If you’re a fan of Italian cuisine, then you know that Parmesan cheese is an essential ingredient in many dishes. From spaghetti carbonara to chicken parmesan, this hard, salty cheese adds depth and flavor to countless recipes.

But with so many imitation products on the market, how can you be sure that your Parmesan cheese is real? In this article, we’ll explore some simple methods for identifying authentic Parmesan cheese.

Check the Label

The first step in determining whether your Parmesan cheese is real is to check the label. Authentic Parmesan cheese should be labeled “Parmigiano-Reggiano,” which refers to the region in Italy where it’s made. If the label simply says “Parmesan,” then it’s likely not the real thing.

Inspect the Cheese

Another way to identify real Parmesan cheese is to inspect it closely. Authentic Parmesan should have a hard, gritty texture and a pale yellow color. The rind of the cheese should be embossed with the name “Parmigiano-Reggiano” and have a series of dots that indicate the month and year of production.

Smell Test

Real Parmesan cheese also has a distinct aroma that sets it apart from imitations. Give your cheese a sniff; if it smells like feet or ammonia, then it’s likely not authentic. True Parmesan should have a nutty, slightly sweet scent.

Taste Test

Finally, perhaps the most enjoyable way to identify real Parmesan cheese is by tasting it! Authentic Parmesan has a rich, complex flavor with hints of nuttiness and sweetness. It should also have a slightly gritty texture due to its aging process.

  • If your cheese tastes overly salty or bland, then it may not be authentic.
  • Another thing to look out for is if the cheese crumbles too easily or is too soft. Parmesan cheese should be hard and dense.
  • If you’re unsure about the authenticity of your Parmesan cheese, try grating it over a dish. Real Parmesan will produce long, thin shavings that cling together, while imitation versions may produce shorter, thicker shreds.


In conclusion, there are a few simple methods for identifying real Parmesan cheese. Look for the “Parmigiano-Reggiano” label, inspect the texture and color of the cheese, give it a sniff and taste test. By following these tips, you can ensure that your Italian dishes are made with only the best ingredients!