The 10 Greatest Parmesan Cheeses for Creating Superb Pasta!

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A meal of spaghetti is never complete without a dusting of parmesan! With its flexibility in pasta, risottos, soups, and so much more, parmesan is a favorite among many of us.

Yet, parmesan from the United States and parmesan from Italy are two distinct varieties of cheese. This article examines the distinctions between the two, as well as some of the finest parmesan cheese available from each. We also discuss the nutritional value of parmesan and several wonderful ways to use up the rind from a block of parmesan.

Best Selection

Our favorite is the six-month aged Kraft grated parmesan cheese, which has a flavor lock cover to keep it fresh.

Budget Selection

The gluten free Milanos grated imported parmesan cheese, with its shaker top, is our budget selection of US produced parmesan.

Product Name Grade
Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese A
Milano’s Parmesan Cheese Jars A
Italian Grana Padano B
Caseificio 3090 28-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano B+
igourmet Parmigiano Reggiano 24 Month Top Grade B+
Andrew & Everett Hormone Free Grated Parmesan Cheese A-
igourmet Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio B+
Mama Francesca Premium Parmesan A-
Vacche Rosse (Red Cow) Parmigiano Reggiano A+
Alma Gourmet Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese A

1. ​Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese  

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A 20 oz jar of US-made 100% parmesan grated cheese
  • Made with part-skim milk, this cheese has been aged for six months
  • Has a flavor lock cap to keep the cheese fresh
  • Contains cellulose powder to prevent clumping and potassium sorbate to maintain its flavor

Kraft grated parmesan cheese comes in a 20-ounce container with a flavor lock top to help keep the cheese fresh. This is a six-month-aged parmesan from the United States prepared from pasteurized part-skim milk. Despite the fact that this cheese is labeled as 100% grated parmesan, it contains cellulose powder and potassium sorbate to help with shelf life. Nonetheless, it is still prone to clumping.


  • US parmesan
  • Grated
  • Six months aged
  • Flavor lock cap
  • Part-skim milk


  • Does include cellulose and potassium sorbate
  • Prone to clumping

2. Milano’s Parmesan Cheese Jars 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A grated parmesan made in the US from cheese which has been aged for over 10 months
  • Comes as a 16 oz jar with a shaker top
  • Free from fillers and also gluten free
  • Contains potassium sorbate to preserve flavor and cellulose and corn starch to prevent clumping

Milanos shredded imported parmesan cheese has been aged for over 10 months and comes in a 16 oz shaker top container. The family company, based in New Jersey, creates its parmesan from 100% cow’s milk. This cheese is gluten-free and has no fillers, however it does include maize flour and cellulose to avoid clumping and potassium sorbate to preserve taste.

Several long-time customers believe that the quality of this cheese has worsened in recent years, and that it lacks taste when compared to other grated cheeses. It is prone to clumping, as is most grated hard cheese, so you will need to loosen it before shaking some off.


  • Made in the US
  • 10 months aging
  • Gluten free
  • Filler free
  • Made from pure cow’s milk


  • Contains potassium sorbate, corn starch and cellulose with the cheese
  • This is US made, not Italian imported parmesan
  • Can lack flavor compared to other grated hard cheeses
  • Prone to clumping

3. Italian Grana Padano

Highlighted Characteristics

  • An imported Italian Grana Padano parmesan aged for over 18 months
  • This 1 lb. piece is vacuum sealed and cold shipped
  • Has a fragrant and delicate tasted with a grainy texture

Before being shipped from Italy, the 1 pound chunk of Grana Padano had been matured for nearly 18 months. This Italian hard cheese has a gritty texture and a subtle and aromatic flavor. This cheese is vacuum-sealed and delivered on ice to keep it fresh, which may last up to a year depending on where you live and the time of year.

However, this may not be sufficient to keep the cheese cool until it comes. Several consumers have also discovered that the rind on the slices they have gotten might be thick, leaving less cheese to eat.


