Can You Use Cheddar Cheese Instead of Parmesan Cheese?

When it comes to cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, substitutions are sometimes inevitable. Whether you’re missing an ingredient or simply want to try something new, it’s always helpful to know what alternatives you can use.

One common question that often arises is whether you can use cheddar cheese instead of parmesan cheese. Let’s dive into this cheesy debate and find out!

The Basics: Cheddar Cheese vs Parmesan Cheese

Before we delve into the possibility of substituting one for the other, let’s understand the key differences between cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese.

Cheddar Cheese:

  • Originating from England, cheddar cheese is a semi-hard cheese with a rich and creamy flavor.
  • It has a smooth texture that becomes crumbly as it ages.
  • Cheddar is commonly used in various dishes like macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, and burgers.
  • The taste of cheddar can range from mild to sharp depending on its aging process.

Parmesan Cheese:

  • Hailing from Italy, parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard and granular cheese.
  • It has a distinctively strong and nutty flavor that adds depth to numerous recipes.
  • Parmesan is widely used in pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara, risotto, and Caesar salad dressing.
  • The aging process for parmesan typically lasts for at least 12 months which contributes to its unique taste.

The Substitution Debate: Can Cheddar Replace Parmesan?

While both cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese are delicious in their own right, they do have notable differences that can affect the outcome of your culinary creation. However, in some cases, cheddar can be a suitable substitute for parmesan.


Cheddar cheese has a milder flavor compared to the strong and robust taste of parmesan. If you’re looking to add a subtle cheesy kick to your dish, cheddar can work as an alternative. However, keep in mind that it won’t provide the same intense flavor that parmesan does.


The texture of cheddar is smooth and creamy when melted, making it a great choice for dishes like macaroni and cheese. On the other hand, parmesan has a grainy texture due to its aging process. If you’re aiming for the distinct texture of parmesan in your recipe, cheddar may not be the best substitute.

Melting Properties:

If you’re using cheese as a topping or for melting purposes, it’s important to consider how well it melts. Cheddar melts beautifully and evenly due to its higher moisture content.

Parmesan, on the other hand, does not melt as smoothly since it has low moisture content. So if you need a melty cheese topping for your dish, go with cheddar over parmesan.

When Can You Use Cheddar Instead of Parmesan?

Now that we’ve established that cheddar can be used as a substitute for parmesan in certain situations, let’s explore some dishes where this swap works well:

Pasta Dishes:

  • If you’re making a simple pasta dish like spaghetti aglio e olio, cheddar can be a suitable replacement for parmesan.
  • For creamy pasta recipes like Alfredo, cheddar can be used to add a smooth and mild cheesy flavor.

Baked Dishes:

  • If you’re making a casserole or baked macaroni and cheese, using cheddar instead of parmesan will still give you a deliciously cheesy result.

In Conclusion

Cheddar cheese can be used as a substitute for parmesan cheese in certain dishes where its milder flavor and smooth melting properties work well. However, it’s important to note that cheddar won’t provide the same intense flavor and grainy texture that parmesan does. So, while you can use cheddar as an alternative, keep in mind the specific characteristics of each cheese when making your decision.

Remember, cooking is all about experimenting and finding what works best for your taste buds. So don’t hesitate to try out different cheese combinations to create unique and delightful flavors in your dishes!