panela cheese

Panela Cheese

Panela is a moist and fresh, mild, and very mellow, cheese. Its texture is very firm and it can be cut into thick slices, broken into smaller pieces easily, or grated for antojos (snacks). In Mexico, this cheese is often used by cooks who want low-fat or healthier options. That doesn’t mean it isn’t irresistible!

panela cheese

Panela is used in sandwiches, tortas, and quesadillas, just to name some. It is a star of every salad it is added on to and it’s fabulous for grilling because it doesn’t melt or string with the heat; instead, it develops a lovely crust.

grilled panela cheese with salsa verde and salsa rojo

One of my favorite ways to use panela is to grill it and cover it with either salsa verde or salsa roja. It used to be impossible to find Panela cheese in the US. So it used to be one of the first things I craved each time I travel to Mexico. Fortunately, it is now available in the United States and hence the possibilities of Panela cheese in the kitchen are truly endless.


14comments inPanela Cheese

  1. Phyllis Ocampo

    Apr 11

    I had my first taste of panela cheese today from a local cafe in our city. It was in a chicknoa wrap which consisted of
    lean chicken breast, quinoa, panela, mixed greens, red bell peppers and chipotle sauce. While enjoying my wrap I found myself staring and pausing to check the white sticks inside the wrap because it reminded me so much of tofu. I’m so glad that I read your article about panela cheese because it is a delight to learn how it is made. I’m not a big fan of cheese in general but I am now a fan of panela cheese. I also love your background and how you became an ambassador. You are a positive role model and I wish you the best!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 15

      How kind and sweet of you Phyllis, thanks so much!

  2. Alex @

    Sep 10

    An enlightening article that not only introduces us to the delightful world of Panela cheese but also guides us on its storage and versatile uses. The diverse recipes provided are a testament to the cheese’s adaptability in various dishes. It’s fabulous that something once difficult to find in the US is now readily available. The presence across multiple social media platforms is a great way to share the love for this Mexican culinary gem.


    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 20

      Interesting, thanks so much for sharing Alex!

  3. Rose Marie

    Jul 30

    How do you store panela cheese after you have opened the package but do not use it all

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 31

      Wrap it tightly in plastic film, keep it in one of those tight seal plastic baggies or in a container with a lid in the fridge. Eat it soon because it doesn’t last long, maybe 5 days tops. Good luck Rose Marie!

  4. Irene war

    Feb 21

    I would like to see you do a show on the different kinds of Mexican cheeses. I only know how to use queso fresco. I heat up corn tortillas and slice the queso fresco adding salsa to the ‘taco’ and eat it alone or with menudo. I recently bought some Oaxaca cheese that I discovered is string cheese. But I have never used Panela or the other hard Mexican ones.

    1. Pati

      Feb 21

      Oh I love cheese. I have lots of information on different Mexican cheeses here: And check out episode 12 of Season 6…it is all about cheese 🙂 :

  5. Sheila

    May 26

    Do you have a panela cheese recipe? Is it possible for me to make at home? Would I even want to or is it too difficult for home cooks?
    Thanks so much,
    Sincerely sheila henkin

    1. Pati

      May 26

      Sheila I recommend that you buy it…there are some great panela cheeses you can purchase.

  6. Melissa

    Jan 19

    Hi Pati! Thank you so much for sharing – I tried this on my grill pan and it was a big hit 🙂 You can’t go wrong with warm cheese when it’s cold outside!

    1. Pati

      Jan 25

      Words to live by!

  7. Sara

    Dec 27

    Hi Pati!
    Eres una diva en la cocina! I just love your book!
    I’m trying to move my family away from the queso “frijolero” as they call it because it’s rather high in salt but it’s soooo good on frijoles frescos de la olla. Do you think this will be a good substitute or is it too moist and mild?
    Thanks a bunch and keep up the excellent work,
    Sara H.

    1. Pati

      Dec 28

      It is a good substitute if you’re looking for a healthier option!

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