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If you’re a fan of Mexican food, you’ve probably enjoyed cotija cheese. Salty in flavor with a crumbly texture, it’s often served on tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, and soups. Now if your vacation is over, or you just can’t find cotija in your local grocery store, there are some substitutions you can use that are just as tasty.
What is Cotija Cheese?
Popular in Mexican cuisine, cotija is a salty cheese made from cow’s milk, and is named after the Mexican town of Cotija in the state of Michoacan. Cotija cheese can be enjoyed fresh or aged. The fresh version is soft and similar to feta, while the aged version is harder, similar in texture to parmesan. Cotija cheese doesn’t melt when heated, so it is often used as a topping.
Best Cotija Cheese Substitutes
1. Feta Cheese
Easily found in grocery stores and delis, feta is an excellent substitute for fresh cotija cheese because of its soft texture and salty flavor.
2. Queso Fresco
Another good substitution for soft cotija cheese is queso fresco. It is similar in texture but is more acidic in flavor.
3. Goat Cheese Crumbles
Another soft cheese that’s easily found in grocery stores is goat cheese crumbles. It has a texture similar to feta cheese and a strong flavor like parmesan. This cheese would work well as a substitute for fresh cotija.
4. Parmesan Cheese
If you’re looking for a hard cheese to replace cotija, parmesan is a great option. It’s flavorful, salty, and easy to grate.
5. Ricotta Salata
You may not be familiar with this cheese, but it’s an excellent substitute for aged cotija. It’s not as salty, so you may need to increase the amount of salt in your dish. This cheese may not be readily available at grocery stores, but specialty cheese stores may carry it.
Where to Buy Cotija Cheese?
If you live in a large city, your local grocery store might carry cotija cheese. Look for it in the cheese section, or in the dairy and egg aisle. If you can’t find cotija at the grocery store, try the specialty cheese section at a deli, or at a specialty food shop that carries Mexican products.
Is Cotija Cheese Pasteurized?
Cotija cheese is produced from unpasteurized cow’s milk. During pasteurization, cheese is heated. This process would remove the distinctive flavor of cotija.
How Long Does Cotija Cheese Last?
Fresh cotija should be stored in the fridge, wrapped in parchment or waxed paper, and sealed in an airtight container. Stored correctly, it will last for about one month. Aged cotija should be stored in the same way, and can last for up to 3 months.
Popular Recipes Using Cotija Cheese
Cotija Cheese Substitute Instructions
- 1 cup Feta Cheese
- 1 cup Queso Fresco Cheese Crumbles, Parmesan Cheese, or Ricotta Salata
- Choose your preferred substitute.
- Use 1:1 ratio in the recipe.