Cotija Cheese Substitute: A Detailed Guide 

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Cojita cheese is a fantastic addition to Mexican dishes, but finding a substitute can be tricky. Luckily, several options provide the same salty, crumbly texture and flavor profile. Today we’ll be sharing a detailed guide to using Cotija cheese and sharing the best Cojita cheese substitute options.


There are plenty of substitute options for the best cojita cheese alternative from cow’s milk cheese to sheep’s milk and even goat’s milk cheese. Today we’ll be looking at these different cheese varieties and discussing which is best for your particular dish.

What Is Cotija Cheese?

Cotija cheese is a Mexican cheese named after the town of Cotija in Michoacán. It is made from cow’s milk and has a salty, crumbly texture and strong flavor. It is often used as a topping for dishes such as tacos, salads and on Mexican street corn.

What Type of Cheese Is Cotija?

Cotija is a Mexican hard cheese made from cow’s milk. It is similar to feta in consistency as it has a crumbly texture and strong flavor. This fresh cheese is a crumbly cheese that is brilliant for topping dishes or grating onto salads and soups making them great cotija cheese substitutes.

What Does Cotija Cheese Taste Like

Cotija cheese has a strong, salty flavor with hints of tanginess. The flavor intensifies as the cheese ages. Fresh cotija cheese is milder and creamier in texture, while aged cotija cheese has a harder texture and stronger tangy flavor.

What Does Cotija Cheese Look Like?

Cotija cheese has a hard, pale yellow exterior and crumbly white interior. It is often sold in round or block shapes.

Cotija Pronunciation

Cotija cheese is pronounced “ko-TEE-hah.”

Another Name for Cotija Cheese

Cotija cheese is also sometimes referred to as “queso Cotija.” Queso cojita is the Spanish term for Cotija cheese.

Is Cotija Goats Cheese?

No, Cotija cheese is not made from goat’s milk. It is made from cow’s milk. Goat cheese crumbles similar to Cotija but Cotija is made from cows’ milk.

What Is a Good Cotija Cheese Substitute?

If Cotija cheese is not available, a good substitute would be Parmesan or Pecorino Romano. Both of these options have a similar salty, sharp flavor profile and crumbly texture. Queso fresco or feta can also work well as a cotija alternative.

Best Cotija Cheese Substitute

The best substitute for cotija in my opinion is Anejo Enchilado.

Anejo Enchilado as a Cotjita Alternative

Anejo Enchilado is a Mexican cheese, similar to Cotija, that has been aged and seasoned with chili peppers. It has a strong, salty flavor and crumbly texture just like Cotija cheese.

When using Cotija cheese substitutes it is important to keep in mind the stronger flavor of Cotija cheese. You may want to use a little less of the substitute cheese to not overpower your dish.

More Cotija Cheese Substitute Ideas

Decent substitutes for cotija cheese are important for keeping a recipe authentic. As cotija is often used as a topping or garnish in dishes, and any of these substitutes could work well in that role.

  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Perorino Romano Cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Queso Fresco
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Blended Tofu
  • Aged Asiago
  • Dry Jack
  • Manchego
  • Grana Padano
  • Parmigiano reggiano

These are all great cotija cheese substitutes as they have similar properties and flavor profiles.

Parmesan Cheese as a Substitute for Cojita

Cotija Cheese vs Parmesan Cheese. Well what can I say, Parmesan is a good substitute, but Cotija has the better flavor. Parmesan may have a similar salty taste and crumbly texture, but Cotija has more depth in its flavors. If Cotija cheese is not available, using Parmesan can still add that salty punch to your dish.


Perorino Romano Cotija Cheese Substitute

Perorino Romano cheese is a good substitute for cottage cheese. This hard Italian cheese is made from sheep’s milk and has a salty, sharp flavor and crumbly texture.

Cotija Cheese V’s Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a great substitute or cotoja alternative. It has a similar salty, tangy flavor and crumbly texture. It may not have the depth of Cotija cheese’s flavors, but it still adds that salty punch to dishes.

Can I Use Queso Fresco Instead of Cotija?

Queso fresco is a good substitute for Cotija as it also has a crumbly texture and salty flavor. However, Cotija cheese tends to have a stronger flavor than queso fresco.

Cottage Cheese as a Substitute for Cojita

Cottage cheese can be used as Cotija substitute in some dishes, primarily when the Cotija is being mixed into the dish or used as a topping. For example when making scrambled eggs or pasta dishes such as Alfredo.

Cottage cheese has a milder flavor and softer texture than Cotija, but it still adds a creamy element to dishes.


Blended Tofu Cotija Cheese Substitute

Blended tofu can make a great vegan cotija substitute. Replace cojita with a mixture of blended tofu, nutritional yeast, salt and lime juice or apple cider vinegar for a similar flavor and texture. Tofu is also a good replacement for those who are lactose intolerant.

