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Mexican Cheeses: A Delicious Addition to Your Family’s Menu

Mexican cheeses on a wooden platter next to peppers, tomatoes, garlic, salsa and tortillas

From the ooey-gooey goodness that fills your favorite quesadillas, to the crumbles that cap off the enchiladas you love, Mexican cheeses make mealtimes something great. But did you know you don’t have to relegate these delectable dairy offerings to south-of-the-border fare? Mexican cheeses can be great additions to all sorts of everyday eats, changing up the flavor profiles of your family’s favorite dishes — and expanding palates, as well. It’s all about getting a general lay of the land in terms of your available Mexican cheeses, and being willing to be a bit adventurous. Read on for some insight from your friends here at Food Town.

Understand Your Mexican Cheese Options
Sometimes the trickiest part of incorporating something new into your meal rotations is knowing where to start. (And when it comes to Mexican cheeses, you have lots of options!) Here’s a general rundown of some of the more popular offerings you’ll find at your neighborhood grocery — and ways you can incorporate them into recipes your family already knows and loves.

Softer Cheeses


  • Moist, firm cheese with a mild, slightly tangy flavor. Strings when heated and shreds nicely.
  • Great for quesadillas, enchiladas and poblano pepper stuffing.
  • Everyday use: A substitute for mozzarella, string cheese, asadero, Monterey Jack and muenster. 


  • Mild, milky cheese that softens when warmed, but won’t melt. Absorbs flavor easily.
  • Great when cut and fried, served with jellies or sauces, with snack trays, baked or sliced.
  • Everyday use: A substitute for crumbled ricotta, grated/sliced mozzarella, and fried/cooked Indian paneer.

Queso Fresco

  • Moist, firm, crumbly cheese with light and creamy flavor. Softens, but does not melt when heated.
  • Great when crumbled over salads, enchiladas or soups.
  • Everyday use: A substitute for feta, ricotta salata, tofu or mild goat cheese.

Queso Requesón (or Hispanic Ricotta)

  • Fresh, mild cheese with a loose, curd-like texture.
  • Great for desserts, or as a filling in stuffed pastas or enchiladas.
  • Everyday use: As a substitute for mild (not salty) ricotta.

Firmer Cheeses


  • Semi-firm, creamy, mild cheese with a somewhat buttery flavor. A versatile option that melts well.
  • Great for chili con queso, nachos and even burgers.
  • Everyday use: A substitute for Monterey Jack or fontina.

Chihuahua (or Queso Menonita)

  • Semi-firm, salty cheese with a mild flavor and slightly sour tang. Top of the class for melting!
  • Great in cheese sauces, queso fundido, casseroles or mac and cheese.
  • Everyday use: A substitute for cheddar.


  • Dry, salty cheese with a sharp flavor. Will soften when warmed.
  • Great (and grate!) on top of beans, Caesar salads and other savory dishes.
  • Everyday Use: A substitute for Parmesan.

Cotija Añejo

  • Salty, dry and crumbly cotija cheese that has been aged.
  • Great (and grate!) over enchiladas, beans, tacos, soups or eggs.
  • Everyday use: A substitute for Romano.


  • Semi-firm, creamy cheese with a nutty flavor. Melts well.
  • Great served with fruit or crackers, or in casseroles.
  • Everyday use: A substitute for Monterey Jack and mozzarella.

Know Where to Gather Your Ingredients
Unlike the American cheese slices or shredded cheddar that fill most every grocery store’s cases, certain Mexican cheeses can be harder to come by. (But you’re in luck at your Food Town!) We’re big on international options, and we have a special section devoted solely to Mexican cheeses and cremas. It’s all thanks to our deep Houston roots. We understand the flavors of our city, the unique way our neighbors cook — and just how important great flavor is around here. In addition to our full dairy section, which houses the regular items your family uses each day, our Mexican cheese area brings great offerings from brands such as Cacique, Margarita and Houston’s La Vaquita together in one convenient spot. Be sure to stop by and scope out your amazing options during your next grocery run!

Get Those Creative Juices Flowing
At Food Town, we believe half the fun of this great world around us is the variety of flavors out there. If you’re ready to incorporate some of the Mexican cheeses we’ve mentioned up above into your menu, there are a couple ways you can go about it. Consider diving in on a brand-new recipe! Our website is home to all sorts of crowd-pleasing recipes that include Mexican cheese as a major ingredient. You can also find inspiration on our Pinterest pages — especially our Fiesta Food Fun and Chippin & Dippin boards. Of course, if you’re not ready to go all out on something completely new, you can also swap a Mexican cheese in for a similar variety in recipes your family already knows. Manchego is a great sub for mozzarella and Monterey Jack, for instance, and can be a tasty addition to mac and cheese! Queso fresco is a great stand-in for goat cheese or feta, making it a fantastic add-in for Mediterranean-inspired meals, salads and more! (You can use the information right here on this page to scope out substitutes that make sense.) 

We hope this post got the wheels turning regarding all the possibilities available with Mexican cheeses — and hope it got your mouth watering, too! Be sure to swing by the dairy and Mexican cheese sections of your Food Town the next time you’re in for a visit, and consider picking up a variety you’ve never tried before. With so many incredible flavors (and so much versatility, too) we’re sure you’ll find something you love. See ya soon!

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