This vegan cashew parmesan recipe requires just four ingredients and is ready in a matter of seconds. It's gluten-free and makes for the perfect dairy-free substitute wherever you'd normally use grated parmesan cheese.
Since the cashews and other ingredients are all dry, it'll last for up to a week at room temperature or a couple of weeks in the fridge. It also freezes well, meaning you can make a big batch to last for several months.
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Why you'll love it
- It'll be ready in a few minutes
- You can use it anywhere as an easy topping
- It stores well – up to a couple of weeks if done correctly
Recipe testing notes
- Blender vs. food processor: A powerful blender will get the job done in a matter of seconds, whereas a food processor may take a little longer.
- Don't over-blend: You'll see me repeating this point over and over again!
Is this really like parmesan cheese?
I'm not going to pretend that this is a like-for-like replacement for dairy parmesan cheese, but it's better than you might think. It has a similar flavour profile and is nice for sprinkling over something like a pasta dish.
That being said, you'll just want to go easy on the old blending.
The first time I tried this recipe, it ended up in thick clumps because I over-blitzed everything. Instead of sprinkling liberally over pasta, I had to hire a forklift to get the clumps out of the blender and onto the plate.
Is dairy parmesan cheese vegetarian?
A few years ago, I was surprised to find out that traditional parmesan cheese isn't even vegetarian. This is because Parmigiano-Reggiano uses animal rennet in the production process, taken from the stomach lining of calves.
The same is true for other popular varieties such as Grana Padano, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Gruyère, and Manchego.
The good news is this delicious vegan recipe is both dairy-free and calf-stomach-lining-free, so it's a win-win in my book.
What you'll need
This recipe uses just four simple ingredients:
- Cashew nuts to provide the base
- Nutritional yeast for its cheesy notes
- Garlic powder for depth of flavour
- Salt to emulate the saltiness of dairy parmesan
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast or ‘nooch’ is a magical ingredient that lends a cheesy umami flavour to dishes. It is sometimes fortified with vitamin B12 and is a complete plant-based protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.
New to plant-based cooking and want to learn more? Check out these other unusual vegan ingredients.
Can I make cashew parmesan without nutritional yeast?
If you don't have nutritional yeast or don't want to include it, try adding in herbs such as dried oregano or dried basil for extra flavour.
Can I make this with other nuts?
That said, I've seen similar parmesan recipes that use walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts. If you're wanting to try these out, I’d recommend using skinless and unsalted versions of the nuts.
How to make vegan parmesan
Recipes don't come much easier than this. Simply put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor, and pulse until you have a fine, powdery crumble.
Note: Blenders are more powerful than food processors, and so it's very easy to pulse this mix too much. If you are using a blender (like in the photos here), make sure you don't overdo it.
A few one-second pulses may be all you need to achieve the desired consistency.
And there you have it – an incredibly easy, dairy-free, vegan parmesan substitute to enjoy!
Where to use it
This vegan parmesan is great on pasta, pizza, or anywhere else you'd normally use grated parmesan cheese. Here are a few recipes on the blog to try out:
Since all the ingredients in this recipe are dry, the vegan parmesan should last at least a week at room temperature. Simply transfer to an airtight container and keep in a cupboard or out of direct sunlight.
It'll last for longer if stored in the fridge – up to a couple of weeks in an airtight container.
Yes – store this vegan parmesan in the freezer in sealed containers or resealable bags for up to six months.
This recipe is 100% gluten-free as written.
Variations and tips for vegan parmesan
- Salt and garlic powder: If adding more salt or garlic powder, only add a little at a time.
- Nutritional yeast: If you want more nutritional yeast, you can add this more liberally.
Keep in touch
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Vegan Cashew Parmesan
- ⅔ cup (100 g) unsalted cashews
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and use short pulses until you have a fine, powdery crumble. Note: If using a blender, be careful not to overdo it. Blenders are powerful and can quickly turn the cashews into a clumpy paste. Depending on the blender, you may only need a few one-second pulses.
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