Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Even cheese lovers will fall for this 4-ingredient vegan Parmesan cheese. It's SO easy to make, and it's a tasty umami topping for pasta, salads, and more!

Vegan Parmesan cheese

This vegan Parmesan cheese recipe is my new favorite condiment. It’s sharp, bright, savory, and rich, and as far as I can tell, it’s great on just about anything.

I’ve made vegan Parmesan in the past, but this time, I added one extra ingredient: lemon zest! Its bright flavor brought extra complexity to the savory, nutty mixture, and now, I can’t get enough of it. I keep a big jar on hand in the freezer, and I reach for it anytime a dish needs an extra punch of umami flavor. If you’re dairy-free, trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, or just out of Parmesan, you have to try this recipe!

Of course, this vegan Parmesan cheese can’t step in for actual cheese in every scenario. I wouldn’t substitute it for Parmesan when the cheese is essential for creating a creamy sauce, like in my fettuccine Alfredo. However, it’s a fantastic vegan alternative to dairy anytime you’d garnish something with grated or shaved Parmesan. Think salads, pastas, pizza, etc. Once you have it on hand, you’ll sprinkle it over everything!

Vegan Parmesan cheese recipe ingredients

Vegan Parmesan Cheese Recipe Ingredients

My vegan Parmesan cheese recipe calls for four simple ingredients:

  • Cashews – They add richness and texture to this dairy-free cheese. For the best results, use raw cashews here. Like in my cashew cream, their neutral flavor is ideal for this recipe. (Roasted cashews will give it a strong cashew-y taste.) If you’re nut-free, substitute a mix of raw sunflower seeds and hemp seeds for the cashews.
  • Nutritional yeast – The key ingredient for adding cheesy flavor to vegan recipes! Like in my vegan cheese sauce, it makes this recipe super savory, nutty, and delicious.
  • Lemon zest – It adds the perfect bright counterpoint to the other rich, savory flavors here.
  • Sea salt – This recipe is best when you salt to taste, so make sure that you don’t use salted cashews. Made with unsalted cashews, it needs about 1/2 teaspoon salt to make all the flavors pop.

Cashews and nutritional yeast in a food processor

Pulse the ingredients in a small food processor until they form a coarse meal with a soft, crumbly texture. Be careful not to process the vegan Parmesan cheese for too long, or the mixture will turn into cashew butter!

If your food processor is too large to make a single batch, feel free to double the recipe. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze them in an airtight container for up to a month.

There’s no need to thaw frozen vegan Parmesan cheese before you use it. Because of its fine texture, it thaws in a snap, so sprinkle it directly onto whatever you’re eating!

Vegan Parmesan

What to Do with Vegan Parmesan Cheese

This simple vegan Parmesan cheese is a yummy umami topping for all sorts of recipes. Here are just a few of my favorite ways to use it:

How do you like to use vegan Parm? Let me know in the comments!

Vegan Parmesan

More Plant-Based Cooking Components

If you love this recipe, try making one of these vegan cooking components next:

Vegan Parmesan cheese

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

rate this recipe:
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Keep this delicious vegan Parmesan cheese on hand to add bold flavor to pastas, pizzas, roasted veggies, and more! Store leftovers in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for up to a month.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw cashews*
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions

  • Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon zest in a small food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and has a soft, crumbly texture.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, freeze after that.

Notes

*Make it nut free by using a mix of hemp seeds and raw sunflower seeds
 

9 comments

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  1. Debbie
    02.25.2020

    What brand of nutritional yeast do you use? I love it other people’s recipes but my attempts to use it have been awful. Wondering if it’s the brand I used.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.25.2020

      Hi Debbie, I have the Trader Joe’s brand right now, I often get the kind from the bulk bins at Whole Foods (I’m not sure what brand it is). They both taste the same to me. I think it’s possible it could taste stale if it’s been in the pantry for too too long. Let me know if you give this one a go!

  2. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    02.25.2020

    wow, didn;t think this was possible! thank you, even when using it as a garnish, helps for the final step in my zucchini pasta a la carbonara

  3. Nippon
    02.27.2020

    5 stars
    Pleasure to go through such wonderful work!!

  4. mohan
    02.27.2020

    Nice blog to follow while preparing recipes.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  5. Debbie
    03.01.2020

    5 stars
    Jeanine thanks so much. Trader Joe’s nutritional yeast makes all the difference in this recipe for me. (Will try the Whole Foods brand next). It doesn’t have that strong fish food smell. My recipe turned out great. Enjoying the vegan parm. Thanks for your help.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2020

      Oh yay! I’m so happy to hear!

  6. Ariana Cordero
    03.10.2020

    This recipe sounds absolutely delicious. I love how the majority of your recipes are super healthy and nutritional even if it’s pasta! I can’t wait to try it out at home.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.