87 Recipes Elevated By Parmesan Cheese

Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano imparts an incredible complexity of flavors to whatever it's added to, so it's no wonder some people call it the "king of cheeses." Parmesan, as it's also called, is an Italian hard cheese with a grainy texture that tastes nutty, yet fruity. It's creamy, sharp, tangy, and richly bold and complex. Real, authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano is made in a specific region of Italy, and cheesemakers have been crafting this artisanal cheese for centuries. 

You may think of Parmesan as mainly being something you grate, sprinkle, or shake on top of a pasta dish. And yes, adding some parm is a wonderful way to pep up a plate of spag bol. Or, you may love it as an ingredient in creamy alfredo sauce, which is also where this umami-packed cheese shines. You can even save your Parmesan rinds to give your broths and sauces an extra dose of bold, savory flavor. The superb taste and special qualities of Parmesan can add a lot to a dish, and it isn't just used in Italian food. Here are some recipes elevated by Parmesan for you to try, from an array of craveable pasta dishes to some unexpected dips, spreads, and sauces.

1. Chicken Parmesan

There's no doubt that Parmesan cheese is in chicken parmesan — it's right there in the name. And what a show of flavor it presents for this Italian-American classic. Use fresh cheese for this dish and be sure to grate it yourself. If you must, you can use pre-grated Parmesan, but this meal really doesn't deserve the variety of powdery cheese that comes out of a can. After all, the better your Parmesan, the more flavorful your food will be. You've got a double dose of cheese too, in the breadcrumbs and baked on top. Serve with pasta, an eggplant dish, or green salad. 

Recipe: Chicken Parmesan

2. Eggplant Parmesan

Cheesy and comforting, this veggie dish makes for a comforting homecooked meal, but recipe developer Maren Epstein notes it can also hold its own at a dinner party. The Italian cheese is sprinkled on the top to complement the mozzarella. You can take the skins off the eggplant rounds, but they do look great on. Either way, salting them is essential to draw the bitterness out. Meanwhile, baking the breadcrumbed slices before adding cheese and sauce means that they'll stay crispy, so don't miss this step. After you've baked these cheesy, saucy layers, serve them with a basil garnish. 

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

3. Spicy Shrimp Parmesan Pasta

Shrimp, pasta, and Parmesan are destined to bring out the best in each other. While you might be used to adding Parmesan on top of pasta, this penne recipe incorporates it into the sauce, after the shrimp have been fried in olive oil with garlic. It's easiest to use shelled, deveined shrimp for this recipe, but recipe developer Sher Castellano notes you can do this yourself by moving a fork tine along the vein toward the tail. Serve the finished dish with grated Parmesan, black pepper, and chili flakes on the side. Bon appetit!

Recipe: Spicy Shrimp Parmesan Pasta

4. Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan

Traditionally, eggplant Parmesan is a pan-fried dish, but this recipe is done in the oven, resulting in a gooey cheese and tomato dish that's beyond good. After taking off the top, cut your eggplant vertically, so you end up with big slices. (You should get six out of one eggplant.) And make sure you bake both sides after they've been breadcrumbed, before adding the marinara sauce, mozzarella, and grated Parmesan. You'll know it's ready when the cheese melts and starts to bubble on top after a few minutes.

Recipe: Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan

5. Parmesan Crusted Fried Mushrooms

Fried and coated in cheese has got to be one of the most delicious ways to enjoy mushrooms. They're so crunchy and delicious, and by adding some paprika and garlic powder into the batter, you're really amping up the taste factor of these magnificent mushroom morsels. Just be sure to dry your mushrooms before chopping. For meatier bites, chop into thicker pieces, or cut into thin strips for extra crisp ones. Add a pinch of flour to hot oil, and if it sizzles, you're ready to fry. 

Recipe: Parmesan Crusted Fried Mushrooms

6. Scott Conant's Bolognese With Parmigiano-Reggiano Fonduta

This outrageously good Italian dish wouldn't exist without Parmesan to elevate the rich taste of Bolognese and the velvety softness of the tagliatelle. Not only are you going to add the cheese — along with butter and olive oil once the meat and pasta gets combined — off the heat, but you also drizzle it on top in a fonduta, which is basically like Italian fondue. Made by blending reduced cream with Parmesan and olive oil, fonduta adds another dimension to the classic combo of Parmesan and pasta, taking the whole concept to another level.

Recipe: Scott Conant's Bolognese With Parmigiano-Reggiano Fonduta

7. Parmesan Risotto

The creamy taste of risotto is created from the arborio rice and, of course, Parmesan cheese, which is integral to this wonderful Italian rice dish. This recipe adds a twist: You bake the risotto in the oven instead of stirring it on the stovetop. It's made using sweet Visalia onions, dry white wine, and a good amount of quality fresh Parmesan. Create layers of intense flavor by adding cheese to the rice, Parmesan rinds to the stock, and stirring in even more Parmesan once it's cooked.

Recipe: Parmesan Risotto

8. Parmesan Roasted Carrots

The simple sweetness and crunch of roasted carrots and the tangy cheesiness of Parmesan come together to promise a splendid side. The carrots are halved lengthways which adds to their visual appeal, with chopped parsley adding a burst of green to finish. Add some seasoned breadcrumbs too if you like, or you could throw in some gremolata or some pistachios. There's room to make this dish your own! Plus, parmesan on roasted veg goes with so many dishes, whether a pot roast, a honey-glazed salmon, or a veggie chickpea curry. 

Recipe: Parmesan Roasted Carrots

9. Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Fries

When serving these air fryer fries, you really need to be prepared — prepared for plenty of lip-smacking and satisfied sighs. The garlicky, melty cheese topping is literally too good and takes a humble everyday dish to a luxurious level. Parmesan doesn't just elevate these potatoes, it transforms them. Soak your chipped potatoes in water before cooking to make them crispier. Layer the cheese and fries so the ingredients all mix together, and bake them again to really get your melt on.

