Vegan Parmesan Cheese with an authentic taste and texture! Five minutes and 5 ingredients is all you need — and no yeast flakes! Traditional Parmigiano Reggiano is regarded as having a hard, gritty texture and a fruity, nutty taste by most cheese connoisseurs. My Vegan Parmesan is exactly that!
Parmesan Cheese was never on my short list of recipes for a plant-based re-creation. Not that I don’t love it and miss it dearly, but all of the vegan versions I have tried so far have fallen so short of tasting like the real thing that I was not encouraged.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese without Yeast Flakes!
Most of these recipes include nutritional yeast flakes — not that there’s anything wrong with them! Yeast flakes get high marks on the nutrition scale and add a great dimension when added to certain recipes. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t like tasting nutritional yeast in vegan cheese. I knew that re-creating this cheese to be a delicious vegan version of the traditional one would not be easy.
But it had to be done! Far too many times I have found myself longing to sprinkle some of that cheesy goodness on a warm dish of pasta and marinara, a slice of pizza, or Caesar salad. The members of my household that still eat traditional parmesan were amazed with my Vegan Parmesan Cheese. I had to do a little coaxing to get them to try it, but once they did they became true believers! Life is now just a little more complete!
Grating Cheese: If you prefer uniform shreds, it will compress nicely into a hand-held crank cheese grater and grate just like its non-plant-based counterpart.
Substitution: I recommend using the 1 teaspoon of hemp seed as it brings a balance to the flavor, though it could probably be substituted with 1 teaspoon of olive oil if desired. (Disclosure: I have not tried this substitution.)
Rice Flour: If you prefer a drier, more granulated parmesan cheese, I recommend adding in rice flour 1/4 teaspoon at a time until desired texture is achieved.
In the image below, my Vegan Parmesan Cheese is on the left and traditional Parmesan Cheese (courtesy of the members of my household that do not adhere to a strictly plant-based diet) is on the right.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Try it on my Baked Vegan Eggplant Arrabiata, Homestyle Marinara, or Vegan Italian “Meatballs”! Mangia!
More Plant-based Cheese
Check out my other plant-based cheese recipes here!
My cookbook is now available for pre-order on Amazon: Eat Well, Be Well: 100+ Plant-Based, Gluten-Free & Refined-Sugar-Free Recipes. Check it out!
Vegan Parmesan Cheese with an authentic taste and texture! Five minutes and 5 ingredients is all you need--and no yeast flakes!
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 teaspoon hemp seeds (raw and shelled)
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt (Finely ground. More may be used if you prefer a saltier cheese.)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- **1 teaspoon rice flour** (only used when a drier cheese is desired)
- 1) Place raw cashews and raw shelled hemp seeds in a food processor and grind into very small pieces (see picture in post). It is important not to over grind or you will end up with butter.
- 2) Add salt and garlic powder, sprinkling evenly over cashew mixture. Pulse a few times to mix together. Sprinkle in lemon juice and blend for only a few seconds, just until mixed well. (see picture in post) Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- For a drier texture-
- Add rice flour 1/4 teaspoon at a time until desired texture is achieved.
If you prefer uniform shreds of Vegan Parmesan, it will compress nicely into a hand-held crank cheese grater and grate just like its non-plant-based counterpart.
I recommend using the 1 teaspoon of hemp seed as it brings a balance to the flavor, but it could probably be substituted with 1 teaspoon of olive oil if desired. (I have not tried this substitution.)
If you prefer a drier, more granulated parmesan cheese, I recommend adding in rice flour 1/4 teaspoon at a time until desired texture is achieved.
Do you think this recipe could do just as well using macadamia nuts and maybe millet/superfine sorghum flour for dryness? (I have mild sensitivities to cashews and rice)
Hi Leslie! Yes, I do think you could make those substitutions. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Really delicious! I usually make mine with nutrition yeast but this one is really great too! Thank you!
