Oaxaca, pronounced as wa-hah-kah, is actually a state in Mexico. Queso Oaxaca was first made in the state of Oaxaca, hence, the name. This southern Mexican state is recognized today as one of the leading state producers of cheese.
Queso Oaxaca is a soft white cheese that is widely used in a variety of Mexican cuisine. Queso Oaxaca is often used when making empanadas and quesadillas.
If you happened to run out of them, here are some ideal substitutes for Oaxaca cheese that you can try.
- Mozzarella Cheese
- String Cheese
- Muenster Cheese
- Unaged Monterey Jack Cheese
- Cheddar Curds
- Asadero Cheese
- Ricotta Salata
- Queso Fresco
Oaxaca cheese is also called Mexican mozzarella. The Oaxaca cheese balls are shredded and used as toppings for tostadas and antojitos (an appetizer)
Before we dig deeper into the potential alternatives you can use, let’s understand a bit more about the origin of this cheese and how they are being made.
14 Best Substitute For Oaxaca Cheese
This Mexican cheese is categorized as a “semi-hard cheese”, and is made from cow’s milk. The Italians discovered the string cheese process to make Oaxaca cheese.
Curd cheese is stretched into long ribbons, and then rolled up to make soft cheese balls. These cheese balls are referred to as quesillo Oaxaca (thread cheese).
When cheese is in the form of bricks, they are called asadero (roaster or broiler) or queso quesadilla. Making cheese is a form of art.
The cheese slices are typically used on chili rellenos and quesadillas. It is creamy with a mild flavor profile. It melts easily, which makes it ideal for stuffing chiles rellenos and quesadillas. When shredded, it can be added to tostadas, sops, and beans as a garnish. [Source]
Today, the United States and the United Kingdom are producing Oaxaca cheese already. You can find Oaxaca cheese in Mexican specialty stores or some local groceries. If you can’t find one, you can always use Italian-style mozzarella or American string cheese as a replacement.
Now, let’s talk about each of these substitutes in detail.
Mozzarella is number on our list because it is the closest to Oaxaca cheese, and it is less salty. Mozzarella cheese is commonly made from cow’s milk and goat’s milk. The creamier buffalo mozzarella (made from buffalo milk) is the best substitute for this popular Oaxaca cheese, though.
Buffalo mozzarella is readily available in local supermarkets and groceries. It is made by mixing water and buffalo milk.
The best way to use it is to sprinkle extra salt on buffalo mozzarella to make its flavor profile more similar to the flavor of Oaxaca cheese.
If making a savory dish, you can use mozzarella cheese as a sauce or as a topping. You can slice them into cubes and add mozzarella slices to your favorite salads and pasta dishes. You can use it for desserts like cheesecake. You can also add cubed mozzarella to your fresh fruit salads.
Aside from being creamy, it is flavorful and will make a great addition to your tacos, quesadillas, or tostadas.
American string cheese is actually more readily available in most supermarkets and grocery stores. It makes a good replacement for Oaxaca cheese since it is slightly creamy and salty. It also melts really well. You can grate string cheese and use as garnish, or you can slice it to add to your pasta, salads, or sandwiches.
Some people eat string cheese as a snack. It is versatile and flavorful. But you can also use it in recipes that need cheese. Here are a few ways to use string cheese:
- Use string cheese as a pizza topping.
- Add or mix string cheese with pasta.
- Add it to your chicken or turkey sandwiches.
- Use it as additional filling to your quesadilla.
- Roll it into a medium-sized ball and serve with a delicious marinara sauce.
Muenster cheese is native to the US. It is a semi-soft cheese that melts easily and has a mild flavor profile. You can use it in recipes that need Swiss or American cheese. Its texture is comparable to Oaxaca cheese, making it another ideal alternative.
The ideal ratio is 1:1. Its creaminess and slightly sweet flavor make it the perfect replacement for Oaxaca cheese in making grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, and quesadillas. Muenster cheese also enhances the flavors of your favorite salads and casseroles.
It has to be stored in the refrigerator to ensure that it lasts up to two weeks.
Unaged Monterey Jack Cheese
The flavor of Oaxaca cheese is milder than unaged Monterey Jack cheese, which has a mild flavor profile on its own, and melts quite well. It can be used in anything – from sandwiches to pasta dishes. If you cannot find Oaxaca cheese in your local supermarket, you can use this as a replacement as it gives you the same results in your dishes.
You can either slice unaged Monterey Jack cheese or grate it to use as garnish. It is also ideal to use in making fajitas, quesadillas, and tacos.
