4 Ingredient Vegan Parmesan

Vegan Parmesan

This Vegan Parmesan is one of my absolute staples in the kitchen. It takes pastas and risottos to the next level! I love nutritional yeast on it’s own, but the combination with salt, garlic powder and cashews adds those extra flavours that your tastebuds will thank you for!

This recipe is so quick, simple and easy, it’s hardly even worth a blog post. It contains just 4 ingredients and will take you minimum 5 minutes to whip up. It’s also gluten free, plant based and soy free.

I store mine in an airtight jar (yay for up-cycling!) in the fridge for up to a month, and just sprinkle it all over EVERYTHING.

If you make this vegan parmesan recipe, make sure to comment below or tag me on Instagram – @georginaburgess_ – I love seeing your recreations!

Vegan Parmesan

Why is Parmesan Cheese Not Vegan?

Parmesan cheese is not vegan because it is traditionally made from animal-derived ingredients, specifically cow’s milk. The process of making Parmesan cheese involves using milk from cows, which is not in line with vegan dietary principles that avoid all animal products.

Here’s an overview of why traditional Parmesan cheese is not vegan:

  1. Animal Milk Source: Parmesan cheese is made from cow’s milk, which is collected from dairy cows. The milk is a primary ingredient in the cheese-making process.
  2. Animal Rennet: The coagulation of milk into cheese involves enzymes called rennet. Traditionally, animal rennet, which is obtained from the stomach lining of calves, was used to curdle the milk. While some modern cheese-making practices use microbial or plant-based rennet, traditional Parmesan production might still involve animal-derived rennet.
  3. Animal Welfare Concerns: The dairy industry involves the use of animals for milk production, which can raise concerns about animal welfare, including issues related to confinement, living conditions, and treatment of animals.
  4. Non-Vegan Production Processes: In addition to milk and rennet, Parmesan cheese production often involves other non-vegan practices, such as the use of animal-derived cultures and the aging process in environments that might not align with vegan principles.

Planning on Making This Vegan Parmesan?

  1. Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast adds a savory, umami flavor to the parmesan substitute and is a key component for replicating the cheesy taste.
  2. Raw Cashews: In this recipe, raw cashews are used to create a rich and creamy texture in the parmesan substitute.
  3. Garlic Powder: Garlic powder is used here to contribute to the overall flavor profile of the vegan parmesan. Garlic powder is often found in traditional parmesan cheese blends, so it helps mimic the authentic taste.
  4. Salt: Salt helps balance the flavors and contributes to the savory taste reminiscent of parmesan cheese.
Vegan Parmasan

Vegan Parmesan

Georgina Burgess
This Vegan Parmesan is one of my absolute staples in the kitchen. It takes pastas and risottos to the next level! I love nutritional yeast on it's own, but the combination with salt, garlic powder and cashews adds those extra flavours that your tastebuds will thank you for!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Side Dish, Snack


  • 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 cup Raw Cashews
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Salt (to taste)


  • Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and pulse for a few seconds until a powder has formed
  • Make sure you don't over-blend!
  • Taste and add more salt or garlic powder (adjust to your taste)


Add to an airtight jar and store in the fridge for up to a month.
Keyword vegan side

Does Vegan Parmesan Cheese Melt?

Most vegan parmesan substitutes do not melt in the same way that traditional dairy-based parmesan cheese does. Dairy-based cheeses contain proteins and fats that allow them to melt and become gooey when exposed to heat. Vegan parmesan alternatives, which are often made from nutritional yeast, nuts, and other plant-based ingredients, lack the same protein and fat composition, leading to a different melting behavior.

Vegan parmesan substitutes might soften slightly when exposed to heat, but they typically do not achieve the same creamy or stretchy texture that melting dairy cheese does. Instead, they might become slightly softer or just slightly toasted, depending on the specific ingredients used.

If you’re looking for a vegan cheese alternative that can melt, there are some commercially available options that are formulated to melt and stretch, often made from a base of ingredients like coconut oil, starches, and flavorings. However, these products might not replicate the exact flavor and texture of traditional parmesan cheese.

When using vegan parmesan alternatives, it’s best to think of them as a flavorful topping or seasoning rather than a direct replacement for melted cheese. They can add a cheesy and savory element to your dishes without necessarily providing the same melting properties as dairy cheese.

What Tastes Similar to Parmesan?

Several foods and ingredients can offer flavors similar to Parmesan cheese, which is known for its nutty, savory, and slightly tangy profile. If you’re looking for non-dairy alternatives or simply want to explore different flavors, here are some options that might have similar taste qualities to Parmesan:

  1. Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a popular choice in vegan cooking due to its cheesy and umami flavor. It can be used to add a Parmesan-like taste to dishes.
  2. Aged Vegan Cheeses: Some artisanal vegan cheese brands produce aged cheeses that closely mimic the flavors of traditional Parmesan. Look for cheeses made from cashews, almonds, or other nuts.
  3. Pecorino Romano: Pecorino Romano is a sheep’s milk cheese with a tangy and salty flavor that’s somewhat similar to Parmesan. There are also vegan versions made from plant-based ingredients.
  4. Grana Padano: Grana Padano is an Italian cheese similar to Parmesan but often slightly milder. There are vegan versions available that replicate its flavor.
  5. Toasted Nuts: Toasted nuts like almonds, cashews, or walnuts can offer a nutty and savory flavor that’s reminiscent of Parmesan.
  6. Umami-Rich Foods: Ingredients with umami flavors, such as mushrooms, miso paste, and soy sauce, can provide a depth of flavor similar to Parmesan.
  7. Aged Balsamic Vinegar: A drizzle of high-quality aged balsamic vinegar can add a sweet, tangy, and complex flavor to dishes, similar to the depth of flavor found in Parmesan.
  8. Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Sun-dried tomatoes have an intense and slightly tangy flavor that can add a burst of umami to dishes.
  9. Roasted Garlic: Roasted garlic has a rich, nutty, and sweet flavor that can provide depth to your recipes.
  10. Savory Herbs: Herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage have earthy and aromatic qualities that can contribute to a Parmesan-like flavor.

Remember that while these options might offer similar flavor profiles, they may not replicate the exact taste and texture of Parmesan cheese. Experimentation with different combinations and ingredients can help you find the best alternatives that suit your taste preferences and dietary needs.

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