Parmesan vs Pecorino

I often get the question, “what is the difference between Parmesan and Pecorino” or “when do I use parmesan vs pecorino. I thought a blog post on this topic would be a great way to share my thoughts on this topic.

As an Italian and a follower of the paleo diet I do indulge in both parmesan and pecorino at times. I love the paleo lifestyle but make certain choices that I feel are good for my family and me. My personal opinion is that I eat paleo because I like the way I look and feel and fortunately I do not have any health issues that I need to worry about. I do think about everything I put into by body! With that being said – here is my description of both cheese and when I decide which one to purchase.

Most of us know that cheese has been around and consumed since ancient times and I read somewhere a long time ago that became popular in the Middle East.

There are different types of cheese from cows, goats, bullaloes, ewes and goats. The process of each cheese creates the flavors and textures. Now have so many types of cheese to chose from but I am going to focus on parmesan and pecorino.

Parmesan is an Italian cheese is from cow’s milk that is fruity and peppery with a hard and grainy texture. You will see on many packages Parmigiano-Reggiano that is more expensive than parmesan cheese. This cheese is only made in Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantova Italy. This cheese is made by combining fresh raw cow’s milk with skim milk of the past evening.

Pecorino is an Italian cheese from sheep’s milk is hard, nutty, buttery and intensely salty. It also has a crumbly texture. There are a few different types of Pecorino cheese. Does not taste as strong as Parmesan.

The most popular and found in many local grocery stores is Pecorino Romano which comes from Sardinia, Lazio and Grosseto. It is typically shaved or grated for a garnish or thinly sliced on a salad or dessert.

You can also find Pecorino Sardo which comes from the Sardinia. Pecorino Toscano which I love to use when I can find it comes from Southern Tuscany and Pecorino Siciliano comes from Sicily.

When cooking and you are not sure if you should use Parmesan or Pecorino think about a few things. First we know that Parmesan is more expensive. The taste is similar. I always have a block of each in my refrigerator.

Here are my tips on deciding on each cheese

  • If you are making antipasti and want to add pieces of cheese then go for Parmesan.
  • If you are cooking a recipe that requires Parmesan cheese go ahead and use Pecorino. Use less salt but taste as you follow the cooking process. Nobody will know you substituted.
  • Making pizza – Use parmesan cheese – it is a better melting cheese.
  • You want to serve fresh grated cheese to your family or friends. How about grating a combination of both.
  • Parmesan crisps (bake a spoonful of parmesan on a baking sheet and top your salad or garnish an Italian dish – use parmesan cheese it melts better).
  • A recipe that calls for parmesan or pecorino in crackers that includes other ingredients – Use pecorino.
  • A cheese platter with other cheese – Add parmesan pieces.
  • Making pesto or Carbonara and it calls for parmesan – it is ok to use pecorino and you won’t know the difference! Believe me.. I have done it several times.