Substitutes for Oaxaca Cheese

Oaxaca cheese, a traditional Mexican cheese known for its stringy texture and mild flavor, is a staple ingredient in many classic dishes. However, if you’re not able to find it in your local grocery store, or if you are looking for alternatives for dietary or personal preferences, there are several appropriate substitutes for Oaxaca cheese that can still provide the desired characteristics in your meal.

Understanding the unique qualities of Oaxaca cheese can help you decide which substitute is best suited for your specific needs. Some alternatives may mimic the mild flavor, while others may better capture the distinctive texture of Oaxaca cheese. Additionally, the type of dish in which the cheese is incorporated can also play a role in determining the most suitable substitute.

Key Takeaways

  • Several alternatives exist for Oaxaca cheese, catering to different tastes and dietary needs.
  • The choice of substitute depends on the desired flavor and texture, as well as the dish being prepared.
  • Understanding Oaxaca cheese’s unique qualities can help determine the most appropriate substitute for your meal.

What is Oaxaca Cheese?

Oaxaca cheese, a popular Mexican cheese, is known for its mild flavor and unique texture. When you’re looking for a cheese that is versatile and suitable for various dishes, Oaxaca cheese is a solid choice. The mild flavor allows it to blend seamlessly into your recipes, while its texture adds a pleasant element to each bite.

One of the key characteristics of Oaxaca cheese is its stretchiness. You’ll find that it melts very well, making it ideal for dishes like quesadillas, enchiladas, and tacos. This cheese is also appreciated for its string cheese-like texture, as it can easily be pulled apart into thin strands – perfect for snacking or incorporating into salads or other dishes.

In terms of appearance, Oaxaca cheese is typically found in either a ball or a braid shape. The white color of the cheese further highlights its mild nature, allowing it to easily blend into a variety of dishes without overpowering them.

Knowing the essentials about Oaxaca cheese – its mild flavor, stretchy texture, and Mexican origins – will help inform your decision when considering substitutes. Keep these key qualities in mind as you explore alternative options to ensure the best results in your culinary adventures.

Substitutes Suitable for Oaxaca Cheese

Finding a suitable substitute for Oaxaca cheese can be critical when you’re cooking a recipe that calls for its unique properties. Oaxaca cheese, also known as queso Oaxaca, is a semi-soft, white, stringy cheese from Mexico that melts well and adds a creamy, mild flavor to dishes. Below are some substitutes that you can use in place of Oaxaca cheese to achieve a similar taste and texture.

Mozzarella: This popular Italian cheese is a great substitute due to its mild flavor and excellent melting properties. You can use either fresh mozzarella or low-moisture mozzarella, although the latter might be a closer match because of its lower water content and firmer texture.

Muenster: This American-made cheese is smooth and creamy with a mild flavor and outstanding melting ability. Its subtle taste will not overpower other ingredients, making it a versatile choice for replacing Oaxaca cheese.

Asadero Cheese: Also known as queso asadero, this Mexican cheese offers a smooth texture, a mild flavor, and excellent melting characteristics. It’s commonly used in dishes like quesadillas and enchiladas, making it an appropriate substitute for Oaxaca cheese in similar recipes.

Monterey Jack: This widely available cheese has a mild flavor profile and melts nicely, allowing it to blend seamlessly into dishes that call for Oaxaca cheese. You can also use unaged Monterey Jack cheese as another option for a softer, more malleable texture.

Chihuahua Cheese: Named after the region in Mexico where it originated, it’s no surprise that Chihuahua cheese is a suitable stand-in for Oaxaca cheese. Its semi-soft, slightly tangy taste and melt-friendly quality make it a strong contender when substituting Oaxaca cheese.

Queso Fresco: Although it doesn’t melt as well as Oaxaca cheese or some of the other substitutes mentioned, queso fresco’s mild, slightly salty flavor can still make it a reasonable choice, particularly in dishes where a crumbly texture is desired. However, it might not be the best option if a smooth and creamy melt is crucial to the dish.

Queso Blanco and Queso Panela: Both of these Mexican cheeses have a soft, creamy texture and a mild taste profile. Their melting properties are not as exceptional as some of the other options, but they can be used in recipes where the main goal is to achieve a subtle, creamy flavor.

In summary, when you need to substitute Oaxaca cheese, you have several options to choose from that offer similar tastes and textures. Use your knowledge of these alternatives to find the most suitable replacement for your specific dish and enjoy the delicious results.

