Substitute For Cotija Cheese

Cotija cheese is a Mexican dry grating cheese made of cow’s milk, and it’s quite similar to Parmesan. It is a popular cheese in the U.S. Cotija is named for its Mexican town in Cotija, Michoacan. The cheese can be described as a well-known Mexican handmade cheese. It is commonly used to make savory snacks, meals and soups. It gives a distinct flavor to dishes. Substitute For Cotija Cheese shared below can be used when you don’t have authentic cotija in market near you.

Since Cotija cheese is made primarily in Mexico, it is possible to have difficulty finding it in certain places. Even if you do get it, it’s slightly expensive since it’s imported. Although cotija has a distinctive, sour flavor, plenty of different options are available. Below, we have summed up the best suitable alternatives to cotija cheese.

cotija cheese

Alternatives and substitutes for cotija cheese

Queso Fresco

It’s a simple translation into fresh cheese. It can take on other flavors, making it an excellent option for any dish that needs dairy, particularly Mexican dishes that require the classic cotija. Queso fresco is an acidic cheese, but it can be sliced quickly and is an ideal alternative to the traditional cotija. The Mexican cheese is salty, soft, and smooth and is perfect for dishes such as tacos, elotes, street corn and salads.

However, since queso fresco has some saltiness, it has a more mild flavor. Remember that it’s not entirely as salty or sour as cotija, and you should take a taste and sprinkle it with sea salt when needed. While this cheese is frequently described as mozzarella in contrast to cotija cheese, it has similar characteristics, making it an excellent alternative to the cotija.

Queso fresco is a Mexican cheese with an astringent, creamy flavor with salt. You can crumble it over fresh fruit to add extra rich flavor. It is also great in pasta dishes and salads and a great topping to your everyday food! Queso fresco can be found easily at any grocery store because it is an ingredient used in various Latin American cuisines.

The cheese is a bit more susceptible to melting and toast, so you should take note of this when cooking it in high temperatures. It is also richer in water content, so you might find that you must strain it before using it. Another vital thing to remember is that queso fresco can add a lot of salt to your food.

Queso fresco is great to fill burritos or as a topping for casseroles and nachos. It’s not just lighter than speciality or traditional cheese; it is also tangy and delicious. Throughout the United States, this dairy substitute is loved by generations of people from Central America. 

Queso Fresco


Cotija, in its dried-aged state, most closely resembles parmesan in taste and texture. It is an excellent alternative. It is pretty hard and soft, which means it can serve to top fresh salads or make soups. In terms of flavor, parmesan possesses the same saltiness as cotija. But, it has a slight disadvantage in its smell since it does not have the same smell that’s almost pungent. The excellent parmesan available is the most awe-inspiring Northern Italy.

Parmesan is grated in the same way to an aged cotija perfectly. The most famous Italian cheese can be a common item in most households and is often used to tie up the pasta dish or whip the chicken parmesan recipe in a snap that makes it not just a fantastic alternative to cotija but also an easy option to get in addition.

It’s a healthier version of dairy and is brimming with nutrients to give you a culinary experience that you will never be able to forget. This substitute for cheese cotija has so many uses that it is delicious by itself with breadsticks or drizzled over pasta.

Parmesan cheese is a firm cheese used as a topping in a variety of dishes. You likely have an abundance of it in your kitchen because it’s the most popular cheese in Italian dishes. Parmesan has a sharp, slightly acidic taste with a shard-like texture.

What distinguishes this parmesan from the rest is an off white hue that’s the same each time you open a brand new package. It’s strong, tangy, and salty to begin but is subtle, with hints of sweetness once you get to the finish. It’s known because of one reason: the authentic taste of parmesan!

If you decide to use Parmesan cheese, it is recommended to make use of about 1/2 teaspoon for each teaspoon of the cotija cheese. This inexpensive and well-known option makes it a much more convenient alternative.

parmesan cheese image


Romano or Pecorino Romano is named after Rome and dates back to the 1st century B.C. It has a flavor similar to parmesan. Both are salty and rich, but Romano cheese packs a more potent salt/tang flavor. As one of the oldest cheeses, pecorino romano is highly crumbly and has an acrid and salty flavor than parmesan cheese, making it an excellent option for a substitute for cotija.

It was a component of soldiers’ diet in the war in Roman times. The consistency is soft, but it is more difficult than cotija since it’s typically aged for about one year.

It is utilized to make pasta, bread, pizzas, sauces, risottos, and soups. Romano makes a beautiful substitute for aged cotija. It’s salty and spicy and is readily available in retail stores. Use it as a 1-1 substitute in the same manner as you would use parmesan. 

Understanding the nutritional facts of every food item you consume could be helpful before purchasing it. Romano cheese has 25 % fat in a cup and 714 calories. This doesn’t appear to be an awe-inspiring read when you consider the rich smoky flavor that comes from the process of aging the cheese with humidity that is natural.


It is made from sheep’s milk or a mix of sheep and goat milk. Feta cheese has a tangy and salty taste with an almost identical aroma to cotija. The salty, tangy taste of feta makes it a fantastic option to serve pizza on, salad, sprinkled over vegetables, or as a filling ingredient to chili peppers.

An experienced cook will be able to tell the difference if they employ Feta in place of Cotija cheese in a dish. However, there is a difference between the two types of cheeses that is much more subtle than you imagine. 

