What Is Cotija Cheese and How to Use it


Cotija is a cow’s milk cheese made in Mexico that is used to top everything from soups to tacos to salads. Cotija cheese’s mild and tangy flavor is flexible, making it a staple in many Mexican states, particularly Michoacán, where it originated.

Cotija Cheese

Also, Cotija cheese is traditionally matured for 100 days to 12 months, which helps to dry out the cheese (it does not melt when heated), making it ideal for crumbling or grating over dishes.

What Is Cotija Cheese?

Cotija cheese originates in the Mexican state of Michoacán, in the hamlet of Cotija de la Paz. Cotija is unlike any other cheese.

However, it has been compared to feta, ricotta salata, and Parmesan. Cotija comes in two varieties: younger, fresher cheese and aged cheese.

The younger cotija ages for around 100 days and is most comparable to feta in texture, color, and flavor, albeit it lacks feta’s harsh tang.

As Cotija ages, it takes on the sharper, saltier flavors of Romano and Parmesan cheeses. It crumbles easily when young and grates better as it ages.

Cotija does not melt like other cheeses, making it an excellent choice for topping a hot dish. It costs the same as feta and ricotta salata.


Cotija Cheese Vs. Queso Fresco

These two Mexican cheeses are frequently used interchangeably in recipes, albeit queso fresco does not have the same deep tang as cotija cheese. Both are created from cow’s milk and have a nice crumble, making them ideal as a condiment or delectable garnish.

The fundamental difference between these two types of cheese is their age. Cotija cheese takes three months to a year to mature, whereas queso fresco, which translates as “fresh cheese,” is ready to consume nearly immediately.

These are the most common Mexican cheeses found in grocery stores around the world.

What are the Uses?

Elote and esquites, which combine grilled corn with lime-tinged crema and finely shredded cotija, are two of the most popular recipes that include cotija cheese.

Queso fresco, a gentler and softer Mexican cheese than cotija, is called for in some recipes. Cotija has a greater body and a harder bite, so it holds up better to the chili pepper and corn sweetness.

This is but one of the several applications for Cotija. This cheese made from cow’s milk can be served with almost any type of food, but it goes especially well with dishes that include a lot of citrus and tomatoes or chilies.

When finely shredded, it has an adhesive characteristic that is useful for getting cheese to stick to meals. Among other things, it’s a lovely and delectable garnish for nachos, Mexican street tacos, black bean soup, and chicken mole.


How To Cook With Cotija Cheese?

Cotija, unlike most cheeses, does not melt when heated. This makes it excellent to use when the color and shape of the cheese must remain consistent, like when topping a hot dish.

Cotija cheese is frequently used as a garnish. But it’s also worth trying on its own, even if you’re not making a Mexican cuisine.

It is a great cheese for salads and may be added to meatballs, vegetarian burgers, and other dishes where feta is the major dairy ingredient. Cotija cheese can be eaten on its own or as part of a charcuterie board.


The generous dusting of Cotija on elote is just as important as the corn itself, balancing the sweetness of the kernels with the tang of the sour cream.