Aged Asiago Substitute

Asiago cheese has a sharp, salty flavor and crumbly texture making it a good substitute for cotija cheese in dishes where it is used as a topping or garnish.

Aged cheese makes great cotija cheese alternatives as it is strong and has a similar crumbly texture.

Dry Jack Cotija Substitute

Dry jack cheese is a good Cotija substitute as it also has a sharp, salty flavor and crumbly texture. It may not have the depth of flavor that Cotija cheese offers, but it still adds that salty punch to dishes especially when using the aged version.

Manchego as a Great Substitute for Cotija Cheese

Manchego cheese is the best Cotija cheese substitute when it comes to complex dishes such as Cotija enchiladas. Manchego has a strong, nutty flavor and crumbly texture that adds depth to dishes.


Best Goat Cheese Substitute for Cojita

What can I use in place of Cotija Cheese if I want to use goat cheese?

Goat cheese can make a good Cotija substitute as it has a similar crumbly texture rather than a firm texture. You could try a soft goat cheese log in your savory dishes.

This fresh cheese option can replace cotija well as goat cheese crumbles well and mixes great into salads.

Best Substitute for Aged Cotija

If you want to find a substitute for aged cotija then I’d recommend the unique flavor of parmigiano reggiano, grana padano or even ricotta salata. These are all slightly salty cheese options with a much milder flavor but the same texture and mild flavor of crumbly cotija.

How to Substitute Cotija Cheese

It’s important to note that while these substitutes may work in terms of taste and texture, they may not have the same cultural significance as Cotija cheese in traditional Mexican dishes. Use your best judgement when substituting and consider alternative cheese varieties.

Best Substitute for Cotija

There are a few reasons why you may need to substitute Cotija cheese. It may be difficult to find in some areas, or you may have dietary restrictions that prevent you from eating it. Whatever the reason, several options exist for substituting Cotija cheese in your dishes.

Recipes of Cotija Cheese

Here are some great recipes for using Mexican Cojita cheese or cojita cheese substitutes.

Cotija Cheese Substitute for Mexican Street Corn

If you’re looking for an elote cheese substitute then my go-to option would be Anejo Enchilado.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Tacos With Cotija Cheese

Trading cotija cheese with a vegan alternative like blended tofu mixed with nutritional yeast, salt and lime juice can make this dish completely dairy free.

Cotija Cheese and Black Bean Dip

The best cotija alternative for black bean dip would be queso fresco or feta cheese. Both have a mild, salty flavor that complements the beans well.

Spicy Cumin Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Cotija Cheese

Parmesan or aged asiago make great substitutes for Cotija in this salad. Their strong flavors will complement the spice and sweetness of the dish.

Cotija Cheese is often used as a topping or garnish in dishes, so any of these substitutes could work well in that role.

Cojita Cheese Tacos

Try topping your taco with a blend of Parmesan and feta cheese for a similar salty, crumbly texture. Or try blending tofu with nutritional yeast, salt and lime juice for a vegan Cotija replacement.

Cotija and Avocado Toast With Tajin Seasoning

For a dairy-free option, try topping your toast with sliced radishes and a sprinkle of salt for a similar crunchy texture. Or use crumbled feta or queso fresco cheese as substitutes for Mexican cheese Cotija in this dish.

No matter what substitute you choose, don’t forget to add some Tajin seasoning for other spices for that extra kick of flavor.

Cilantro Lime Quinoa Bowls With Cotija Cheese and Corn Salsa

To make this dish vegan, leave out the Cotija cheese and instead top with diced avocado or a sprinkle of hemp seeds for added protein and texture. Or use crumbled feta or queso fresco in place of Cotija cheese for a similar flavor profile.


Don’t forget to add some of your favorite salsa on top for added flavor and color. Enjoy!

How Long Does Cotija Cheese Last?

Cotija cheese can last for several months when stored properly in the refrigerator. It is best to wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to prevent drying out.

Does Cojita Melt Well?

It’s important to note that Cotija cheese does not melt well, so it is best used as a topping or garnish rather than a melted ingredient.

Can You Freeze Cotija Cheese?

Yes, Cotija cheese can be frozen for up to 6 months. The texture may become slightly crumbly after thawing.


It is best to wrap fresh cotija cheese tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container before freezing.

Where Can I Buy Cotija Cheese?

Cotija cheese can often be found in Latin American markets or the international section of larger grocery stores. You can also find cotija cheese and purchase it online from speciality retailers.

I hope this guide has helped find a Cotija cheese substitute in your cooking.

Buen provecho! (Enjoy your Mexican cuisine!)

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