Recipe: Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Fries

10. Baked Parmesan Spinach Balls

The spinach and Parmesan flavors match perfectly in this vegetarian take on meatballs, and they're appetizing for meat-eaters too, of course. They're simple to make; just make sure your spinach is well-drained before adding it to the other ingredients — including the grated Parmesan — otherwise the mixture will be too wet. And it's important to really stir the mix so everything is well-combined, which makes it easier to form the paste-like mixture into balls. Once baked, serve with a marinara dipping sauce on the side, or try an aioli or even some mustard.

Recipe: Baked Parmesan Spinach Balls

11. One-Pot Chicken Parm Pasta

Everyone loves a one-pot dish, especially a wonderfully creamy Chicken parm pasta. It's the ultimate comfort food. Small pieces of chicken make the breading process easier, and herbs and red pepper help pep up store-bought marinara sauce. Keep part of your crispy chicken pieces popping out the top of the pasta and sauce so they don't get too soggy. You can add broccoli or spinach too. Melt the Parmesan and mozzarella under a broiler if you want it to brown, and serve the whole thing with a salad or some garlic bread.

Recipe: One-Pot Chicken Parm Pasta

12. Baked Mac And Cheese

If you're used to mac and cheese out of a box, this dish will provide a totally different cheesy experience. It's not just that this recipe is cooked in the oven like a casserole, it's the topping — panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan sprinkled on before baking — that adds that unique blast of taste and texture. To make the most of this crunchy, cheesy top, mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan first. You can also add chopped bits of cooked bacon into the rich, creamy sauce, if you're feeling it. 

Recipe: Baked Mac And Cheese

13. Copycat Olive Garden Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Bring your favorite Olive Garden dish home with this winning combination of crispy, cheesy chicken served with pasta and a creamy sauce. The Parmesan is added to the breadcrumbs before the chicken tenders are fried, which really brings out the flavor of the cheese. The sauce that's spooned over the top of the chicken and bowtie pasta (made with cream, sour cream, and asiago cheese, plus garlic, white wine, and basil) complements the tang of the Parmesan too. This dish pairs well with steamed broccoli and mushrooms. 

Recipe: Copycat Olive Garden Parmesan Crusted Chicken

14. Cheese Souffle

Impressive and irresistible, these cheese soufflés are a great way to show your favorite foodie some love. Buttered ramekins coated in Parmesan ensure this dish is going to be a bold flavor statement, which is backed up with either cheddar or Gruyere. To encourage your soufflés to rise, recipe developer Ting Dalton suggests gently folding in the beaten egg whites to keep the air in and running a knife around the filled ramekins to create a "top hat" effect. A good tip to separate eggs is to use your fingers, holding the yolk and letting the whites drip into a bowl. 

Recipe: Cheese Souffle

15. Air Fryer Parmesan Brussels Sprouts

As these incredibly flavorsome Parmesan Brussels sprouts prove, there's no reason a side dish should be an afterthought. This recipe brings out the nutty sweetness of the sprouts by roasting them. Meanwhile, you can let the cheese really become part of the dish by adding it halfway through cooking, with or without some breadcrumbs. To highlight the distinct taste of the cheese, you may want to sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan on just as you serve. This is a great side to salmon and pasta, and will feel right at home in a Buddha bowl.

Recipe: Air Fryer Parmesan Brussels Sprouts

16. Easy Cheese Sauce

So many recipes incorporate a cheese sauce, and you can also serve this velvety, cheesy creaminess as a side to pour over all types of dishes. Imagine drizzling it over French fries, or serving it with veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower. It's also wonderful added to pasta, used to make a mac and cheese, or paired with meats, burgers, and sandwiches. The cheesy flavor of this sauce is also enhanced by adding Dijon mustard and garlic. While you can swap out the cheddar for blue cheese or Gruyere, tangy, salty Parmesan is a must.  

Recipe: Easy Cheese Sauce

17. One-Pot Mac And Cheese

If the thought of making a roux for a sauce doesn't appeal to you, don't despair, as this one-pot mac and cheese wonder doesn't need one. What can't be missed out on, though, is the combination of cheeses which add texture, gooeyness, and in the case of Parmesan cheese, a real flavor boost. Parmesan needs the meltiness of mozzarella, the creaminess of cream cheese, and the sharpness of Cheddar. Be sure to finely grate it, as what you want from the Parmesan is that super-concentrated taste. An optional baked breadcrumb topping can add a nice finishing touch.

Recipe: One-Pot Mac And Cheese

18. Air Fryer Mac And Cheese

What's so great about cooking is finding out new ways to make old classics. This mac and cheese is made in the air fryer, and what makes it interesting is how the Parmesan and other ingredients are added to the uncooked pasta before cooking. The pasta becomes tender as the Parmesan, along with the Cheddar cheese and stock, create a richly flavorful taste. The icing on the cake (or in this case, the cheese on the cheese dish) is adding panko and Parmesan over the top and baking further.

Recipe: Air Fryer Mac And Cheese

19. Cheesy Ciabatta Garlic Bread

You literally cannot go wrong with garlic bread. Everyone loves it. You can make this soft, buttery, garlicky dish taste even better by melting some cheese on the top. Shredded Parmesan is mixed with mozzarella, added to the bread, and toasted on top. Be sure to only add the cheese once you've broiled the ciabatta with garlic butter on top first, making sure you don't get burned as you top it with the cheese. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil and thyme, plus chili flakes if you want some heat.

Recipe: Cheesy Ciabatta Garlic Bread

20. Homemade Lobster Ravioli

Citrus and goat cheese adds lightness to this luxurious lobster ravioli, while the Parmesan really packs in some flavor intensity and the shallot blends in some sweetness. Along with half and half, garlic, lemon juice, and Parmesan are the main ingredients for the creamy sauce. You're going to use shaved Parmesan for this, and also adding some shavings atop the finished dish. Use frozen, cooked lobster for ease if you like, and don't overfill your ravioli, leaving the edge of your pasta squares free so you can press them together into sumptuous seafood parcels. 

