30 Most Popular Mexican Cheeses

Mexican Cheeses

Mexican cheeses are delicious! Cheese lovers will want to try them all. As a queso lover myself, I’ve been working on it!

If you want to learn about the most popular Mexican cheeses of Mexican cuisine, this list is for you!

I’m excited to share my knowledge of the cheeses of Mexico with you!

Mexican Cheeses

Mexican Cheeses

I’m a huge cheese enthusiast, which is why I created this guide to Mexican cheeses!

From gooey Queso Oaxaca to crumbly Cotija to creamy Queso Crema here are 30 types of Mexican cheeses you must try!

1. Queso Fresco

Queso Fresco is the most popular cheese in Mexico. This traditional cheese has a soft, moist, and crumbly texture, with a mild flavor that’s slightly tangy and a bit salty.

Its creamy and smooth consistency comes from being made with either raw cow’s milk or a mix of cow and goat milk.

Here is how Mexicans typically enjoy Queso Fresco.

  • Topping for Tacos: Queso Fresco is often crumbled and used as a topping for tacos, adding a creamy and slightly tangy flavor to the dish.
  • Garnish for Beans: Queso Fresco is commonly crumbled and sprinkled over cooked black beans, adding a touch of creaminess and flavor.
  • Quesadilla Ingredient: Queso Fresco can be used as a filling for quesadillas, providing a creamy and mild cheese contrast to other ingredients.
  • Topping for Elote: Queso Fresco is often slathered on elote (Mexican street corn), adding a creamy and slightly tangy element to the dish.

2. Cotija

Cotija is a traditional Mexican cheese, known for its strong, salty flavor and dry texture.

It’s often described as the “Parmesan of Mexico,” with a crumbly texture and an off-white color.

This cheese doesn’t melt, making it perfect for grilling or pan-frying, and it’s a popular topping for soups, tacos, and salads.

Cotija cheese originates from Mexico’s Cotija region, with authentic varieties being made from cow’s milk.

There are multiple types of cotija to explore, like the Jalisco style, which has a softer texture that doesn’t break apart easily.

Here are some common uses of Cotija cheese in Mexican dishes:

  1. Enchilada Filling: Cotija cheese can be used as a filling inside enchiladas, providing a salty and crumbly cheese component.
  2. Soup Ingredient: Cotija cheese can be added to soups, providing a salty and crumbly texture.
  3. Tostada Topping: Cotija cheese can be used as a topping for tostadas, adding a salty and tangy flavor to the dish.
  4. Salad Ingredient: Cotija cheese can be crumbled and added to salads, providing a salty and tangy flavor.

Related: 12 Easy Homemade Sauces for Enchiladas (+ Recipes)

3. Queso Panela

Panela is a popular Mexican cheese with a semi-soft, unaged texture and a mild, milky flavor.

Its creamy yet slightly crumbly consistency makes it a versatile addition to many dishes.

Typically, it is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and comes in a white color.

Most often, you’ll find me enjoying Panela cheese in both sweet and savory recipes because of its subtle taste and ability to retain its shape even when subjected to high heat.

A fun fact about Panela is that it’s considered a healthier option by many cooks in Mexico due to its low fat content.

4. Queso Oaxaca

Oaxaca cheese (also known as Quesillo, Queso de Hebra, Queso Menonita, or Queso Asadero) is a popular Mexican cheese with a stringy texture similar to mozzarella.

It’s a soft, white cheese with a mild, tangy flavor that’s perfect for melting or sprinkling on various Mexican dishes like refried beans, grilled corn, chilaquiles, and tamales.

Related: 17 Sauces for Tamales (Easy + Tasty)

Originating from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, this cheese has become a staple in Mexican cuisine – rivaling other favorites like queso añejo, requesón, asadero, and queso panela.

In my experience, Oaxaca cheese’s versatility makes it a fantastic substitute for Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese in dishes like burritos, chiles rellenos, and even pizza.

5. Queso Enchilado

Enchilado is a unique Mexican cheese with a distinct texture, semi-firm consistency, and a crumbly smooth feel.

It is characterized by a spicy, slightly tangy flavor that comes from the chili powder coating on its rind.

The aroma of Enchilado is a delightful mix of fresh milk and spiciness, while its color can range from a pale white to orange-red, depending on the type and amount of chili used.

Enchilado has a medium fat content and a well-balanced moisture content. I love using Enchilado as a melting cheese, as it melts beautifully and adds a spicy kick to any meal.

6. Queso Adobera

Adobera cheese is a traditional and popular Mexican cheese originating from Jalisco, Mexico.

This fresh, soft cheese is made from 100% pasteurized whole cow’s milk and is named after its similarity in shape to adobe bricks.

