What cheese for carbonara?
Yeah, exactly. It’s a common question with no easy answer because there are so many delicious options to choose from!
But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve rounded up 9 of the best cheeses for carbonara, so you can pick the perfect one for your dish.
Whether you like your carbonara creamy or cheesy, there is sure to be a cheese on this list that you’ll love.
So go ahead and give one (or all!) of these cheeses a try the next time you make carbonara!
9 Best Cheeses for Carbonara
Good cheeses for carbonara are luckily not that hard to come by.
You want a cheese that will melt well and provide a creamy texture to the dish.
At the same time, you don’t want a cheese that is too strong in flavor and will overwhelm the other ingredients.
Fortunately, there are a number of great cheeses that work well in carbonara.
Here are 9 of the best cheeses for carbonara:
Pecorino Romano has a slightly tangy, almost spicy flavor that pairs perfectly with the creamy sauce in carbonara.
See Also: 17 Pecorino Cheese Recipes I Can’t Resist
It also has a nice, crumbly texture that allows it to melt evenly and coat the pasta well.
Pro Tip: For an extra flavorful carbonara, add some pancetta or bacon to the dish.
This cheese is slightly sharp, but also very complex and layered in flavor.
It’s nutty, salty, and slightly sweet.
The texture is crumbly yet creamy, and it melts beautifully.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is the perfect cheese for carbonara because it really holds its own against the other strong flavors in the dish.
Tips for cooking with Parmigiano-Reggiano:
- Use a microplane to grate the cheese for a super fine texture
- A little goes a long way – start with less than you think you need, and add more to taste
- Save the rind! It can be used to flavor soups and stews
Parmesan cheese is rich, tangy, nutty, sharp, and complex.
It’s perfect for carbonara because it provides a ton of flavor without being overwhelming.
Here are some tips for cooking with Parmesan cheese:
- Use it as a topping for salads, pasta, soup, or pizza
- Add it to egg dishes like omelettes and frittatas
- Use it in sauces and dips
- Make a Parmesan “crust” on chicken or fish
Fresh ricotta has a mild, slightly nutty taste and a creamy texture that makes it perfect for carbonara.
It’s also lower in fat than most other cheeses, so you can feel good about indulging in this dish.
Here are some tips for cooking with ricotta:
- Try to buy fresh ricotta if you can find it. It will have a creamier texture and milder flavor than the store-bought variety.
- If your ricotta is too watery, drain it before using it in your recipe. You can do this by placing it in a colander lined with cheesecloth and letting it sit for 30 minutes.
- Ricotta is versatile! You can use it in sweet or savory dishes. Add some honey and fruit for a quick and easy dessert, or use it as a filling for ravioli or lasagna.
Cheddar mostly has a sharp, pungent flavor, often slightly earthy.
It’s also a very versatile cheese that can be used in many different dishes.
The texture of cheddar varies depending on how long it’s been aged, but it’s generally a hard cheese.
Cheddar is a good cheese for carbonara because it melts well and has a strong flavor that can stand up to the other ingredients in the dish.
Tips for cooking with cheddar:
- Cheddar pairs well with fruit, so try adding some diced apple or pear to your next grilled cheese sandwich.
- Cheddar is also delicious when melted and added to roasted vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts.
- For a quick and easy snack, top crackers or celery sticks with cheddar and a little bit of honey.
Asiago is a bit nuttier and creamier than Parmesan, but it still has that nice sharpness that makes it perfect for carbonara.
It’s also a bit more crumbly, so it melts nicely into the sauce.
Here are some tips for cooking with Asiago cheese:
- If you’re using it as a topping, grate or shred the cheese just before you’re ready to use it. This will help prevent it from drying out.
- Add Asiago to your pasta dishes, salads, and soups for a boost of flavor.
- Try using Asiago in place of Parmesan in your favorite recipes.
Manchego has an intense, zesty taste and a crumbly texture.
It’s the perfect cheese for carbonara because it stands up to the pancetta and holds its own against the other flavors in the dish.
Here are some tips for cooking with Manchego:
- Don’t be afraid to use a lot of it – a little goes a long way, but this is a dish where you want the cheese to be front and center.
- If you’re using Manchego in a dish that also has strong flavors (like carbonara), don’t be afraid to go heavy on the cheese. A little extra will only make the dish more flavorful.
- When grating Manchego, use a coarse grater. This will help prevent the cheese from turning into a mushy mess.
Piave has a tropical fruit flavor and slight almond bitterness.
It is a hard, crumbly cheese that melts well and has a creamy texture when cooked.
- Piave pairs well with fruity, dry red wines like Chianti or Barbera.
- Try grating Piave over roasted vegetables, grilled meats, or in pasta dishes.
- This cheese can also be used in place of Parmesan in carbonara.
This cheese is a hard, Italian cheese with a crystalline texture.
It’s salty and nutty, with a slightly sweet finish.
The flavor is fairly mellow, which makes it a good choice for dishes like carbonara, where you don’t want the cheese to overpower the other ingredients.
Some tips for cooking with Grana Padano:
- shave or grate the cheese into thin pieces for maximum meltability
- if you’re using it in a sauce, add it at the end so that it doesn’t curdle
- try pairing it with fresh fruits or jams for a sweet and savory snack
3 Things to Consider when Picking a Cheese for Carbonara
If you love carbonara, you know that the cheese is key to achieving the perfect balance of creamy and salty goodness.
Here are three things to consider when picking a cheese for your carbonara:
- The hardness of the cheese. A harder cheese will take longer to melt and may not achieve that desired creamy consistency. A softer cheese, on the other hand, will melt quickly and may make your sauce too runny.
- The saltiness of the cheese. You want a cheese that is salty enough to complement the pancetta or bacon in your carbonara, but not so salty that it overpowers the dish.
- The flavor of the cheese. A milder cheese will allow the flavors of the pancetta and egg to shine through, while a stronger flavored cheese will add its own distinct flavor to the dish.
9 Best Cheeses for Carbonara
- Pecorino Romano
- Asiago Cheese
- Spanish Manchego
- Grana Padano
- Choose your favorite cheese from this list to add to your Carbonara recipe.
- Prepare the rest of your meal.
- Enjoy in no time!