wikiHow to Tell the Difference Between Parmesan and Pecorino

It is easy to get confused over the difference between these two similar cheeses but they are different and it helps to understand in what ways they differ when deciding on their culinary application. This article explains how to tell the difference.


  1. Image titled Tell the Difference Between Parmesan and Pecorino Step 1
    Note that the two cheeses are made from different milk sources. Parmesan is made from cow's milk, whereas Pecorino is made from ewe's milk. In fact, the word "pecora" is Italian for "ewe". Italians refer to Parmesan as "Parmigiano Reggiano".
  2. Image titled Tell the Difference Between Parmesan and Pecorino Step 2
    Be aware of the textural and taste differences between the two types of cheese. Each cheese comes with its own texture and "ripeness":
    • Parmesan: is a fruity flavoured cheese with a peppery after-taste. It tends to be sold at varying stages of ripeness, which impacts the strength of its taste but its texture usually remains the same, hard and grainy.
    • Pecorino: this is a sharp, salty-flavoured cheese. Pecorino tends to be most widely available after considerable aging or ripening. Pecorino is hard like Parmesan and grates well. It is also possible to get a softer Pecorino, however, and this is where it can differ from Parmesan in texture. If you purchase fresher, younger Pecorino, you will discover that it is softer, with a lighter colouring and a texture similar to a firm Brie. It also tastes less strong.
  3. Image titled Tell the Difference Between Parmesan and Pecorino Step 3
    Use your Parmesan and Pecorino. Both cheese types are similar, and so are fairly interchangeable unless you prefer one for any particular reason. Providing both cheese types on a cheese platter is a good serving suggestion. And both are fine for cooking, so feel free to substitute Pecorino for Parmesan in your favourite recipes, as the taste will be fairly similar.


  • Pecorino is suitable for making pesto.
  • Sprinkle grated Parmesan or Pecorino over a store-bought macaroni cheese to enliven it and change it into a gourmet snack.

Things You'll Need

  • Pecorino and/or Parmesan cheese

Article Info

Categories: Cheese