The Best Substitute for Cotija Cheese

Mexican artisan cheese, known as Cotija, is named for the Michoacan municipality of the same name. Cow’s milk is used to create this soft, crumbly cheese. It has a salty flavor, making it ideal for incorporating into various cuisines. 

The curd is created and then mixed with Colima coast rock salt. Cotija cheese comes in two varieties: aged and fresh. A bit tougher than fresh, aged has a saltier flavor. They all have a salty, astringent, or crumbly quality, making them suitable as Cotija substitutes.

Cotija Cheese

What is Cotija Cheese?

A form of cheese called Cotija is primarily produced with cow’s milk. It was created in Mexico and was given the name of the Michoacán town of Cotija, where the cheese was formerly prepared by regional cheesemakers in the lofty mountains about 400 years ago. Salt, rennet, and unpasteurized milk from cows grown on pasture make up the traditional cotija cheese, which is then aged for at least 100 days.

Because of its salinity, Cotija, pronounced ko-TEE-hah, is not typically eaten as a table cheese. It is white, crumbly, and dense in texture, and it has a salty, robust flavor that is highly addicting. Chefs add cheese to recipes like crispy taquitos, corn on the cob, tinga tacos, filled poblano peppers, nachos, and other foods to enhance their flavor.

Reference: Characterization of microbial traits involved with the elaboration of the Cotija cheese

Here are Some Best Substitutes for Cotija Cheese

The Mexican cuisine it was most frequently found in uses it as a garnish on tortillas, Doritos, quesadillas, and chilaquiles. Each time you use some cotija, wrap it in new parchment paper before storing it in a plastic jar. This way, fresh Cotija would be kept in the fridge for about a month, while aged Cotija could keep for up to three months.

Cotija softens when heated but does not melt, making it perfect for crushing and sprinkling. Although Cotija is frequently sold in brick form, it may be readily broken, shredded, or grated without melting or using heat!

Fresh cheese

The cheese would be a perfect substitution, especially fresh cotija cheese because queso fresco translates to “fresh cheese” in Spanish and has a softer flavor with a little saltier taste. To exchange it for anything else. Remember that it has somewhat less salt than Cotija, so taste your food and season with sea salt as necessary.

It is a superb alternative because it has the same sharpness as Cotija. Similar meals frequently employ queso fresco, which crumbles like Cotija.

A Feta Cheese

The finest alternative to Cotija cheese, in my opinion, is feta cheese. It has a delicate, crumbly texture and is produced with goat and cow’s milk cheeses. This cheese is matured and has a tangy, salty, and rich flavor. Although it goes great with many other flavors, feta is most frequently used in Mediterranean cuisine.

In addition, this kind has a crumbly and gritty texture that makes it ideal for sprinkling over pasta, salads, soups, and roasted vegetables. When it comes to replacing Cotija, feta is unquestionably the best option.

Crumbled Goat Cheese

This cheese is created by salting goat’s milk after the moisture has been squeezed out of it. It has a texture akin to feta and Cotija. Use a one-to-one ratio of goat cheese to Cotija while preparing this dish. Any recipe can easily substitute goat cheese, any crumbly cheese, for Cotija cheese.

Romano Cheese

Romano cheese is a salted dairy product derived from cow’s milk with a little firmer consistency than crumbly Cotija. Its excellent umami flavor gives your meals depth. It is called after the Italian city of Rome, where it first appeared. This cheese is an excellent alternative to Cotija and tastes just as good.

Use one to one ratio of Romano cheese. Pecorino Romano, one of the oldest cheese varieties, is crumbly and has a saltier and sharper flavor than parmesan cheese, making it an ideal substitute for Cotija. Pasta dishes, bread, sauces, risotto, pizzas, and soups contain it.

Grana Padano

Italian cheese, Grana Padano, is a hard cheese prepared from aged cow’s milk. This cheese has a crumbly, gritty, and hard texture and contains about 10% salt. This cheese can be placed in the middle of a cheese board or on top of spaghetti.

Like Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Grana Padano hails from the Po River Valley in northern Italy. Compared to Parmigiano, its manufacturing is subject to less stringent rules.

Cottage Cheese

Fresh cheese curd that has been drained but not compressed, leaving it rather wet. This would be an excellent replacement when Cotija has to be incorporated into a meal rather than crumbled or sprinkled. Use a 1:1 substitution or taste as you cook when using cottage cheese.