Notable Features of Oaxaca Substitutes

As you look for cheese substitutes for Oaxaca, it’s important to consider some key features that make them suitable alternatives. Oaxaca cheese is known for its mild, creamy, and slightly salty flavor as well as its unique stringy texture.

One ideal substitute for Oaxaca cheese is mozzarella. It shares a similar mild taste and creamy texture, making it a great option for melting in dishes like quesadillas and enchiladas. Since it’s also a stringy cheese, you’ll find it easy to work with when creating traditional Oaxacan recipes.

Another good option is Monterey Jack. This cheese offers a mild yet flavorful taste that complements many Mexican dishes. Its semi-soft texture is slightly more crumbly than Oaxaca’s but it melts well and maintains a pleasant consistency.

Some other suitable Oaxaca cheese substitutes include:

  • Asadero: This cheese has a mild flavor with a hint of saltiness, making it a good choice if you prefer a subtle, saltier taste in your dishes. Its rich, creamy texture melts easily, mimicking the mouthfeel of Oaxaca cheese.
  • Provolone: This Italian cheese has a stronger and slightly sharp flavor compared to Oaxaca cheese, but its stringy texture makes it a viable alternative. It holds up well in different dishes and provides a bolder taste profile.

To choose the right Oaxaca cheese substitute, consider your personal preferences and the flavors you want to enhance in your recipes. These options will provide you with the necessary attributes that closely mimic the original characteristics of Oaxaca cheese, ensuring a delicious and satisfying result.

How to Use Oaxaca Cheese Substitutes

When selecting a substitute for Oaxaca cheese, the key is to find a cheese with similar melting properties and a mild flavor. Many options, such as mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and asadero, fit the bill. Here’s how you can use these versatile cheese substitutes in various dishes:

Topping: Sprinkle grated mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or asadero cheese over salads, nachos, and pizzas. These cheeses melt nicely and add a mild, creamy flavor that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. For an extra touch of richness, try using smoked mozzarella or pepper jack cheese.

Quesadillas and enchiladas: Oaxaca cheese is traditionally used for its excellent melting characteristics in these dishes, but Monterey Jack or asadero can provide a similar texture. Simply substitute equal amounts of the alternative cheese in your quesadillas or enchiladas and enjoy a gooey, melty filling.

Sandwiches: Swap out Oaxaca cheese with slices of mozzarella or Monterey Jack in your favorite sandwiches. Their neutral flavors will complement the other ingredients, while their smooth textures will enhance the overall experience.

Pizza: Oaxaca cheese shines when melted with other cheeses on pizza. To achieve similar results, use a combination of mozzarella and Monterey Jack or asadero cheese. This will give your pizza a delectable stretchy, melty quality without overpowering other flavors.

Nachos and burritos: The mild flavor profile of Monterey Jack or asadero makes them excellent substitutes for Oaxaca cheese in these dishes. Simply layer the substitute cheese over your nachos or melt it within your burritos for a deliciously creamy result.

Remember, the key to selecting an Oaxaca cheese substitute is finding one with similar melting properties and a mild taste. Experimenting with different varieties can help you discover new flavors and textures in your favorite dishes, so don’t be afraid to try a few different cheeses to find your perfect match.

Substitutes for Particular Dishes

When it comes to specific dishes, finding the right substitute for Oaxaca cheese can be essential to achieve the desired taste and texture. Here are some alternatives for your favorite dishes:

Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Cheese Sandwiches

Try using mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese for your grilled cheese and cheese sandwiches. Both cheeses have a similar texture to Oaxaca and melt well, making them a great choice for these comforting dishes.

Lasagna and Ravioli

For lasagna and ravioli, replace Oaxaca cheese with mozzarella. Mozzarella’s mild flavor and exceptional melting properties make it a suitable alternative, keeping the hearty taste of your Italian recipes intact.


In a savory crepe recipe, consider using Fontina or Gruyère cheese instead of Oaxaca. Both cheeses have a nutty flavor that complements crepes well and adds a delightful touch of richness to your dish.

By understanding your dish’s requirements and using these suitable substitutes, you can continue enjoying your favorite recipes without compromising on taste and texture.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Substitute for Oaxaca Cheese

When looking for a substitute for Oaxaca cheese, consider the following factors to ensure it will best suit your needs and preferences.

Availability: One of the primary factors to consider is the availability of the substitute at your local grocery store. Some cheese varieties might not be available everywhere, potentially making it difficult to find a specific substitute. Be prepared to explore alternative cheese options if the first choice is not readily available.

