Best Queso Fresco Substitute – Extremely common in the Mexican cuisine, the queso fresco cheese has a unique flavor. It feels fresh, but it’s also tangy and has a slight aroma of milk. Although it’s quite firm, it also tends to crumble as you start cutting it. One major difference between this cheese and others is the fact that it doesn’t melt if heated, yet some of its varieties do tend to go creamy.
However, when it comes to cooking, chances are you can’t always find it in commerce. Unless you go to a specialized store or you order online, you might have to run from one supermarket to another. That’s when you start considering a queso fresco substitute instead.
Queso Fresco Substitute – Some Alternatives
So, what are the most popular alternatives on the market? Let’s find out.
1. Feta Cheese
The original feta cheese is made in Greece only, although you might find alternatives made in other countries too. They’re not as tasty as the original version though. It’s normally made from sheep milk, yet it might be mixed with goat milk as well.
When compared to queso fresco, it tastes a bit tangier and saltier. You have two options then. First, you can just use less cheese than what the recipe asks for. Second, you can soak it in water for around 3 hours before cooking it.
In terms of texture, it’s similar to queso fresco – quite firm, but it also crumbles. It’s extremely popular in salads, but it works well with grilled recipes too. The tangy aroma makes it ideal in a combination with Mexican dishes, hence its popularity as the best queso fresco substitute you can find.
2. Paneer Cheese
Paneer cheese is one of the most common types of cheese in the Indian cuisine. Many recipes are based on it, yet you can also blend it with other types of dishes. For example, it’s perfect in the Mexican cuisine due to its similarities with queso fresco.
From many points of view, paneer cheese is similar to farmer’s cheese, yet there are some differences – it doesn’t melt and it’s not aged. Plus, it’s acid set. Most commonly, it’s made from cow milk, yet buffalo milk can also be used for a creamier version.
In terms of flavor, it’s sweet and milky. It’s similar to queso fresco in texture – crumbly and firm, yet it’s also chewy. It’s easy to grate on top of dishes, so it’s a great choice to finish your Mexican dishes.
3. Pot Cheese
Similar to cottage cheese in taste and appearance, pot cheese makes a good queso fresco substitute. The curds are properly drained, but they’re not pressed, so it’s quite crumbly. The manufacturing process makes this cheese a bit soft and moist. With all these, its texture feels quite dry.
Related: Cottage Cheese Substitute
Generally speaking, pot cheese is used as a spread, but its uses are extremely varied. It can be used in the Mexican cuisine too, but it should be used in higher quantities as an alternative to queso fresco.
4. Tofu Cheese
Although it’s not a real cheese, this alternative to the real thing is great for vegans, but also for those with an intolerance. It’s made from curds of soy milk and it’s common in the Asian cuisine. It can be found in all kinds of textures – firm, soft and even extra firm. Its versatility makes it suitable to pretty much any kind of dish, including Mexican dishes.
It doesn’t have a strong flavor on its own, but it can absorb flavors from other ingredients, which makes it useful in many situations. That’s what makes it such a good queso fresco substitute.
Apart from soy tofu, you can also find almond or peanut tofu in commerce, yet they’re harder to find.
5. Ricotta Salata Cheese
Just like you have probably guessed already, ricotta salata cheese is a version of ricotta cheese, only it comes with some major differences. First, it’s salted and aged. Second, it’s thoroughly dried and pressed. It’s most commonly made from sheep milk. However, you can find various options on the market, such as goat or cow milk.
See also: Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
It tastes milky and salty. Some varieties come with a mild tangy flavor, as well as a nutty aroma. It feels firm, so it can be easily grated over dishes. You can use it with pasta and general salads.
6. Farmer Cheese
Farmer cheese carries many of the characteristics of cottage cheese. It has one major characteristic in common with queso fresco – the manufacturing process. There’s a difference though – farmer cheese starts with a bacterial starter culture.
It can be made from almost any type of milk, but mostly goat, sheep, and cow milk. The texture obviously varies from one type to another. The slightly tangy aroma makes it a solid queso fresco substitute. The same goes for its texture – crumbly and firm.
7. Monterey Jack Cheese
Although it’s not the perfect alternative to queso fresco in texture and taste, the Monterey Jack cheese is extremely popular in the Mexican cuisine because of its mild aroma. That’s what makes it such a popular alternative. This type of cheese is aged and feels quite soft. It’s made from cow milk – be it skimmed or semi-skimmed.
Unlike other types of cheese, it looks yellow. The intensity of its color is based on the aging process – longer aged cheese is yellower. The same goes for its flavor. It can taste like caramel or it can be mild. From this point of view, don’t just buy any type of Monterey Jack cheese to replace queso fresco. Find out what the dish is supposed to taste like and choose accordingly.
As a short final conclusion, not being able to find queso fresco doesn’t mean you have to change the recipe or start making your own cheese. Instead, just use one of the numerous alternatives on the market.
They’re more common in supermarkets and they can provide the same taste and aroma, as long as you use them in the right proportions. After all, choosing the best queso fresco substitute depends on what your dish is supposed to taste like.
Related: Cotija Cheese Substitute