6 Mexican Cheeses You Need to Know

How many can you name?

The next time you make a Mexican-inspired dish, skip the pre-packaged "Mexican blend" and opt instead for authentic Mexican cheeses like mild Cotija or ultra-melty Oaxaca. Here, six excellent Mexican cheeses you should get to know and love, along with delicious ideas for how to use them.

Queso fresco

Beef-and-Cheese Red Chile Enchiladas
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

This creamy, soft white cheese makes a fantastic topping for beef and cheese enchiladas or sweet-tangy grilled corn.

Queso añejo

Chipotle Chilaquiles
Forgot to prep your Cinco de Mayo celebration? Whip up quick dishes like chicken and cabbage tacos with cilantro cream and black-bean soup with avocado salsa. © Christopher Testani

Queso añejo is the aged version of queso fresco. Well-aged batches can become quite firm and salty, making it an excellent garnish. Use it for these smoky chilaquiles.

Cotija

Mexican Grilled-Corn Salad with Citrus Aioli
© Rick Poon

Try this Mexican hard cow's milk cheese in sweet-salty corn salad or on top of spicy black bean dip.

Quesillo Oaxaca

Enfrijoladas Recipe
The Ingalls

Known as quesillo in Oaxaca and referred to as queso Oaxaqueño or queso Oaxaca in the rest of Mexico, this cheese from Oaxaca is similar to unaged Monterey Jack. It's a white, semi-hard cheese that's excellent for melting. Try mild queso Oaxaqueño on these flavorful black bean enfrijoladas.

Manchego

Shrimp-and-Chorizo Pizza with Escarole and Manchego
© David Nicolas

This delicious cheese was introduced to Mexico from Spain. In Mexico, it's made with a mixture of cow and goat milk rather than sheep milk. Try it on this incredible shrimp and chorizo pizza.

Asadero

Hatch Chiles Rellenos
Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen / Food Styling by Ali Ramee

Also known as queso quesadilla, asadero cheese is great for melting. Try it with these amazing Hatch chiles rellenos.

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