With its ivory color and firm, grainy texture, Adobera cheese has a mild taste that makes it a versatile and delicious addition to various dishes.

As a lover of authentic Mexican cheeses, I consider Adobera an essential ingredient to include in my kitchen when experimenting with traditional Mexican recipes.

7. Monterey Jack Cheese

Monterey Jack cheese is one of the most popular Mexican cheese types, known for its mild flavor and smooth, meltable texture.

This authentic Mexican cheese has a creamy white color and a slightly sweet aroma, making it a versatile choice for many dishes.

I love using Monterey Jack in recipes like quesadillas, enchiladas, or simply as a topping for nachos, as it complements the flavors in these dishes without overpowering them.

The origins of Monterey Jack can be traced back to California, where it was first made by Spanish friars and later adopted by Mexican cheesemakers.

8. Manchego

I find Manchego to be a delicious cheese. This popular cheese has a light yellow color, a mildly tangy flavor, and offers a creamy texture that melts easily.

Originating from Spain and brought to Mexico by Spanish conquistadors, Manchego has become a staple in Mexican cuisine.

In contrast to its Spanish counterpart, which is made from sheep’s milk, Mexican Manchego is usually made from cow’s milk.

9. Queso Añejo

Queso añejo is a traditional cheese that boasts a firm, crumbly texture and a white hue.

As an aged version of queso fresco, it has a sharper, tangier flavor that elevates any dish it’s added to.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy queso añejo is when it’s fried or sprinkled on soups like tortilla soup.

While it’s harder than other Mexican cheeses like panela, requesón, manchego, or asadero, this popular variety adds depth to a range of recipes.

10. Queso Chihuahua

Chihuahua cheese, originating from the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, is a popular Mexican cheese known for its mild flavor and soft, smooth texture.

This cheese comes in a range of flavors, from subtle and buttery to tangy and slightly acidic.

Authentic Mexican Chihuahua cheese has a pale yellow color.

The origins of Chihuahua cheese can be traced back to the influence of the Mennonite communities in Mexico, who played a crucial role in its development.

11. Requesón

Requesón shares similarities with ricotta due to its mild flavor and smooth texture.

This popular cheese is usually made by curdling milk with vinegar or another acid, making it perfect for spreading on bread or incorporating into dishes.

Requesón showcases its uniqueness with both non-salty and salty varieties.

I find it best as a versatile option for both savory and sweet dishes, highlighting the beautiful diversity of artisan Mexican cheeses.

12. Queso de Bola

Queso de Bola is a type of Mexican cheese with a firm texture and rich flavor that’s perfect for grating.

The aroma is slightly tangy, and the color can range from pale yellow to deep orangish-red depending on the aging process.

Its origins can be traced back to the influence of Dutch immigrants in Mexico.

13. Queso Crema

Queso Crema boasts a rich, creamy texture and features a mild, delicate flavor with a soft aroma. This pale white cheese has a high fat content, giving it a velvety mouthfeel that many find irresistible.

It is perfect for spreading on crackers, toast, or even using as a dip for a savory twist.

The origins of Queso Crema can be traced back to traditional Mexican cheesemaking, where artisans crafted delicious cheeses by hand.

14. Queso de Cabra

Queso de Cabra is a traditional Mexican cheese made from goat’s milk.

It has a white hue and is aged to be drier, offering a unique texture.

I enjoy its distinct flavor and aroma. Queso de Cabra pairs well with a variety of dishes, from salads to tacos.

15. Queso de Cincho

Queso de Cincho is an authentic Mexican cheese with a crumbly texture. I love incorporating this cheese into my empanadas.

Originating from Mexico’s rural regions, Queso de Cincho has a distinctive taste and aroma that showcases the diversity of Mexican cheese types.

Its color, moisture content, and aging process allow for a well-rounded flavor profile.

16. Queso de Papantla

Queso de Papantla is a traditional Mexican cheese with a slightly tangy flavor and dry texture.

Its aroma is mild, and its pale yellow color suits many Mexican dishes.

This cheese has a moderately low fat content and moisture content, making it ideal for melting.

The origins can be traced back to the Mexican region of Papantla, giving the cheese its name.

17. Queso de Poro

Queso de Poro, a popular Mexican cheese variety, typically shares similarities in taste and texture with Monterey Jack cheese.

With its mild flavor and semi-soft texture, it melts beautifully, making it a great choice for dishes like refried beans.

It originated in the northern state of Chihuahua, where Mennonite farmers first made it.

18. Queso de Ocosingo

Queso de Ocosingo is a unique artisan Mexican cheese originating from the Ocosingo region in the northeast part of the state of Chiapas, close to Michoacán.

Known for its creamy and slightly crumbly texture, it has a mildly tangy flavor and aroma, with an off-white color.

