
This is a Spanish cheese, not an Italian one.
That alone may cause some controversy here.
This is a great option for pecorino Romano replacement, with this cheese boasting a very similar nutty and tangy flavor.
Why is that?
Because this is also made with sheep milk.
Yep, it’s similar in composition, which is a huge plus in my opinion.
This semi hard cheese is aged anywhere up to two years, and is most commonly a garnishing cheese or table cheese, served on charcuterie boards, with fruits and veggies, and as a garnish for dishes like pasta.
Grana Padano Cheese
A Northern Italian cheese, this is very similar to Reggiano, with way less regulations on the production of this Italian favorite.
This delicious cheese is a bit sweeter and lighter on the salt, making it a great pecorino Romano substitute.
When comparing it to parmesan, the main difference to be noted is that this cheese isn’t as “crumbly” as the former.
Meaning, it might not emulsify into your dish as well.
But that’s okay, because it’s still just as yummy when freshly grated over your pasta, and you may find that you like this one even more.
I highly recommend giving it a shot.
I debated on including this one, I’m going to be honest.
The only reason I am is because of the saltiness of the cheese.
While not as sharp as pecorino Romano, feta cheese has a similar crumbly texture and umami flavor.
Your key here is to use less of it, and to only use tiny feta crumbles that will blend in with your sauce.
If you don’t think that this would be good, think again:
We make our buffalo chicken pizza with feta cheese, and use a red sauce with that as well.
And it still tastes delicious.
Let me know if you try this one!
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
This cheese can be used as a substitute, but it will have a milder flavor and be less salty than pecorino Romano.
I’m not going to sit here and describe this cheese, as it’s highly likely you all know it well.
But if you’re using cheddar as a substitute, here are some things to consider:
- Use the sharpest cheddar you can find
- Use white cheddar! It’s less processed than orange cheddar, and will go better with your pasta dishes.
Pecorino Sardo Cheese
If you’re a fan of Romano, you’ll be a fan of Sardo.
A well-known Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk, Pecorino Sardo is a great substitute for Pecorino Romano, as it is almost like its fraternal twin.
This type of cheese has a similar texture and a tangy, salty flavor, to a classic Romano cheese.
It pairs well with pasta dishes and can be grated just like Pecorino Romano.
You should definitely consider giving this one a shot!
The second cheese on this list that’s from Spain, Iberico cheese is made from a combination of cow, sheep, and goat milk.
This cheese has a nutty and slightly tart/tangy flavor that is similar to Pecorino Romano.
It boasts a smooth and creamy texture, making it a great addition to salads and cheese plates.
Though it might not be as crumbly as standard Romano or even Reggiano, when used to top off your pasta dishes, it’ll still taste amazing.
Ossau Iraty Cheese
This one is actually a French cheese.
Made from sheep’s milk, this classic favorite has a nutty and buttery flavor that is not too tangy, and therefore much milder than Romano.
Its texture is semi-hard—great for a cheese board.
It can be grated over pasta or added to omelets and quiches; you name it, it’ll work.
This cheese may not be as well known as the first few options, but believe me, it’s just as good.
Another Italian cheese, Piave, is made from cow’s milk and has a strikingly similar taste to Parmigiano Reggiano.
Its texture is hard and crumbly, with a nutty and slightly sweet flavor.
It’s hard and crumbly texture makes it a wonderful option for freshly grating, making it wonderful to add over pastas or soups.
It is a good substitute for Pecorino Romano because of its salty taste—one may even consider the two to be siblings.
To quote our very own Sebastian Fricia:
“It smells like your feet.”
We actually choose to top a lot of our dishes with sharp provolone instead of Romano, and here’s why:
It melts into our dishes better than Romano ever could.
Especially for our sandwiches, this has just as much of a tangy and pungent flavor, and emulsifies perfectly into the classic Italian flavors that we serve.
I recommend giving this one a shot!
Last but not least is ricotta salata, ricotta cheese that’s been aged 90 days.
It’s slightly saltier than regular ricotta, and has been pressed and aged, giving it a more unique flavor than the one you may know.
This is a very mild Romano substitute, but one that many people prefer.
If you’re a fan of less tangy and more mellow cheeses, this one may be your favorite.
Give it a shot!