Recipe: Homemade Lobster Ravioli

21. Simple Caesar Salad

With some dishes, you can omit an ingredient and it won't make too much of a difference. This isn't the case with the Parmesan in this Caesar salad. The crunchy Romaine lettuce hearts served with crunchy croutons and a creamy sauce just wouldn't be the same without this desirable Italian cheese. Toss the salad in dressing before adding the cheese, and pasteurize your egg with lemon juice (or cook it in the microwave, if you don't want to use raw eggs). If you want to get creative with your garnish, add raspberries and cherry tomatoes for color and flavor.

Recipe: Simple Caesar Salad

22. Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad

If you haven't tried grilling a wedge of Romaine lettuce yet, this could become your next favorite variation of Caesar salad. The charred taste of the Romaine heart contrasts superbly with the creamy dressing and tang of shaved Parmesan. Tip: To keep the leaves together, avoid cutting the base of the lettuce off. It's really up to you how many Parmesan shavings you sprinkle on top, while a few on the side of the plate provide a nice presentation touch. Add grilled chicken to make this salad more of a meal.

Recipe: Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad

23. Slow Cooker Mushroom Risotto

Using a slow cooker mixes up the traditional way of making creamy risotto. However, the flavors remain just as powerful, with mushrooms defining this version. Once you've made risotto this way once, you could add other vegetables into the recipe too such as zucchini, peppers, and diced carrots. Parmesan lifts the dish as it's stirred into the risotto at the end, along with shredded kale and thyme. Serve with meats, roasted veggies, or add in some more kale — why not?

Recipe: Slow Cooker Mushroom Risotto

24. Creamy Tomato Risotto

This creamy, colorful tomato risotto is made the traditional way — on the stovetop — and uses vegetable stock, making it vegetarian-friendly. (However, you can sub in chicken stock if you prefer.) Only stir in a cup of stock at a time, letting it absorb into the arborio rice before adding more. There shouldn't be any liquid left in your pan when it's ready. Parmesan lifts the creamy, tomatoey flavors, and make sure to sprinkle on grated Parmesan as a garnish. You might want to also add ribbons of basil and roasted mushrooms. 

Recipe: Creamy Tomato Risotto

25. Traditional Arancini

Fabulous fried risotto balls, the crispy and creamy texture of arancini are ridiculously good. These bite-size snacks are served in coffee shops and bakeries across Italy, but they're popular practically everywhere. Parmesan is added once the risotto is cooked, and the trick is to then chill the rice dish so it's easier to form into the right shape around a cube of mozzarella. Serve your cheesy bites as a side, in place of pasta, or as a dish all on its own, with a simple marinara dip.

Recipe: Traditional Arancini

26. Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

The golden rule when making risotto is to let the flavor combinations shine through. A successful risotto showcases the creamy texture of the arborio rice and salty tang of the Parmesan which elevates all the other ingredients. Butternut squash, sage, and nutmeg add wonderful warm flavor notes to this recipe, while the Parmesan and parsley give the dish brightness and umami. Cooking with an Instant Pot is easier than using the stovetop too, and once you add the Parmesan, let the rich risotto rest, so it thickens as the Italian cheese melts.

Recipe: Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

27. Chicken Risotto

Making great risotto is more about time and patience than a display of great culinary skills. If you love Parmesan, then risotto celebrates it like no other. This recipe adds some chicken in too, and if you add some more veggies, you can make a heartier meal out of this dish. It's also delicious served with a green salad or roasted veggies on the side. Porcini mushrooms really elevate this dish, adding an earthy savoriness to the chicken, creamy rice, and flavorful aromatics.  

Recipe: Chicken Risotto

28. Instant Pot Risotto

If you have an Instant Pot, there's no excuse to shy away from making a wonderfully nourishing risotto. And why would you want to, when creamy rice and Parmesan are such a perfect, comfort-food pairing? Once your baby bella mushrooms have cooked along with your Arborio rice and dried thyme, you're ready to add the rest of the ingredients into the mix and bring out the complex flavors of this dish. Yes, this is when you add Parmesan cheese, along with lemon juice and zest, frozen peas, and unsalted butter. 

Recipe: Instant Pot Risotto

29. Creamy Garlic Butter Pasta

When a recipe is as simple as this garlic butter pasta, the ingredients need to bring out the best in each other. Parmesan and pasta? Check. Parmesan and a creamy, buttery sauce? Check. It's important that when you add the grated cheese to the cream, butter, and minced garlic that's been simmering, you take the pot off the heat. You want the Parmesan to melt into the sauce, not burn. Once you've added your penne, keep it simple and serve with a simple parsley garnish, or add chicken, kale, or peas.

Recipe: Creamy Garlic Butter Pasta

30. Baked Ziti

Pasta baked in the oven with marinara sauce, a mix of ricotta cheese and egg, and mozzarella is destined to be delicious. Add Parmesan to the mix, and this ziti is given an unmistakable extra push of salty, umami flavor. Because the ricotta is so creamy, you can leave the egg out of this sauce if you like — just beat the cheese with the Parmesan. Spread the cheesy mix over the pasta if you want even coverage, or add it in spoonfuls so some bites taste more intensely creamy. 

Recipe: Baked Ziti

31. Creamy Pasta With Pancetta And Peas

Use ingredients that everyone loves and you don't have to be a culinary whiz in the kitchen. Parmesan adds cheesy wonder to this combination of soft penne pasta, crispy pancetta, and peas, plus lots of garlic. You can't go wrong with a combo like that! While this recipe is simple, make sure to take the creamy sauce off the heat as you stir in the Parmesan. As it melts, the sauce thickens and the cheesy flavor reaches every part of this dish, embracing the cooked pasta as it coats every noodle. 

Recipe: Creamy Pasta With Pancetta And Peas

32. Instant Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken

Parmesan brings out the best in this creamy, garlicky, mushroom sauce that gets ladled over juicy chicken thighs. This has to be the easiest sauce to make ever, as all you're doing is adding Parmesan cheese to sour cream and sprinkling in some Italian seasonings. This recipe calls for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, but if you use boneless, skin-off thighs (or chicken breast) then that's fine. Just alter the cooking time accordingly. If your cheesy sauce is too thin, add some cornstarch. Serve with mash, roast potatoes, or with rice, pasta, or veggies. 

