7 Mexican Cheeses You Should Know

Here's what to grate, shred, crumble, and melt next.

The next time you make tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, or another Mexican-inspired dish, be sure to seek out the right Mexican cheeses for the recipe, whether it's mild Cotija or ultra-melty Oaxaca. Here are seven of our favorite Mexican cheeses that 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 soft white cheese is a fresh cheese made with cow's milk, goat milk, or a combination of the two. It is sold in small rectangular pieces similar in size to adobo bricks, which is why it is also known as adobera. Queso fresco comes from Jalisco, in the western part of Mexico. It has a mild, slightly tangy flavor and crumbles and shreds easily, making it 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. It does not melt when heated, Well-aged batches can become quite firm and salty (similar to ricotta salata or even Parmesan). It is an excellent garnish when crumbled on top of tacos, salads or other dishes; we love it on these smoky Chilaquiles.


Mexican Grilled-Corn Salad with Citrus Aioli
© Rick Poon

Cotija is a hard cow's milk cheese from the town of Cotija in the state of Michoacán, in western Mexico. It has a crumbly texture and salty flavor likened to feta, but it is also known as Mexico's Parmesan cheese. Try this popular cheese atop these Chilaquiles, in sweet-salty Corn Salad or on top of this Spicy Black Bean Dip.

Queso 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 white, semi-hard cheese from Oaxaca is similar in flavor to unaged Monterey Jack. It is notable for its texture; it's sold as rolled up balls of flat ropes that pull apart like string cheese. It is excellent for melting, try it on these flavorful black bean Enfrijoladas.


Tomatillo Toasts with Prosciutto and Manchego
Christopher Testani

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 these Tomatillo Toasts with Prosciutto and Manchego.


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 Hatch Chiles Rellenos and in this delectably melty grilled Queso Flameado.


Crispy Ricotta and Kale Tacos
Victor Protasio

Soft, creamy requesón is similar in texture to Italian whole-milk ricotta, and like ricotta, is made with the whey from the cheese-making process. Try it in these Crispy Ricotta-Kale Tacos.

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