If you’re an avid follower of Mexican cuisine, then you must be familiar with Oaxaca cheese. But if you aren’t, then you’re in for a treat. As far as meltable Mexican cheeses go, it’s the best there is. And it’s stretchy, with an excellent buttery taste that pairs well with loads of Latin American spices and seasonings.
So, when making favorite dishes like empanadas or chile Rellenos, it’s normal to come across this tasty ingredient. But what about cases where you run out of Oaxaca cheese and can’t quickly rush to the grocery store? Trying to make some at that point might seem like a stretch, even though it’s easy to prepare. So, you’re left with finding close substitutes from your kitchen to replace the cheese at once.
Oaxaca cheese substitutes are common around you, with many types being regular options and varieties. So, if you’ve got any of the cheese varieties listed below, they’ll also work. But before picking from the list, let’s talk a bit about this Mexican string cheese. And understand why these alternative ingredients work as equal or close substitutes for it.
What is Oaxaca Cheese?
Oaxaca, (pronounced wah-ha-Kah) cheese is a semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk. It’s one of the numerous types derived from Queso fresco, the most basic form of all Mexican cheeses. The source is also the main reason for its white color, and the cheese is native to the regions of Mexico. The name is derived from the Southern Mexican town of Oaxaca, where it was first produced. And the cheese goes by many other titles, including Quesillo, Queso Oaxaca, Oaxacan-style string cheese, or Mexican mozzarella.
The production process for the cheese is pretty basic and is one you can even replicate at home. First, the milk is coagulated to form the curds and separated from the whey by adding rennets. The curd is then kneaded in hot water so it softens and is stretched into thin strips. The strips are submerged in salted water to cool and cut into rope segments which are then wound into yarn-like knots. This appearance gives Oaxaca cheese a unique impression that goes with its exciting taste.
Oaxaca Cheese Uses
Because Oaxaca cheese is made from cow’s milk, the flavor is mild with a hint of saltiness from the cold water submerging. But the taste is still soft and earthy, with a buttery note that reminds you of mozzarella. Oaxaca cheese, however, is more pungent in this factor and melts better, making it great for recipes that use melted cheese. It also shreds quickly and keeps its form when heated, so you’ll find it in baked dishes, grilled recipes, and stuffed vegetables.
Its mellow flavor also makes Oaxaca cheese a superb standalone snack option. And it can also be added as a topping to certain foods as well. The delicious taste and alluring texture is one that’s commonly utilized in Mexican and Latin American recipes. Plus, Oaxaca cheese is low in calories, offering about 100 per serving. These and more are why this Mexican mozzarella is at the top of classic meals and dishes, such as;
- Cheese quesadillas
- Oaxacan cheese sticks
- Breakfast burritos
- Grilled cheese sandwich
- Pollo Oaxaca
- Pasilla de Oaxaca
- Pasta salads
- Mushroom dishes
- Stuffed peppers
- Chicken enchiladas
- Refried beans
- Chicken breast
- Stewed chicken
- Mac and Cheese
- Chile Rellenos
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Oaxaca Cheese Substitutes
If you ever run out of Oaxaca cheese, finding a substitute can be of great help. But you need alternatives with similar properties to this Mexican cheese if you want the best results. Selected replacements for Oaxaca cheese should melt nicely and can be used in semi-liquid-based recipes. They should also hold well in baked goods, offer a mild buttery flavor, and easily grate when needed.
That said, these options are great alternatives you can use as substitutes for Oaxaca cheese.
If you’re looking for the closest substitutes on all counts, then pick up a block of this famous Italian cheese. Mozzarella offers the same creaminess and semi-soft texture, with less saltiness. But it’s always best to look for mozzarella with low moisture, as it’s the best way to retain the same level of consistency. And for the best flavor and creaminess, consider buffalo mozzarella as a substitute for Oaxaca cheese. It works in all recipes, including toppings, quesadillas, tostadas, and tacos.
If you’d prefer to keep your choice close to the Mexican roots, then Asadero is your next best thing. Asadero cheese is slightly firmer, though, so the consistency may differ from Oaxaca cheese. But its exquisite flavor, gradable property, and meltable capacity make it an ideal option for enchiladas, tostadas, and tacos. It’s also a workable addition to bakes, cheese dips, chile Rellenos, Mexican mac and cheese, soups, and many other Oaxaca cheese recipes.
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You’d expect this to be a no-brainer, right? But not everyone does. String cheese is another variety that shares a similar consistency and taste with Oaxaca cheese. But it’s slightly creamier, though it also melts quite well. It can also be grated or sliced into bits like Oaxaca cheese, making it fantastic for toppings. And you can also add it to recipes that need melted cheese to pop, like breakfast burritos and pesto.
Unaged Monterey Jack
The flavor profiles of both kinds of cheese are very similar, making Monterey Jack another handy substitute for Oaxaca cheese. But when choosing, consider unaged Monterey Jack, as it offers the closest mildness in flavor to Oaxaca cheese. Monterey Jack cheese is also easy to find around you, so that’s a plus on its side. And it melts well and can be grated or sliced, so use it in anything from pasta to sandwiches, salads, dips, quesadillas, enchiladas, empanadas, burritos, and burgers.
You can also consider this Mexican variety as an alternative to Oaxaca cheese. Quesopanela or Queso Canasta is smooth with a creamy but salty flavor that reminds you of Oaxaca cheese. As a result, it works in lots of Mexican recipes but can also be added to other dishes that wish to infuse the feel of Oaxaca cheese. Plus, it’s already a regular addition to salads and quesadillas, so you’ll get great results from it as a substitute.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Oaxaca cheese the same as quesadillas cheese?
Oaxaca is one of the many varieties of soft white string cheeses used in quesadillas. It’s also the most popular due to its flavor similarity with Monterey Jack and its texture like mozzarella.
Can you grate Oaxaca cheese?
Yes, you can. Oaxaca cheese is usually grated for lots of grilled cheese recipes. And the easiest way is to place the cheese’s flat bottom against a box grater, which is the best type for this purpose.
Can I eat Oaxaca cheese while pregnant?
Health experts always advise at-risk pregnant women to stay off any form of Mexican cheese. These are soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk like Pamela, Queso Blanco, Queso Fresco, andAsadero. And since Oaxaca cheese is derived from Queso Fresco, it’s best to avoid it.
If you ever run out of the Mexican mozzarella, fear not! Though the exciting ingredient has a distinct advantage, you can still find replacements for it. Lots of other cheese substitutes will easily take the place of Oaxaca cheese in your recipes. And if you master their uses, you may never have to worry about stocking up on the Queso Oaxaca again!