Recipe: Instant Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken

33. Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

These cheesy, savory stuffed mushrooms just might end up in your permanent rotation of party recipes. Stuffed mushrooms are tasty however you do them, but what really brings these ones up a whole other level is adding Parmesan into the filing along with cream cheese, spinach, and artichoke hearts. Lemon juice and garlic powder lift the taste, too. The breadcrumbs add a lovely crunch, and if you want these bites to be more of an entrée, use portobello mushrooms rather than button ones. Spritz with lemon and serve.

Recipe: Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

34. Easy Smoked Salmon Fettuccine

If you're of the opinion that cheese and seafood don't mix, then be prepared to have your mind changed. Rather than being doused in sauce, this recipe flaunts a beautiful simplicity that lets the succulence of smoked salmon, bold character of Parmesan, and velvety fettuccine define each incredible bite. The Italian cheese is thrown into the cooked pasta and sautéed garlic, coating the soft ribbons, so there's no need for any extra creaminess, with the salmon to follow and chopped parsley adding a pop of color. Serve with garlic bread. 

Recipe: Easy Smoked Salmon Fettuccine

35. Spinach Artichoke Bites

Adding Parmesan on top of these puff pastry bites before they're baked in the oven doesn't just make them gorgeous and golden-brown on top. The heat also brings out the full flavor of the melted cheese! The spinach — which goes so well with Parmesan — and marinated artichokes get encased in a filling made from sour cream and soft Neufchâtel cheese, which can be replaced with cream cheese if needs be. Eat these sophisticated bites as a snack, appetizer, or side. Cheesy and savory, they're best enjoyed warm rather than super hot.

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Bites

36. Mini-Frittatas

While this recipe technically calls for salty, sharp Pecorino cheese, Parmesan is a worthy alternative as it also brings out the flavor of eggs. Roasted broccoli and sautéed onion are added to whisked-up eggs with the cheese and baked in muffin tins, so you end up with cute, individual frittatas. They're a great snack or appetizer, and also a brilliant dish to pep up breakfasts and brunches. One interesting way to serve them is with a warm salad — just flash-fry arugula in a skillet for 90 seconds and serve with a dressing drizzled on top.  

Recipe: Mini-Frittatas

37. Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

Parmesan and pesto dominate this Italian-inspired pasta salad. In addition to using fresh Parmesan, use a good quality pesto, as this makes all the difference. A great tip to get the cheese and pesto into every twist of the soft fusilli spirals is to add a little pasta water to loosen up the consistency. While this recipe is made with arugula, feel free to make it with spinach instead, and cherry tomatoes can replace grape tomatoes as well. Bump it up into a bigger dish by adding grilled chicken or shrimp. 

Recipe: Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

38. Basil Pesto Sauce

Bring out the extraordinary flavors of basil and Parmesan by making this Italian condiment yourself. And yes, it's definitely worth it. Cheesy, salty, nutty, and herby, pesto is perfect on pasta but can liven up plenty of other dishes too. Just use your imagination — add some into the mix when making homemade hamburgers and meatballs, or combine it with an equal amount of hummus. To mellow out the strong basil taste add in some spinach instead, while almonds, cashews, pecans, or walnuts can replace pricey pine nuts. Taste, and add more Parmesan if needed.

Recipe: Basil Pesto Sauce

39. Creamy Pesto Pasta

You won't be able to get enough of this creamy pesto pasta, and it's no surprise that the sauce added to the fusilli pasta is made from cream and pesto. While pesto is made with cheese, it's the grated parmesan that you add to the pasta and sauce that melts and brings that cheesy, herby taste to the forefront. Of course, what makes a Parmesan-infused pasta dish even better is adding a generous sprinkling of the cheese on top to serve. 

Recipe: Creamy Pesto Pasta

40. Classic Meatloaf With a Twist

You probably don't associate tangy Parmesan with traditional meatloaf, but this recipe is definitely a flavor-enhancing twist on a classic. Parmesan is mixed into the ground beef to boost the savory taste. And pesto, which is cheesy too, is added to the mix as well as the ketchup mixture glazing the top. To bake as a freestanding loaf (as opposed to in a tin) press the meatloaf mix first so it's not too loose. Let your cheese-boosted loaf stand for 10 minutes before serving, while cold leftovers are delicious in a sandwich.

Recipe: Classic Meatloaf With A Twist

41. Easy Garlic Scape Pesto

The nuttiness of Parmesan boosts the flavor of garlic magnificently. If you're already in love with that flavor combo, then add pine nuts and good quality olive oil to make a silky garlic scape pesto. Feel free to give this recipe a boost by adding in more garlic scapes. If you want an alternative to pine nuts, then pumpkin or sunflower seeds are a good choice. Want more ways to make it your own? Create a lighter pesto by adding in more olive oil, or add a blast of sourness with some lemon juice.

Recipe: Easy Garlic Scape Pesto

42. Homemade Pesto Hummus

It's true that homemade hummus is yummy, but if you want to create a dip with a difference, blend in some more cheesy, nutty elements. This pesto hummus is beautifully bright and herby and the Parmesan shines through, literally transforming your everyday chickpea and tahini dip. Serve with carrot batons, pita bread, or crackers; try it with slices of cucumber and peppers; or use it as a sandwich filling. Once you've blitzed all your ingredients in a blender, you can use lemon juice or olive oil to make the dip thinner to suit your tastes. 

Recipe: Homemade Pesto Hummus

43. Pasta Primavera

Asparagus, zucchini, and yellow squash simmer in red wine vinegar with some grape tomatoes in this veggie-filled delight of a pasta dish. Of course, you can add diced chicken or sausage, or perhaps some lobster bites or shrimp if that's more your thing. That's what's great about this dish — it's so customizable. For a meat-free meal, add some mozzarella balls, smoked gouda, or goat cheese. Whatever you do, don't forget the crowning glory: Parmesan generously sprinkled on top, plus some silky ribbons of basil.

