Queso Fresco Vs Cotija

If you are a cheese lover who also enjoys Mexican food, you may be wondering about queso fresco vs Cotija. As these are two very popular types of Mexican cheese that people may not know much about.

One thing that many people associate with traditional Mexican food is a large quantity of cheese. As many Mexican dishes often offer a variety of cheesy options that help to pull the flavors together.

Many of the cheeses that are used in Mexican dishes are specifically Mexican cheeses. Cheeses that have originated in Mexico and have a much different flavor and texture than the ones you find made in the US.

If you enjoy unique cheese options, you may be interested in some of these Mexican cheeses. Keep reading to find out more about Cotija versus queso fresco and what makes these Mexican cheeses different from each other.

Differences Between Queso Fresco Vs Cotija

If you enjoy different types of cheese, you may be wondering about queso fresco vs Cotija. These are too popular Mexican cheeses that are often compared to each other as they are used as a garnish in many Mexican dishes.

several types of cheese

Both of these cheeses are often crumbled over traditional Mexican dishes for a cheesy finishing touch. They both have a white color to them and have pleasing flavors that blend well with Mexican food.

Both Cotija and queso fresco are made from cow’s milk to create a white and mild-flavored cheese option. Though queso fresco is occasionally made with a combination of cow and goat milk for a more unique flavor.

It is not uncommon to also see these two kinds of cheese being sold in grocery stores, especially if there is a section for Mexican ingredients. As these cheeses are frequently used in Mexican dishes and are often going to be in Mexican restaurants.

But you may have a hard time distinguishing these two kinds of cheese from each other if you do not know much about them. Though they are different from each other, they are just similar enough that people may get them mixed up if they do not know much about them.

Queso Fresco

Queso fresco is a very mild white cheese that has a soft and slightly wet consistency to it. It is a common Mexican cheese, and you most likely have already tasted it in a queso dip for chips.

Queso Fresco on the table

One unique aspect of queso fresco is that it is not considered to be an aged cheese, as it can be served immediately. You can make this cheese and serve it the same day, as it does not necessarily have to be aged to be eaten.

Because of this, queso fresco typically has a very mild flavor that is not going to be overpowering. It is creamy and pleasant, and its mild flavor will become stronger if it is aged for a few days.


Cotija is often compared to queso fresco, but it is very different in several ways. For one thing, Cotija has a much saltier and richer flavor that is going to be instantly noticeable in any kind of dish you add it to.

Cotija cheese

This is because the longer this cheese is aged, the stronger and saltier its flavor will become. It is a harder cheese that can be crumbled over dishes as a garnish, which is how you will often find it being served.

You may also find Cotija more regularly than you would queso fresco because Catia has a much longer shelf life. Because it has been aged, it will be preserved for a much longer period of time than queso fresco.

Cotija and Queso Fresco Can be Substituted for Each Other

One of the best parts about queso fresco and Cotija is that they can be substituted for each other in recipes. These are two types of Mexican cheeses that you may not necessarily find in just any grocery store.

So it is very likely that you may need to buy one of these cheeses but cannot find it. While you are able to find the other type of cheese instead.

It is not uncommon for you to not be able to find either Cotija or queso fresco if you need to use one of these cheeses. But the good news is that you can’t easily substitute one for the other if you are able to get one of these options.

They have a similar flavor as well as a similar appearance, and both are easy to use as garnishes for your dishes. The only thing to keep in mind is the fact that these two kinds of cheese are not identical, and you will need to make some adjustments.

For instance, Cotija is much saltier than queso fresco and has a much sharper cheesy flavor. Because of this, if you are substituting queso fresco with Cotija, you will need to add less salt to the overall dish to balance it out.

Queso Fresco Has a Different Texture Than Cotija

Another one of the main things that set queso fresco and Cotija apart from each other is their texture. Queso fresco is a very soft cheese that can easily be spread or melted down into a variety of dishes.

While Cotija is a much harder cheese because it has been aged for a period of time. This creates a harder and crumbly cheese that doesn’t melt but is more frequently used as a garnish crumbled over the top of different foods.

So you may have to adjust your recipe according to the texture of both of these cheeses if you are making substitutes.