  • Imported Italian hard cheese
  • Grana Padano
  • Minimum 18 months matured
  • Grainy texture
  • Delicate taste


  • ​Price is higher to allow for ice shipping when necessary
  • ​Some pieces can have a very thick rind

4. Caseificio 3090 28-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A 2 lb. block of Parmigiano Reggiano from dairy #3090
  • Imported to order on ice direct from Italy
  • This is a creamier cheese that has a creamy and milky finish

This 28-month matured Parmigiano Reggiano comes in a 2 pound air-freighted block from Caseificio Sociale di Borgotaro or dairy #3090. This cheese is creamy with a milky aftertaste.

Some consumers believe that the cheese has not been matured enough, and that there is a possibility of mold growing during transportation, despite the fact that it is transported on ice.


  • Italian parmesan
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 28 months aged
  • Imported to order


  • As it is shipped direct from Italy there can be a risk of it not staying cold
  • Although aged, you may prefer it to be aged even longer
  • May develop mold during shipping

5. igourmet Parmigiano Reggiano 24 Month Top Grade 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • 24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano
  • This Italian parmesan comes as a 2 lb. block which is vacuum packed for freshness
  • Cold packed for shipping depending on the State and time of year

The taste of this 2 pound block of 24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano is nutty and sweet. This is a vacuum packed cheese that will come cold packed depending on the time of year and state, yet a tiny percentage of purchasers have gotten this not wrapped appropriately for warmer climates. This parmesan may also lack some of the nuttiness and crystals seen in aged Parmigiano Reggiano.


  • Italian parmesan
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Aged for two years
  • Nutty and sweet flavor


  • May not always be properly cold packed
  • Can lack the amount of crystals expected in an aged parmesan
  • Some of its nutty flavor can also be lacking

6. Andrew & Everett Hormone Free Grated Parmesan Cheese 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A 7 oz jar of parmesan cheese made in the US from milk sourced from free range, grass fed and hormone free cattle
  • Made with vegetable rennet so it suitable for meat-free/vegetarian diets
  • The parmesan is aged for over 10 months and is suitable for gluten free diets
  • Does not contain fillers, binders or preservatives, just cellulose to reduce clumping

Meatless diets. Andrew Everett grated parmesan cheese is created in the United States from the milk of free-range and grass-fed animals that are BST and rBGH hormone-free. It contains no preservatives, fillers, or binders. It does, however, include cellulose to avoid clumping. This gluten-free cheese has been aged for over ten months and is created with vegetable rennet, making it vegetarian friendly.

This 7 oz jar of cheese may arrive close to its use by date, and some people think its taste is dull.


  • US-made grated parmesan
  • Hormone free and free range milk
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten free
  • Filler free


  • Filler and preservative free, it does still contain cellulose
  • You can find its flavor a little bland compared to other US parmesans
  • This cheese can be short dated

7. igourmet Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A 1 lb. block of Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio is ideal for serving as an appetizer
  • Has a full and fruity flavor with a salty tang
  • Has been aged for 36 months
  • Is shipped on ice to keep it fresh

This 36-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio is available in a 1 pound block. This cheese has a deep golden hue and is densely packed with crystals. It has a delicious and rich taste with a subtle salt tang, and it should be served in pieces or as an appetizer. This parmesan arrives chilled. Others believe it lacks crystals and is closer to a one-year aged parmesan than a three-year aged parmesan.


  • Italian parmesan
  • Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio
  • Aged for 3 years
  • Full and fruity flavor


  • As an aged and cold-delivered Parmigiano Reggiano, this will cost more than other parmesans
  • Some consider this ‘young’ for a three year matured parmesan

8. Mama Francesca Premium Parmesan 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A blend of parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheeses made in the US from European cultures
  • Made with milk from rBST-free cattle; this is also non-GMO
  • Gluten free and does not contain artificial flavors or colors
  • Contains potassium sorbate for flavor protection and cellulose to minimize clumping
  • Flavors of parmesan, with smooth Asiago and sharper Romano

The Mama Francesca grated parmesan is aged for at least 10 months and is made in the United States using a combination of Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheeses from European cultures. This is a non-GMO cheese made from rBST-free cattle that is also gluten free. This cheese, made without artificial tastes or colors, combines the sharper Romano with the silky Asiago.

