Queso fresco or ” fresh cheese” is a Mexican white cheese with a salty flavor. Queso fresco should be available at most of the local grocery stores or the stores that sell Mexican cheeses and other products.
If you are in a situation where you cannot find this product, here are some alternatives to it.
The best substitutes for queso fresco are
- Cottage cheese
- Feta cheese
- Ricotta cheese
- Queso Blanco
- Farmer’s cheese
- Monterey Jack
- Pot cheese
If you are still unable to find the substitutes mentioned above, read on to find out the full comprehensive list of the best queso fresco substitutes, with flavor, texture, and way of making all taken into account.
15 Best Queso Fresco Cheese Substitutes
You might have unfortunately run out of stock in the last minute. It’s alright, we all get those days sometimes. But fear not, there are a bunch of alternatives that you can use to replace queso fresco.
You can even make some of these in the comfort of your own home. Based on our perspective, we find that the best substitute for queso fresco to be queso blanco.
However, if you do not have it check out the remaining substitutes below.
Cottage cheese is very popular in the diet and fitness world because it is lower in calories and much healthier than other cheeses. This cheese has a mild flavor and creamy, soft texture.
Like the queso fresco, cottage cheese is considered a fresh cheese because it does not require an aging process and can be consumed ”fresh”.This is why most of the young and fresh cheeses have an early expiration date and a milky flavor.
Cottage cheese is made from the curds of different types of pasteurized cow’s milk. It can be used as a healthy snack on a toast with different types of herbs or, you can include it in various recipes.
Homemade Cottage Cheese
- 1.5l whole milk
- 1 lemon
- heavy cream or creme fraiche
- Strainer or a colander lined with a folded cheesecloth
- Wooden spoon
- A container
On medium heat, bring the milk and salt to a simmer. When you see the milk foaming and forming bubbles, reduce the heat to low and add 6 tablespoons of lemon to the milk.
The milk starts to curdle almost immediately, so have the wooden spoon in hand so you can start stirring right away. Lightly stir the mixture for five minutes so as to not burn or stick to the bottom.
After the cheese curds are done forming(the cheese should have a buttery texture when it’s done), strain it in the dampened cheesecloth and leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
When rested, close the cheesecloth with the cottage cheese in it and run it through cold water. To make it even tastier and with a creamy texture, add some creme fraiche or heavy cream to it right before serving.
This recipe goes great as a topping for corn, black beans, refried beans, toast, or as a substitute for queso fresco in Mexican recipes. Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Feta is a Greek brined, cured white cheese made from sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goat milk. It has a tangy, salty flavor and a semi-soft texture.
Feta is one of the best cheeses to give your salads or sandwiches a nice salty flavor, but also to freshen up many heavy dishes like quesadillas, pies, and galettes.
There are a few varieties on the marker of this excellent cheese, a few of them are Danish feta, French feta, Bulgarian feta, etc…The Greek version of feta cheese is the only original recipe.
Feta cheese can also differ in texture, meaning that it can have a hard, medium-hard, or soft texture.
While it’s not suitable for melting, this creamy cheese can be crumbled in plenty of savory dishes like soups, salads, and pasta dishes. To substitute queso fresco with feta, I recommend using mild feta cheese.
Recipes With Feta Cheese
- Greek Salad- Greek salad with salty feta cheese is a perfect idea if you’re going for a lighter dinner or lunch.
- Pasta- Enjoy a bowl of penne pasta and feta sauce made with oven-grilled feta cheese and cherry tomatoes.
- Feta Cheese Quesadilla- crumble a little bit of feta cheese, or drizzle some feta sauce on top of your favorite quesadilla recipes.
- Spanakopita- This is a Greek pastry meal made with feta cheese (or ricotta cheese) and fresh spinach. You can enjoy it with a cup of yogurt or sour cream on the side.
Ricotta is a soft cheese with a grainy, crumbly texture and a tangy flavor, similar to cottage cheese. It can be made from any type of milk ( cow’s milk, sheep milk, goat’s milk, buffalo milk…) but the traditional, Italian way of making this crumbly unaged cheese is with cow’s milk and it has a mild taste.
Basically, there are two types of cheeses, ones made with the curd of the milk, and the ones made from the leftover liquid from making the curd called whey.
Ricotta is a whey cheese made with only a little bit of curd just so it has a form and a solid texture. One of my favorite things to make with this milk cheese is of course cheesecake, but also a crunchy baguette toast with ricotta and a drizzle of honey.
Ricotta is actually pretty easy to make, and if you are looking to try something new I suggest you try this easy recipe for homemade ricotta cheese.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- Full Fat Milk
- Lemon Juice
- Salt to taste
The kitchen utensils you will need are a wide saucepan, strainer, cheesecloth, and a bowl. Before making this recipe I would advise that you set all the ingredients on your table.
Set up your cheesecloth (that has been folded in half) in line with the strainer, and put the lined strainer over the bowl. You can also use a ricotta basket if you have one. Now, on to making the cheese.