Recipe: Pasta Primavera

44. Easy One-Pot Pasta With Spinach and Tomatoes

When pasta is cooked in the sauce it's served in, cooking is so much easier. One-pot recipes may be easy, but they can still dazzle with flavor. Here, complex, bold Parmesan cheese certainly enriches this spinach and tomato offering. Use fresh or canned tomatoes, and kale and Swiss chard are good green additions too. You don't need meat for the flavor, but you can add some shredded chicken, cooked ground beef, or seared sausage to the mix, along with — what else? — grated Parmesan.

Recipe: Easy One-Pot Pasta With Spinach and Tomatoes

45. One-Pot Whole Wheat Pasta Carbonara

If you're up for creating a healthier version of an indulgent Italian classic, then try this creamy carbonara made with whole wheat pasta. The pasta — also made in one pot — adds a lovely nuttiness, which reflects the nutty flavor of Parmesan. The key to getting this dish just right is only adding the eggs and Parmesan when the pan is off the heat, and to keep stirring. That way, the raw eggs cook through and the Parmesan melts. Don't use all your cheese at once though, as you need more on top.

Recipe: One-Pot Whole Wheat Pasta Carbonara

46. Easy Tortellini

Italian sausage in a tomatoey sauce with tortellini, spinach, and Parmesan is a brilliant go-to recipe for weekdays. Chickpeas, tofu, or white beans can be used in place of the meat if you'd prefer; just add them in at the end of the cooking process. And if you want an alternative to heavy whipping cream, then swap this up for cream cheese instead. If you like some heat, then add a healthy shake of chili flakes to the pot, and instead of crushed tomatoes make this dish with fire-roasted ones. 

Recipe: Easy Tortellini

47. Baked Clam Dip

Chopped clams mixed into a dip made from sour cream and cream cheese sounds mouthwatering enough, but this recipe adds some wonderful taste highlights to this classic combo. The smoked paprika adds a little kick, as does the Sriracha sauce, though any hot sauce will work just as well. Meanwhile, a good tip is to add some clam juice to make the consistency of the mixture more dip-like. What really elevates this flavorsome, seafood appetizer is covering it with Parmesan cheese and baking it so it turns gorgeously golden brown. Add green onions and parsley on top, and serve with chips, crackers, or crudités.

Recipe: Baked Clam Dip

48. Pasta Alla Norma

This traditional Sicilian dish may have humble ingredients, but that doesn't mean it can't taste magnificent. The pasta, eggplant, and red sauce create culinary harmony, and the Parmesan adds a crescendo of interest with its salty, fruity complexity. The grated cheese covers the top, melting into the pasta along with chopped Italian parsley. To get just the right balance, make sure the eggplant is sliced thinly and don't overcrowd the pan when you fry it so that it browns nicely. Enjoy this hearty pasta with breaded chicken and salad.

Recipe: Pasta Alla Norma

49. 30-Minute Tortellini Skillet Lasagna

With a trio of cheeses, this Italian pasta dish features the softness of ricotta, stretchy loveliness of mozzarella, and nutty sharpness of Parmesan. While this recipe adds sausage, you can easily make it meat-free, and for a kick add crushed red pepper or switch the marinara for an arrabbiata sauce. The dried basil and oregano gives the cheesy mix an Italian herb flavor, which complements the tomatoey tortellini. Be sure not to mix in the cheese; leaving the rich dollops of ricotta intact will be worth it. And of course, leave enough grated Parmesan to top your cheese topping with even more cheese.

Recipe: 30-Minute Tortellini Skillet Lasagna

50. Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna

Did you know you can make a lasagna without using any pasta at all? The beauty of this veggie variation on a popular classic, which cleverly uses thin slices of zucchini in place of pasta sheets, is that you still get the mouthwatering cheesy, tomato taste, so it still tastes like comfort food. Parmesan stars throughout this dish, making an appearance in two layers, mixed with soft ricotta and stringy mozzarella. Serve it with chicken, or tofu if you prefer a meat-free meal. Roasted broccoli is a winning side to this dish too.

Recipe: Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna

51. Crustless Zucchini Quiche

This cheesy zucchini quiche is crustless, meaning it isn't made with any pastry. That way, the eggs and heavy cream are in the spotlight, becoming wonderfully fluffy as they set and brown at the edges. What better way to elevate this creamy mix than by making it cheesy? In addition to cheddar, this recipe adds Parmesan as well, and these flavors stand out marvelously within the fluffy quiche. Excellent for breakfast, brunch, or light lunches, serve this quiche with a salad and perhaps a Bloody Mary, or, as per French tradition, with fried potatoes. 

Recipe: Crustless Zucchini Quiche

52. Easy Fried Zucchini

This fried zucchini recipe may be simple, but the luxurious addition of Parmesan cheese creates a seriously bold flavor. Use freshly grated Parmesan for this recipe, as not only will it taste so much better than pre-grated, it'll cook better and won't burn as quickly. You want it to blend with the breadcrumbs, so finely grate the cheese so it doesn't stick out in the coating. A good tip is to slice the zucchini diagonally so you get bigger pieces than if you cut it into rounds. Serve it with marinara sauce, or try it with ranch or a mixture of sour cream and mayo.

Recipe: Easy Fried Zucchini

53. Air Fryer Crispy Cod

Fish and chips might be a longtime British culinary tradition, but where there's a classic dish, there's always a way to give it a contemporary culinary twist. This recipe adds Parmesan into the breadcrumb coating after it's been dipped in batter. The umami flavor you get from this air-fried cod dish comes down to the fact that the fish is double dipped in the batter and cheesy panko mixture. It's better to use fresh, not frozen, cod fillets, and to boost the dish's savory intensity, serve it with air fryer truffle fries. 

Recipe: Air Fryer Crispy Cod

54. Creamed Spinach

While you don't have to include Parmesan in this deliciously rich creamed spinach recipe, it takes the flavor profile to a higher level. Parmesan and spinach complement each other, while nutmeg and garlic add some warmth. To add some heat, you can season with chili flakes or cayenne pepper. If you can use fresh spinach, and let the cream reduce slowly so you get that deliciously thick sauce. Paper towels are a good way to dry the spinach, if you're using frozen. While Parmesan is added to the sauce, if you're using it, you might as well sprinkle some on top too. 

