Vegan Parmesan Cheese

This easy vegan parmesan cheese recipe has all the flavors you love in parmesan. Sprinkle vegan parm on pasta, dips, soups, and more! Good news — it takes only 5 minutes to make this tasty recipe!

A glass jar full of vegan parmesan sits in front of a bowl of cashews, another bowl of nutritional yeast flakes, and a shaker full of more parmesan.

There was a time I used to carry around those little packets from pizza places. Do you know what I mean? The ones with parmesan cheese? I liked having them to sprinkle on salads, popcorn, and other goodies. But then I went vegan and parmesan is made from cow dairy. So, I did what I do with everything, I figured out a way to make my own. Now, I’m happy to be sharing my vegan parmesan recipe with you too.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Raw cashews add the perfect texture, with a bit of chew and tenderness for a parmesan-like mouthfeel
  • Nutritional yeast flakes add a plant-based cheesy flavor
  • The acid from the lemon juice creates the umami flavor we’re looking for with this parmesan cheese alternative.

Ingredient Spotlight

A bowl is full of yellow nutritional yeast flakes.

What are Nutritional Yeast Flakes?

Nutritional yeast flakes are a natural ingredient that vegans love because it adds a cheesy flavor to many recipes. Affectionately referred to as “nooch” these flakes can often be found in the bulk section at many health food stores. It’s a cultivated and deactivated yeast that’s grown from sugarcane or beet molasses, which gives it a pleasant, nutty flavor.

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Raw cashews — You can find raw cashews in health food stores. They even sell raw cashews in the produce area of my local grocery store.
  • Nutritional yeast flakes — I buy nutritional yeast flakes at health food stores or online.
  • Dehydrated onions — The goal is to add the flavor of onion without the moisture. Dehydrated onions work perfectly for that very reason.
  • Garlic powder — We want a mild garlic flavor, and the powder is perfect.
  • Salt — Oftentimes I’ll use miso paste to add saltiness to my parmesan, but it can be difficult to find and I wanted to keep this recipe as accessible as possible. Sea salt will work fine here to off-set the “sweetness” of the cashews.
  • Lemon juice — The acid from the lemon juice is important to create the umami flavor we’re looking for with this parmesan cheese alternative.
  • Sesame seeds or hemp seeds (optional) — Because we’re grinding up the cashews, it’s good to add some sesame seeds or even hemp seeds to create texture.

How to Make Vegan Parmesan Cheese

It’s actually very easy to make vegan parmesan. You’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before!

Here are the steps to make it:

  1. Pulse the cashews and nutritional yeast flakes in a food processor until the nuts are broken down into small pieces
    Cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, and spices are in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Add seasonings, including dehydrated onions and garlic powder and pulse to combine
    Looking down on a food processor bowl full of grated cashews combined with spices.
  3. Add lemon juice and pulse again.
  4. Stir in any seeds, such as hemp seeds or sesame seeds to add color.
  5. Transfer to an airtight container such as a mason jar and store in the fridge.

Non-Dairy Substitute for Parmesan Cheese

Believe it or not, vegan parmesan cheese is just as good as the other stuff. And if you’re someone like me, who experiences discomfort eating cow dairy, this recipe is amazing!

In addition, it’s made with healthy ingredients like cashews. If you’re looking for dairy-free parmesan cheese, you can buy it at the store, but I always think homemade is best.

Is parmesan cheese vegan?

Traditional parmesan cheese is not vegan because it’s made from cow’s milk. In fact, some cheeses, particularly organic cheese, are made with ingredients that make them not suitable for vegetarians either. The history of cheese-making relied on the stomachs of baby cows. Some organic cheeses still use this process but most modern cheeses use chemicals made in a lab instead.

Giving Up Dairy

Whether you’re vegan, avoiding dairy products, or simply looking to eat a little cleaner, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s easy to make the cheeses you love naturally. Yes, you can even make parmesan cheese vegan.

If you’re looking for crumbly, cheesy stuff to sprinkle on your favorite pasta dishes, this is great stuff!

My first attempt at this recipe was many years ago when I made this Brazil Nut Parmesan. That was great, but today’s version is a cashew parmesan. They both have their place, but I prefer the cashew version on a more day-to-day basis.

A hand holds a spoonful of cashew parmesan having over a glass jar full of it wit cashews behind it.

How to Serve Vegan Parmesan

The way l look at it, the best vegan parmesan cheese recipes are easy to make and add flavor to so many other dishes. So, let’s talk about ways you can use this vegan parm cheese.

You can add vegan parmesan substitute to your favorite dishes, like these:

This is a vegan substitute for parmesan so feel free to use it as you would with any parmesan cheese.

A jar of vegan parmesan sits in front of a bowl with raw cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, and a shaker full of more parm.
A hand holds a spoonful of cashew parmesan having over a glass jar full of it wit cashews behind it.

Vegan Parmesan

Cashews are combined with delicious flavorings to create the perfect non-dairy Vegan Parmesan. Sprinkle this over your favorite Italian dishes, including pasta and pizza!
4.8 from 5 votes
Course: Seasoning
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 20
Calories: 44kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ teaspoon dehydrated onions
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds or hemp seeds (optional)

Instructions

  • Combine the nuts and nutritional yeast flakes in a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until the nuts have been broken into smaller, more consistent size bits. Add the dehydrated onions, garlic powder, and salt. Pulse again to break down pieces into a crumble. Sprinkle with lemon juice and pulse again.
  • Finally, add the seeds. Pulse again to combine and to break seeds up, but leaving several whole. Do not overmix because it will create more of a paste.
  • Stir in additional salt if needed for your taste preferences.
  • Transfer to a mason jar or sealed container. Keep refrigerated. It will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Recommended Equipment

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Calories: 44kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 33mg | Potassium: 70mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 12IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

That’s it for this non dairy parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

7 Responses to Vegan Parmesan Cheese

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJackie Reply

    5 stars
    Came out tasty !! Thanks!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Jackie! So glad you like this vegan parm! I love having it on hand to serve on everything! 🙂

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyGerri Fox Reply

    5 stars
    I usually buy vegan parm, but I just tried this just minutes ago. It came out great. Listen to the warning in the recipe about not over-blending, my first batch was a paste. The second batch was perfect. I’ll never buy vegan parm again!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Gerri. So glad you’re on the homemade vegan parm team now!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAlli Metje Reply

    What amount of miso would you use instead of the salt?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi All! I absolutely love using a yellow miso paste in my vegan parmesan cheese because it also adds a bit of umami too. I start with a teaspoon and add more if necessary.

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly Reply

    5 stars
    As the recipe author, I’m pleased to say it’s easy to make, nutritious, and very tasty! We keep it in the fridge and serve over pasta and pizza.

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