Italy is known for its massive range of different cheeses that are made across the country, and it seems like each of them fills a very specific culinary role.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course. After all, who doesn’t love more cheese in the kitchen or at the dinner table?
However, it can often mean that, if you don’t have the right cheese for a specific recipe, you may find yourself struggling to come up with an alternative recipe.
Take Grana Padano cheese, for example.
This cheese, while exquisite to taste, can be quite difficult to source for yourself if you don’t live near a tailored cheese supplier. Leaving you with an unfinished recipe, and a dissatisfied chef.
However, while making those recipes does become a lot trickier, it doesn’t become impossible. It just takes a little know-how and the qualities that you need in your cheese of choice.
In this guide, we are going to show you a few different kinds of cheese that you can substitute for Grana Padano if you are in a pinch and without this Italian dairy product, as well as explain why Grana Padano is an amazing cheese in its own right!
Grana Padano Cheese Qualities
Before we start discussing substitutes for the cheese itself, we should probably explain a little more about what makes grana Padano such a beloved cheese, not just in Italy, but across the world too.
That way, you’ll know what to look for in a good substitute for this cheese.
Grana Padano has been made in Italy for centuries at this point, with some documents and reports putting its history as far back as a thousand years ago.
Grana Padano, while being a very popular cheese across Italy, can be a little more difficult to find outside of the country, besides in stores and supermarkets that have very large selections of cheeses from across the world.
Generally speaking, grana Padano is best known for its somewhat crumbly texture when it has been properly aged.
Well, ‘somewhat’ crumbly might be a little of an understatement. The crumbly texture, both as you slice into it, as well as how it melts and falls apart in your mouth, is probably the main reason why so many people love it.
The fact that the cheese also greats very well, means that it can be used in a variety of different dishes too.
Outside of simply its texture, the flavor of grana Padano is also one of the reasons it is loved by many people across the globe, as this cheese is arguably a lot subtler than many other types of crumbly cheese.
Its taste has a little of that classic diary that a good deal of other cheese has. However, the strongest flavor that you’ll likely pick up is the nutty flavor that has a slightly sweet undertone.
These complex flavors make this cheese a very sort-after cheese, and is an excellent addition to many different classic Italian recipes, from pasta to gnocchi, as well as served as part of a larger cheese board platter.
It’s also often grated into risotto dishes in the same way that Parmesan might be.
Substitutes For Grana Padano
So, with some of these qualities outlined, we have a short list of qualities that a decent substitute of grana Padano should be aiming to meet.
These traits are:
- Crumbly texture
- Can be grated
- Mildly sweet flavor with nutty overtones
Can be eaten either as itself or as part of a recipe. So, let’s see what else we can find out there!
1. Parmesan Cheese
Probably one of the most famous cheeses on this list, pretty much everyone who loves food or cooking will have heard of Parmesan.
What they may not know is that, in terms of a substitute for grana Padano cheese too!
Made from unpasteurized milk, Parmesan cheese has a very mild flavor to it that makes it the perfect cheese to use when you have no grana Padano.
Plus, parmesan has a very similar texture to a good block of grana Padano, if perhaps slightly on the harder side. Still this means that you can expect it to work pretty similarly to grana in a recipe.
And on that note, parmesan is widely known to be a versatile cheese to use in virtually any recipe you may be preparing, from pasta to risotto, to garlic bread or pizza.
About the only thing that we could say that makes it slightly less than ideal, is that it isn’t a cheese that is often eaten on its own. And even here, it isn’t unheard of to have a cheese board that has parmesan of its firm cheese of choice.
If you are struggling to come up with any other ideas for a substitute, parmesan is always a safe bet to go with.
2. Pecorino Romano Cheese
Moving on from the last option, you’ll also find that Pecorino Romano cheese is another solid option if we’re discussing Italian cheese substitutes for grana Padano.
This particular cheese has a noticeably stronger flavor to it than grana Padano, with its more tangy and herbal flavors coming through much stronger than the mild nutty flavor of grana Padano.
However, it does have a very similar feeling when discussing texture, as it is a firmer cheese that crumbles slightly when aged long enough.
Plus, this cheese is great for both cheese boards to be an appetizer, as well as to add to a sauce for pasta or gnocchi, giving it that extra cheesy flavor.
You’ll be in safe hands with this cheese!
3. Aged Asiago Cheese
One of the things that can be frustrating for people that love food is dietary restrictions, such as lactose or gluten intolerance. The former especially really limits your options when it comes to eating cheese.
However, if you’re looking for a cheese that can be eaten by anyone with these dietary restrictions, then Asiago cheese is a great choice to pick for your next Italian meal.
This aged cheese contains a lot less lactose in it than softer varieties, especially younger ones such as Gouda.
This means that this cheese is more available to be eaten by many people, whilst also retaining the same texture and similar mild flavor that you would be looking for in a grana Padano cheese.
Plus, it is readily available in many stores too!
4. Dry Jack Cheese
Dry Jack cheese is a slightly softer cheese that may not be ideal if you are looking for that harder, crumblier texture in your cheese.
However, dry jack does contain many of the other features that make a good grana Padano, such as having a lighter/milder flavor, and being a little nutty too, with a sweet undertone (though the latter is relatively weak when compared to grana Padano).
5. Piave Cheese
Finally, we have perhaps one of the oldest cheeses on this list, Piave cheese, which has been made and eaten in some form since Ancient Roman times!
With a sweet undertone that doesn’t overshadow the nutty flavor that this cheese has, you’ll find that this works in many of the same recipes as a classic grana Padano.
With so many substitutes, there is plenty of room to experiment with what exact flavor you want to replace your grana Padano cheese with!