It’s easy to make vegan parmesan at home. I have two recipes for you to try today!
Both recipes are in Let Them Eat Vegan. One is for the nooch-lovers, the other is perfect if you aren’t so fond of nutritional yeast.
Vegan Parmesan #1: Cheesy Sprinkle:
This vegan parmesan combines almonds with cashews, along with seasoning and nutritional yeast. For me, the blend of cashews and almonds is just right – cashews being a little softer/creamier and almonds harder/drier. This is my favorite blend, but of course if you prefer to use the full amount of either cashews or almonds you certainly can. It’s pretty much an ‘instant’ parmesan. Once processed, ready to use.
For a nut-free version, check out my recipe in Plant-Powered Families.
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup raw almonds see note
- 1/4 cup raw cashews or more raw almonds
- 1/2 tsp scant sea salt (about ¼ + 1/8 tsp)
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest optional
- Put all the ingredients into a standing blender and pulse until very fine and crumbly. Don’t overprocess, just pulse several times. That’s it! Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Makes about 1 scant cup
- Adult-Minded: Try adding 1⁄8 teaspoon of onion or garlic powder.
- Kid-Friendly: I make this often for our kiddos, and make it quick and simple using just the nooch, nuts, and salt. You may enjoy added flavor depth from the zest, but it’s not essential.
- Savvy Subs and Adds: To make this mixtre nut free, substitute the almonds and cashews with: 3 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tbsp chia seeds (preferably white chia), and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (or sesame or sunflower). Voila!
Let’s talk about parmesan and vegan parmesan.
When I became vegan, parmesan was the last and hardest cheese for me to stop eating. I even bought rice parmesan for a period of time (which was misleading because it contained casein). And you know what? I was hooked on that rice parmesan. I remember searching town for it once when I ran out.
It wasn’t until later that I realized the casein was the culprit. As my friend Julieanna Hever explains in this clip, casein is VERY addictive. And, as Dr. Colin Campbell outlines in The China Study, casein is particularly bad for the body, and promotes the development of cancer. Dairy is bad news. Once I finally kicked the casein – dairy was no longer an issue. I didn’t crave it, didn’t want it. No longer did I “need” that parmesan on my pasta or salads.
Vegan Parmesan #2: Brazil Nut Parm
For me, this is the closest thing to a parmesan topping. No, it doesn’t taste exactly like parmesan, but it gives you the same pleasurable notes as a parmesan… it is salty, tangy, and a richness from the natural whole-foods fats in the nuts.
Unlike the Cheesy Sprinkle, this vegan parmesan delivers the mouth taste and feel. And, it’s all from the technique. It’s the slow, low-heat baking of the sprinkle that allows the tart lemon flavor to infuse into the processed brazil nuts, along with just a hint of cheesy flavor from the nooch that makes magic happen.
It’s especially delicious on pasta, such as my Tomato Artichoke Pasta (check it out in LTEV if you have it)!
Brazil Nut Vegan Parmesan
- 1½ cups brazil nuts see notes
- ½ tsp little scant sea salt
- 1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 275°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Process the brazil nuts in a food processor or blender until fine and crumbly. Don’t overprocess, or they will begin to heat and become pasty. Just pulse until finely crumbled. Spread on the prepared pan. Toss in the salt, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Use your fingers to work these ingredients through the crumbled nuts. Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, being sure to toss three or four times through the baking process (and check during last minutes of baking; the mixture should become dry and maybe a touch golden around the edges, but should not brown). Remove from the oven, let cool, and transfer to a container to refrigerate. Makes about 2 cups.
- If This Apron Could Talk: If you cannot eat brazil nuts, I would substitute 1 1/2 cups raw almonds. You could also try about 1 1/4 cup of almonds along with 1/4 cup of pine nuts.
- After trying this for the first time, you might want to double your batch the next time round. It can disappear quickly! It’s one of my husband’s favorites; in fact, he keeps saying, “You should bottle this up and sell it”!
- Kid-Friendly: Your little ones might love this just the way it is, but you can try bumping up the nooch another tablespoon to make it a little more cheesy. Also see Cheesy Sprinkle (recipe follows) for a cheesier-tasting topping.
- Serving Suggestions: Any tomato-based pasta sauce will welcome this seasoning, as will a very modestly dressed pasta, such as one with olive oil and lemon juice. This topping works wonders on salads, and adds crunch and depth to cooked rice and other grains, as well as simple bean preparations.
I’d love to hear how you like these vegan parmesan recipes! x Dreena
This is absolutely awesome. I make it often. It is so good on beans, grains and salads. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I have your cookbooks and just love them.
So glad you enjoyed it, Lori, thank you!
Too much of Brazil nuts is not healthy. Check out warnings on overdosing on them via google.
