You can’t eat wheat and have a delicious bowl of GF pasta sitting in front of you - is parmesan cheese gluten free?!
You’ll be happy to know that parmesan cheese is naturally gluten free. Keep reading to learn about the different types of parmesan cheese and why one is so much better than the other…
What is parmesan cheese?
Parmesan cheese is a hard, aged cheese made by mixing unpasteurized cow’s milk with whey (bacterial cultures), rennet (enzymes) and salt. The cheese mixture is curdled, placed into a wheel and aged for 12 months.
The ingredients in traditional parmesan cheese (unpasteurized milk, bacteria, enzymes and salt) are naturally gluten free. Yay!
Check product labelling for additional flavourings/ingredients that may contain gluten. Watch out for any cross-contamination warnings.
What's the difference between parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese?
Here’s a fun fact for you... In order for a parmesan cheese to be called Parmigiano-Reggiano, it can only be made in specific provinces in Italy. Parma and Reggio Emilia, to be exact.
(You can win at trivia night now! You're welcome.)
Under Italian and European law, only these areas can produce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, which are aged for 1-3 years and have strict quality control protocols. A master grader will test the cheese wheels to determine if they are top quality parmesan. What a job!
Parmesan refers to the English/American translation of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Products named "parmesan" don’t follow strict protocols and aren’t regulated or aged as long. These cheeses may not even be true parmesan cheeses, but imitations instead.
Types of parmesan cheese
- Traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is formed into a wheel and aged for 12 months. It's grated or shaved on top of pastas, soups or salads.
- Pre-grated parmesan cheese (sometimes called powdered parmesan) is a version that contains parmesan cheese, but additional preservatives and ingredients such as cellulose powder and potassium sorbate. Kraft is a popular brand that sells this type of grated parmesan cheese and is widely available at the grocery store.
Both traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano and powdered (pre-grated) parmesan cheeses are gluten free and safe for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
If you’re looking for a good quality parmesan, skip the powdered version and go for the real stuff. It’s more expensive, but worth it if you’re looking for deeper, more authentic flavours.
Is parmesan cheese dairy free?
Unfortunately, parmesan cheese contains cow’s milk and is not dairy free.
If you are lactose intolerant, however, you may still be able to eat parmesan cheese. Hard cheeses (like parmesan) contain low amounts of lactose.
Is BelGioioso Parmesan gluten free?
Yes, BelGioioso parmesan is gluten free! Raw milk is used for their parmesan, which is aged for 10 months.
Also fun to note: all BelGioioso cheeses are naturally gluten free. Yippee!
Is Kraft Parmesan Cheese gluten free?
Kraft parmesan cheese is gluten free!
It contains the following ingredients: parmesan cheese (pasturized part-skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), cellulose powder, potassium sorbate. These ingredients are naturally gluten free and there are no warnings on the product.
How to use parmesan cheese
Now that you know parmesan cheese is gluten free and safe for you to eat - it’s time to figure out what to do with it!
The classic way to enjoy a bit of parmesan is to grate it on top of a nourishing plate of noodles, but you can also shred it into soups and chilis for a tangy, cheesy taste.
Parmesan cheese is naturally gluten free, but what about these other cheeses? Find out if they are safe to eat on your gluten free diet.
- Is mozzarella gluten free? Mozzarella cheese is naturally gluten free. It's made from milk and whey. As a soft cheese, mozzarella is served right after preparation. Eat it on top of your pizza or as part of a Caprese salad!
- Is cheddar cheese gluten free? Yes, cheddar cheese is naturally gluten free! I suggest you use some to make a steaming pot of Gluten Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
- Is goat cheese gluten free? Goat's milk is naturally gluten free. Check the product labelling for any extra ingredients or warnings if flavoured.
- Is shredded cheese gluten free? It sure is! Shredded cheese has preservatives added such as cellulose or starches (like potato starch), so check the product labelling for any gluten ingredients or warnings.