The 7 Best Substitutes For Cotija Cheese

When you’re cooking a simple dish, you don’t want to overwhelm it with cheesy flavor. You want something that will add just a touch of richness without overpowering your ingredients. That’s where Cotija cheese comes in!

Cotija is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a salty, nutty flavor that works well as a topping on tacos, salads, and other Mexican-inspired dishes.

But what if you don’t have Cotija handy? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with our list of the best substitute options!

What is Cotija Cheese?

Cotija cheese is a hard, salty cheese that is often used to top tacos, salads, or soups. Cotija cheese is made with cow’s milk and can either be young or aged. It can also be white or yellow in color.

In Mexico, cotija cheese is traditionally made from cow’s milk and sometimes mixed with goat’s milk. In the United States and Canada, however, cotija cheese is typically made from cow’s milk alone.

Cotija cheese has a crumbly texture and a delicate flavor profile that is reminiscent of Parmesan but milder in flavor. The flavor of cotija cheese can be described as nutty and somewhat sharp due to its high sodium content.

The 7 Best Substitutes For Cotija Cheese

#1 Feta Cheese

Feta is a salty, crumbly cheese that’s made from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk. It has a strong taste and can be crumbled onto salads or baked into desserts. It’s usually sold in blocks or chunks at the grocery store.

Feta can be substituted for Cotija cheese in many dishes—try substituting it in place of Cotija in tacos or quesadillas!

Use feta cheese as a topping on salads, soups, and tacos! You can also use it as a substitute for Cotija cheese on sandwiches and quesadillas.

#2 Pecorino Romano Cheese

Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a sharp flavor and can be grated or shaved. Many people think of it as the Italian version of Parmigiano-Reggiano, but it’s actually different—Pecorino Romano is much saltier and sharper than Parmesan.

Pecorino Romano can be used in place of Cotija in almost any recipe that calls for it. It’s especially great on salads, pizza, pasta dishes, and grilled meats like steak or chicken.

When you need to substitute Pecorino Romano for Cotija cheese in a recipe, simply replace it one-to-one with no changes needed to your prep work or cooking time!

#3 Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan is a hard, dry cheese with a pungent, nutty flavor and a pale yellow color. It is made from cow’s milk and is usually grated or shaved. It can be substituted for cotija cheese in recipes like soups, salads, tacos, and more.

Cotija cheese is a hard cow’s milk cheese that originates from Mexico and is used as a topping for many dishes in Mexican cuisine. Cotija has a pungent flavor that some people describe as salty or tangy.

Use parmesan cheese in place of cotija cheese in any recipe where cotija would be used as an ingredient or topping. You can also use parmesan cheese as an ingredient in recipes that call for cotija itself—it will add the same salty flavor without having to buy an entire container of cotija!

#4 Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi cheese is a dense, salty, and slightly rubbery cheese that’s often used in Mediterranean cooking. It’s made from a mixture of goat’s milk and sheep’s milk, and it has a shelf life of about four months. The flavor is comparable to feta cheese, but the texture is different: halloumi is firmer, more chewy, and less crumbly than feta.

It’s an excellent substitute for cotija cheese because it has a similar salty taste but also provides a bit more bite—and it doesn’t crumble as easily as cotija when you chop it up. This makes it perfect for things like salads or tacos!

Use halloumi in place of cotija in any dish where you want that extra little bit of oomph from saltiness and texture, like salads or tacos!

#5 Queso Fresco

Queso fresco is a fresh, white cheese with a mild flavor. It’s made from skimmed milk and it’s often salted. Queso fresco is similar to cottage cheese in texture, but it’s not as crumbly. It can be used as a substitute for cotija cheese in many dishes, such as quesadillas or salads.

Queso fresco can be found in Hispanic grocery stores or online. It will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator if wrapped tightly and stored on its side.

Sprinkle queso fresco over tacos or enchiladas before serving them at room temperature; this will give them a creamy texture without having to add sour cream or heavy cream!

Imitate cotija cheese by topping a salad with finely-shredded queso fresco instead of grated cheddar; this will give your salad an added crunch without changing its flavor!

#6 Ricotta Salata

Ricotta salata is a dry, firm ricotta cheese that’s made from sheep’s milk. It has a much saltier taste than traditional ricotta, which makes it an excellent substitute for cotija cheese in recipes such as tacos or nachos. Because it’s made from sheep’s milk, ricotta salata can be used in vegan dishes as well!

Like cotija cheese, ricotta salata can be used in place of cotija cheese on tacos or nachos—it will have a more salty taste than traditional ricotta and will give your dish that satisfying crunchy texture that cotija brings.

#7 Manchego Cheese

Manchego is a hard cheese that originated in Spain, and it has a mild, nutty flavor that’s perfect for snacking or topping dishes. It’s made from sheep’s milk and aged for at least six months to give it that distinctive taste. It can be used on its own or as part of a cheese platter.

Manchego is also good in recipes such as queso fundido and manchego mac n’ cheese!

If you’re looking for a substitute for cotija cheese, manchego is a perfect choice because it has a similar texture and flavor profile. You can use it in place of cotija on tacos or salads, or even sprinkle some on top of avocado toast with some fresh herbs for an added boost of flavor!


Now that you’ve learned about the 7 best substitutes for Cotija cheese, you can make sure that your next dish comes out perfectly.

Cotija cheese is a hard-to-find cheese made from cow’s milk and salt. It has a crumbly texture and a salty, earthy taste that makes it perfect for garnishing dishes like tacos, salads, and soups. But maybe you don’t have any on hand and need to find a substitute quickly.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry: we’ve done some research so you don’t have to! We’ve compiled a list of 7 great substitutes for Cotija cheese that are easy to find in most grocery stores or online.

These are all delicious alternatives that will help you create the same flavor profiles in your favorite dishes without having to spend hours searching for an ingredient at your local specialty store.

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