Flavor and texture: Oaxaca cheese is known for its mild flavor and stringy, meltable texture. When selecting a substitute, consider cheeses with similar properties. Mozzarella, for example, can be an excellent alternative due to its stretchy and meltable features. Monterrey Jack is another option; it offers a mild taste that pairs well with a variety of dishes.

Application: The type of dish you are making should also influence your choice. Some substitutes may work better in specific recipes, such as quesadillas or stuffed peppers, while others might be more suitable for topping salads or melting on pizzas. Consider how the cheese will be used and which cheese properties would complement your dish.

Cost: The cost of the substitute cheese can vary depending on factors like brand, quantity, and region. It’s essential to consider your budget when selecting an alternative. If you are looking for a cost-effective choice, consider opting for cheeses that are more common and readily available in most grocery stores.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can confidently and successfully find the perfect Oaxaca cheese substitute for your culinary creations.

Making Homemade Oaxaca Cheese

Making your own homemade Oaxaca cheese can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Oaxaca cheese, a semi-soft, stringy, white cheese from Mexico, is well-known for its excellent melting abilities. It’s commonly used in Mexican dishes like quesadillas, empanadas, and enchiladas. If you’re craving Oaxaca cheese but can’t find it at your local grocery store, you can try making it at home or exploring other alternatives like Armenian-style string cheese or Oaxacan-style string cheese.

To begin creating your own homemade Oaxaca cheese, start by gathering the essential ingredients:

  • 1 gallon of whole milk
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Begin by heating the milk in a large, non-reactive pot over medium heat. Be sure to stir the milk frequently to prevent scorching. Once the milk reaches a temperature of about 185°F (85°C), remove it from the heat.

Next, gently stir in the white vinegar. You’ll notice the milk will begin to curdle. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes to fully coagulate. Afterward, strain the curdled milk through a cheesecloth-lined colander, gently pressing out the whey.

Then, sprinkle salt over the cheese curds and gently mix them. To achieve that characteristic stringy texture, gently pull and stretch the warm cheese curds multiple times. Stretch and fold the curds until they become smooth and elastic.

Shape the Oaxaca cheese into a ball or braid it, whichever you prefer. Your homemade Oaxaca cheese is now ready to use! Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make sure to enjoy it in your favorite dishes that call for this delicious, melt-in-your-mouth cheese.

If you’re looking for a store-bought alternative, try Armenian-style string cheese or Oaxacan-style string cheese. Both of these options have similar textures and flavors to Oaxaca cheese, making them excellent substitutes in recipes or when enjoyed on their own.

Unusual Substitutes for Oaxaca Cheese

Sometimes you might be in search of alternatives to Oaxaca cheese for your recipes, due to unavailability or simply looking to diversify flavors. In this section, you will find some unusual, yet successful substitutes to provide interesting results in your cooking endeavors.

Ricotta Salata is a pressed, aged version of ricotta cheese. It has a crumbly and slightly salty texture, making it a good alternative to Oaxaca cheese in some recipes, particularly when grated. While it may not melt as smoothly, it’s worth trying as a topping on dishes like tacos, enchiladas, or salads.

Another choice is Ricotta Cheese. Although it has a different texture than Oaxaca cheese, this mild, creamy cheese can work well in recipes like stuffed peppers or enchiladas. Keep in mind that this cheese is more moist than Oaxaca, so use a smaller quantity or strain out the excess liquid for better results.

Cotija Cheese is a Mexican cheese named after the town of Cotija in Michoacán, Mexico. It’s quite crumbly and salty, making it an excellent option for sprinkling over your dishes. While its taste might differ slightly from Oaxaca cheese, it’s still a suitable choice to experiment with in some Mexican dishes.

Moving on to Spanish facsimiles, Manchego Cheese is a viable alternative. Although it has a more intense flavor than Oaxaca cheese, this hard cheese can be enjoyed shaved or grated over some dishes. It’s worth trying, especially if you’re a fan of strong cheese flavors.

Buffalo Mozzarella is a unique option to consider due to its creamy, soft, and mild taste. The high moisture content might create a slightly different texture in the final dish, yet it can still make for a delicious substitute, particularly when melted in dishes like quesadillas or on pizza.

Finally, if you’re searching for a non-dairy option, look to Tofu. While completely different from Oaxaca cheese, it can be crumbled or sliced to replace the cheese in some recipes, like tacos and salads. To achieve a richer taste, try marinating or seasoning your tofu before using it in your dish.

