If you’ve ever wondered what Queso Fresco is, you’ve come to the right place! I’m breaking down everything you need to know about this light, fresh, and feta-like Mexican cheese.
If you’re familiar with Mexican cuisine, you’ve probably already noticed that Queso Fresco is a very common ingredient.
How do I use it? In this better-than-Chipotle dip, this Tex-Mex casserole, on top of Huevos Rancheros, and as a garnish in my Tostada Carne recipe. And that’s just the beginning! I love having this stuff on hand at home to add to salads, soups, and beans. It’s Mexico’s answer to Greek feta, and I’m a major fan.
WHAT IS QUESO FRESCO?
It’s a fresh white cheese made from raw cow’s milk. You’ll sometimes find it made with a combination of both cow and goat milk. It’s fresh, boasts a very mild yet tangy taste, and crumbles easily. It’s widely available in supermarkets in the United States, but you may have to pop into a specialty store to find the really good stuff.
As mentioned, it’s very similar to feta. It also resembles fresh goat cheese and ricotta. No matter which way you look at it or what you want to compare it to, one thing remains the same: it is fresh.
Learn more about other Mexican Cheese and their uses in my post A Complete Guide to Mexican Cheese.
Looking for a Queso Fresco recipe? It’s one of those cheeses that you can actually make at home! All you’ll need is some milk, vinegar, salt, and some cheesecloth. It involves heating the milk, then adding vinegar and salt. Place the mixture in the cheesecloth and let it sit. You’ll have your cheese in under an hour.
WAYS TO USE QUESO FRESCO
I’ve already briefly mentioned a few of my favorite recipes that feature this Mexican cheese. You can also feel free to get creative! Think of it this way — it brings down the heat and adds some freshness to spicy meals that pack a punch. As much as I love spicy foods, sometimes you need a little something to take things down a notch. A sprinkle of Queso Fresco is that little something!
Here are some serving suggestions:
- On top of dips: guacamole, pico de gallo, or salsa
- On top of tacos: beef, pork, or chicken mole
- On top of salads: taco salad, cactus with grilled nopales, or Mexican salad
You’ll notice that cotija cheese is mentioned in a few of the recipes linked above. Read on to learn the difference between the two kinds of cheese and if cotija is a good Queso Fresco substitute.
COTIJA VS QUESO FRESCO: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Cotija is another white and crumbly Mexican cheese. It’s made from cow’s milk and gets its name from the Mexican town of Cotija located in the Michoacán state, where it originated. It’s another ingredient that you’ve likely seen many times.
Chefs like to use it on top of dishes such as enchiladas and Mexican street corn, or, elote. It’s a lot saltier than Queso Fresco, and this is mostly due to the aging process. Cotija is usually aged between three months to a year. Queso Fresco is un-aged.
The two types of cheese differ in taste, texture, and shelf-life as well. Queso Fresco is typically milder than cotija and isn’t as salty. Cotija is drier and firmer, and it has a longer shelf-life due to its aging process.
When it comes to deciding which one to use in the recipes above, it all comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy things a little saltier, go with cotija. If you want more freshness, opt for Queso Fresco!
5 GREAT QUESO FRESCO RECIPES
If you want even more recipe ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Below are some of my own recipes, plus a few from other food bloggers that I love:
- Grilled Shrimp Fajitas
- Tex-Mex Cornbread Casserole
- Outrageous Mexican Queso Dip
- Tinga de Pollo
- Queso Fresco Quesadillas
Does Queso Fresco Melt?
It does get softer when you heat it, but it doesn’t melt as well as other Mexican cheese options like Manchego or Queso Oaxaca. It works great as a topping, in a dip, or as a spreadable filling once it’s been softened a bit.
What is Queso Fresco Used For?
It can be used in so many different ways! Traditionally, it is sprinkled over beans and antojitos, or “little snacks.” It’s also often seen as a garnish for dishes like enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and more. The possibilities are endless!
Is Queso Fresco the Same as Feta?
You’ll often see Queso Freso compared to feta cheese – heck, even I compared the two in this article! The difference between the two comes down to origin: Queso Fresco comes out of Spain and Mexico, while feta comes from Greece. Both kinds of cheese are mild, crumbly, and soft. That said, feta can sometimes be a bit saltier than its Mexican counterpart.