The Cheese Lover’s Guide To Queso Fresco

January 1, 1900

The Cheese Lover’s Guide To Queso Fresco

If you haven’t heard of queso fresco before, allow us to introduce you to your new favorite cheese. Translated as “fresh cheese” from Spanish, queso fresco is everything you could want from a fresh cheese and then some.

Every bite is light, airy, refreshing, and just a little bit tangy—just what you want crumbled on an enchilada fresh out of the oven. Read on to learn all about this special cheese that’s sure to become your next obsession.

Cheese History: The story behind queso fresco

The origin story for queso fresco takes us south of the border to Mexico, where settlers from Spain started cheese in 1585. However, it wasn't until after Mexico became an independent state in 1821 that fresh cow's milk cheeses became more common. Queso fresco was born as a humble farmers cheese—no complex cheese aging techniques here, just simple and delicious fresh cheese.

Queso fresco quickly gained popularity in Mexico and abroad, and today it’s one of the most popular cheeses used in a variety of Mexican dishes. 

All about queso fresco cheese

How is queso fresco cheese made?

The process for making queso fresco starts with a set of enzymes known as rennet that is added to fresh Wisconsin milk in order to start the curdling process. Cheesemakers separate the curds from the whey, draining off the whey which leaves just the precious curds behind.

These curds are then pressed for 24-72 hours before the cheese is packaged and sent off to eager cheese lovers.

What does queso fresco taste like?

Queso fresco is the kind of cheese that everyone can love. It’s mild, milky, and delightfully refreshing with just enough acidity to cut through unctuous dishes like cheesy enchiladas. In addition to its do-no-wrong flavor, queso fresco is famous for how smooth and creamy it gets when heated. 

What’s the difference between queso fresco and queso blanco?

Although these two cheeses are commonly confused for each other, they have a few key differences. While queso fresco is made with rennet and bacterial cultures that separate the milk into whey and curd, queso blanco simplifies things even further by using lemon juice or vinegar to achieve the same result.

Despite these differences, queso fresco and queso blanco are similar enough that you can substitute them for each other in a pinch. For a fun challenge, try getting both and doing a blind cheese tasting to see if you can catch the difference in flavor.

How should queso fresco be stored?

Since queso fresco is a fresh cheese, it’s best enjoyed within 3-6 days of buying it. (We’d be impressed if you made it longer than 24 hours, though.) If you unwrap your cheese and only use part of it, be sure to wrap it back up and keep it in an airtight container so it won’t pick up any unwanted flavors from other food in your refrigerator.

To learn more about the best cheese storage practices, look no further than our guide on how to store cheese.

Must-try Wisconsin queso fresco

Cesar’s Cheese Queso Fresco: Founded by Cesar Luis in 2008, Cesar’s Cheese is a testament to what happens when a passion for cheese is combined with opportunity. Cesar learned to make cheese by-hand in Oaxaca, Mexico and followed his cheesemaking dreams to Wisconsin where he earned his Wisconsin Cheesemaker’s License and quickly became a local legend.

Cesar’s cheeses have racked up dozens of awards already, and with one bite of his queso fresco, you’ll understand why.

Specialty Cheese Company La VacaRica® Queso Fresco: Made in Reeseville, Wisconsin, Specialty Cheese Company’s queso fresco is a classic example of what this cheese should be: simple and delicious. Whether it’s topping quesadillas or tacos, we couldn't pick a better cheese for the job.

W&W Dairy Queso Fresco: This mild and slightly tangy queso fresco has won consistently high marks at the World Championship Cheese Contest for its balanced tanginess and open texture. W&W Dairy makes their queso fresco in the same traditional round patties as old-time cheesemakers, blending time-honored technique with modern innovation.

Pairing queso fresco cheese

What beer goes well with queso fresco?

Grab a light refreshing lager, pilsner, or even a pale ale—queso fresco isn’t picky! Avoid stronger beers like dubbels or coffee stouts, though, as they’ll overpower queso fresco’s delicate flavor and won’t make a good pairing. 

What wine pairs best with queso fresco?

If you prefer sipping on wine rather than beer, go for a white wine like a riesling or sauvignon blac. These white wines can match queso fresco’s lightness without the more astringent tannins of red wine. If you’re in the mood for something a bit sweeter, you can’t go wrong with a rosé either. 

What accompaniments should I serve with queso fresco?

It’s only fitting to serve Mexican dishes with Mexican cheese. Basically, anything is better with creamy, mild queso fresco. Use it as filling for chile relleños or as a finishing touch on top of enchiladas or tamales. For lighter fare, crumble and toss queso fresco into greens or a fruit salad.

If you’re ready to take a deeper look into the world of cheese pairing, we recommend starting with our beginner’s guide to cheese pairing.

Ready to fall in love with queso fresco?

We know what you’re thinking: it’s time for a cheese tasting full of Wisconsin’s finest queso fresco! Have cheese delivered right to your door with our continuously updated list of cheesemakers and retailers that allow you to order cheese online. Award-winning Wisconsin Cheese is just a click away!

Craving something else? Choose from our selection of over 400 recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese. Don’t forget to share your creative cheesy creations with us on Facebook and Instagram.


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