It’s always exciting to discover new, unexpected alternatives to traditional ingredients. Experiment with these unusual substitutes for Oaxaca cheese, and you may just uncover a new favorite for your culinary creations.

Oaxaca Cheese in Different World Cuisines

Oaxaca cheese, originating from Mexico, is a versatile and popular ingredient in various cuisines around the world. You might recognize it as the “Mexican mozzarella,” owing to its similar stringy and melty consistency. Let’s explore its role in different global cuisines.

In Spain, Oaxaca cheese is used for a variety of dishes due to its mild taste and excellent melting capabilities. You might find it in traditional Spanish pinchos – small bites often served at tapas bars in the evening – or even incorporated into Spanish-style croquettes, where their creamy insides meld seamlessly with the heartiness of the cheese.

Italian cuisine also benefits from Oaxaca cheese. While mozzarella is preferable for classic Italian dishes like pizza and Caprese salad, you can easily substitute Oaxaca cheese when needed. Its elastic texture and smooth flavor profile make it an ideal choice with pasta or for layering in lasagna.

As for the Tex-Mex cuisine, Oaxaca cheese is a natural fit. Its similarity to Monterey Jack makes it widely popular in the United States, particularly in the southern regions where Tex-Mex eateries are abundant. You’ll find it frequently used for dishes like enchiladas, queso dip, and quesadillas.

In summary, Oaxaca cheese has made its way into various world cuisines thanks to its remarkable versatility. It complements the flavors of other ingredients, and its desirable melting properties make it perfect for dishes that crave that creamy, gooey element. Whatever cuisine you’re exploring, Oaxaca cheese can be a delicious and fitting addition.

Hybrid Substitutes for Oaxaca Cheese

When you’re searching for a suitable hybrid substitute for Oaxaca cheese, there are a few options that can deliver similar taste and texture. These alternatives will allow you to enjoy recipes that call for Oaxaca cheese without sacrificing the desired qualities. Keep in mind that the substitutes may not be an exact match, but they can come close.

Velveeta Cheese is a popular and versatile hybrid substitute for Oaxaca cheese. It’s a processed cheese that melts easily and has a creamy, smooth texture. Due to its properties, Velveeta works well in dishes that require melted cheese, such as quesadillas and nachos. To use Velveeta as a substitute for Oaxaca cheese, simply replace it in equal amounts. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of Oaxaca cheese, use 1 cup of Velveeta instead.

When it comes to nacho chips, incorporating a hybrid cheese substitute can enhance the overall flavor. For instance, combining Velveeta with other cheeses, like Monterey Jack or mild cheddar, can create a more complex flavor profile that complements the crunchiness of nacho chips. To do this, simply mix equal parts of Velveeta and your chosen cheese, then melt it over your nacho chips.

Another hybrid substitute for Oaxaca cheese is a combination of Mozzarella and Monterey Jack. Both of these cheeses have a mild flavor and smooth, meltable texture, making them a suitable option when Oaxaca cheese is not available. To achieve the desired consistency, mix equal parts mozzarella and Monterey Jack, then use the mixture in your recipes as you would Oaxaca cheese. This blend works well in most dishes that call for Oaxaca cheese, including enchiladas and casseroles.

Nutritional Aspects of Oaxaca Cheese and its Substitutes

Oaxaca cheese is a semi-soft cheese with a crumbly texture, originating from Mexico. This pasta filata cheese is known for its excellent melting quality, making it a popular choice for dishes like quesadillas or enchiladas. When considering the nutritional aspects of Oaxaca cheese and its substitutes, you may want to look into their protein and calcium content, among other factors.

Oaxaca cheese is a good source of protein, providing around 6 grams of protein per ounce. This can help support muscle growth and repair as well as overall health. Additionally, it is rich in calcium, with approximately 200 milligrams per ounce, contributing to strong bones and teeth.

However, there might be certain situations where you need or prefer a substitute for Oaxaca cheese. Several options are available with similar nutritional profiles, such as:

  • Mozzarella: Like Oaxaca, mozzarella is a pasta filata cheese with a slightly crumbly texture. It has a comparable protein content (about 6 grams per ounce) and is an excellent source of calcium (about 143 milligrams per ounce).
  • Monterey Jack: This semi-soft cheese provides around 6 grams of protein and 150 milligrams of calcium per ounce. It also melts well, making it a suitable substitute for Oaxaca.
  • Provolone: Noted for its mildly sharp flavor, provolone has similar nutritional values to Oaxaca cheese. With around 7 grams of protein and 215 milligrams of calcium per ounce, it can be a nutritious alternative.

