Mexican Cheese

queso oaxaca mexican cheese

Mexican Cheese Guide

Our guide divides cheeses into their general type, Fresh, Soft and Semi-Soft, and Semi-Hard and Hard.  You can click on the cheese name for more detailed information about the cheese.  

Fresh Cheese

Image Cheese Description Substitute
 panela cheese  Panela Adapted from a Greek basket cheese whole unpasteurized milk curds are salted and drained in baskets to form this fresh cheese. Panela is best eaten fresh as a snack or to top salads or other cold dishes. You can also use panela to crumble over tacos or chili. Ricotta  
 queso blanco Queso Blanco A moist, crumbly cheese that becomes creamy when it is heated. The cheese is very versatile so you can use to crumble over you favorite Mexican dish or even fry it on your comal. Monterrey Jack
 queso fresco Queso Fresco Translates to "fresh cheese". With its crumbly texture and slightly acidic flavor it can be crumbled atop beans, salads or even rice dishes or used to stuff chiles or for quesadillas.. Queso Fresco is probably the most common Mexican cheese found in Mexico as well as the U.S In some regional areas of Mexico the cheese curds are still ground on a metate then hand pressed into round molds.
Mild Feta Cheese
 requeson cheese  Requeson A "Hispanic Ricotta" style cheese. Use in any recipe that calls for ricotta from salads and even desserts. Requeson is a lower-fat cheese.  Ricotta
 crema  Crema Not really a cheese but a dairy staple in Mexican cuisine. Crema is a heavy cream similar in taste to creme fraiche (which is a good substitute but best to just make your own).  Thicker versions of crema are used as additions to sauces and the thinner crema is used as a topping for tostadas, tacos and enchiladas. Creme Fraiche,  Sour cream (thinned) OR Make your own

Soft And Semi-Soft Cheese

Image Cheese Description Substitute
 queso anejo  Anejo Translated "anjeo" means aged.  Anejo cheese is dry and gratable or can be crumbled then used on tacos, salads or any dish where you want to add a zesty flavor.. Romano 
 asadero cheese  Asadero  The traditional use for this mild, chewy cheese is a filling for chiles rellenos and a popular Mexican dish called chile con queso. In Qaxaca trompillos (wild berries) are used in the cheese making process and this imparts a distinctive flavor not found in Northern Mexico or in the U.S. versions Teleme, Muenster, Jack, Fontina
 queso-chihuahua  Chihuahua Brought to Mexico from the Mennonites, Queso Chihuahua is similar to mild cheddar but becomes tangy when it is aged. Good versions are hard to find the U.S. so you may prefer to substitute with a Muenster or medium Cheddar. Chihuahua cheese is used for melting in chiles rellenos and a Mexican fondue called queso fundido Jack or mild Cheddar
 queso oaxaca  Oaxaca Long ribbons of cheese are rolled up to form a ball to make this traditional mozzarella-like cheese. The balls of cheese are used shredded to top tostadas and little appetizers (antojitos) or may be sliced and added to quesadillas or chile rellenos. Look for a spicy versions too which is flavored with cherry Mozzarella or Armenian String Cheese

Semi-Hard And Hard Cheeses

Image Cheese Description Substitute
Chontaleno cheese Chontaleno Chontaleno and Chontaleno Ahumado, dry, grating cheeses, ahumado refers to a smoked.version Parmesan
cotija cheese Cotija: A dry grating cheese similar to Parmesan. The aged version is referred to as "anejo". Both are used crumbed or grated Parmesan
A version of Cotija Anejo coated with chile used for it's spicy flavor as well as for color.  Feta
 manchego cheese  Manchego A Spanish sheep's milk cheese traditionally sliced and served wtih membrillo (quince paste). Manchego adds a nice salty, nutty flavor to dishes Pecornio Roman
  Queso Criollo One of the few Mexican "yellow" cheeses very similar to Munster which is a good substitute. This is a gratable cheese  Munster
  Queso Seco para Freir A dry, aged cheese used on crispy quesadillas or grated onto beans or other Mexican dishes. This cheese can also be fried (queso frito).  Parmesan

Where To Buy

Some of the most common Mexican cheeses can be found in well-stocked grocery stores.  If you have a Mexican market in your area that would be your best choice for a wider selection.  Short of that you can order many of these cheeses online.  Here is a list of brands you can look for:

Buy Online

There are several vendors that sell assortments of Mexican Cheese on Amazon.


Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.