Combine the milk and the salt in the large saucepan and put it on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Don’t forget to occasionally stir the milk so the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn or stick.
When you see the milk forming bubbles, and foaming a little bit that’s when you know it’s time for stage two, adding acidity.
Put the heat on low, and add your lemon juice or white vinegar to the hot milk. You will instantly start to see the curdles forming from the acidity of the lemon juice.
Stir the mixture for about 5 minutes and then move it to the already prepared cheesecloth and strainer. The fresh ricotta cheese should have a soft, crumbly texture and should be ready to eat immediately, but have a little more patience and leave it covered in the cheesecloth strainer for a half-hour to enhance its taste and let it strain.
And there you have it, a homemade ricotta cheese.
[Related Article: Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese And Will It Affect The Taste?]
Tofu isn’t exactly a type of cheese, however, it can serve as a great queso anejo substitute for people who don’t or can’t eat cheese..
Tofu is made from the pressed curds of soy, almond, or peanut milk, and therefore is a good vegan queso fresco substitute, and a substitute for most dairy cheeses.
Tofu is white (or eggshell color), soft, has a spongy feel, and a chewy texture. The sponginess allows the tofu to absorb and adapt to any taste in any dish, no matter if sweet or savory.
You can find this vegan feta (as some may call it) in any bigger market in your region. There are three types of this vegan cheese: firm tofu, extra firm tofu, and soft tofu.
Summer Salad With Marinated Tofu Cheese
I am a major salad lover but I get bored with the clean tastes of the vegetables very easily. This salad is the opposite of boring and plus is a healthy way to get your protein and amino acids.
Marinading The Tofu Cheese
Always press your tofu to squeeze out as much leftover water/liquid from it. This allows the tofu to absorb any marinades and spices much better because there is more room now that the water is drained from it.
This process also makes the tofu crispier when deep-fried or stir-fried. Set the tofu aside to rest after all the squeezing you’ve done, and start the marinade.
In a bowl, mix soy sauce, white vinegar, honey or maple syrup, sesame oil (if you have avocado oil that’s even better!), garlic powder, and chili flakes. Allow the tofu to marinate in this mixture for at least an hour so it can soak up all the flavor.
When you’re done with all the marinating, cut the tofu into cubes and put it in an already prepared frying pan with olive oil(again, if you happen to have avocado oil that would be an awesome replacement for olive oil). Stir-fry the marinated cheese until it’s golden brown and set it aside to chill.
Preparing Your Salad Bowl
You can choose what veggies go into your salad. I usually make a taco bowl salad with beans and corn, or a healthy and simple romaine lettuce salad with some cherry tomatoes, avocado cubes, shredded carrots, olives, sweet peppers, chickpeas, and whatever else I think would go well in this salad.
If you’re making a taco bowl make sure to spice up the salad with taco seasoning (you can find it in many Mexican markets). Finally, put your marinated tofu cheese on top, season with some oil if needed, and enjoy this tasty, flavorful summer salad.
Queso Blanco and queso fresco being the same is a very common misconception. They are made differently, with queso fresco being made from the rennet, and queso Blanco being made from curdled milk.
They are highly similar, making queso blanco a good substitute for queso fresco, and also the other way around. Queso Blanco is also used in the same dishes as queso fresco.
What better way to substitute Queso fresco than to use one of its close relatives? That’s right, we are using this fresh white cheese as a substitute.
Many people are convinced that Queso Blanco and Queso Fresco are basically the same product, and they are halfway right.
They are both fresh white cheeses that taste very similar to each other. The only thing that they differ in is that Queso Blanco is a bit sourer.
Farmer’s cheese is a dry-cured cheese that is similar to cottage cheese.
It can be made from goat milk, cow milk, and sheep milk. The taste depends on what milk they’ve used, but it does taste delicious in any way.
Different places have different versions of farmer’s cheese.
In fact, queso fresco is a variant of farmer’s cheese in the Mexican region. However, the US’s farmer’s cheese is a wonderful alternative for queso fresco.
It is basically a pressed cottage cheese meaning most of its moisture was pressed out. Similar to queso fresco, it is made with rennet and has a crumbly texture.
Farmer’s cheese is a mild, milky product that has a little bit of a tangy aftertaste. You can use it in all of your favorite taco recipes as a substitute for queso fresco.
Paneer is a soft-textured Indian cottage cheese. It can be easily cut into cubes and is often served in cube form. Despite being soft, it does not easily melt under heat like other types of cheese.
This is a fresh type of cheese, which means that it doesn’t require time to age and you can eat it right away. It is an Indian type of cottage cheese that’s made from buffalo milk or cow milk.
It has a mild milky flavor and has a crumbly texture, similar to that of the queso fresco. Because of its flavor qualities, paneer is an excellent addition to spicy dishes, especially in Indian curries, desserts, and specialties.
