Pecorino vs Parmesan: What's the Difference?

percorino vs parmigiano

Pecorino and Parmesan are two different types of cheese that have some similar purposes and characteristics that can confuse those who are unfamiliar with them: both of them are very tasty and they are basicly used grated to garnish and season Italian pasta dishes. Furthermore, unfortunately, these two cheeses have been widely imitated in the world: not all the Parmesan that you find in supermarkets is original Parmesan, as well as not all the Roman sheep cheese you see on the shop shelves is real Pecorino Romano. But let's see what are the differences between parmesan and pecorino and how to distinguish them.

Pecorino vs Parmesan cheese

To be precise we should talk of all the types of Italian Pecorino: Pecorino Sardo, Pecorino Toscano, Calabrian Pecorino, Pecorino Siciliano... But will'talk of the most famous one. The word Pecorino indicates different cheeses, made with sheep's milk, with different ripeness times. A young pecorino has a semi-soften texture and a more delicate taste, and consequently it is difficult to confuse it with Parmigiano.

italian pecorino cheese

Pecorino Romano characteristics

Pecorino is a hard cheese produced with sheep's milk. It has a whitish color and a savory taste, with pungent notes. Pecorino has a tradition of more than two millenniums, it was already used by the Romans who introduced it in the daily ration of legionnaires, as an indispensable font of energy. Pecorino Romano is a DOP cheese, that is a certification of quality that indicates a special production that must occur in a specific place, with selected ingredients. The milk used to produce Pecorino comes from Sardegna, Lazio and the Southern areas of Tuscany.  
You can buy Pecorino in slices, grated or the whole wheel: just pay attention to the place of origin and to the milk used: it must contain sheep's milk only!

real parmesan

Parmigiano Reggiano texture and flavor

Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard cheese, with a grainy structure and a very flavorful consistency. You can recognize nutty notes in the aftertaste. It's a cow's milk cheese, energizing and easly digestible. It has not preservatives and it's a big quality cheese. Parmesan cheese is made of milk, salt and rennet.
It is produced in the provinces of Parma (of course), Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantova and Bologna. Parmigiano Reggiano is also often confused with Grana Padano, they are more simiiar but there are some important differences between Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano.

How to recognize the real Parmigiano Reggiano?

  • It' has a straw color.
  • The rind of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese has the name written in a uppercase dotted style.
  • Place of production written in the package.
  • Ageing: 18, 22 or 30 months.

Pasta with pecorino

Can you use Pecorino instead of Parmesan?

It depends on the recipes that you are cooking: maybe you could like a first course with tomato sauce, seasoned with Pecorino instead of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Generally Pecorino grated over a Pasta dish is a habit of Southern Italy: the most famous recipes are the first courses of Roman cuisine like Amatriciana, Carbonara, Cacio e pepe, Gricia... Most pasta recipes (especially those which come from the North of Italy) usually are seasoned with Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano. But we recommend not to sSubstitute parmesan for pecorino iif you are not sure of the taste of your guests. Many people find the taste of Pecorino too strong and almos umbearbale! Actually, either you love it or you hate it!

Now, you rare ready to discover our Parmigiano Reggiano recipes, and those with Pecorino.

And since many know Pecorino Romano, but ignore many other traditional types of Pecorino, discover our exceptional selection of regional Pecorino cheeses.

Foto: Pecorino CC 2.0 | Parmigiano form CC 2.0  | Parmigiano plate CC 2.0 | Penne all'amatriciana CC 2.0