Artigiano Cheese Vs. Parmesan

Cheese lovers have likely faced the dilemma of choosing between the many Parmesan-style hard Italian cheeses available today. With options like Parmesan, Grana Padano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano filling cheese counters, it can be hard to decipher which is best for topping pastas or adding depth of flavor to recipes.

Artigiano Cheese Vs. Parmesan

Within this cheese category exists another artisanal Italian offering - artigiano cheese. This newcomer brands itself as an innovative take on Italian hard cheeses. So how exactly does artigiano stack up against traditional parmesan?

How Artigiano Cheese is Made

The artigiano cheese brand was created by experienced Italian cheesemaker Gianni Toffolon. After achieving success with other cheeses like mascarpone and fontina, Toffolon aimed to develop an entirely new type of Italian cheese.

To craft artigiano, Toffolon experiments with mixing cultures and aging techniques. The result is artigiano classico - the flagship original artigiano cheese.

Artigiano classico ages for 6-8 months to achieve its signature flavor and texture. It uses a mixed culture, meaning the complex taste complements various food and drink pairings. Along with artigiano classico, there are also flavored artigiano varieties:

  • Artigiano Vino Rosso: Aged artigiano rubbed with a red wine blend
  • Artigiano Aged Balsamic and Cipolline Onion: Artigiano with balsamic vinegar and sweet onions
  • Artigiano Blueberry: Artigiano with a sweet blueberry swirl

The artigiano cheeses highlight Toffolon's artistry through their unique tastes and textures. Their quality earned them award-winning status at major cheese competitions like the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

How Parmesan Cheese is Made

Parmesan refers to a category of hard Italian cow's milk cheeses. By U.S. standards, any cheese labeled "parmesan" must be aged a minimum of 10 months and have a hard, brittle rind with a granular texture.

The process of making parmesan involves:

  • Letting fresh cow's milk sit so the cream rises to the top
  • Skimming the cream off and combining the remaining milk with whole milk
  • Adding rennet to form soft curds
  • Heating and solidifying the curds
  • Pressing the curds into wheel molds to age

After aging, the parmesan wheels develop their signature hardness and flakiness. They can then be grated to top pastas, salads, and pizzas.

True parmesan like Parmigiano-Reggiano has a protected designation of origin (PDO). This means it must be produced in certain Italian provinces using traditional methods to be called Parmigiano-Reggiano. The minimum aging time is also longer at 12+ months.

Flavor Profiles: Artigiano vs. Parmesan

When it comes to taste, artigiano cheese delivers a unique profile courtesy of Toffolon's proprietary culture mixes and aging techniques.

Artigiano classico imparts sweet, nutty notes. Its crystalline texture provides an interesting contrast with the smooth creaminess.

The flavored artigiano varieties layer tastes like red wine, balsamic vinegar, onions, and fruit onto the classico base. They highlight artigiano's ability to pair well with other ingredients.

Parmesan has a sharper, more robust saltiness than artigiano. Aged parmesan varietals like Parmigiano-Reggiano develop an intensely complex flavor ranging from nutty to brothy. The texture is also very granular.

Parmesan's extra zest makes it well-suited for adding big flavor to dishes like pasta. Artigiano's mellower taste incorporates well into cheese boards and charcuterie plates.

Availability and Uses

Artigiano cheese is produced by BelGioioso Cheese in Wisconsin. It can be found at retailers like Target or ordered through mail order cheese providers.

The artigiano wedges are ready to serve in a cheese course. Their semi-firm body also allows crumbling artigiano over salads or pastas. Artigiano classico and the flavored varieties work well in recipes needing a Parmesan substitute.

Parmesan is mass-produced globally, from the authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano to generic supermarket varieties. The authenticated Parmigiano-Reggiano offers unmatched quality, but comes at a premium price point.

Parmesan styles like Grana Padano provide a middle ground. They boast the crystalline texture of Parmigiano-Reggiano at a lower cost. Domestic U.S. parmesans age for less time than Parmigiano-Reggiano but still deliver a tasty punch of flavor for cooking.

Artigiano vs. Parmesan: Key Differences

Invented in early 2000s by Gianni ToffolonGeneric term for Italian hard cheeses
Made exclusively by BelGioioso in WisconsinProduced globally including Italy
Aged 6-8 monthsAged minimum 10 months for generic parmesan
Unique flavor from proprietary culturesStronger, saltier taste
Mellower taste perfect for snackingRobust zest ideal for cooking
Semi-firm texture, good for crumblingVery granular and hard
Costs close to parmesan stylesRanges from cheap to pricey (Parmigiano-Reggiano)


Is artigiano cheese real Italian cheese?

No. Artigiano is produced by the Wisconsin-based company BelGioioso. It is not an authenticated Italian cheese.

What's the difference between parmesan and Parmigiano Reggiano?

Parmesan is a generic term for hard Italian cheeses. Parmigiano-Reggiano is a protected cheese that must be produced in specific Italian regions under strict regulations to use the name.

Is artigiano cheese better than parmesan?

This depends on the use. Artigiano works well for cheese boards and snacking. Parmesan provides a sharper bite great for cooking. Higher-end parmesans like Parmigiano-Reggiano offer complex flavor and texture.

What's the most authentic parmesan cheese?

Parmigiano-Reggiano is considered the original and most authentic parmesan cheese. It has protected designation of origin status in Italy and the EU.

Is parmesan better freshly grated or pre-grated?

Freshly grated parmesan has more flavor and aroma. Pre-grated parmesan often contains anti-caking agents. Parmesan connoisseurs recommend buying a wedge and grating it yourself.

Can you substitute artigiano for parmesan?

Yes. Artigiano makes a suitable parmesan substitute, especially artigiano classico. Adjust salt and other seasonings since artigiano is less salty than traditional parmesan.


With its award-winning taste and novel aging methods, artigiano cheese offers an intriguing alternative to traditional parmesan cheeses.

Foodies will enjoy its melt-in-your-mouth Crystalline texture and sweet, nutty essence.

Cooks can rely on artigiano types like artigiano classico to substitute for parmesan in recipes.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!