Monterey Jack Cheese
Monterey jack, a cheese originating from Monterey, is a semi-soft semi-hard cheese with a mild and buttery flavor. Monterey jack is sold plain, or flavored with small bits of chili, peppers, and other spices.
This makes it a good substitute for queso fresco, as queso fresco is often paired with Mexican spicy dishes.
Due to its Worldwide popularity, Monterey Jack cheese is available in almost every grocery store or food market.
Pot cheese can be referred to as the “in-between” of farmer’s cheese and cottage cheese. It has a soft, crumbly texture, with larger chunks than cottage cheese and overall thicker consistency.
Pot cheese is much softer and with more liquid in it because its curd isn’t drained after the making process.
The taste is pretty much the same as our beloved ricotta cheese, mild and buttery with a hint of acidity. This is a very hard to find cheese and it’s usually sold on farms
Because it slightly resembles Greek yogurt, it also serves well as a yogurt substitute. It goes nicely with berries or honey glaze, and can be easily made at home.
It should be consumed as quickly as possible, specifically under a few days.
Also referred to as simply “añejo cheese,” queso añejo is also a Mexican cheese. Similar to queso fresco, it has a firm and crumbly texture and has a salty taste.
However, its flavor may be sharper than the traditional queso fresco, and it is better for melting compared to queso fresco which stays firm even under heat.
It is often used for grilled or baked dishes. It is also a flavorful choice for dips and fillings, as it is easy to melt.
Quark, meaning “curd” in German, is a chunky and mildly creamy dairy product. It is officially classified as cheese. However, it is a popular substitute for yogurt or cream spreads and fillings.
Since it has a similar texture to queso fresco, it can serve as a good substitute. However, it is not as salty or sour like queso fresco and is simply a mild, creamy type of cheese.
Cotija Cheese is another type of Mexican cheese. It is also called “queso cincho.” It has a milky and salty flavor to it, and is a little bit similar to queso fresco. It also has a drier, and crumblier texture than queso fresco.
However, young cotija cheese is similar to feta cheese, the number one substitute for queso fresco. Aged cotija cheese is more similar to parmesan cheese. It is a popular garnish for enchiladas and nachos, similar to queso fresco, because of its crumbly texture.
Requeson is a high-quality Mexican cheese similar to ricotta cheese. It has a chunky texture and has a creamy and slightly salty taste.
It is a good substitute for those who like creamier cheeses, while still having that distinct chunky texture.
From its first name “queso,” you can probably already tell that this is yet another type of Mexican cheese in this list. It is also referred to as just “quesillo” or “Oaxaca cheese.”
Queso Oaxaca is said to be more similar to a young or unaged Monterey jack, another type of cheese that is also in this list. However, instead of the common crumbly texture most of the cheeses in this list have, queso Oaxaca is more stringy and stretchy, similar to mozzarella or string cheese.
Unlike queso fresco, queso Oaxaca is meltable, but it still serves as a good substitute because of its creamy and salty taste that is perfect for Mexican dishes like quesadillas and enchiladas.
It is also a flavorful cheese to eat with Mexican chili dishes, the spiciness and creamy taste mixed together to create a strong, but enjoyable dish.
Also called “munster,” muenster is a US cheese that is often cut in thin slices or medium sized cubes. It has a mild, buttery taste similar to Monterey Jack.
Muenster cheese has a smoother texture and melts more easily, not exactly similar to queso fresco. However, it can still be a good substitute, considering that it is generally much easier to find in supermarkets or grocery stores in the US.
It is a good match for quesadillas, cheeseburgers, sandwiches, pizza, mac & cheese, and other food that are good to pair with soft melting cheese.
Why you might want to have or need a Queso Fresco substitute
Queso Fresco is an excellent addition to various dishes as it is not too overpowering, and complements the flavor of the other ingredients very well. However, you might want to, or need to have a substitute for queso fresco for these reasons:
You don’t have queso fresco in your pantry.
Sometimes we just forget to buy a certain ingredient. Or we realize we don’t have any more of them left. Or, we want to make sure we have a good turnover system in our pantry by using what’s already there and not buying new ingredients every time.
There are numerous possibilities as to why you might have this reason. This list of queso fresco substitutes helps you in knowing if you might have a good substitute, already sitting in your pantry waiting to be used.
You’re trying to cut down on cost.
Queso fresco may be pricey in some areas or certain supermarkets and grocery stores. Some of the other cheeses in this list are less pricey and generally easier to find in your local grocery stores.
As said in the first reason, you might also have a good substitute just laying around waiting to be used, and there is no more reason for you to go out and buy a new product.
You want to try vegan options
Some of the cheeses in this list are healthier options, and even vegan options like tofu. It’s a great way to try something new, and add a variety to your recipes and dishes.
You don’t like certain qualities of Queso Fresco
A little variety can be fun with finding queso fresco substitutes. You may like the taste of queso fresco, but not its texture.
Or, you may like the texture of Queso Fresco, but want a slight or total difference with its taste. This list gives you a good set of options to switch up things a little in your recipe books.