Grana Padano is no parmesan! Find out how they differ from each other and how best to enjoy them

Have you heard of Grana Padano cheese? You may be surprised to learn that it is the most produced cheese in Italy, surpassing even its better-known counterpart Parmigiano-Reggiano!

In this article, you will read why it is so popular, what taste you can expect from it, but above all, how to enjoy its unmistakable taste as much as possible at home!

What is Grana Padano?

It is a crumbly cheese produced in the Italian provinces of the Po Valley. It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in giant copper cauldrons and then aged for a minimum of nine months.

The requirements for its production are very specific. Each piece of cheese is made exactly the same way to give the cheese its unique flavor and grainy texture.

A wheel of large aged cheese and a small wedge on it.

How is Grana Padano made?

It all starts with fresh, semi-skimmed, unpasteurized milk, which is combined with natural whey and rennet in large copper cauldrons.

The resulting curd is crushed by hand and then left to rest for one hour until the curd settles at the bottom of the copper kettle.

The curd is extracted and placed in molds for 24 hours. They are then immersed in a salt solution for two weeks to one month, and finally left to rest for nine to 20 months, during which they are brushed and turned every 15 days.

How Grana Padano is Made – Watch the Production of Italy's Most Popular Cheese
Source: Anders & Kaitlin

Grana Padano vs. Parmigiano-Reggiano

Traditional Italian Parmesan and Padano are very similar, but they actually have to meet several regulations and specifications that differentiate them.

Grana Padano is the most produced cheese in Italy, with about 24% of the country’s milk production used for its production. It comes from the Po valley and is a cheese with a protected designation of origin, which means it must be made in a certain place and in a certain way.

Parmigiano-Reggiano comes from the region including the cities of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua. It also boasts a Protected Designation of Origin, which in its case means the dairy cows must be fed only grass and grains grown in the area and must be milked twice a day. The milk must be delivered to the cheese factory within two hours after milking and its temperature must not fall below 18 C.

Grana Padano is made from partially skimmed raw milk, it has a lower fat content. It ripens faster and is available in three stages of ripeness: 9-16 months, when it has a mild taste, finer texture and light yellow color, 16-20 months, when it is grainier with notes of butter, hay and dried fruit, and more than 20 months, when it has a rich buttery taste and a crumbly crystalline texture. For this reason, it is more often used in cooking.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is aged for at least 12 months and has a stronger, more complex, nuttier and saltier flavor. Therefore, it is more often grated on the surface of the food.

A round of aged cheese and a small wedge of Parmesan.

What does Grana Padano taste like?

Its taste depends on how long it matures. For example, a 9- to 16-month-old cheese has a creamy, slightly grainy texture.

Once it reaches the 16-month mark, the cheese acquires a more crumbly texture and a more pronounced flavor.

And after 20 months it reaches its full flavor potential.

Nutritional values of Grana Padano (per 100 g)

Calorie Carbohydrates Sugars Fats Saturated fatty acids Proteins Fiber Salt
393 calories 4 g 0 g 29 g 18 g 32 g 0 g 714 mg

Although the cheese is made from milk, it becomes lactose-free as it matures. After 9 months of maturation, the enzyme lactase is no longer present in the cheese, making it safe for people with lactose intolerance.
Not only is it lactose-free, but according to medical research, it also helps lower blood pressure, thanks to its high levels of amino acids.

How to cook with Grana Padano?

If you want to use it in the most traditional way, it’s best to add it to classic pasta recipes like pesto, ravioli and this delicious chicken risotto .
This cheese is great on its own, so add it to a cheese plate where it takes on its typical flavor profile that is sweet, slightly fruity with warm caramel notes.
Add the grated shavings to the Brussels sprouts vegetable salad.
If you want to add some flavor to your stock or soup but don’t want to add salt, add its rind, which has enough saltiness.
You can also add cheese crust to fruit pie crust dough, such as these sweet plum pie recipes .
Add it to a lined plate along with figs and berries, honey or marmalade.
Add it to ricotta, mozzarella or any other processed cheese. This combination can be used for lasagna, stuffed mussels or try to prepare real ravioli according to our article .
Melt it in creamy sauces like cacio e pepe, alfredo, carbonara and, of course, mac and cheese.
The best recipes and ways to enjoy delicious matured cheese.

Wine pairing

Red Vines:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sangiovese
  • Barbaresco / Barolo
  • Painting
  • Shiraz

White wines:

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris
  • Soave Classico
  • Condrieu

Sparkling wines:

  • champagne
  • Prosecco
  • Sect
The best red wine to complement nutty cheese.


Store unopened cheese in the refrigerator in a perfectly sealed vacuum bag until the expiration date printed on its package.

After opening, it should be wrapped in foil and last like this for 15-20 days. If a small mold appears on the surface of the cheese, it can be removed with a knife.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)