Do you love Mexican food but are on a dairy-free diet? Are you looking for a Cotija cheese substitute? You’ve come to the right place! I’ll share some great substitutes for Cotija cheese in this blog post.
Cotija cheese is frequently used in Mexican cuisine, and it is delicious. However, Cotija cheese can be expensive and hard to find.
So if you’re following a vegan or lactose-free diet, can’t find it, or simply want to substitute Cotija cheese, you’ll have no trouble finding a delicious replacement. Let’s get started!
What is Cotija cheese?
Cotija cheese is a hard, aged cheese from Mexico.
This cheese gets its name from the Mexican city of Cotija in the state of Michoacán.
It is made from cow’s milk and has a strong, salty flavor with a slightly nutty taste.
It’s white in color and firm in texture, and you can purchase it in small rounds or large blocks.
Cotija cheese is an incredibly versatile ingredient that you can use with a wide range of food.
You can use it in place of Parmesan cheese in most recipes; in fact, it is known as the Parmesan of Mexico.
It is similar to Parmesan but not nearly as salty and with a slightly more intense flavor.
The texture of this cheese is crumbly and dry, perfect for sprinkling over foods where it won’t melt into your food.
Cotija cheese, like Parmesan, tastes great when topped over pasta and most Mexican dishes.
You can use cotija cheese topping for salads, tacos, and enchiladas or eaten on its own as a snack.
It’s also shredded and used to fill quesadillas and burritos and to make various dips and sauces.
Cotija cheese has about 321 kcal per 100 grams, and you can find some nutritional information here.
It is convenient that you always read the product labels, since this information can vary depending on the manufacturer.
Carbs in cheese? Check my post.
Cotija Cheese Substitute
Cotija cheese is a crumbly Mexican cheese that can be hard to find outside Mexico. When you do find it, it can be expensive. Fortunately, there are plenty of substitutes for Cotija cheese.
Ricotta Salata is a hard, dry, salty cheese with a mild flavor, made from curdling sheep’s milk and then pressing and aging it.
This cheese has the same texture as cotija cheese, but you may find the taste slightly different.
Grana Padano is not a cheap cheese but can be a Cotija alternative in pasta dishes or soups.
It is an Italian cheese with a sharp and salty taste. It’s made from cow’s milk and aged for at least nine months.
Parmesan is a salty Italian cheese, and it´s also very crumbly. Hence, it works well in many recipes where you need crumbled cheese.
You can also grate it like Cotija, so if you want to use it as a topping for your dish, you can use Parmesan in the same way.
Parmesan cheese works incredibly well in recipes that call for Cotija mixed into sauces or sprinkled on top of dishes.
Feta has a similar flavor profile to Cotija (briny, salty, and tangy). But, unlike Cotija, Feta is made from sheep and goat milk.
Feta cheese is sharp, salty, and crumbles the same way Cotija does.
There are numerous varieties in stores, but generally speaking, it has a similar flavor profile as Cotija cheese.
Also, Feta is generally easier to find and much less expensive; that’s why it is considered the best substitute for Cotija cheese.
Mexican Queso Fresco (fresh cheese) is another easily found option that is crumbly, just like Cotija cheese. It’s not as sharp or salty, but it still adds some Mexican flair to dishes, so try it out!
Goat cheese is made from goat’s milk and works well as a replacement for Cotija. It won’t bring the saltiness of true Cotija to your dish, but it does have a nice tangy flavor.
You can add goat cheese crumbles to recipes just like Cotija cheese.
Pecorino Romano is an Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk with a similar consistency and strong flavor.
Like Cotija cheese, it’s also very salty.
So you may want to scale back on the salt if you’re making homemade tacos or dressing your salad with pecorino romano.
Although cheddar cheese doesn’t have the same color or grainy texture as Cotija cheese, it works well for grating on top of tacos and nachos.
On the other hand, since it has only traces of lactose, it can work for those who follow a lactose-free diet.
This aged Mexican cheese is very similar to Cotija in taste and crumbly texture. Use it as a substitute in any recipe that calls for Cotija.
If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, ask at a restaurant or specialty food market that serves Latin American cuisine.
Vegan Cotija Cheese Substitutes
If you’re looking for a vegan Cotija cheese substitute, there are some options. Nutritional yeast, tofu, and store-bought vegan cheese are great substitutes for Cotija cheese.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast with a cheesy, nutty flavor, often used as a cheese substitute in vegan and lactose-free recipes.
Tofu is another great option for a cotija cheese substitute. Tofu has a neutral flavor, so you can easily flavor it to taste like Cotija cheese.
Store-bought vegan cheese is another delicious option for a Cotija cheese substitute.
There are many different types of vegan cheese on the market, so you’ll find one that you love.
Lactose-free Cotija Cheese Substitutes
If you’re looking for a lactose-free Cotija cheese substitute, there are some you can use. Pecorino, Parmesan, and aged cheddar cheese are great substitutes for Cotija cheese.
Pecorino is a hard, aged cheese made from sheep milk.
It has a similar flavor to Cotija cheese, and you can use it the same way.
Parmesan is another type of aged cheese made from cow’s milk.
FAQs about Cotija Cheese Substitute
Can Feta cheese be a good substitute for Cotija cheese?
Feta cheese has a similar texture. It is also a good source of protein and calcium, making it a healthy option for those looking for an alternative to Cotija cheese.
When substituting Feta for Cotija, it is essential to keep in mind that Feta can be a bit saltier than Cotija, so be sure to adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Are Cotija cheese and Queso Fresco the same thing?
Queso Fresco is not aged, while Cotija cheese is. In addition, Queso Fresco is less salty and softer.
What is the best Cotija cheese substitute?
Feta is a great substitute for Cotija Cheese.
Also, it is pretty easy to find in supermarkets and grocery stores.
In fact, you can get Feta options that are low in fat in some supermarkets, which is a good option.