This simple, beloved dairy-free Parmesan recipe is a grated-style cheese alternative that is perfect for sprinkling on salads and entrees, and even makes a delicious addition to breading and coatings. It was originally shared here on Go Dairy Free way back in 2006. Since then, I’ve made countless versions of it in my kitchen. So today, I’m giving this recipe post a big update, with more helpful tips and options.
Make this Dairy-Free Parmesan Cheese Alternative in Minutes!
This dairy-free parmesan substitute recipe is not only fast and easy, it’s also incredibly versatile. I’ve included several of my own tested options in the FAQs below. But don’t be afraid to play around with the base ingredients, ratios, and add-ins on your own!
Can I Use Different Nuts?
We’ve tested quite a few nuts in this basic dairy-free parmesan substitute, and several work well. In fact, you can use a single nut or a mix of nuts. It’s really a matter of taste. My two favorites are pine nuts or a 50/50 blend of walnuts and cashews. In the latter, the walnuts add a deep, savory quality that offsets the natural sweetness of the cashews. In general, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, and macadamia nuts are great options for this recipe. They each have a consistency and taste that tends to meld well into cheesy flavors. And aside from the almonds, none of them need to be blanched or peeled!
Will Roasted Nuts Work?
I prefer raw nuts in this dairy-free parmesan substitute, but roasted will also work! The nutty taste will be a bit deeper, and possibly more pronounced.
I only have Salted Nuts, are Those Okay?
Yes, just omit the salt in the recipe during the initial blend. Once your mixture is “grated,” taste, and blend in salt to taste.
Do You Have a Nut-free Dairy-Free Parmesan Option?
Yes! In my flagship book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, I share my dairy-free nut-free parmesan substitute, called “sunflower grated parma.” To make it, simply substitute sunflower seed kernels for the almonds in this recipe. I also like to increase the salt to 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons, to taste, because seeds have a stronger taste. You can also use part shelled hemp seeds (hemp hearts), if you like. Again, the seedy taste is more pronounced, but it’s still a nice garnish.
Can I Use Less Nutritional Yeast?
Yes! This is a very easy recipe to modify. I often use just 1/2 cup nutritional yeast to the 1 cup of nuts, but I also bump the salt up to 3/4 teaspoon. I like the salty aspect of cheese most! The nutritional yeast provides more of that cheesy umami. It’s actually used quite a bit in cheddar-style seasonings.
Is there a Substitute for the Nutritional Yeast?
Not in this particular recipe. There are only three ingredients, and the nutritional yeast is a key component for the cheesiness.
Are there Any Flavor Add Ins that You Recommend?
I thought you would never ask. Sometimes, I like to add a little onion powder and/or garlic powder to this recipe for more depth in flavor. I don’t have a specific amount, but would start with 1/4 teaspoon and see what you think! They will give this dairy-free parmesan a different, but delicious taste.
How Can I Make a Smaller Batch?
For small households, or if you don’t have any larger appliances, reduce the ingredients to 1/4 cup nuts, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Grind the ingredients together in a spice or coffee grinder.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Parmesan Cheese
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, peanut-free, soy-free, plant-based, vegetarian, paleo, and might suit some keto diets. It is added sugar-free. See the post above for my nut-free option.
- 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 cup almonds, preferably blanched (see note below)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- If blanched and peeled your own almonds, pat the almonds dry to remove excess moisture.
- Place the almonds, nutritional yeast, and sea salt in your blender or food processor, and blend into a fine meal.
- Sprinkle it on your meal as a garnish, or use it in recipes. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for optimal freshness, for up to 1 month. It can be frozen for longer.
I just tried this recipe. It’s so simple but so good! Used it on pasta and loved it!
So glad you liked it Leah! It is yummy on pasta, I agree.
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Hi , would love to try this recipe , I saw someone suggest to use saltines . Was wondering if u had any other substitutes for almond ( tree and and coconut allergy )
Hi Simone, I haven’t tried saltines, but that might work. For nut-free, I typically use sunflower seeds in this recipe.
Can I use almond flour?
It won’t work as well. Almond flour is a finer, and often dryer grind. It’s more powdered. When you grind fresh, more into a meal, it helps the nutritional yeast stick and clump a little more.
Hi, would this work well in homemade alfedo sauce? Or if my family loves it, would I be able to can my homemade Alfredo sauce using this alternate parmesan?
Flavor wise, yes, but it won’t give that melty/stretchy consistency vibe of cheese. Blend it in for creamy, cheesy flavor.
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I like to make this with vegan saltines instead of nuts or seeds.
Great idea! Thanks for sharing your version Lisa!
I was hoping for something I could use. Is there any other way since I have cheese allergies and yeast allergies???A double strike.
Since a yeast allergy would eliminate all fermented foods, I’m afraid I don’t have any options to offer for that type of flavor.
Beautiful photos! It really does look “so simple and so good!”
Just made it! I’ve been looking for parm alternatives and I love how easy this one is.
I almost always LOVE cheezy recipes with nooch – it’s such a great flavor. I eat some dairy now, but I really need to try this recipe anyway! 🙂
So simple and delicious!
I haven’t had nutritional yeast in ages! This might just convince me to try it again!
Oh my gosh, I need to make this – it looks so easy, and I think my kid will love it!
Would you make it possible for us to print these pages, w/o the sidebar? I know some of your recipes have a print button, but being able to print pages w/information for us newbies to Dairy Free living, would be helpful . THanks.
Hi Marilyn, we’re working on it! Thanks for the request. Hopefully we will have an operational print button this week.