This cheese is typically melted over tacos, grilled vegetables, or even in a cheese sauce.

19. Queso Para Freir

With its firm texture and mild flavor, Queso Para Freir has a high melting point, which allows it to maintain its shape when fried.

This cheese is typically white with a yellowish hue, and it has a relatively high moisture and fat content, making it an indulgent addition to dishes like chiles rellenos and quesadillas.

I find that frying it until golden-brown and crispy on the outside, while soft and gooey on the inside, results in a satisfying and delicious snack or appetizer.

20. Queso Cheddar Mexicano

Queso Cheddar Mexicano is a popular Mexican cheese variety that puts a twist on the classic cheddar cheese we all know and love.

Queso Cheddar Mexicano is firm and moist with a rich, slightly tangy taste that complements other flavors in dishes like enchiladas, nachos, and quesadillas.

Its deep orange hue is achieved through natural annatto coloring, while the cheese itself boasts a high fat content that contributes to its creamy, rich mouthfeel.

Whether melted or grated, Queso Cheddar Mexicano is a fantastic addition to almost any meal.

21. Queso Gouda Mexicano

Gouda is one of my favorite cheeses. Mexican Gouda, or Queso Gouda Mexicano, is a popular cheese known for its smooth, semi-hard texture and mild, creamy flavor.

With a pale yellow color and a thin, waxen rind, this cheese has a fat content of around 45% and a moderately low moisture content, making it perfect for melting in a variety of dishes.

Whether you’re using Queso Gouda Mexicano in traditional Mexican fare or trying it in your own creations, you’ll find that this Mexican cheese doesn’t disappoint!

22. Queso de Papa

Queso de Papa is a popular Mexican cheese variety, typically made with skim milk, which contributes to its unique texture and flavor.

This authentic cheese has a semi-soft texture, mild flavor, and pale yellow color.

Herencia Divina is a brand that offers traditional queso de papa from both cow and goat milk.

Queso de Papa is often enjoyed as an appetizer, accompanied by crisp tortilla chips or crackers.

23. Queso Doble Crema

Queso doble crema is a soft and creamy cheese made from cow’s milk.

It has a smooth texture, mild flavor, and a pale yellow color with a high fat content around 50%.

It’s perfect for spreading on bread or using in dishes like chiles rellenos and quesadillas.

The origins of queso doble crema, like many traditional Mexican cheeses, can be traced back to the influence of Europeans in Mexico and their introduction of cheesemaking techniques.

Nowadays, you can easily find queso doble crema in most Mexican markets.

24. Queso Prensado

Queso Prensado is usually hard on the outside and a little soft on the inside, and crumbly in texture. The cheese is white with a tinge of yellow and has a mild aroma.

The process of making Queso Prensado involves applying pressure on the curd to expel residual whey. This process gives the cheese its texture and firmness.

The flavor of Queso Prensado is salty and slightly acidic, with a citrus flavor if made with lime juice as the coagulant.

Queso Prensado can be aged for different periods of time, depending on the desired flavor and texture.

25. Queso Zacatecas

Queso Zacatecas is an aged cheese that is usually hard on the outside and a little soft on the inside, and white with a tinge of yellow.

This crumbly cheese is made from whole milk and is aged to give it a distinct flavor.

It originated from the semi-desert terrain and valleys that make up the mining state’s vast region. The texture is crumbly which makes it served grated.

26. Queso Ahumado

Mexican Queso Ahumado has a semi-soft to firm texture, depending on the specific variety and aging process. It is typically smooth and slightly crumbly.

It has a rich and smoky flavor due to the smoking process. The smoke imparts a distinct and savory taste to the cheese.

The aroma of Mexican Queso Ahumado is characterized by the smoky notes from the smoking process. It has a strong and enticing aroma.

The color of Mexican Queso Ahumado can vary, but it is often pale yellow to golden in color.

Mexican Queso Ahumado comes in various varieties, each with its own unique characteristics. Some varieties may have additional ingredients or spices added to enhance the flavor.

28. Tenate

Tenate is a hand-made cheese typical in the state of Queretaro in Mexico.

Tenate Mexican cheese is a lesser-known variety of Mexican cheese with a semi-soft texture that is slightly crumbly. It is not as firm as some other Mexican cheeses.

It has a mild and slightly tangy flavor that is similar to a young Monterey Jack cheese.

The aroma of Tenate Mexican cheese is subtle and not overpowering. The color of Tenate cheese is pale yellow to golden in color.

29. Queso Sopero

Queso Sopero is a fresh, white cheese that is either grated or served in small crumbles.

Queso Sopero has a mild and slightly tangy taste with a soft and crumbly texture. It is not a particularly salty cheese and has a slight sweetness to it.

