Queso Fresco is one of the easiest cheeses to make since it doesn’t need a bacterial culture, rennet, and careful handling.
You can choose to add it to your dishes or even eat them alone.
This popular cheese traces its origins back to Latin America.
The cheese came from Burgos in Spain to Mexico, and it has become a popular staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine.
What are the best substitutes for Queso Fresco? Well, they include Feta Cheese, Risotto Salata, Queso Blanco, Paneer, and Farmer’s Cheese.
What Is Queso Fresco?
Queso Fresco consists of a white cheese made using a mixture of goat and cow milk or only raw cow milk.
The people use warm milk and curdle it with acid to produce the cheese.
Here, they use either lemon juice or vinegar as the acid.
As the curd is formed, they strain away from the whey and press the curd into a firm type of cheese.
But it can also be used in a spreadable or cheesy form.
One great highlight about making this cheese would be how you have complete control over its texture.
It features a fresh, slightly salty, bright, and sour tang taste.
You can slice, fry, and even crumble the cheese whenever you wish to eat it.
Queso Fresco doesn’t melt like other cheeses, but it tends to get softer with heat.
5 Best Substitutes for Queso Fresco
Here’s a breakdown of the best substitutes for this cheese:
1 – Queso Blanco
Let’s start the list with the easiest option, i.e., using Queso Blanco, another Mexican cheese.
Many people get confused between the two because of their similarities.
Just like Queso Fresco, this cheese is also made using either goat or cow milk or both.
This cheese possesses a crumbly and hard texture with a light milky taste.
It also doesn’t melt, but there is a hint of sourness. Queso Blanco also has a pleasant smell and is free from moisture.
Queso Blanco goes well with refried beans, salads, meaty recipes, and tacos.
You can choose to make it at home or buy the readymade ones at the supermarket.
The strong similarities make it a great substitute for Queso Fresco.
Substitute Ratio – Since they share glaring similarities, you can stick with the same ratio as the Queso Fresco.
2 – Feta Cheese
This cheese is another alternative for Queso Fresco because of its crumbly texture, color, and creaminess.
But Feta Cheese is both brined and aged, causing it to have a tangy taste compared to Queso Fresco.
So, you should rinse it with cold water to remove that salty and bold taste.
Feta Cheese is created using sheep’s milk or cow’s milk.
Its creamy and rich profile makes it suitable for combining spices such as paprika, cayenne, and cumin.
Danish feta has a creamy texture, French feta has a drier texture, and Greek feta has a stronger tangy and salty taste.
Substitute Ratio – You should use ½ the amount for the required Queso Fresco quantity in the recipe since it is tangier and saltier.
But if you are using Mild Feta Cheese, then you can use the same amount.
3 – Paneer
Another great alternative for Queso Fresco is Paneer. This Indian cheese possesses a sweet, milky, and mild flavor.
Paneer also has a soft but firm feel with a crumbly texture, making it excellent for substituting your Queso Fresco.
Paneer is made using either buffalo milk or cow milk.
You can easily cut it into different shapes and crumble them using your fingers.
This cheese is widely used in savory and sweet dishes, and you can add them to your tacos, stews, fajitas, curries, and taquitos.
This cheese is unaged, doesn’t melt, and is set using acid.
It is heavily used in Indian cuisines but can work equally well for Mexican dishes as well.
Apart from India, it is also used in countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives.
Substitute Ratio: Since it is mild and too tangy or salty, you can use the same amount as your Queso Fresco in the recipe.
4 – Ricotta Salata
Ricotta Salata has a soft, creamy, and fluffy texture. This cheese is made using the whey of sheep or cow milk.
It is aged and dried, giving it that rich milky taste and a tinge of saltiness and tanginess.
Many people choose to age this cheese for over two months to resemble Queso Fresco.
If you wish to remove its saltiness, then you need to age it for longer.
It is widely used in salads, soups, and pasta because of its authentic taste.
Ricotta Salata is white and has a crumbly and firm texture, which is similar to Queso Fresco.
You can expect an aged Risotto Salata to develop a yellowish shade.
Substitute Ratio – If your Risotto Salata has been aged for long, then you can use the exact amount as your Queso Fresco.
However, if it is still very salty, you can bring it down to ½ the amount.
5 – Farmer’s Cheese
Farmer’s cheese is very similar to your cottage cheese.
It is created using dry curds and possesses a soft texture and mild flavor.
You can use any milk to make this cheese.
However, this cheese has a little more tang in taste than Cottage Cheese, making it suitable for substituting your Queso Fresco.
You will need this tang in your Mexican dish.
Since this cheese also possesses a low lactose level, it becomes suitable for dairy-diet or lactose intolerant people.
Substitute Ratio – Since it is way milder than Queso Fresco, we advise you to add about 1 ½ for a recipe with ½ Queso Fresco.
Queso Fresco is nothing but a fresh and delicious pot of kitchen gold.
This cheese has a rich source of micronutrients such as Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B12, Selenium, Zinc, and Vitamin A.
Its creamy, crumbly, and tangy taste makes it perfect for an array of cuisines.
You can even use this cheese in baked edibles and sauces.
It is versatile and works as the magic ingredient in Mexican cookouts.
You can also use any of the substitutes mentioned above in place of Queso Fresco to obtain the same result.