If you love eating queso as much as I do, you will find this post extremely useful, especially in those don’t-forsake-me moments where you need queso in a pinch.
If you ever find yourself needing queso fresco in a recipe but there’s none on sight, you can always settle for other queso fresco substitutes that are completely reminiscent of queso in terms of flavor and texture.
Some of the best substitutes for queso fresco include mild feta cheese, ricotta salata, queso blanco, farmer’s cheese, paneer, monterey jack cheese, cotija (fresh), and tofu.
Below, we’ll be discussing each of these options to see why they’re suitable alternatives to queso fresco!
What Is Queso Fresco?
Queso Fresco is a fresh Mexican cheese with a mild, salty flavor. It’s often used as a garnish for dishes such as tacos and enchiladas or served with fruit for dessert.
Queso fresco is also known by its Spanish name, queso Blanco.
This cheese is made from cow’s milk and has a crumbly texture that may remind you of feta cheese. It’s typically unsalted, but it can be seasoned with herbs or spices.
Queso fresco can also be added to salads or used in place of Parmesan cheese on pizza toppings.
Best Queso Fresco Substitutes
1. Queso Blanco
Queso Fresco is one of the best cheeses in Mexico, so, understandably, people would want to use it in their cooking.
The fact is Queso Blanco has a more subtle flavor than Queso Fresco. This makes it easier to pair with other ingredients and flavors to control how much flavor comes through your dish.
One of the biggest differences between these two kinds of cheese is their texture.
While Queso Fresco has a very soft and spreadable texture (which makes it great for making quesadillas), Queso Blanco is much harder and drier. So when used in a dish like quesadillas, it works better as a topping than a filling.
2. Mild Feta Cheese
Mild Feta Cheese is a Greek cheese that has been aged for a long time. And it can be used in place of Queso Fresco.
The two slices of cheese are very similar and made the same way. They are both soft white cheeses with a mild flavor; however, Queso Fresco is usually saltier than Mild Feta Cheese.
Mild Feta Cheese does not have as much salt as other types of feta cheeses because it is aged for such a long time.
But it’s more expensive than other cheeses and has a stronger flavor. However, if you’re looking for something that will melt easily without overpowering your dish, Mild Feta Cheese can be a good substitute for Queso Fresco.
Lastly, they are just as versatile as queso. You can use them generously in sandwiches, soups, and sauces, with toasted bread, pizzas, au gratins, fondues, soufflés, omelets, etc.
3. Monterey Jack Cheese
If you’re looking for a substitute for Queso Fresco, you may want to consider using Monterey Jack cheese.
Monterey Jack cheese is typically a blend of cheddar and Colby cheeses, making it creamier than its European counterparts.
It’s often used as a substitute for queso fresco because of its similarities in texture and taste (though they’re not exactly identical).
Both are white cheeses meant to be used in Mexican-inspired dishes, but they have different textures and flavors.
Monterey Jack is a milder, softer cheese with subtle butter and pepper flavor notes. It melts well, making it ideal for use on pizza or in quesadillas.
Paneer is a fresh cheese made from milk, and it has a mild, slightly sour flavor. It can be used in place of Queso Fresco because it’s soft and creamy, just like Mexican cheese.
The texture of paneer is softer than queso fresco, but if you’re looking for similar flavors and textures to use in your recipes, paneer will do the trick in sauces, soups, salads, tacos, and more!
5. Ricotta Salata
Ricotta Salata and Queso Fresco are both “cow’s milk” cheeses. However, Ricotta Salata is an Italian cheese that originated in Sicily.
It’s got a very high butterfat content, so it’s soft and creamy when cooked, but it has a firm texture when eaten as is.
Ricotta Salata is saltier, drier, and denser than Queso Fresco. While it can be used in place of Queso Fresco in many recipes, Ricotta Salata is a better choice for salads as it will hold up to the dressing better than Queso Fresco would.
However, using a Queso Fresco when making quesadillas or melted cheese sandwiches would be brilliant since it will stay soft and creamy.
Tofu can be a great substitute for Queso Fresco because it’s a high-protein alternative with a similar taste and texture.
Tofu is made from soybeans, rich in vitamins and minerals, and protein. It’s also made without any dairy products, so it’s a good choice for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan.
One of the biggest benefits of using tofu instead of queso fresco is that it doesn’t melt when heated.
You can use it in dishes like nachos and baked macaroni and cheese without worrying about your meal losing its shape or consistency.
7. Cotija (Fresh)
Cotija and Queso Fresco have a mild, salty flavor that works well as a topping for many foods. Cotija cheese is often used as an ingredient in Mexican dishes, and it can be used similarly to Queso Fresco.
And they are made from cow’s milk and aged for several months.
Queso Fresco is more crumbly than Cotija cheese because of its higher moisture content, but both are crumbly enough to be easily grated into dishes like salads or tacos.
If you’re looking for a way to add some spice without too much moisture, these two kinds of cheese are great options because they’re crumbly!
The next time you need a queso fresco substitute, try whipping up a batch of this queso blanco unless you can find some locally-made tofu that has been pressed and rinsed extensively.
I hope this article on substitutes for queso fresco opens the world of soft cheeses to your cooking adventures.
If you have any other ideas for homemade substitutes for grocery store staples, we’d love to hear about them. Leave your tips below!