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The 5 Best Substitutes for Panela Cheese

Are you looking for a way to give your dishes more flavor? There is something special about Panela Cheese that adds depth to the dishes you cook and bake.

How can you use this cheese in your recipes and what could be the best substitutes for it if you don’t have any Panela Cheese on hand?

Here, we’ll answer these questions in detail so that you can get the most out of cooking with this delectable cheese.

We’ll start off by exploring how to use Panela Cheese in recipes, plus provide five ingenious substitutes that will help make almost any dish a success.

What’s Panela Cheese?

Most of us are familiar with the wide variety of cheese types out there, but have you ever experienced the unique flavor and texture of panela cheese? Panela is a dry and crumbly type of cheese that offers a distinct flavor unlike anything else on the market.

It originates from Cuba and is commonly used in Cuban cuisine as well as Colombian fare.

It has a sharp and salty taste that is somewhat milder than other cheeses, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer less intense flavors.

This cheese can be used for both sweet and savory dishes, adding an interesting depth of flavor to recipes calling for a unique twist.

When melted, panela cheese takes on a smooth consistency perfect for various sauces or melted over meats and vegetables.

For instance, you can use it to make a spicy Mexican queso panela dip or melt slices over pan-seared steak tacos.

You’ll find panela cheese at most Latin specialty stores or the ethnic section of your regular grocery store – don’t miss out on trying this delicious treat.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Panela Cheese

Although panela cheese has a unique flavor profile that can be difficult to replicate with other cheeses, it can be replaced with other types of Mexican and Latin American cheeses.

These include:

1 – Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is one of the most popular substitutes for panela.

Feta is a brined curd cheese that has a salty flavor and crumbly texture.

Its origin is Greek but it is now found all over the world — in fact, it’s one of the most popular cheeses in the world.

Feta is an excellent substitute for panela due to its strong, salty flavor.

It can be used as a topping on salads or pizza, or grated into pastas and other dishes.

It’s also crumbled into cakes and pies or melted over vegetables or meats.

2 – Queso Fresco

Queso fresco is a Mexican-style soft, crumbly cheese that can be used as a substitute for panela cheese.

It has a mild, salty, slightly sweet flavor and is very creamy on the tongue.

Queso fresco also has a much longer shelf life than panela cheese and can be bought in most grocery stores.

Like panela cheese, queso fresco is often used as an ingredient in traditional Mexican and Latin American dishes such as tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas and enchiladas.

3 – Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese usually has a much higher moisture content than most other cheeses and it is available in almost every grocery store.

The texture of cottage cheese can vary from slightly lumpy to quite creamy, depending on the brand you buy.

Cottage cheese doesn’t have an intense flavor and its lightness can make it an appropriate substitute for panela cheese in some dishes.

If you are using it as a topping on dishes like pizza or lasagna, you may want to mix it up with richer cheeses like ricotta or parmesan for flavor depth.

When using cottage cheese as a substitute for panela cheese, be sure to choose one that is low fat or non-fat for best results.

4 – Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese is a great substitute for panela cheese, although it should be noted that ricotta has a much smoother and creamier texture than panela.

Ricotta has a mild flavor, so it won’t overpower other ingredients in the dish, but will provide a slight sweetness to balance out flavor.

Ricotta also has a high moisture content which can help add creaminess, so keep this in mind when making substitutions.

When choosing ricotta for substituting panela, opt for whole milk ricotta or even double strength ricotta for dishes calling for high fat panela.

You can even make your own ricotta at home with just milk, vinegar and salt.

5 – Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is a soft, white cheese that’s made with a combination of cream, skimmed milk and some cultures.

It has a milder taste than Panela which makes it an ideal substitute; you can use it in dishes like quesadillas and tacos without overwhelming the flavor of the other ingredients.

When using cream cheese in place of Panela, make sure to use the full-fat variety as it’s creamier than lighter versions.

If you’re dairy-free, try Vegan Cream Cheese for your favorite recipes.


In conclusion, panela cheese is a semi-hard cheese originating from South America that is similar in texture to feta and queso fresco.

While it may not be the easiest to find in a grocery store, there are plenty of great substitutes out there.

Some of the best alternatives are ricotta salata, feta, queso blanco, queso fresco and halloumi cheese.

Each of these more commonly found cheeses have a very similar flavor and texture profile that can easily be substituted for panela cheese in any recipe.

Whether you’re looking for a milder or stronger alternative to panela cheese in your favorite dish, these five cheeses offer you the perfect choice.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Panela Cheese

The 5 Best Substitutes for Panela Cheese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 – Feta Cheese
  • 2 – Queso Fresco
  • 3 – Cottage Cheese
  • 4 – Ricotta Cheese
  • 5 – Cream Cheese


  1. Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  2. Organize all of your ingredients.
  3. Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.

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