The other variety is aged for at least 60 days, giving it a more complex and richer flavor than unaged cheese.
Take note that you can shred, grate, or cube it before adding it to your recipe so that the cheese melts uniformly. Doing so also gives your dish its proper consistency.
Like Oaxaca cheese, cotija is a Mexican cheese that is made from cow’s milk. It has a salty flavor and crumbly texture.
Cotija cheese got its name from Cotija town located in Michoacan state. There are two types of cotija cheese – fresh and aged (añejo). Its fresh version has a soft texture while the aged version is harder, like the texture of parmesan cheese.
When using cotija cheese to replace Oaxaca cheese, the ideal ratio is 1:1.
Cheddar curds are essentially unfermented and slightly squeaky cheese. These curds are the mass separated from the whey after milk has been boiled. You can easily find cheddar curds in many local groceries and supermarkets.
This type of cheese has a good texture similar to Oaxaca cheese, making it an ideal replacement. Cheddar curds melt quite well and enhance the flavor of any dish even with its milder flavor profile.
Cheese curds are usually the best addition to any recipe because they bring out the taste of the other ingredients like green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. You can add cheddar curds to your pasta dish. You can also add them to the filling mix of your stuffed tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and zucchinis.
Asadero cheese is another Mexican cheese that you can use to replace Oaxaca cheese in your recipes. It is a semi-firm cheese and has a slightly different texture from Oaxaca cheese.
It melts well and has a smoky, spicy flavor profile. It is a bit salty, and it pairs well with common Mexican ingredients like green chili poblano, and cilantro.
You can use it in most Mexican recipes including tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. You can also use it when cooking macaroni and cheese or pizza.
While ricotta salata doesn’t have the same texture as Oaxaca cheese, its salty and savory flavors make it an ideal substitute for Oaxaca cheese.
It is readily available in almost all supermarkets. Ricotta salata is firmer than the regular ricotta, and it is usually sold in blocks. It is dry and crumbly.
A lot of cooks use queso fresco in recipes that need cottage cheese or ricotta. But it is also a good substitute for Oaxaca cheese. It goes well with your favorite vegetables or pasta dishes.
It is creamy and a little salty, making it ideal for use in savory dishes. Its name is literally translated to “fresh cheese”. It is made from a combination of goat and cow’s milk.
Armenian-Style String Cheese
Oaxaca cheese and Armenian-style string cheese are similar in both texture and taste. Armenian-style string cheese is made from goat’s milk, like Oaxaca cheese.
It is a semi-white cheese and can be stretched in the same manner as Oaxaca cheese. However, it is not always available in your local supermarkets, but you can find them in specialty stores like Middle Eastern or Armenian shops.
Armenian-style string cheese is ideal for tostadas, tacos, and enchiladas.
Queso chihuahua, another Mexican cheese, is soft and white. It is available in balls, rounds, and braids. It came from the state of Chihuahua. It is also referred to as queso menonita, after the Mennonite communities in Mexico, the first producers of chihuahua cheese.
It can be used to replace Oaxaca cheese in taco and burrito recipes. You can also add it to soup or stew recipes. You can also bake it with cheese and tomatoes for a simple yet tasty dish.
Another Mexican cheese that can be used as an alternative to Oaxaca cheese is queso panela. It is made from pasteurized cow’s milk.
It has a smooth texture, making it a good addition to your salad recipes, burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. You can also use it as a dip for your chips.
It is also ideal to use when making fajitas, enchiladas, and queso flameado (like fondue). Enhance the flavor and texture of your scrambled eggs by adding queso panela.
It is creamy and salty. It melts well. It is also called queso canasta.
Manchego cheese originated from the La Mancha region of Spain. It is made from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed. It has a firm texture. Its flavor is nutty with a hint of sweetness.
Typically, it is used to replace hard cheeses like Romano or parmesan, but it also makes a good substitute for Oaxaca cheese. It is also ideal for both cooked dishes and those that are served cold.
Homemade Oaxaca Cheese
When it is hard to find Oaxaca cheese in supermarkets, you can actually make your own homemade Oaxaca cheese. The recipe would be similar to making mozzarella, and you can find a lot of recipes online.
This is how to make homemade Oaxaca cheese:
- Boil milk with lemon juice, or other kinds of acid.
- Wait until the milk forms curds.
- Stretch the curds out.
Stretching the resulting curd can be quite challenging, but with constant practice, it becomes easier.