It is commonly used as a topping for antojitos, such as codzitos, and is also used as a condiment for beans in cantinas in the Yucatan region of Mexico.

It is sometimes made from goat’s milk but is more commonly made from cow’s milk.

30. Queso Pacho Viejo

Pacho Viejo is a regional Mexican cheese with a natural crust. Pacho Viejo is dense and compact paste. 

It’s a very complex cheese that starts dry but gains a intense creaminess, and sweet, nutty notes. 

Queso Pacho Viejo is made from pasteurized goat milk and matures in one and a half months.

Types of Mexican Cheeses

Mexican cheese is a diverse category of cheeses that vary in flavor, texture, and production process.

The main factor in categorizing these cheeses is their production process, which can vary depending on the type of milk used, as well as the region where it is produced.

Fresh Cheeses

Fresh cheeses are made by curdling milk and draining the whey. These cheeses are usually consumed within days of being made, and do not contain additional preservatives.

Examples of fresh Mexican cheeses include Queso Fresco, Panela, and Requesón.

Queso Fresco is a crumbly, mild cheese that is perfect for topping salads or tacos. Panela is a firm, slightly salty cheese that can be grilled or fried. Requesón is a creamy, ricotta-like cheese that is often used in desserts.

Semi-soft Cheeses

Semi-soft cheeses are usually aged for a short period of time, and have a slightly firmer texture than fresh cheeses.

They can be eaten on their own, or used in cooking.

Examples of semi-soft Mexican cheeses include Oaxaca, Chihuahua, and Asadero.

Oaxaca cheese is a stringy, mozzarella-like cheese that is perfect for melting. Chihuahua cheese is a buttery, mild cheese that is often used in quesadillas. Asadero cheese is a smooth, creamy cheese that is perfect for topping nachos or enchiladas.

Hard and Aged Cheeses

Hard and aged cheeses are usually aged for a longer period of time, which gives them a stronger, more complex flavor.

These cheeses are ideal for grating or shaving, and are often used as toppings for dishes like enchiladas and tacos.

Examples of hard and aged Mexican cheeses include Cotija, Añejo, and Enchilado.

Cotija cheese is a crumbly, salty cheese that is often used as a topping for salads or tacos. Añejo cheese is a hard, sharp cheese that is perfect for grating. Enchilado cheese is a hard, spicy cheese that is often used in traditional Mexican dishes.

Sources of Milk

Mexican cheese is typically made from cow’s milk, with some varieties made from goat’s or sheep’s milk.

Most cheeses are made with raw (unpasteurized) milk. Cheeses are made in the home, on small farms or ranches, and by major dairy product firms.

Regional Varieties

Each region of Mexico has its own unique cheese traditions, resulting in a wide variety of cheeses with distinct flavors and textures.

For example, queso de bola is a popular cheese in the Yucatan region that is made from cow’s milk and has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.

In the state of Oaxaca, string cheese is a staple that is made by stretching the cheese curd until it becomes stringy and pliable.

Mexican Cheese FAQs

What are some artisanal Mexican cheeses?

Artisanal Mexican cheeses include Crema de Chiapas, Bola de Ocosingo, and Poro de Balancan. Artisanal cheeses are a type of handmade cheese, primarily made by small independent cheese makers, using traditional methods. Artisan cheese is typically produced in small batches, and uses age-old traditions of the cheese maker.

What are the most popular white Mexican cheeses?

Some white Mexican cheeses include queso fresco, queso oaxaca, queso cotija, queso blanco, and panela cheese.

What are some Mexican cheeses commonly used for tacos?

Mexican cheeses commonly used for tacos include queso fresco, queso blanco, and Chihuahua cheese.

Can you recommend some Mexican melting cheeses?

Some Mexican cheeses recommended for quesadillas include oaxaca cheese, chihuahua cheese. These Mexican cheeses are known for their meltability.

Are there any concerns about consuming Mexican cheeses during pregnancy?

Some Mexican cheeses, such as queso fresco and panela cheese, may be made with unpasteurized milk and can pose a risk to pregnant women. It is recommended to check with a healthcare provider before consuming Mexican cheeses during pregnancy.

What cheeses are included in a Mexican cheese blend?

A Mexican cheese blend may include a mix of cheddar, monterey jack, and asadero cheeses.

What are the most popular Mexican goat cheeses?

The most popular Mexican goat cheeses include queso de cabra, queso de bola, and queso de cabra al romero.

Where did queso dip originate?

Queso (Mexican Cheese Dip) is a Tex-Mex dip originating from Arkansas. It was invented in the 1930s in Little Rock at the restaurant Mexico Chiquito.

I hope you enjoyed my list of the most popular Mexican cheeses. Did I miss your favorite from this Mexican cheeses listicle? Leave a comment and let me know below so I can get it added!

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