How to Make Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Jar full of vegan parmesan cheese with a spoon

We’re sure you’re familiar with this situation: you finish making a beautiful plant-based pizza or pasta. It’s served up on the plate, steaming and looking delicious. It’s time to eat – but first, let’s add a little vegan ‘parmesan cheese’!

This vegan ‘parmesan cheese’ adds a savory, salty, cheesy flavor to any dish. In fact – it’s really grate!

Oh My – it’s Umami!

We’re certainly not the first blog to post a recipe for vegan parmesan cheese. In fact, there are plenty of them out there and we’ve learned from them all! However, we’d like to add some extra flavor to the conversation. We’ve been thinking – why do people sprinkle parmesan on their food? What is parmesan adding, and how can a plant-based alternative get the same effect?

Well, the answer is umami! Parmesan cheese is packed with it. You’ve probably heard umami mentioned before. But if not, it’s the fifth ‘basic taste’ alongside sweet, salty, bitter and sour.

Umami is described as ‘savory’, or ‘brothy’, and is said to coat your tongue and make your mouth water. So clearly, if we want our vegan parmesan cheese to taste right, we need umami!

But let’s get even more specific. The umami taste in parmesan comes from something ‘glutamate’. Luckily, there are plenty of vegan sources for this. These include tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, and many more. However, those don’t really say ‘cheese’, do they? Instead, we’re going straight for the nooch (nutritional yeast)!

Food processor filled with cashews, nutritional yeast and salt

Nooch Sensation

If you’ve never tried it before, nooch is tasty. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor, and you guessed it – umami! As an added bonus, nooch also contains a good dose of vitamin B12. However, nutritional yeast comes as flakes – not exactly the right texture …

This is where cashews save the recipe, as we use them to create the cheese’s texture and richness. A few pulses in a food processor turns these into little crumbs. After all the ingredients are mixed together, it looks like this …

Food processor filled with vegan parmesan cheese

Don’t you think that belongs in a shaker at your favorite pizza joint?

Now, we have a couple of notes on getting your vegan parmesan cheese just right. Firstly, don’t over chop the cashews, or you’ll end up with cashew butter! Also, don’t expect it to melt – sprinkle it on after the main dish is cooked. Lastly, don’t forget to season it – salt is really important to that parmesan flavor.

So, with all this in mind – we think you’re ready! Whip up a batch of this tasty stuff and:

  • Sprinkle it on pizza, pasta or salad
  • Add it to pesto and risotto
  • Toss it through popcorn!

In summary, use it wherever you need that lip smacking umami flavor!

Now that you’ve made some delicious vegan parmesan cheese, please let us know what you think with a comment and a rating! Every bit of feedback helps make the blog even better!

And if you’re looking for some tasty pasta to sprinkle this on, try our Lentil Bolognese, Spring Greens and Spicy Lentils with Pasta, or Mac and Cheese with Roast Beets!

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Food processor filled with cashews, nutritional yeast and salt

How to Make Vegan Parmesan Cheese

  • Author: Rachel Steenland
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup / 16 servings 1x


Try this easy recipe for super-tasty vegan parmesan cheese. It’s full of savory flavor, gives a big boost to vegan pasta dishes, and only takes 5 minutes!




  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the cashews resemble coarse crumbs.
  2. Keep your vegan parmesan cheese in an air-tight container (we use mason jars) and store in the fridge. Consume within a month.
  3. Before using, give the container a shake as the ingredients may have settled.


  • You can also try using roasted cashews, or experiment with other nuts such as almond, Brazil nuts, and pine nuts.
  • Nutritional information is to be used as a guide only as calories and nutrition vary between products and brands worldwide.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes


  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 40
  • Sugar: 0.4 g
  • Sodium: 75.5 mg
  • Fat: 2.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 2.3 g
  • Fiber: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 1.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: vegan parmesan cheese, cashews, nutritional yeast

This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll make a small commission if you purchase using these links. The price you pay as a consumer does not change.

Rachel Steenland

Rachel Steenland

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