Parmesan Cheese

The Italian cheese known as parmesan is pale yellow and has a flavor. It is prepared from raw cow’s milk and can be crumbled, shaved, or grated because of its texture. Parmesan does not contain lactose, which is a little-known fact.

Cheese made with parmesan is very nourishing. It is full of minerals that promote bone health and protein and fat that are ready for use.

The Queso Cotija

Cotija molido is a coarsely grated Cotija cheese. Pizza, spaghetti, and soups go best with it. Using this variety, you can avoid chopping or crumbling the Cotija. It tastes just as fantastic as regular Cotija cheese. The iconic Cotija brand cheese from Los Altos is available in ground form as Cotija Molido.

For use in soups, pasta, moles, and as a topping for some of your favorite pizzas, this aged, salty, and sharp cheese is conveniently ground to a finer texture.

Can you Describe the Flavor of Cotija Cheese?

Cotija cheese has a flavor that has been described as being simultaneously highly salty and sharp. It has a saltier flavor than most supermarket cheddar cheeses, which typically have a salt content of about 1 1/2 percent. The taste of the cheese radically alters as it ages, becoming harsher and more potent.

Cotija that has aged does not melt. If you’ve had Parmigiano Reggiano or ricotta Salata, you may have noticed that these cheeses have a flavor and texture similar to Cotija’s saltiness and dryness.

Mexican cow’s milk cheese, known as Cotija, is called after the same-named town in Michoacán. Its texture is similar to feta’s when wet and crumbly younger. It has a white tint, a solid, dry texture, and a salty, milky taste.

Cotija has a saltier and tangier flavor than Parmesan and feta. It also has overtones of pineapple and sour butter, depending on the production season. The combination of rock salt and milk produces a stronger flavor that leans toward a saltier aftertaste.

What Cheese is Similar to Cotija Cheese?

Parmigiano Reggiano and feta cheese are comparable to cotija cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano is a firmer cheese similar in flavor to cotija cheese but less salty. The flavor and texture of feta cheese are stronger and more akin to cotija cheese.

Feta cheese is produced using sheep’s milk, whereas cotija cheese is produced using cow’s milk. Both types of cheese are crumbly, white, and somewhat salted.

Cotija and parmesan cheese have the same flavor profile, while parmesan has nutty and fruity undertones. Nevertheless, cotija cheese has a milder flavor than feta cheese. Due to its potent umami qualities, it combines particularly well with pasta and chicken meals.

It also improves practically any cuisine, cooked or uncooked, making tacos, enchiladas, and similar dishes the ideal candidates for it.

What is Cotija Cheese Used for?

There are many ways to include the flavor of cotija cheese in your regular meals. Cotija is simple to crumble and adds acidic and sweet flavors. It complements savory meals like taquitos, corn on the cob, tinga tacos, and stuffed poblano peppers because it is salty and sharp.

Because it originated in Mexico, cotija cheese is quite common in Mexican food. But it’s currently becoming more and more well-liked everywhere. The cheese is quite adaptable and works well as a parmesan alternative. Due to the salty flavor, grated Cotija is most comparable to parmesan and pecorino romano, two hard Italian kinds of cheese.

Ricotta Salata, another type of Italian cheese, is occasionally recommended as a mature cheese alternative. In search of cheese with a crumbly consistency akin to fresh Cotija. Cotija cheese is primarily used in savory foods because of its strongly salted flavor.

Various savory baked items can have flavor added by adding it on top. Corn on the cob pairs incredibly well with cotija cheese because of its salty flavor. Particularly when it is topped with butter and mayonnaise, the cheese greatly enhances the flavor of corn. In addition, it works well in salads and burgers. It also goes well with enchiladas, fajitas, and tacos.


Cotija gives a range of foods a savory, salty flavor and crumbly texture. Cotija should be added to meals only before serving because it does not melt. The following are some typical cotija cheese serving options. Warm homemade tortillas, pickled red onions, chopped cilantro, and bowls of Cotija should be set out as a taco bar because they go well with practically every taco filling. Corn on the cob is covered with Cotija, cilantro, lime juice, and ancho chili powder before being drenched in sour cream or mayonnaise and served as street corn in Mexico.

To these creamy, saucy meals, Cotija brings a nice textural boost. Refried beans, Cotija, and crispy handmade tostadas make a quick and hearty snack. Warm tortillas should be stuffed with cheese that melts, such as Oaxacan cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, and vegetables. For added saltiness, fry in oil and sprinkle with old Cotija.