Recipe: Creamed Spinach

55. Copycat Longhorn Steakhouse Mac And Cheese

If you're making a cheesy dish like this restaurant-style favorite, then don't hold back. While some cheese sauces are made with one, possibly two cheeses, this one adds in four. The rich taste of grated Parmesan adds oomph to the baked pasta, with some help from the distinctive tastes of cheddar, fontina, and Gruyère. It's a case of go cheesy or forget about it, and the half-and-half adds even more creaminess to the final product. Stir your sauce rather than whisk it, and enjoy the crunchy panko and bacon topping.

Recipe: Copycat Longhorn Steakhouse Mac And Cheese

56. Butternut Squash Pasta

If you're tired of the same-old-same-old pasta dishes, then this butternut squash linguine is bound to be a welcome change. Instead of squash, you can also use pumpkin, or simply add pumpkin puree into the sauce. For a smooth sauce, make sure the squash is roasted until it's nice and soft. Keep some of the starchy pasta water, as it can help thicken your sauce if needs be. Seasonings like garlic powder and oregano create balance, and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan once you've dished it out adds a final savory touch.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Pasta

57. Chicken Lasagna With Red Sauce

Lighten up your lasagna by switching up some of the classic ingredients. Instead of beef, this recipe is made using chicken. Remember how starchy and creamy traditional béchamel sauce is? That same creaminess can be conjured with just cheese. This makes the process simpler, but you can also make cooking time easier with oven-ready lasagna sheets and a store-bought jar of marinara sauce. While the mozzarella is added in layers, the taste of the Parmesan is intensified by being added in just one layer.

Recipe: Chicken Lasagna With Red Sauce

58. Easy Stuffed Shells

Parmesan is part of the holy trinity of cheesy ingredients for Italian cooking, with the other two being mozzarella and ricotta. With these three cheeses, you've got every texture and taste covered. These stuffed shells are a dish to really feast your eyes on, especially if you're a pasta lover. The big pasta shells look wonderfully ready to dig into, covered with marinara sauce and Parmesan. Cook the shells for a couple of minutes less than the package says to, as they'll soften and finish cooking in the oven.

Recipe: Easy Stuffed Shells

59. Ina Garten's Lasagna With A Twist

Lasagna just got a whole lot cheesier thanks to this Barefoot Contessa recipe. Instead of pasta sheets, this dish is made with cheese ravioli. The distinct Parmesan taste leads the way throughout the layers, along with ricotta, goat cheese, and shredded mozzarella. Grated Parmesan is baked on top, too. Enjoy this unique riff on lasagna with garlic bread, asparagus, or a green salad. You can also make this dish with spinach ravioli if you want to dial back on the cheese a little. 

Recipe: Ina Garten's Lasagna With A Twist

60. One-Pot Creamy French Pasta Bake

Grated Parmesan bubbles and browns on top of this pasta comfort dish, which gets cooked on the stove and baked in the oven. The nutty sharpness of Parmesan highlights the mushrooms and sweet onions in the creamy sauce. If you don't have Gruyère, you can use Swiss cheese or Italian fontina instead. You can also use dried thyme instead of fresh — a teaspoon of dried equates to a tablespoon of fresh herbs. Meanwhile, adding sugar to the onions speeds up the caramelization process, but if you've got the time to let them sweeten naturally, leave it out. 

Recipe: One-Pot Creamy French Pasta Bake

61. Pumpkin Carbonara

This recipe showcases all the hallmarks of a classic carbonara. The creamy sauce, strong taste of Parmesan cheese, and crispy bits of bacon or pancetta with garlic all envelop silky soft strands of spaghetti. What makes this dish different is adding pumpkin puree, which creates an extra creaminess and matches so blissfully with the cheesy, yolky sauce. Less is more, so serve this simply with Parmesan and sage on top. And since the Parmesan is salty, taste before seasoning. Add a little olive oil to reheat any leftovers, which you're unlikely to have. 

Recipe: Pumpkin Carbonara

62. Chef Mattia Agazzi's Risotto Camouflaged As Pizza

Fun, artistic, visually stunning, full of gorgeous flavors, this creative risotto dish is definitely not a quick supper to knock-out during the week. There's lots of chef-style prep to do — imagine making fresh pomodorino and tomato water along with basil cream, dehydrated cherry tomatoes, and burnt caper powder. The final product may look like a pizza, but instead of dough, you're using toasted and risotto-style cooked carnaroli rice. When you add Parmesan, honey, and butter, you elevate this spectacular plate of food to new heights. 

Recipe: Chef Mattia Agazzi's Risotto Camouflaged As Pizza

63. Homemade Italian Meatballs

This recipe makes a classic dish that's about comfort-food tastiness rather than haute cuisine. However, the meatballs have an ingredient that gives them real depth of flavor — Parmesan is added into the mix, along with parsley, breadcrumbs, and egg. Letting these simmer for a couple of hours in the rich tomatoey sauce deepens the flavor too, creating a sublime contrast when spooned on top of velvety linguine. A great tip is to get all your ingredients measured out and ready before you start shaping these meatballs by hand. 

Recipe: Homemade Italian Meatballs

64. Italian Rice Ball Casserole

Arancini are so ridiculously good. What's not to like about a crispy, cheesy rice ball? What can be off-putting, though, is the faff of rolling and frying each one individually. Instead, deconstruct it and make a casserole with beef instead. With this recipe, you still make a creamy risotto, with Parmesan defining the taste of the Arborio rice, but you also add red sauce. Layer the risotto in an ovenproof dish between your beef and red sauce mix. When it's done, add toasted breadcrumbs on top and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Recipe: Italian Rice Ball Casserole

65. Smoked Chicken Alfredo

One of the most loved pasta sauces has to be alfredo, and one of the main reasons for that is the stunning tanginess and umami quality of Parmesan. Butter, cream, and minced garlic complement the cheesy flavor and add mouthwatering creaminess. Because you want all that lovely sauce to coat your pasta, alfredo works well with fettucine. As if that wasn't tasty enough, shredded smoked chicken raises the taste profile even more and adds extra protein. 

