Title says it all, I'm looking for vegan alternatives to pecorino romano for when I want to make pesto for vegan guests. Not striving for authenticity, and yes pesto is serviceable without the cheese, but it's missing a little something something. If it was just parmesan I could get by with liquid aminos or something, but it seems much harder to emulate sheep's milk cheese. And no, vegan cheeses don't work!

The most important part for me is the taste, as I get most of my texture from how I process the nuts and basil.

  • The question here isn't about vegan substitutes but most if not all of the answers are vegan: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/41935/…
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 2:17
  • I've seen recipes use nutritional yeast.
    – Max
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 9:41
  • 2
    Whichever substitute you add, make sure to salt your pesto sufficiently! Pecorino romano is quite salty, so without it, you'll need to compensate. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


I've used vegan shredded cheese products manufactured by a company named Daiya and have had quite a bit of success. You can find them on Amazon, but products with similar ingredients and labeling might work.

I would recommend a mixture of their parmesan and mozzarella products to get something sort of close to the creamy consistency of pecorino, then add a tiny bit of porcini powder to give it a bit more subtle flavor (a good aged pecorino has a slight tartness to it).

You'll need to experiment, but I've used their 'cheeses' and they melt / blitz rather well.

In a pesto where everything is shredded and blitzed, texture is actually less of an issue. I know you could use the above two types to get the taste; you could probably make something that most people wouldn't even think to question.

But, as with all substitutions, some experimentation will be needed.

  • I'll give this a try. I have a nearly irrational hatred for vegan cheese, but I haven't used Daiya before, and the porcini powder sounds promising. Part of the reason I was trying to avoid vegan cheese is that it ruins the texture you get just from the basil, nuts, and olive oil, but it sounds like you're an expert!
    – RICK
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 23:24

I'm a baker with vegan son and vegan customers. This is best substitute!!

vegan Romano:

3/4 cup (115 grams) of raw cashews 4 tablespoons (20 grams) of nutritional yeast 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is a fine meal texture. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to two months. Be sure to only process the mixture until it forms a fine crumb. If you mix it beyond that, the oils from the cashews will add moisture and form clumps.

  • 1
    This sounds delicious sprinkled on pasta! But for pesto, you already have nuts, garlic, and salt going into the sauce. So perhaps it would be easier just to add nutritional yeast and/or onion powder. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 15:45

Try some "nutritional yeast". It's vegan and a wonderful salty/cheesy flavour. You can find it at any health food store.

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