Cotija is a Mexican cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a hard and crumbly texture. It is perfect for any Mexican dish, especially the savory ones. In case you’ve found yourself not having this type of cow’s cheese at home don’t worry, there are many alternatives for it.
The Substitutes for cotija cheese are:
- Feta cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Romano cheese
- Queso fresco.
Please keep on reading this article to learn more about these substitutes and their uses.
What Is Cotija Cheese
Cotija is a Mexican cheese made from cow’s milk that has a crumbly texture and a salty, tangy flavor. Cotija is one of those cheeses that doesn’t melt well, so it usually is used as a topping or garnish on meals.
Cotija cheese is used mostly in Mexican food like burritos, tacos, enchiladas, Elote(spicy corn), salads, and dips made with sour cream and.
There are two types of cotija cheese: aged cotija and fresh. The aged version is a type of cheese that has a hard texture and a sharp flavor as opposed to the fresh type of cotija that has a soft texture and a milder taste.
This amazing cheese goes very well in savory dishes as well as spicy ones.
Cotija Cheese Substitutes
Feta cheese is a curd cheese originating from Greece. In fact, the word ”Feta” means ”slice” in Greek. Feta has a soft and crumbly texture, white color, and a salty flavor.
I’m sure you’ve all used this cheese at least once in your life, I mean who hasn’t put a little crumbled feta cheese in their salad bowl before?!
Feta cheese goes great in pairs with salads, sandwiches, pizzas, soups, roasted vegetables with olive oil, pies, and pastries. This white cheese gives every dish a salty taste.
Recipes With Feta Cheese
- Greek Salad- Feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, onions, olives, green peppers, and fresh mint leaves. This is the best salad for a hot summer day or evening that is also very easy to make.
- Use It As A Stuffing- Put some eggs in your crumbled feta cheese and stuff your favorite pies, pastries, or even peppers with this mixture.
- Pizza- Sprinkle a little bit of feta and add fresh tomatoes and olives to your pizza to give it a more fresh, Mediterranean flavor.
- Roasted Feta- Roast the feta cubes in the oven with some olive oil, tomatoes, and basil. Pair it with warm baguette bread or any type of toasted bread.
- Tirokafteri Dip- This is a Greek dip made with feta cheese, greek yogurt, and hot pepper. It is mostly served with pita bread or chips.
Parmesan is an Italian cheese that is hard in texture and it is used for grating it over foods. Parmigiano Reggiano is the original parmesan cheese and therefore is the most expensive one on the market, although there are so many parmesan cheese substitutes and imitations.
Like cotija, parmesan is a hard cheese, but it is less salty and has a nutty taste. Parmesan is a hit in every pasta dish as well as other dishes all around the World.
Parmesan Cheese In Cooking And Baking
Parmesan is one of the most popular cheeses in the grocery store. This delicious aged cheese can do it all with its sharp and nutty taste.
You can combine it with your favorite crackers and fruits, grate it on top of your pasta, incorporate it into pastries to make the more flaky and cheesy, melt it in your cheese sauce or your mashed potatoes.
Recipes Using Parmesan
- Table Cheese- Served on a plate with some crackers and grapes, parmesan can be a great snack for when guests come over and you have no time to prepare.
- Grilled Steak- Grate some thicker slices of parmesan to your steak after taking it off the grill and putting it on a plate. Not only it enhances the taste of the meat, but it makes an excellent garnish to the plate.
- Roasted Cauliflower- If you’re a parent that struggles to get your kids to eat their veggies then this is the way to finally do it. Grate a generous amount of parmesan cheese and mix it with your already greased cauliflower pieces. Bake it on medium heat for 20 minutes and pair it with some dill dip or ranch sauce.
- Roasted Potatoes- 10 minutes before they’re done, mix half a cup of finely grated parmesan cheese in your potatoes along with some cut-up chives. Parmesan has good melting properties and will give every single potato a gooey, cheesy cover
- Breading For Chicken- Add some parmesan to your breading mixture for the chicken to make it extra crunchy.
Mexican Queso fresco is a light, fresh, creamy type of cheese made from raw cow milk and sometimes goat milk. The name ”fresco” is Mexican for fresh, and that’s exactly what this cheese brings to every meal, freshness.
Unlike other types of cheese on the heavier side, queso fresco has a mild flavor and can refresh and contrast to heavy meals like enchiladas, tacos, or anything spicy. This cheese is mostly used in Mexican cuisine but of course, it made its way through a lot of other cuisines.
Recipes With Queso Fresco
- Salad- Queso fresco can be an excellent substitute for feta in your salads. Top off your salad with crumbled queso fresco and a little bit of olive oil and enjoy the taste of summer in a bowl.
- Enchiladas- One of the most important toppings of an Enchilada is this fresh cheese.
- Refried Beans- A good way to provide some freshness and saltiness to your refried beans is to add some crumbled queso fresco on top. Beans are very heavy to eat so this cheese will provide a milder flavor.
- Chicken Tacos- Queso fresco works magic in chicken tacos, especially if you’re making them spicy.
- Buttered Corn- Enhance the taste of your buttered corn even more with some queso fresco dip, or just spread the queso cheese on the corn along with some fresh cilantro.
Pecorino Romano is an Italian, salty, hard cheese with a grainy texture. It is often used just like the parmesan cheese, for grating it on top of pasta.
A true pecorino romano cheese is made with sheep’s milk, but other romano cheese varieties are made with cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
This cheese is usually a substitute for parmesan in meals, because of its hard texture and nutty flavor. Romano cheese really does give out that nutty and sweet flavor that parmesan has but it is much saltier and has a higher fat and moisture content.
Types Of Romano Cheese
- Pecorino Romano- This is the true version of romano cheese. It is a cheese made from the milk of a sheep, that’s it can taste kind of funky. It has a crumbly texture, and a sharp, strong taste.
- Vaccino Romano- This is a type of romano cheese made with cow’s milk. Its taste is still pretty strong, but it is definitely a softer version of the pecorino romano.
- Caprino Romano- This is one of the strongest tasting and smelling cheeses I ever tried. It is made from goat’s milk.
Recipes With Cotija Cheese
- Elote- This grilled, spicy, and savory corn tastes even better if you grate some aged cotija cheese on top of it.
- Cotija Cheese Biscuits- Cotija can incorporate well in biscuit dough because of its crumbly texture. It makes your biscuits more moist and flaky.
- Cotija Cheese Salad- Like the feta cheese, cotija is a great light cheese that can freshen up any salad.
- Burrito- Sprinkle some cotija cheese into any type of burrito to give it a more light and salty taste.