Best Cotija Cheese Substitute

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. Queso fresco

The best fresh 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. It’s very similar to cotija but has a milder flavor.

2. 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. This substitute is pretty widely accepted in the culinary world: though of course if you can find cotija, it has a unique flavor that’s worth waiting for.

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:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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