This 8 oz jar is made with cellulose to avoid clumping and potassium sorbate to keep the tastes fresh. This is prone to clumping like any grated hard cheese and may be a bit bland compared to other US-made parmesan.


  • US-made grated parmesan blend
  • rBST-free milk
  • Non-GMO
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Gluten free


  • Some consider this lacks flavor compared to other US parmesans
  • Does contain cellulose and potassium sorbate
  • Easily clumps

9. Vacche Rosse (Red Cow) Parmigiano Reggiano 

Highlighted Characteristics

  • A 2.2 lb. block of Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Made from Reggiana cattle milk which is prized in parmesan production
  • Has been aged for a minimum of 40 months and as much as 48 months
  • Has a sweet and rich flavor and a granular and very fine texture
  • This parmesan is imported to order from Italy

The Parmigiano Reggiano Vacche Rosse (Red Cow) is made from the milk of Reggiana cattle, which are native to northern Italy and treasured for their milk for parmesans. This 2.2 pound block of cheese is a fine and granular cheese that is sweet and flavorful without being too hot.

This Italian parmesan has been aged for at least 40 months and maybe up to 48 months, and the price reflects the added maturity. It is also supplied straight from Italy, with delivery times ranging from two to five days.


  • Italian parmesan
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Aged between 40 and 48 months
  • Rich and sweet flavor
  • Direct shipping from Italy


  • Its cost reflects its maturity and importing costs
  • Delivery can take around five days

​10. Alma Gourmet Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Highlighted Characteristics

  • 5 lb. of Parmigiano Reggiano aged for 18 months and imported from Italy
  • Has a creamier flavor and is slightly moister than more aged parmesans
  • This is shipped on ice from New York

This 5 pound block of 18-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano comes from Italy. This cheese is transported from New York on ice. The size of this cheese varies; you may get a 5 pound block or it may be chopped into smaller pieces. Since this is a less aged parmesan prepared using pasteurized milk, it may be somewhat moister and creamier than parmesans that have been matured for a longer period of time.


  • Italian parmesan
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 18 months aged
  • Creamy flavor


  • Block sizing can be inconsistent; you may receive a 5 lb. block or 5 lb. of smaller pieces
  • Made with pasteurized milk
  • Can lack the flavor or more mature parmesans

Considerations When Purchasing Parmesan Cheese

The first parmesan cheese was made in Italy some 900 years ago by Cistercian and Benedictine monks in Parma and Reggio Emilia.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the few foods high in umami, or the first flavor that our taste receptors recognize in addition to salt, sweet, bitter, and sour.

The Distinction Between American and Italian Parmesan Cheese

Any firm grated cheese is often referred to as parmesan. According to the FDA, a hard cheese does not have to originate from Italy to be called parmesan. In the United States, parmesan must be made from fresh whole milk, cream, skim milk, or even reconstituted dry milk. The cheese should also have a granular texture, a brittle and firm rind, and be easy to grate. It does not have to be created in Italy; it may be made in the United States.

But, parmesan is a bit more tricky inside the European Union.

Under European law, a variety of cheeses (as well as other foods) have what is known as Protected Designation of Origin, or PDO status. This implies that the cheese’s makers must adhere to tight criteria on manufacturing, maturing, and geographical limits.

While most of us think of Italian hard cheese or parmesan, we are really thinking about Parmigiano Reggiano, often known as parmesan. This parmesan translation is likewise protected by European legislation as a PDO; parmesan obtained its Italian PDO in 1955.

Purchasing Italian parmesan also entails paying a premium since the cheese must be imported from Italy. However, this means that Italian parmesan is more of a luxury commodity that will not be affordable to everyone.

Cheeses Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, and Pecorino Romano

Parmigiano Reggiano, sometimes known as The King of Cheeses, is a high-quality Italian hard cheese. Only in the northern Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna or Lombardy can Parmigiano Reggiano be produced.

This cheese is created from pure and unpasteurized cow’s milk from a herd fed on grass and hay since this diet produces more complexly flavored milk and the absence of pasteurization enables the flavor-adding microbes to stay in the milk.