Recipe: Smoked Chicken Alfredo

66. Kimchi Mac And Cheese

Fusion cuisine can create some pretty wonderful flavors. And while mac and cheese is sublime already, kimchi and gojuchang sauce add a subtle heat and some crunchy bite. While this cheesy pasta and fermented superfood dish has to be tried to be truly appreciated, the importance of a traditional crunchy topping can never be discounted. This is where Parmesan shows off its savory complexity, matching the umami-packed pasta sauce as it's mixed with panko breadcrumbs and melted butter. It's wonderful served as part of an Korean or American barbecue.

Recipe: Kimchi Mac And Cheese

67. Corn Polenta With Baked Eggs

Cheesy polenta with baked eggs and mozzarella baked on top is plenty hearty, whether served as a meal all on its own or paired with a green side salad. What's fabulous about this dish is that it's so darned easy to make, especially if you love all the flavor of pizza, but want to forgo the gluten-filled dough. Parmesan is stirred into the cooked polenta once it looks like hot grits, along with diced tomatoes. Once the egg whites are cooked, take it out of the oven and enjoy.

Recipe: Corn Polenta With Baked Eggs

68. Creamy Shrimp Diablo

This recipe gives the classic alfredo sauce a spicy kick by adding some devilish heat. Meanwhile, Parmesan marries with the creaminess and heat of this diablo dish to create heavenly harmony. Fettucine and shrimp sautéed until they're opaque — which is a sign that they're cooked — finish off this stunning seafood pasta. It's important to add the Parmesan at the right time, once the sauce has turned orange from the spices. Use the back of a spoon to crush your chipotles, and serve this pasta with cilantro and lime.

Recipe: Creamy Shrimp Diablo

69. Creamy Lemon Pasta

If you've never thought of pairing lemon with cream to make a pasta sauce, then here's your chance to try it. While recipe developer Petar Marshall notes it's not an obvious combination, it works remarkably well, and the caramelized shallot and garlic punctuate the creaminess and add a greater depth of flavor. Add more lemon juice and zest for a stronger citrus taste, if you like. The rotini noodles, coated in this lemony sauce, are really brought to life with the classic Italian flavor combo of Parmesan cheese and parsley, both of which are sprinkled on top. 

Recipe: Creamy Lemon Pasta

70. Spicy Vegetable Soup

There are no strict recipe rules with this hearty vegetable-packed soup, and using frozen veggies makes it quick to make as well. The grated Parmesan on top gives your bowl of goodness a fabulous finish as it melts into the liquid. If you're not a fan of a kick, keep the heat under control by leaving out the red chili flakes and making the broth using diced tomatoes in place of fire-roasted ones. Bring in some herby depth with some oregano and thyme, and serve with a hunk of bread.

Recipe: Spicy Vegetable Soup

71. Easy Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

It may not be the most sophisticated of dishes, but there are a lot of flavors that go into making this deep-dish pizza stand out. Italian sausage and pepperoni rock, while mozzarella adds that iconic stretchy cheese texture. Not to be forgotten is umami-enhancing Parmesan, which melts and turns golden on top of your pie. Just make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Let your pan cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, so the toppings set enough to slice easily.

Recipe: Easy Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

72. Classic Chicken Divan

Based on a classic recipe from the 1950s, the flavors in this chicken divan dish stand the test of time. You're essentially making a cheese sauce with stock and sherry and pouring it over seared chicken breasts and broccoli florets. You can also use dark chicken meat if you prefer, as long as you adjust the cooking time. As all this loveliness comes together in the oven, the top of this tasty dish crisps up because of the panko breadcrumbs, melted butter, and Parmesan cheese, which is added over a layer of grated cheddar. 

Recipe: Classic Chicken Divan

73. Giada De Laurentiis' Lemon Spaghetti With A Twist

There are so many Bolognese, marinara, and alfredo pasta sauce recipes out there that this lemony spaghetti with a twist makes for a refreshing change. Use whatever pasta you like, and if you want to add a creamy texture and taste then you can add some cream in too. The Parmesan adds flavor when it's stirred into the lemony sauce. Garnish with lemon slices and sage leaves crisped up in olive oil, and enjoy with a green salad or side of broccoli.

Recipe: Giada De Laurentiis' Lemon Spaghetti With A Twist

74. Mediterranean Tuna Pasta

Albacore tuna from a can is the main ingredient in this pasta. To ensure it mixes well with the pasta, flake it first by twisting your fork in the fish. This recipe uses rigatoni, but you can use another short pasta like penne — what's great is that once your pasta is cooked, you don't need to cook the other ingredients. The Parmesan melts into the mix with tomatoes, capers, and parsley. Add some red chili flakes to bring in a touch of spice, and enhance the savory flavor with some crunchy bacon bits if you like.

Recipe: Mediterranean Tuna Pasta

75. Cajun Shrimp Pasta Alfredo

Parmesan defines the deliciousness of a classic alfredo sauce, and while the cheese definitely elevates this spicy pasta dish, Romano cheese adds an extra level of flavor too. Freshly grated Parmesan is far better than pre-grated, especially for this recipe. Making your cheesy sauce in the same pan as the one you've sautéed your Cajun-seasoned jumbo prawns in means all those spices permeate the cream as the Parmesan melts. Thin out your sauce if needs be so it fully coats the pasta and shrimp, and garnish with parsley. 

Recipe: Cajun Shrimp Pasta Alfredo

76. Low-Carb Tortilla Pizza

This super-simple, creative pizza recipe just goes to show how great ingredients shine, even if you only have a few of them. Instead of dough, you use a tortilla that's been fried in a skillet with pizza sauce and mozzarella added on top. You don't need the surface completely covered in cheese, as the stretchy cheese should spread out after popping your pizza in the oven. However, when it comes to adding on grated Parmesan, make sure every part is covered so you can taste its distinctive salty tang in every single bite.

Recipe: Low-Carb Tortilla Pizza

77. Air Fryer Toasted Ravioli

Air fryers and TikTok have both inspired some really creative, modern interpretations of much-loved traditional dishes. This yummy creation is no exception. A good tip is to use frozen ravioli, as they're easier to handle as you dip them in panko breadcrumbs. Added into this coating are not only Italian seasonings, but an Italian classic cheese: Parmesan. The cheese not only improves the taste on the outside, but it's also a practical choice since it doesn't go gooey in the air fryer. Serve this with a simple marinara dipping sauce. 

