If you've only ever put Mexican cheese on your burritos and quesadillas, you're in for a big surprise. From queso fresco to cotija and oaxaca to queso quesadilla, a lot more to Mexican cheese than toppings for tacos.
Mexican cheese tends to be fresh cheese, unaged and mostly made from cow's milk with the occasional goat's milk variety. These are soft and yielding cheeses, light and fresh full of creamy goodness.
Take queso fresco for example. This mild and milky, bright and tangy cheese is great as a garnish for soup, or a complement for sweet salads. You can use it in any recipe that calls for ricotta salata or feta, and it can be crumbled on everything from huevos rancheros to pasta casseroles.
Then there's cotija cheese, known as the Mexican parmesan. This dry, crumbly, salty cheese will soften when heated but won't actually melt. Just like its Italian counterpart, it's great as a garnish and flavor booster on pastas and pizzas as well as enchiladas and tostadas, and it's probably most famous as the spectacular flavor finish on Mexican-style grilled corn on the cob.
Oaxaca cheese is a string cheese that is a lot like mozzarella – a semi-soft and super creamy cheese with flavor like a young monterey jack. Oaxaca is great for melting on pizzas and baked pastas, or for making a hot cheese dip for tortilla chips and veggies.
For a super melty Mexican cheese, try a little queso quesadilla, which makes a mean chorizo dip as well as the best quesadillas you're likely to find north of Chihuahua.
Yep, here in Wisconsin we love our Mexican cheese, because for us, cheese has no borders.
Here's a handy guide for pairing some of our favorite Mexican cheeses with a cerveza, vino, or espíritu for a flavor fiesta.
Queso fresco – we love this cheese with a pilsner or a pale ale, but a Mexican lager with lime makes queso fresco happiest. For wine, light whites or rosés will do, and tequila is always the right call for a liquor dance partner.
Cotija – try any fruity or citrusy beverage, a margarita, or a Mexican lager with lime.
Queso quesadilla – light white and rosés are perfect, or pair it with a pilsner, lager, or kolsch. A Mexican mezcal will make queso quesadilla feel right at home.
GranQueso® – this Hispanic-style Wisconsin original loves it some rioja, vinho verde, and albariño, or port, sherry, and tequila.
Oaxaca – this mild flavored cheese pairs well with lighter beverages – champagne, pinot gris, and sauvignon blanc. For beer, a pilsner, American pale lager or wheat ale. When pouring liquor, a light rum will make Oaxaca say "woo-hoo!"
Mexican cheese refers to a number of cheeses made in Mexico. Mexican cheese is predominantly white cheese made from cow's milk, with texture that ranges from melting to crumbly.
Mexican cheese tends to be fresh cheese and is usually aged no more than a few days, if at all.
Cheese was unknown in Mexico until the early 1500s, when Spanish conquistadors arrived bringing animals like cattle and goats that could produce the milk needed to make cheese.
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Queso fresco. Cotija. Oaxaca. Wisconsin. Clearly, one of these things is not like the other.
While it may feel weird to buy Mexican cheese from Wisconsin, it sure as heck won't taste weird. In fact, you'll be amazed by our honest and flavorful takes on a variety of Mexican cheeses.
It's all part of our plan to be the ultimate State of Cheese. It's why we make more flavors, varieties, and styles of cheese than any other place on earth. It's why we use 90% of the milk produced in Wisconsin into our cheese. And it's why our cheesemakers are always winning awards for cheeses that might've been born in other countries – that's a shout out to you, parmesan, gouda, and havarti – but that proudly call Wisconsin home today.
So next time someone offers you Mexican cheese from Milwaukee, just say "Sí" or "You betcha." We promise you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?
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In Wisconsin, we make more flavors, varieties, and styles of cheese than anywhere else in the world. We believe in tradition, producing everything from Italian classics, like parmesan and ricotta, to swiss cheese and cheddar varieties. But every Wisconsin cheesemaker is an innovator as well, which is why we have so many Wisconsin originals, like colby and muenster. Whether it’s a grilled cheese sandwich, potatoes au gratin, or a charcuterie board, Wisconsin cheese makes every dish and recipe tastier.