If you’re a cheese lover, you might have come across Parmigiano Reggiano and Parmesan cheese. Both are hard, granular Italian cheeses with a similar nutty and savory taste.

However, there are some differences between the two. For instance, Parmigiano Reggiano is a protected designation of origin (PDO) product made in specific provinces of Italy under strict regulations, whereas Parmesan cheese is a generic term that can be used for similar types of cheese produced outside of Italy.

Now, the question is – Can you substitute one for the other? Let’s find out!

The Flavor Profile

Parmigiano Reggiano has a distinct flavor profile that comes from the high-quality milk used to make it. The cows that produce this milk graze on specific pastures and follow a specific diet. As a result, the cheese has a complex flavor with subtle nuances of fruitiness, nuttiness, and umami.

On the other hand, Parmesan cheese has a milder flavor compared to Parmigiano Reggiano. It doesn’t have the same depth of flavor as its Italian counterpart but can still be used as a substitute in some dishes.

The Texture

Parmigiano Reggiano has a hard texture that crumbles easily when grated or shaved. It also has small white crystals that form naturally during the aging process. These crystals add to the cheese’s unique texture and crunch.

Parmesan cheese also has a hard texture but is less crumbly than Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s smoother and easier to slice or grate.

Can You Substitute One for the Other?

In most cases, yes! If you’re making a recipe that calls for Parmigiano Reggiano but can’t find it at your local grocery store or specialty food shop, using Parmesan cheese as an alternative will work just fine.

However, keep in mind that the flavor and texture of the dish might be slightly different. For instance, if you’re making a classic Italian dish like risotto or pasta with Parmigiano Reggiano, using Parmesan cheese might result in a less complex and nuanced flavor.

When Should You Use Parmigiano Reggiano?

If you’re making a recipe that specifically calls for Parmigiano Reggiano, it’s best to use the real thing. The unique flavor profile and texture of this cheese make it an essential ingredient in many Italian dishes.

Moreover, if you’re serving the cheese on its own as a part of a cheese platter or as a topping for salads or soups, Parmigiano Reggiano is the way to go. It’s known for its exceptional quality and taste and will add an extra layer of sophistication to your dish.

When Can You Use Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan cheese is an excellent substitute for Parmigiano Reggiano in most dishes. It’s milder and less expensive than its Italian counterpart but can still add depth and flavor to your recipe.

Moreover, if you’re using the cheese as an ingredient in baked dishes like lasagna or pizza, using Parmesan cheese will work just fine. Its smooth texture melts well and distributes evenly throughout the dish.

In conclusion, while there are some differences between Parmigiano Reggiano and Parmesan cheese, they can be used interchangeably in most recipes. However, if you want to experience the authentic Italian taste of certain dishes like risotto or pasta with Alfredo sauce, it’s best to stick with Parmigiano Reggiano.