Recipe: Air Fryer Toasted Ravioli

78. Air Fryer Béchamel Fries

There's no doubt about it: This indulgent dish is definitely a luxurious treat. Elegant shoestring fries pair well with creamy béchamel sauce, which you make fresh. Keep an eye on your roux when you make the sauce, as there's no fix if you burn it. This rich dish gets an extra dose of flavor and brightness thanks to a generous topping of Parmesan and some chopped chives on top. If you pile your fries in a bowl and add the toppings, you'll get some pieces underneath that aren't drenched in sauce, creating a nice textural contrast. 

Recipe: Air Fryer Béchamel Fries

79. Easy Ribollita

There are some key ingredients that give this bright, colorful, homemade vegetable broth extra appeal. To start, croutons of oven-baked Italian bread add some fantastic crunch. A loaf that's a day or two old works best and adding salt and garlic powder before baking will make it feel like you're eating garlic bread with your soup. Add the croutons to individual servings rather than the big pot of soup, as otherwise they'll go soggy. Cannellini beans and wilted kale add even more texture, color, and taste, while a hearty sprinkle of Parmesan adds the final flourish. 

Recipe: Easy Ribollita

80. 15-Minute Air Fryer Salmon Cakes

Simple fish cakes are wonderfully versatile, and you can make them even more appetizing with the addition of some Mediterranean ingredients. Instead of green onions, use regular onion and minced garlic. Oregano and basil are must-have seasonings for an Italian take on this dish. You can even add pesto and boost the cheesy flavor with some Parmesan cheese added too. Serve this air-fried appetizer with a creamy mayonnaise or sour cream dip and lemon wedges, or for a more substantial bite, stack them up in a bun and create a sophisticated salmon burger.

Recipe: 15-Minute Air Fryer Salmon Cakes

81. Lemon Butter Pasta With Chiles

A winning dish is one that excites your taste buds, and this simple pasta offering does just that on so many levels. The chile de árbol adds mouth-tingling spice, while the sourness of the lemon pairs wonderfully with the creamy, savory butter and Parmesan cheese. Finely slicing your dried chili is a key component of this dish, so that it can really permeate the lemony-butter sauce properly. This is vital since it's the only spice against the mellowness of the other ingredients. Be sure to add the Parmesan off the heat.

Recipe: Lemon Butter Pasta With Chiles

82. Easy Spinach Lasagna

Parmesan cheese is more than an afterthought in this vegetarian lasagne, and rightfully so, since it goes terrifically well with spinach. Not only is it added to ricotta cheese to create cheesy layers between the spinach, lasagna sheets, and mozzarella, but it melts so wonderfully on top as well. If that isn't enough cheesiness, go in for a third Parmesan hit by sprinkling some more on as it's served. Roasted broccoli or a green salad is a delicious complement to this dish, as is some buttery garlic bread on the side.

Recipe: Easy Spinach Lasagna

83. Copycat Olive Garden Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo

If you're wondering how a delicious meal of seared beef medallions could possibly get any better, you're about to find out. The secret is all in the sauce, specifically creamy alfredo sauce made even more velvety and tasty thanks to the richness of Parmesan cheese and heavy cream. This recipe adds spinach into the mix as well. Silky fettuccine is the perfect pasta for this sauce to cling to, and together they create a sumptuous bed for the steaks. Crumbled gorgonzola cheese and balsamic glaze add the finishing touches to this indulgent, Olive Garden-inspired dish.

Recipe: Copycat Olive Garden Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo

84. Copycat Red Lobster Crab Alfredo

Alfredo sauce is richly creamy, and this Red Lobster copycat recipe takes it to the next level with cream cheese and half-and-half. Parmesan is an integral ingredient in that sauce too, giving it a saltier, sharper flavor profile. Also lifting the taste and aroma are the balance of seasonings: garlic powder, Italian parsley, dried mustard, and red pepper flakes, which you can adjust to your taste. Asiago cheese or white Cheddar can also add some earthy and tangy notes. Don't over-stir the delicate crab meat, so you get lovely large pieces.

Recipe: Copycat Red Lobster Crab Alfredo

85. Copycat Pizza Hut Cavatini

This copycat recipe isn't about culinary finesse, but rather cooking with gusto. It's about layers of meaty flavors with cheesy loveliness all the way through. Pizza Hut's Cavatini takes all the taste of a pizza and reinvents it as a pasta casserole. Sausage meat and beef are richly tasty, while green bell pepper and onion slices add crunch and freshness. Sliced pepperoni is laid out on top, with the pasta underneath and the shredded Parmesan and mozzarella bringing everything together. Finish your pasta-pizza-casserole with cheese before baking it to perfection.

Recipe: Copycat Pizza Hut Cavatini

86. Copycat Olive Garden Chicken And Shrimp Carbonara

There's no holding back with this flavor-boosted carbonara inspired by Olive Garden. Succulently sautéed shrimp, crunchy breadcrumbed chicken, crispy bacon bits with garlic, and the sweetness of red bell pepper combine into an extravaganza of taste atop a steaming bowl of spaghetti. Are you getting hungry yet? Spoon the cheesy, creamy sauce over the shrimp and chicken, either keeping the pasta separate or mixing everything together. Either way, you can't go wrong with more Parmesan on top.

Recipe: Copycat Olive Garden Chicken And Shrimp Carbonara

87. Authentic Pastitsio

Since pastitsio is essentially the Greek version of Italian lasagne, it makes sense that feta cheese is featured. However, the béchamel sauce is generously thickened with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and eggs, which combined with penne pasta and ground beef, brings the flavor profile of this stunning dish back to Italy as well. Some spice is added in the form of ground cinnamon and cloves, and Parmesan adds a cheesy finish to the white sauce before being baked to perfection. Let the dish sit for 20 minutes to fully set.

Recipe: Authentic Pastitsio