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This recipe for vegan parmesan cheese is my favourite alternative to real Italian parmesan cheese. It's free from dairy, free from saturated fat and with a lot less salt than real parmesan. Its flavour however is full of umami.
You can sprinkle this fake vegan parmesan cheese on top of your favourite pasta, in pasta-bakes, polenta, risotto, and in any other place you would normally add parmesan cheese.
My favourite thing about this recipe for vegan parmesan cheese is that it can be made in batches in advance and then kept in the fridge to use throughout the week. Also, it's made with just 4 ingredients and is ready in 10 minutes. I store it in a real old-style Italian parmesan container so that my family doesn't even realise that is 100% vegan.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Almonds: I recommend using peeled almonds because the end result will look a lot more like real parmesan. Almonds with the skin-on yield a parmesan that is too brown and non-vegans might not like it just because of how it looks. You can replace almonds with cashew nuts, or use half half. If you are allergic to nuts, check out our nut-free parmesan in the variation section below.
- Nutritional yeast: add a couple of tablespoons to give the fake parmesan a mild cheese taste.
- Soy sauce: this ingredient is very important to add umami and saltiness to the dish. You can replace soy sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, however if you do so, you'll need to add a bit more salt.
- Sea salt: optional, however, if you are cooking for non-vegans salt is strongly recommended. Real parmesan is very very salty and adding a pinch of salt to your fake parmesan will make it taste more like the real deal, especially to non-vegans.
You'll need a blender or a food processor to turn the almonds into a parmesan like consistency.
How to make vegan parmesan cheese
Let's start by preheating the oven to 180C / 360F. Roast the almonds in the oven for 8 minutes. Let cool down for 10 minutes.
Add almonds to a food processor and pulse into a coarse almond flour. While blending add nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and sea salt. Keep blending till you reach a consistency that is similar to grated parmesan.
Taste it and adjust for salt. You might add more soy sauce or salt based on your taste. TIP: do NOT over-blend the almonds or else they'll turn into almond butter.
Let dry on a tray for about 30 minutes, then store in a container in the refrigerator and use like if it were regular parmesan.
Mistakes I made
- The almonds: the first time I made this recipe I roasted the almonds for too long. The almonds should only be toasted for 7 minutes and should not get brown.
- The soy sauce: I added the soy sauce while the blender was paused. This creates lumps. It's better to add the soy sauce while the blender is running.
- Get the salt right: real parmesan is a really salty food. So if you are serving this to non-vegans that are used to the taste of real cheese you need to make it quite salty. It needs to pop in your mouth when it's on top of pasta.
- Use peeled almonds: to make this vegan parmesan look more appealing make sure to use peeled almonds so that it turns out almost the same colour as real parmesan. This is especially important if you are serving it to non-vegans.
Frequently asked questions
No. Almonds (and nuts in general) are one of the healthier foods on planet earth. They should be consumed daily to increase longevity and overall health, and this parmesan is a really handy way to increase your consumption of almonds. Learn more here.
No. While almonds contain a good amount of calories there is substantial evidence that consuming nuts actually helps you keep your weight in check. Learn more here.
Yes. You can scale this recipe up or down, but always taste it and adjust for salt based on your personal preference.
This vegan parmesan stores very well and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or more. It is perfect to be prepared in advance, for example on a Sunday, so that you have it ready for the coming week. However, we do not recommend freezing it.
Soy-free vegan parmesan
If you are allergic to soy, or have run out of soy, a great alternative to add umami are sun-dried tomatoes. Sun-dried are packed with flavour and if you blend them together with the nuts you add that umami punch to your fake cheese. Add about 30 grams every 300 grams of almonds.
Ps. your parmesan will have a slightly red colour but thats completely normal.
Nut-free vegan parmesan
If you are allergic to nuts or almonds then we have a great alternative recipe for vegan parmesan cheese. Our nut-free fake parmesan is made with stale bread (or breadcrumbs) instead of almonds. This is a very old Italian recipe used in the past by poorer farmers that did not have access to expensive parmesan cheese. They would just make a mixture of stale breadcrumbs, herbs, and olive oil, and sprinkle it on top of their pasta. Here is our full recipe for it.
Nut-free chili-lemon vegan parmesan
If you want a zestier parmesan flavour, you can make a chilli and lemon parmesan, which works perfectly with tomato pastas.
This vegan fake parmesan cheese is best served on a light tomato sauce or with our favourite 10 minutes veganized apulian pasta recipe. Check it out here, it’s with kale, broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes.
Recipe for Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Food processor
- 300 grams (2.1 cups) almonds peeled
- 4 tbsp soy sauce or 30 g sundried tomatoes
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 to 2 pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 356F. Roast the almonds in the oven for 8 minutes. Let cool down for 10 minutes.
- Add almonds to a food processor and pulse into a coarse almond flour. While blending add nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and sea salt. Keep blending till you reach a consistency that is similar to grated parmesan.
- Taste it and adjust for salt. You might add more soy sauce or salt based on your taste. TIP: do NOT over-blend the almonds or else they'll turn into almond butter.
- Let dry on a tray for about 30 minutes, then store in a container in the refrigerator and use like if it were regular parmesan.
Will you be making this recipe at home? Let us know in the comments below!