There are a few options if you can’t find this specialty Mexican cheese! Here’s the best cotija cheese substitute to use in all your recipes.

cotija cheese substitute

Can’t find cotija cheese? We’ve got your back! Cotija cheese is a Mexican cow’s milk cheese: it’s white with a dry texture and salty flavor. You can buy it fresh or aged, but it’s usually easiest to find fresh at the grocery. It’s often called for in Mexican-style recipes like tacos, enchiladas, and nachos. This cheese can be tough to find at the grocery, so here’s the best cotija cheese substitute!

Best substitute for cotija cheese

1. Feta cheese.

The best fresh cotija cheese substitute? Feta cheese. Feta has a similar crumbly texture and salty flavor to cotija cheese, and is usually easier to find at the store. Of course if you can find cotija, it has a unique flavor that’s worth seeking out.

2. Queso fresco

Another cotija cheese substitute? Queso fresco, if you can find it! Queso fresco, which means fresh cheese in Spanish, is another Mexican cow’s milk cheese. Keep in mind, queso fresco has a much milder flavor and is not nearly as salty as Cotija (which is why feta is the top choice here).

3. Goat cheese crumbles.

The next best substitute for the fresh stuff? Goat cheese crumbles. Make sure to look for the goat cheese crumbles that have a firm texture similar to feta cheese, not a soft goat cheese log (chevre).

Looking for a substitute for aged cotija cheese? The aged version has a stronger flavor, similar to a Parmesan cheese. But the cheeses above are more suited to substituting in Mexican-style recipes. Parmesan cheese has a more Italian vibe. But you could use it in a pinch, especially with elote.

Here are a few recipes made with cotija cheese:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Anyone reading this in the UK might find Wensleydale or Crumbly Lancashire cheese to be a really good substitute. Both have the same crumbly texture and a tangy flavour like cojita.