While evaluating substitutes for Oaxaca cheese, remember that the nutritional aspects might vary among different brands or types. Therefore, it is essential to check the specific product’s nutritional information to make an informed decision. Keep in mind that moderation in consumption is crucial to maintain a balanced diet.

How Oaxaca Cheese and Substitutes Fit in Savory Dishes

When incorporating Oaxaca cheese into your savory dishes, it’s essential to consider its unique characteristics. This cheese is well-known for its salty flavor and excellent melting properties, which add a rich and flavorful touch to various recipes. In case you’re unable to find Oaxaca cheese, there are several substitutes that can offer similar effects in your culinary creations.

Mozzarella is one of the top substitutes for Oaxaca cheese, as it shares a similar stretching quality that enhances the texture in many dishes. The mild flavor of mozzarella complements savory dishes without overpowering them, while the cheese’s ability to melt makes it an ideal choice for dishes like quesadillas, enchiladas, and lasagna.

Monterey Jack, another suitable alternative, offers a slightly more assertive taste that pairs well with the salty flavor often found in Oaxaca cheese. Its smooth and creamy texture, combined with its great melting capability, ensures that your dishes hold together without becoming too greasy or heavy. Monterey Jack works well in casseroles, stuffed peppers, and any dish where you want a cheese that melts evenly.

For a creamier option, Provolone cheese can be an effective stand-in for Oaxaca cheese. Its semi-soft texture and slightly sweet flavor provide a unique twist to your savory dishes. It melts beautifully and lends a delicate creaminess that pairs exceptionally well with Italian or Mediterranean-inspired recipes.

Remember that the key to using substitutes is to account for the unique qualities of Oaxaca cheese and how they contribute to your dish. By selecting an appropriate alternative, you can still achieve the desired flavor, texture, and melting properties that make your savory dishes delicious and satisfying.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of Oaxaca cheese?

You can use several substitutes for Oaxaca cheese depending on the recipe. Some popular alternatives include mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or string cheese. These cheeses have a similar texture and can be easily melted, making them ideal for dishes that call for Oaxaca cheese.

Is Oaxaca cheese close to mozzarella?

Yes, Oaxaca cheese is quite similar to mozzarella in terms of taste and texture. Both cheeses are mild in flavor and have a soft, pliable texture that melts easily. However, Oaxaca cheese is a bit stretchier than mozzarella, making it an excellent choice for dishes such as quesadillas, where this property is desired.

Can queso fresco be a suitable replacement for Oaxaca cheese?

Queso fresco can be used as a replacement for Oaxaca cheese in some recipes. Although it is a Mexican cheese with a mild flavor like Oaxaca, it has a crumbly texture which is quite different. Since it doesn’t melt as easily, queso fresco may not be the best option for recipes that require melting.

How does Oaxaca cheese compare to cotija?

While both Oaxaca and cotija are Mexican cheeses, they have distinct differences. Oaxaca cheese is soft, mild, and melts easily, whereas cotija is firm, salty, and crumbly. Cotija doesn’t melt well and is often grated onto dishes like tacos or salads. It’s not an ideal substitute for Oaxaca cheese in recipes where a good melting cheese is required.

Is Chihuahua cheese a good substitute for Oaxaca cheese?

Chihuahua cheese is a viable substitute for Oaxaca cheese, as it also has a mild flavor and melts easily. It is a semi-soft cheese, making it suitable for a variety of recipes that call for Oaxaca cheese, such as enchiladas or quesadillas.

What is the best cheese to use in Oaxaca cheese dip?

For an Oaxaca cheese dip, you can either use Oaxaca cheese itself or substitute it with a cheese that has a similar flavor profile and melting properties. Mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese would work well in your dip due to their mild flavor and easy-to-melt appearance. When choosing a substitute, make sure to consider the desired texture and flavor as it can impact the overall taste of your dip.

Substitutes for Oaxaca Cheese + Recipe

Here's a simple and delicious recipe using Oaxaca cheese:
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4
Calories 269 kcal


  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cilantro, onion, tomato, and jalapeño pepper.
  • Place a tortilla on the skillet and sprinkle 1/4 cup of Oaxaca cheese on top.
  • Add a spoonful of the cilantro mixture on top of the cheese.
  • Top with another tortilla and press down lightly.
  • Cook the quesadilla for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy.
  • Repeat with the remaining tortillas and cheese.
  • Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve hot with your favorite salsa.


Calories: 269kcal
Keyword oaxaca cheese
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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