Does Parmesan Cheese Have Lactose in It?

When it comes to cheese, there are numerous varieties available in the market. One such popular and flavorful option is Parmesan cheese. However, if you are lactose intolerant or have a sensitivity to lactose, you may be wondering whether Parmesan cheese contains lactose or not.

The Lactose Content in Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese is known for its rich and nutty flavor, but the good news is that it contains very little to no lactose. This makes it a suitable choice for individuals with lactose intolerance.

What is Lactose?

Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar found in milk and other dairy products. It requires an enzyme called lactase to be properly digested by the body. People who are lactose intolerant lack sufficient amounts of this enzyme, leading to digestive issues when consuming foods high in lactose.

The Cheese-Making Process

Why does Parmesan cheese have minimal lactose content?

During the cheese-making process, milk undergoes fermentation, which helps break down the lactose into lactic acid. This process significantly reduces the amount of lactose present in the final product.

Aging Process

The aging process plays a crucial role in reducing the lactose content of Parmesan cheese even further. Traditional Parmesan cheese is aged for at least 12 months, while some varieties can be aged up to 36 months. The longer aging period allows more time for the remaining traces of lactose to be broken down by bacteria and enzymes naturally present in the cheese.

Hard Texture

Another factor that contributes to the minimal lactose content in Parmesan cheese is its hard texture. The moisture content in the cheese decreases as it ages, resulting in a drier and harder texture. This further reduces the lactose concentration since lactose is primarily found in the whey, which is removed during the cheese-making process.

How to Determine Lactose Content

Checking the label:

If you are concerned about lactose content, always check the label of the Parmesan cheese you are considering. Look for any added ingredients that may affect lactose content or cause cross-contamination.

Taste test:

If you are uncertain about the lactose content of a particular Parmesan cheese, you can perform a taste test. Take a small amount of the cheese and observe how your body reacts. If you experience any discomfort or digestive issues, it may be an indication that the cheese contains more lactose than expected.


In conclusion, Parmesan cheese has minimal to no lactose content due to the fermentation and aging processes it undergoes. This makes it a suitable choice for individuals with lactose intolerance or sensitivity. However, always remember to check labels and perform taste tests if needed to ensure that you are selecting a suitable option based on your dietary needs.

Note: It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian if you have specific dietary concerns or conditions.