Queso fresco is a type of soft cheese that originated in Mexico. This cow milk cheese, which is an iconic ingredient in Mexican cuisine, has a remarkable flavor and texture to add to your savory dishes for a flavorful experience.
You can use it to add a buttery and creamy taste on top to balance out the heat of your Mexican dishes like quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and many more.
What would happen if you ran out of queso fresco for your favorite enchiladas? Don’t worry; you can easily use a queso fresco substitute in my post below!
What Does Queso Fresco Taste Like?
Let’s first take a look at how to make a queso fresco. You need to bring the cow or goat milk to a boil, then add acidic notes like lemon juice or vinegar to the mixture and stir it constantly. When the milk is finished curdling, you will drain it through the cheesecloth to separate the whey and the cheese. And voila!
You have a beautiful white soft cheese with a salty and slightly tangy flavor. The texture of this cheese can be firm and crumbly in your mouth. You can crumble on top of salads, sauces, cheese dips, soups, refried beans, or fill them inside your delicious enchiladas, quesadillas, and burritos. Queso fresco can also be used in cake batter, tarts, cookies, and cheesecakes.
10 Ingredients Used As Queso Fresco Substitute
It is hard to imagine enchiladas without some queso fresco crumbs. But if you don’t have it now, what is a cheese similar to queso fresco? No worries! You can always try a queso fresco cheese substitute from this list:
Mild Feta cheese is a perfect queso fresco substitute because of its flavor and texture. This white cheese has a crumbly and white look that reminds you of the tasty queso fresco.
Regarding Feta’s tasting notes, when comparing queso fresco vs Feta, this cow’s milk cheese has a salty and a stronger tangy flavor than queso fresco. You can soften this flavor by soaking it in water before substituting it for queso fresco. Once you get the right mild taste, the Feta cheese will have the same creamy effect on your dishes.
There are many Feta cheese varieties from different countries in the world. I would recommend you take the Danish or French variety because their texture is dry, crumbly, and creamy, with less salty levels than many crumbly pieces of cheese.
2. Ricotta Salata
Another amazing substitute for queso fresco is Ricotta Salata, a version of Ricotta cheese. This smooth and white cheese is matured for 90 days. The young Ricotta cheese can be quite salty, so it is preferable to mature into a mellow cheese after two months.
Originally, Ricotta Salata is made with sheep milk, but there are also cow’s milk products in the market. It is as crumbly and dry as the queso fresco texture. A mild saltiness with milky and nutty notes will dominate your mouth like queso fresco taste when you take a bite.
Ricotta Salata can be used to crumble on top of salads, soups, and lasagnas with a mild flavor. You can also fill it inside quesadillas or burritos for a creamy experience.
3. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese’s dry curd variety is another fantastic replacement for queso fresco if you’re lactose intolerant. The dry curd version ferments all of the lactose inside out and obtains a dry and crumbly texture. The dry texture is maintained during the fermentation process, which converts lactic acids and adds more flavor to this white cheese.
The taste of the cheese can be tangy, salty, and creamy due to the fermentation time. You can easily find dry curd cottage cheese in any supermarket, so make sure you get the right cottage cheese for your salads, soups, and Mexican dishes.
Muenster is an imitation of the famous Muenster cheese by the French-Americans. This is a pasteurized cow’s milk with pale yellow color and orange rind, different from the white queso fresco. However, the flavor of Muenster is quite similar to our fresh cheese.
Muenster rind is edible with a strong salty taste due to the brine solution. As our Muenster is sold at a young age, the cheese tastes quite mild and buttery with a semi-soft texture. The original Munster are usually left for a longer aging process resulting in a stronger flavor and pungent fragrance.
You can use Muenster for any cheese dips, sauce, and quesadillas to get this cheese’s creamy and buttery texture.
5. Queso Blanco
Queso Blanco is a perfect Mexican cheese similar to Feta. That’s why you can also have queso Blanco substitute for queso fresco in many Mexican recipes. This Mexican cheese substitute is also a fresh cheese type with exceptionally similar features like queso fresco.
