queso fresco

Queso Fresco

Queso Fresco, which translates to Fresh Cheese, can be found throughout Mexico with slightly different variations. It is also called Queso de Pueblo,  Queso de Rancho and sometimes just Queso Blanco. In some small towns it may be found sold wrapped in banana leaves and if you are lucky, in the small baskets where they are sometimes made.

It generally comes in rounds. Though it appears to be  firm and can hold its shape nicely when cut into sticks or squares, it is very soft and crumbles easily. It is used in many ways, such as a side to guacamole and salsas, crumbled on top of hundreds of antojos like tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, refried beans and even soups. I also love it diced or crumbled in salads. Possibilities are endless.

It is mild, slightly salty, very fresh and a bit tangy. If you can’t find it -though these days it is readily available abroad, not only in Latin stores but also in places like Costco- you can substitute it with a farmers’ cheese or a mild young feta.

One of the wonderful things about Queso Fresco, is that even if you cut it in sticks or squares, once in your mouth, it deliciously crumbles….


16comments inQueso Fresco

  1. Christina

    Sep 19

    Hola Pati! I am so confused about the difference between queso fresco and cotija cheese. I found both in my supermarket so bought both but now had no idea what I can use the cotija cheese for! Help!!!

    1. Pati

      Sep 20

      Cotija is great for topping enchiladas, corn, sopes…and more. It adds a salty, creamy finish to a dish (but in many of my recipes you can sub cotija for queso fresco for a similar finish). I also use it in a delicious dressing…http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/recipe/roasted-broccoli-cauliflower-with-queso-cotija-dressing/

  2. Kristen

    Oct 17

    I’m so confused. My local grocery has cheeses labeled queso fresco and panela fresca. And multiple brands, which have varying firmness. Should I just buy it all? =P

    1. Pati

      Oct 18

      Hi Kristen! Si, this happens sometimes in the US. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before they are labeled more specifically. =) The way you can tell is that queso fresco is very very crumbly and panela is not.

      1. Kristen

        Oct 19

        I love that you reply with helpful information. Muchas gracias!

        1. Pati

          Oct 25


  3. Kristin

    Feb 10

    Hi, Pati:
    My husband loves cheese enchildas with salsa verde. What types of cheeses do you recommend be rolled in the corn tortillas?

    1. Pati

      Feb 11

      Mmmm so many options depending on what you like! Queso fresco, ranchero, cotija, farmer’s cheese…

  4. Gale

    Oct 20

    Hi Pati,
    I am in Northwestern VT and have difficulty finding ingredients in my local market. Specifically queso fresco. Since I have access to unpasteurized milk from a local farm could I make my own using that and perhaps lime juice to form the curds. Like making homemade ricotta? Would it crumble like queso fresco?

    1. Pati

      Oct 21

      If you can’t find queso fresco you can instead use farmer’s cheese… or a mild feta will also do in a pinch! =)

  5. Kimberly

    May 27

    Hola Pati,
    I love your show and Mexican food! I’ve traveled to Mexico and there I fell in love with the cheese I would be served crumbled on guacamole. But, I cannot find anything that resembles it here. I’ve tried Queso Blanco and that’s the closest Mexican cheese I could find in my stores. I found the Queso Blanco from the stores here had no flavor like the Queso I had in Mexico that had such a pungent salty taste! I love that taste! I was in the Yucatan, and do you know what cheese it might have been? If so, is it cow, goat or sheep cheese? If I am lucky enough to find this wonderful cheese, how long will it keep, how to keep, and can it be frozen? Thanks, Kimberly

    1. Pati

      May 28

      Hola Kimberly, Thank you for your message! It sounds like you are thinking of queso fresco. You may have had an unpasteurized queso fresco in Mexico which is hard to find in the US. I get mine in my local Latin market. If you find it, it will keep for about a week after opening in the refrigerator. You may try freezing in a tightly sealed zip lock bag or container. Allow a few hours to thaw in the fridge before using.

  6. Diane

    Jul 16

    Hello Patti, I love love your shows on create, I have a question about making bean and cheese breakfast tacos, what kind of cheese do you use to make these tacos? I have a grandson that loves bean and cheese tacos from Taco Cabana (restaurant in Texas) but I cannot reproduce them. Not sure if it is the cheese or what. I use Cheddar Cheese. Do you ever use cheddar cheese in any of your dishes? I need help. Thanks Diane

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 19

      Hola Diane, About making the bean and cheese breakfast tacos, I would use a cheese that is mild and melts easily that won’t overpower the beans like a Monterey Jack, Oaxaca or Mozzarella. Yes, I use cheddar cheese depending on the dish. If you have anymore questions, just let me know!

  7. maria elena naranjo

    Aug 17

    soy nueva por estos lugares, podrias decirme donde puedo comprar estos quesos de mexico en washington o en virginia???
    te lo agradeceria mucho

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 21

      Hola Maria Elena,
      Estos dias puedes encontrar en muchos lugares! Yo he econcontrado queso Oaxaca y Fresco en lugares como Giant. Tambien puedes buscar en Shoppers, en tiendas Latinas, en DC hay una que se llama Panam, en la calle 14 con Parkwood NW que tiene mucha variedad…

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