Feta cheese is slightly less salty and softer than Cotija cheese. The texture is the same; however, the flavor is quite different. Cotija cheese is more flavorful and buttery. Feta can be found in many grocery shops. It is a well-loved Mediterranean ingredient, mainly used in Greek wraps and salads. If you’re looking for the tangy, rich cheese dip or a smooth topping to your pasta dish, we’ve got an option to satisfy your cravings. 

What makes this product adaptable is the content and the ingredients. The slight saltiness of the brine leaves being soaked, and the smoother texture that comes from the curd making process make incredible flavors. Just when you thought it could not improve, it can with this substitution for cheese it does.

Feta cheese is regarded as safe for people with lactose intolerances. However, you might want to make sure the flavors are all delicious together. It is possible to find feta in any store nowadays. You can experiment with making the same amount according to the recipe.

feta cheese in bowl image

Ricotta Cheese

If you can locate Ricotta Salata cheese in your grocery store, it might be an excellent choice in the event of replacing the cotija. The cheese is highly smooth, salty and humid, and you might be cautious because it could melt at high temperatures. While ricotta is a staple in salads, desserts, and pasta, you can use it to make a delicious topping for tortillas and corn salad and certain soups and sauces.

Be aware that ricotta is somewhat less flavorful and subtle. Therefore, you might want to spice it up with more seasonings and a hint of lime to complement the flavor of the cotija. It is also possible that this cheese can add extra sweetness to the dish.

Ricotta Salata cheese is a fantastic alternative to aged cotija cheese. Remember the fact that Ricotta Salata cheese differs from regular ricotta cheese. Compared to fresh, regular ricotta, ricotta Salata can be described as dried and salty. Therefore, if you choose to use ricotta Salata cheese as a substitute for cotija aged cheese, it will require an extra effort.

The other cheeses included in this list require a 1:1 substitution ratio. If you are using ricotta Salata cheese instead of aged cotija cheese, add an extra pinch or two in salt with the ricotta Salata. This will create the salty flavor of cotija cheese.

can you freeze ricotta cheese


If cotija is a Mexican Parmesan Reggiano, then it can be described as an Argentinian one. Inspired by other cheeses listed, it is safe to substitute Reggiano as a substitute for cotija in any situation in which you’d use Parmesan and similar. Reggiano’s flavor isn’t as strong. Reggiano isn’t as intense as cotija, and this means that you might need to add more than what the recipe recommends you apply. incase you cant get your hands on quality Reggiano cheese in your local market then go for swiss emmental cheese as its excellent alternative for Reggiano and related variety of cheese for tasty and delicious meals for all.


Grana Padano

Grana Padano is a crowd-pleasing Italian cow’s milk cheese. Like Parmesan cheese, it is characterized by an appearance and texture that resembles crystals and a smooth texture. The hard cheese can be described as chewy with a light bite.

Originally produced in the Northern region of Italy, Grana Padano is aged for a minimum of nine months before developing a unique taste. Grana Padano is identical to Parmigiano Reggiano, from the Po River Valley in northern Italy. Compared to Parmigiano Reggiano, the production of Grana Padano is controlled by less strict regulations. 

The hard, crumbly texture is made of semi-skimmed unpasteurized cow’s dairy with a natural creaming method. Although this cheese is tasty, it has a more sweet tang and a subtle, less pronounced flavor than the cotija. The use of Grana Padano may steer the recipe away from the traditional, but it’s sure to be more creamy and cheesy.

Its mild flavor makes it an excellent alternative for people with an afflicted taste. Another benefit of this dairy alternative is the price. When it comes to imported Italian cheeses, Grana Padano is less expensive than parmesan.

grana padano

Queso Oaxaca

The name is derived from the Mexican state Oaxaca located in southern Mexico. The queso Oaxaca is a white, hard cheese that melts once heated. It’s more like mozzarella than cotija. However, If you’re looking for a Mexican cheese that can be used to flavor an empanada or a quesadilla and you’re unable to get hold of cotija, queso Oaxaca is your best choice!

Queso Oaxaca

Goat Cheese Crumbles

Another option of fresh and cotija cheddar can be the goat cheese crumbles. Goat cheese crumbles resemble feta cheese and are easy to find in supermarkets. It is similar in salty taste to fresh cotija cheese, making it a perfect alternative. Goat cheese crumbles contain greater calories than coquina cheese for every one ounce, with an average of around 120 calories per ounce. 

Goat cheeses are simpler to digest and digest than dairy-based cheeses. This cheese is best served with fresh cotija recipes such as Mexican salads. If you opt to use goat cheese, make sure to purchase the one that is crumbly, a bit dry, and has the appearance of the cheese feta. The other goat cheese available on the market is in a log. The goat cheese that has been logged is not an ideal substitute for cotija cheese.

goat cheese crumbles

Frequently Asked Questions about cotija cheese

Does cotija cheese melt quickly?

Although Cotija will melt when heated, it’s not melting, making it ideal for crumbling and sprinkling. It’s used most often in Mexican cuisine. You may consider it a final garnish on nachos, enchiladas, tacos, chilaquiles or posole.

Is cotija pasteurized?

Feta and fresh cotija share the same salty taste and crumbly texture. Both are pasteurized.

What is cotija cheese similar to?

An excellent alternative to fresh cotija cheese can be Feta. An excellent alternative to old cotija cheese would be Parmesan and Romano.

Do you have to consume Cotija cheese while pregnant?

That chunky, uncooked cheese you’ve placed on the top of your burrito may represent Cotija and queso fresco. The fresh Mexican cheeses made of unpasteurized milk should be excluded from your diet. Breastfeeding and pregnant mothers must also avoid raw milk cheeses and non-pasteurized fruit smoothies.

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