Donna Kay says
Love the Cheesy Sprinkle recipe! I love any of your recipes I have tried. Thanks for sharing your amazing recipes. I was so excited when I read The Cheese Trap and saw that the recipes were created by you. Kep up the great work.
Rohan Singh says
Can we avoid adding salt to this recipe, to just make it more healthy? overall they have good ingredients added into their recipe.
Something with more advantages to eat. will try this recipe :), thanks for sharing.
Hi Rohan, you can if you want. Parmesan is quite salty, so to make a dairy-free option, salt does help to bring that flavor through. But, if you’re used to excluding salt, for sure!
That Brazil Nut Parm is my “go to” to add to pasta dishes, soups, salads, and whatever else I feel like adding it to. All of the omnivores that have tried it have loved it too.
Thanks so much!
Can you substitute the yeast with baking soda?
No. It’s not there to make anything rise, it’s there for the flavour.
Tragically for the yeast-sentitive or allergic, vegan cheese substitutes always seem to contain nutritional (not baker’s) yeast.
The pic looks like there is lemon zest in the Brazil nuts. The video shows you adding zest I think. But I don’t have any sound for the video. How much zest do you add?
These are nutritional yeast flakes : )
since many people speak of cashew nuts as being “cheese-like”, I wondered if you could substitute that and still be really good? I don’t have Brazil nuts, but have lots of raw cashews. Any thoughts?
Hi Ann, you certainly can sub cashews. I find they are a sweeter nut, but for sure will still be delicious in this recipe. Enjoy!
Hi Ann, no this is an inactive yeast, it’s used for flavor not for leavening. You can omit it if you don’t have it handy.
Yum, I made brazil nut parmesane, it’s so damn good! (I’m not going vegan in “cold turkey” manner ;], I just try lots of vegan recipies and I enjoy it).
I have got smoked salt, so next time maybe I will make even sharper and more savoury sprinkle than yours.
I make my own almond milk, maybe this “almond cheese” staing on cloth after filterink milk, could be nut base for “parmesane”? Kind of wallet-friendly idea.
Terrific! Glad you enjoyed it Alexa. 🙂 Oh, that smoked salt idea is brilliant – please let us know how it turns out. And, yes, def use your almond milk pulp. I once pureed it into a quick cheese, adding some lemon juice, touch of miso, salt, fresh herbs – was wonderful. Also can be used in baking!
With smoked salt this sprinkle tastes similar to oscpek- traditonal Polish smoked cheese, made with sheep milk. Years ago I used to dry this cheese and use it as sprinkle (this is not so traditional idea), but vegan-smoked-cheese-sprinkle tastes fine, and also sounds less gross than stone-hard sheep cheese 😛
I used smoked salt for soups (some Polish soups are boiled with smoked bacon or sausage, and I hate meat (that makes vegetarianism very easy :D), but without smokey flavour this soups tasted “poor”) and I used ths salt for scrambled tofu, but it worked in this “smoked cheese” idea as well as in “let’s pretend it was boiled with smoked meat” ideas.
And, as I started to talk about Polish stuff, lots of our traditional dishes are meat-based and I don’t like them, but while everyone is excited about quinoa, we have another lovely pseudograin: buckwheat groats. I love it (and in my country it’s as cheap as white rice, so it’s kind of “realistic part of usual diet” :P). With mushroom sauce, or vegetarian stew… yum. And buckwheat flour is great for pancakes and crepes. It’s quite good source of protein and vitammins, becouse botanically it’s not a grain but… nut. Great thing, not marketed as “health food”, but not less healthy and tasty.
The Pigs are safe in the Barn says
Oooh. Clever thought to use the almond milk meal for this recipe. Will try that as well. Love both these recipes. Both of these recipes are delicious and easy. Love that I can enjoy a tasty sprinkle on my zucchini pasta that’s dairy and casein free! Thanks so much.
I made the cheesy sprinkle tonight and it was amazing!!! I sprinkled it on garlic navy bean soup with potatoes and bok choy. Amazing!! I haven’t really cared for nutritional yeast in the past but I thought i would give it another try and I really liked it tonight. Maybe it was the added nuts? it just tasted more rounded and not so in your face. I am pretty new to my transition of eating vegan and I was wondering how often you find you eat nutritional yeast? A sprinkle here and there throughout the day everyday? Or is it an every few days type of thing?
Yeah! That’s great, Jessica! Yes, the nuts round out the flavor, along with the salt. I didn’t even like nooch for the first 10 years or so I was vegan – you’re ahead of me. 😉 I don’t think about how much I eat it really. I WAS a bit addicted to it for a while, ate it every day, several tbsps, prob too much. Now, I use it prob every other day, and in recipes.
