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 feta cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and tofu.
Want to know more about these alternatives? Keep on reading this article for more information.
Substitutes For Queso Fresco
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, also 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.
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.