The cheese must be aged for at least one year, and sometimes three or more. If an Italian parmesan has the appellation Vecchio, it has been matured for 18 to 24 months, whereas Stravecchio has been aged for two to three years.

In Italy, around 490 dairies presently make Parmigiano Reggiano. A wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano weighing at least 66 kg requires around 600 gallons of milk. To begin the curdling process, the milk is partially skimmed and mixed with starting culture. To aid additional curd formation, animal-origin rennet is added, and the mixture is agitated to enable some of the moisture to evaporate. After that, the curds are shaped into wheels and placed in salt baths for taste and preservation. A PDO Parmigiano Reggiano cannot have any additional ingredients added to it.

After the salt bath, the cheese is placed on a rack in a temperature-controlled environment to mature. When the cheese ages, it produces lactic acid, which causes the proteins in the cheese to bind together and drive out the moisture. As these proteins are broken down into amino acids, they provide a nutty flavor to the cheese.

The lipids are broken down into free fatty acids, which provide the cheese taste, and esters, which give the cheese fruitiness when coupled with the cheese’s natural alcohol.

The crunchy crystals observed in Italian hard cheeses are likewise the result of chemical processes. These crystals are the amino acids tyrosine, which appears as crystals, and leucine, which appears as bigger white crystals or pearls.

After aging, Parmigiano Reggiano is examined, and if it passes, the name of the cheese, the year it was manufactured, and the PDO seal are imprinted into its rind. Only Parmigiano Reggiano matured for at least 24 months is often shipped. Unpasteurized cheese may be imported into the United States if it is more than 60 days old.

Grana Padanoparmesano, like Parmigiano Reggiano, is manufactured from cow’s milk and only has to mature for a minimum of nine months. Grana Padano is also produced in a much greater area, has a less concentrated taste, and is sweeter than Parmigiano Reggiano. It is also less expensive.

Pecorino Romano is prepared from sheep’s milk and matured for five to eight months in Sardinia, Lazio, or Grosseto, Tuscany. Pecorino Romano has a sharper taste and more tang than Parmigiano Reggiano. It is also lighter in color, with a black rind.

Vegetarian Vegan Parmesan

While non-animal rennet parmesans are available, they cannot be legally termed parmesan in the European Union since they are not prepared using calf rennet.

Using Parmesan Rinds

There’s no need to toss away parmesan rinds. The rind forms when the cheese matures. While it is totally edible, its hardness makes it difficult to consume, but it may be used in cooking since it contains the whole taste of the cheese.

The rind does not dissolve when cooked; rather, it softens. For more umami, add it to sauces, risottos, or soups, or boil it with herbs to produce a parmesan broth. The rinds may be be stored in the refrigerator for months or frozen.

Nutritional Value

The salt content of American parmesan is higher than that of Italian hard cheeses. Since they are smaller wheels, their increased surface area attracts salt quicker than Italian wheels that might be three times the size.

A one-ounce portion of Italian parmesan provides about 18% of our sodium%DV (% Daily Value) and includes:


11 g


8 g

Saturated fatty acid

5 g


1 g





It also provides 31% of our calcium%DV, 20% of our phosphorous%DV, and 11% of our vitamin B12%DV.

Keeping Parmesan

While there are various methods to store parmesan, the simplest is to place it in a zipper bag, press all the air out, and zip it up; alternatively, use plastic wrap. When exposed to air, parmesan begins to become white and its rind thickens. You may address this by wrapping the parmesan in moist cheesecloth and plastic wrap and refrigerating it overnight. The rejuvenated cheese may then be used the following day and re-wrapped in plastic wrap or a zipper bag.


There is a parmesan for everything, whether you want shredded parmesan to top your pasta or a block to offer with appetizers. Parmesans manufactured in the United States are inexpensive, widely accessible, and do not usually need to be refrigerated until opened. Italian parmesans are more difficult to get and more expensive since they must be imported and frequently supplied cold.

We hope you liked and found our post about parmesan cheese interesting, whether you are a cheese connoisseur or a casual chef. We also hope that this post will assist you in selecting the finest parmesan cheese for spaghetti, among other things.

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