Thanks so much! 🙂
Hi Jana, I am supposed to be dairy free but the occasional parmesan is a real temptation in order not to feel I’m missing out. I cannot handle nutritional yeast so thank you so much for this recipe. However before I try it can you clarify for me if shelled hemp seeds/hemp hearts are the bit that’s left over once the nutritional hemp oil has been removed? Though it is nutritious, I cannot tolerate hemp seed oil therefore wondering how I’d go with this ingredient. Alternatively you have suggested some olive oil instead, but have you or anyone else reading this tried it yet to know how well it works? Or do you have any other suggestions for an earthy seed flavour? Thanks (:
Hi Susie! Thanks for the question! I believe the hemp hearts do still contain the oil as they still have fat. So, you inspired me to just go ahead and make a batch of my Vegan Parmesan with my olive oil substitution. The result was a small change in the flavor. Similar to the variety of notes in various dairy based parmesan cheese we also see that in my Vegan Parmesan Cheese. The version with hemp hearts has the earthy/grassy notes while the version with olive oil enhances the tangy buttery notes also common in some dairy based parm. Using one teaspoon of olive oil does add a bit more moisture so I ended up using about two and a half teaspoons of white rice flour to help it granulate a bit. If you find you don’t care for the added tang you could reduce the lemon juice fr0m two and a half teaspoons to two teaspoons. I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes. 🙂
Can you substitute macadamia nuts instead of cashews please? I am intolerant to cashews
Yesss!!! I love substituting macadamias in this recipe. They will definitely work! I hope this helps. 🙂
Hi I was just wondering if you could pack it into a ball without the added rice flour? My sister and brother-in-law are vegan so I can’t wait to try this recipe!
I think you could probably pack it if you don’t remove the excess moisture with the rice flour. But, I have not tried it myself so I am not sure if it would stay packed if you tried to cut it. It may break into smaller chunks. Let me know how it goes!! 🙂
What if you don’t have hemp. Will sesame seeds or something else work?
The hemp brings a splash of earthy flavor to the mix, so any substitutes would need to do the same if you want it to have a similar flavor profile. Sprouted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) would probably be similar. You can try sesame seeds as well. I have not tried any substitutes for the hemp yet so please let me know how it goes if you decide to try it! I hope this helps 🙂
Hi Jana – how long can the cheese be kept in the fridge after prepared as above?
Hi Mary! The parmesan cheese will keep for quite some time in the refrigerator. Refrigerating nuts increases their storage longevity and of course, the fresher the cashews the longer it keeps. I have used mine up to two weeks after preparing it. It would probably go longer but I always eat it up before then 🙂 A good rule of thumb if you are unsure is to smell it and look for any evidence of mold. If it smells ok and looks ok then it’s probably good to go 🙂 I hope this helps!
Thank God! Finally, I’ve found a good Parmesan like recipe without nutritional yeast. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Thanks, Regina! I’m so glad you like it. Although nutritional yeast is packed with nutrients I’m not a huge fan of tasting it in recipes. I try to reserve using it when it adds to the texture of a dish but the flavor doesn’t come through. 🙂
Will hemp hearts suffice, as opposed to hemp seeds?
Hi Carrie, Absolutely!! Shelled hemp seeds and hemp hearts are actually the same thing. It’s the part that is left after the hard outer shell of the seed has been removed. Enjoy! 🙂
Thanks so much for this recipe! My husband is gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free, and has been craving cheese. I used pumpkin seeds in place of the cashews, and it was delicious! Next time I will try sunflower seeds so perhaps the color will be lighter – our cheese was green. But the taste … yum. I could eat the entire container right now.
Hi Elise! That is such great news! Thanks so much for sharing that. I know what it’s like to be on a restricted diet and crave something. Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my recipes have some how been able to satisfy a culinary desire for someone while not inflicting the discomforts and adverse health effects of their traditional counterparts! 🙂 Great idea with subbing the pumpkin seeds — I’ll definitely be trying that!
Excellent! thanks a lot! Can I freeze it?
Hi Carina, You’re welcome!! We always eat it so fast I’ve never frozen it. 🙂 I do not see any reason why it shouldn’t freeze well — that’s a great idea for making larger batches. I may have to try it! Please let me know how it goes if you try it. I will report back if I try it too. 🙂