Parmesan cheese is a popular ingredient in many dishes, but is it considered a spice? Let’s explore the characteristics of Parmesan cheese and its usage to determine if it qualifies as a spice.

What is Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard, granular Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a nutty and savory flavor that intensifies as it ages. Parmesan cheese is commonly used in Italian cuisine and can be grated or shaved over pasta dishes, soups, salads, and more.

What are Spices?

Spices are plant-based substances used to add flavor and aroma to food. They can be derived from various parts of plants such as seeds, fruits, roots, bark, and leaves. Spices are typically added in small quantities but have a significant impact on the overall taste of the dish.

Is Parmesan Cheese a Spice?

Based on the definition of spices provided above, Parmesan cheese does not qualify as one. While it does add flavor to food, it is not derived from plants and does not have the same characteristics as traditional spices.

However, Parmesan cheese can be considered a seasoning. Seasonings are ingredients added to enhance the flavor of food without being the primary ingredient. Parmesan cheese can be used as a seasoning in various dishes by adding small amounts to impart its distinctive taste.

Using Parmesan Cheese in Cooking

Parmesan cheese can be used in many ways while cooking to add flavor to your dishes. Here are some popular ways:

  • Grating: Grate fresh Parmesan over pasta dishes or salads for an extra burst of flavor.
  • Mixing: Mix grated or shredded Parmesan into meatballs or meatloaf for added richness.
  • Breading: Mix Parmesan with breadcrumbs to create a crispy coating for chicken or fish.
  • Sprinkling: Sprinkle grated Parmesan over roasted vegetables for added flavor and texture.

The Bottom Line

While Parmesan cheese is not considered a spice, it is a flavorful addition to many dishes. Its nutty and savory taste makes it a popular ingredient in Italian cuisine and beyond. Use it wisely as a seasoning in your cooking to elevate the overall taste of your dishes.


In conclusion, Parmesan cheese is not a spice, but it can be used as a seasoning in cooking. It adds flavor and depth to various dishes and is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many ways. Remember to use it sparingly as too much can overpower the other flavors in your dish.