Queso Blanco is a pure cow’s milk with a short aging process like queso fresco. The result is a mild flavor cheese with a crumbly and firm texture that you can use to substitute any queso fresco recipes like enchiladas, quesadillas, and burritos.
It is easy to find them in your local stores or Mexican markets. Those will have a fresh, sour, and sweet aroma with snowy white color and moisture-free features are what you should choose.
6. Farmer’s Cheese
Farmer’s cheese can sound like a strange type of cheese, but it is a version of cottage cheese with a dryer and crumblier texture. Farmer’s cheese can be a mixture of goat, sheep, or cow milk with a similar production process like queso fresco.
This dry curd cheese has a milky and tangy note that you can use to substitute our fresh cheese. The texture of farmer’s cheese is easy to crumble on top of salads, soups, cheese sauces, and fill in Mexican food. Moreover, it is a great ingredient for those who have problems digesting lactose because of its aging process.
7. Monterey Jack
Monterey Jack is another cheese type that is similar to Muenster cheese. This also makes it a potential queso fresco alternative in many filling recipes. Monterey Jack cheese has a mild and light flavor with a buttery texture that might not be as crumbly as queso fresco. However, it is still able to form blocks for a creamy explosion in your mouth.
A bonus point for this cheese is that it is quite common in many local cheese stores, so you can always grab some of them to use for tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, and burritos.
Paneer might not be as popular as many cheese types, but it is quite a queso fresco substitute in many dishes. It is a cow or buffalo milk from India with a mild, sweet and milky taste. Paneer also has a similar crumbly and creamy effect commonly used in many Indian curry recipes.
It is also a famous cheese in many dessert recipes because of its buttery and milky flavor. When substituting paneer for queso fresco, you can always crumble them on enchiladas, burritos, and quesadillas.
Next on the list is a Latin cheese from Brazil and Portugal, called Requeijao, also known as Requeson. This cheese is created similarly to the way Ricotta cheese is made, making it a good queso fresco substitute for many of your dishes.
Requeijão is a pale-yellow cheese with a creamy and clumpy texture that should be used fresh to get the most creamy, salty, and mild taste. It is also a healthy cheese with low fat and high protein content and an ideal ingredient for many salads, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, and desserts.
If you’re looking for a sub for queso fresco in your vegan diet, you can trust tofu to do the job well. Tofu is made from soy milk which is pressed and curled to be firm white blocks.
Its flavor is quite bland with a tangy undertone, versatile, and flexible to add to any savory and dessert dishes. It is a healthy choice with many nutritious benefits for your health as well.
Tofu can have different varieties with different textures, so you need to find a firm type that you can crumble on your salads and soups.
How To Use Queso Fresco Substitute
The common way you can use queso fresco to amplify your dish flavor is using it as a topping or as a filling. You can add any cheese substitute for queso fresco in salads with grilled watermelon and mint.
Tofu, Queso Blanco, Muenster, Paneer, or Cottage cheese are also a great queso fresco alternative to garnish for soups like cold gazpacho or warm black bean soups and tortilla soups.
If you’re a Mexican dish lover, you can always choose crumbly and firm substitutes for queso fresco like Feta, farmer’s cheese, Queso Blanco, and Requeijao to make creamy crumbs on top of hot recipes like tacos, enchiladas, huevos rancheros, and chilaquiles.
Queso fresco can also be used to melt in cheese dip and sauces, which you can use cottage cheese or Muenster for a soft and melting experience. You can also try soft Tofu, Monterey Jack, Paneer, or Queso Blanco as a filling for burritos, quesadillas, and stuffed chiles.
Mexican cuisine has many signature ingredients, including the famous fresh cheese, queso fresco. As queso fresco might not be available in some countries, you can always use a queso fresco substitute on my list to serve your amazing Mexican dishes without any problems.