There’s a raw restaurant in my town that serves the most amazing food – and they do a brazil nut parmesan too – I was just wondering if I could find a recipe and this was the first to come up. I can’t wait to try it and will definitely let you know when/how it turns out. I made your kale slaw last week and it was wonderful – the curried almond dressing? I could eat it from a spoon also. Thanks for making the idea of giving up dairy start to seem more feasible for this cheese-lover! I really appreciate that you don’t rely on soy – bravo! (I do eat some soy, but like to do so sparingly)
thanks for this…i so agreed with giving up the parmesan cheese!! i also love gouda cheese…n havent found a good tasting cheese :S but i will for sure give this one a try!!! btw i knew everytime i had brazil nuts it reminded me of a cheesy flavor!!! that is why i was like yeahhhh!!! im gonna give it a try!
Linda Hardesty says
Hi Dreena. I just discovered your blog and books. I have tried nutritional yeast years ago and did’t like it. Can you please recommend a good brand? Thanks so much. p.s. I asked for your cookbooks for Christmas:-). Linda
Hi Linda! Welcome to my kitchen. 😉 I didn’t like nutritional yeast years ago either – couldn’t understand why the vegan community had such affection for the stuff. Then I tried it in a few things in small amounts, and warmed up to it. Some recipes require a lot, and initially that amount can be off-putting. So, I’d suggest you try a recipe that uses a small amount first – such as the Brazil Nut Parm (instead of the Cheesy Sprinkle). Also, if you search for my “Vegveeta Dip”, that uses NO nooch, but has a cheesy flavor. You could try making that and then adding just 2-3 tsp of nooch to see how you like the flavor with it. As for brands, I like the large flakes, the Bob’s Red Mill brand. You want a fortified nutritional yeast (most are), and sometimes the very small flakes (more like a powder) have a more bitter aroma/taste. When I say large flakes, they are just flaky rather than very powdery. Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-8-Ounce-Packages/dp/B000EDM8FS/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1355493450&sr=1-1&keywords=bob%27s+red+mill+nutritional+yeast Hope that helps. 🙂
Sherry (BTLover2) says
Not sure if my previous comment went through. I’m making your Brazil nut parm right now (smells great). Do you know how long it will keep in the fridge? And can it be frozen? Thanks so much!
Hi Sherry, sorry – I didn’t see your comment come through. It keeps in the fridge for weeks! After a month or two you might find it absorbs other odors from the fridge – but I have made double batches and stored it for a month or more. 🙂
oh, and I haven’t tried freezing it – I think it would be okay, but if you suspect you’d use it within a month or two, I’d prob just refrigerate.
Sherry (BTLover2) says
Hi Dreena! I’m going to be making your Brazil nut parm shortly but have a question. Do you know how long it will keep in the refrigerator? And can it be frozen? I’m the only person in my house who will be eating this and hate to waste a single bit!! Thank you.
A quick question about the Brazil nut version…is there a reason the additional ingredients (nooch, salt, lemon juice) are not just added into the blender/food processor after the nuts are ground up?
Hi, just seeing your comment – very sorry for not replying sooner. I don’t add any liquid to the blender/food processor b/c it can easily turn the nuts into a paste. It’s easier to grind them finely, then toss with the juice, nooch, etc. Hope that answers your q.
Ok, made the cheesy sprinkle yesterday! Had it on my dinner last night and it was SO good. I do miss cheese on top of things, and this was great. Even my kids loved it and it helped them eat their dinner with less nagging haha.
Awesome!!! Thank you Tash. 🙂 Less nagging always good… hear you!
I love your recipes. How long will these cheez substitutes last in the fridge?
thank you. 🙂 I sometimes make a double batch, and it keeps well for weeks. After 3-4 weeks, it can start to absorb other odors in the fridge, but certainly at least that long.
Elizabeth Lee says
Yum! We are nooch fiends in my household, and tend to just use it straight (especially on popcorn), but these both look like great new things to try, particularly on pasta.
I really enjoy your videos – you have a fun presence and such a pretty, pleasant voice. I’m pretty new to your blog, but I’ve been enjoying following your posts, and next time I’m in the cookbook section of the local bookstore, I’m going to head right to B for Burton. 🙂
so sweet of you to say Elizabeth, thank you. 🙂 I love the nooch straight up too, sometimes too much!!
Oh i was thinking the same thing, you look so sweet and friendly. Made me smile just watching!! Love the vids 🙂
2 sweetie-pie compliments in one day, I’m on a roll. 😉 Thanks so much Tash, really kind of you.
Carrie Trantalis says
These look like great options. What is nooch? I am just starting to venture into vegan recipes.
Hi Carrie, “nooch” is the nickname for nutritional yeast… I will note that in the post, sometimes forget that this affectionate term is not so well known. 🙂