Queso Blanco

Production, Uses, and Recipes

Queso Fresco on top of cheesecloth

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Queso blanco, Spanish for "white cheese," is a soft, crumbly fresh cheese often used in Mexican and other Latin American cuisines. Its flavor is fresh, tangy, and milky, as it is typically sold only a few days after being produced. This cheese is an excellent source of calcium and protein. Because the milk is curdled with acid rather than with rennet, queso blanco is also easy to make at home. 

Fast Facts

Milk Source: Cow 

Country of Origin: Mexico

Texture: Soft and crumbly

Age: Unaged

Color: White


What Is Queso Blanco?

While queso blanco is typically associated with Latin American cuisines, dairy animals didn’t exist in this region of the world until they were brought there by the Spanish and Portuguese. In addition to animals like cows, goats, and sheep, they brought the recipe for this fresh, tangy cheese with a slight sweetness. The term "queso blanco" can also be used as a generic term to describe a number of fresh, white cheeses produced throughout Latin America. 

Because queso blanco doesn't melt, it makes an excellent garnish or topping cheese. Queso blanco can be eaten fresh, or it can be fried or grilled until crispy and golden brown on the outside and tender and squeaky inside. Since this cheese doesn’t require bacterial cultures or rennet to produce, it's very easy to make at home. 

salted curds in a bowl lined with cheesecloth

The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

How Queso Blanco Is Made?

Raw or pasteurized milk is heated to just below boiling (around 190 F) then removed from the heat. Acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, is stirred into the hot milk, which causes small curds to form. The whey is drained off and the curds are salted and shaped into small, round wheels or blocks and allowed to drain for a short time before being packaged and sold. 

Homemade Queso Fresco Cheese recipe, cheese on a brown plate

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Queso Blanco vs. Queso Fresco

Queso fresco can be substituted for queso blanco in just about any recipe. A longer-aged cheese with a drier texture and stronger flavor, such as cotija or queso anejo, may also be used in place of queso blanco for sprinkling or crumbling. Other soft, fresh Mexican cheeses labeled "queso de frier" or "queso de parilla" (cheese for frying or grilling, respectively) can be used as a substitute if you can’t find queso blanco or queso fresco. Other frying cheeses, such as paneer and halloumi, may also be used for this purpose. 

Queso blanco and queso fresco are often used interchangeably in recipes. While the cheese are similar in flavor and texture, the two cheeses are made slightly differently. While queso blanco is coagulated using acid added to heated milk, queso fresco is made by adding rennet, an enzyme used in cheesemaking to form milk into curd. 

Substitutes

The name "queso blanco" is also often used to refer to a Tex-Mex melted cheese dip that's typically made with a blend of Monterey Jack and white cheddar cheeses and spiced with hot peppers. 

Sweet and Spicy Tacos al Pastor

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Uses

This tangy, fresh cheese is often used as a condiment on top of saucy or spicy dishes such as enchiladas, tortas, and elotes. It can also be crumbled over salads, tacos, soups, grilled vegetables, and stews or any dish that could use some salty, tangy flavor. Queso blanco is sometimes served fresh in slices as a side to rice and bean dishes like gallo pinto. Because queso blanco doesn't melt when heated, it can be seared or fried to make queso de frier. 

Storage

Refrigerate queso blanco in its original packaging. You can keep it for one to two weeks past its sell-by date before opening. Once opened, wrap queso blanco tightly in plastic wrap or seal it in a tight-fitting reusable plastic container in your refrigerator for one to two weeks. If the cheese smells off or you see mold growth on the surface, discard the entire cheese.

Because the texture of soft, fresh cheeses tends to suffer after freezing, queso blanco should not be frozen.

Mexican Street Corn (Elote)
Queso Blanco on Grilled Corn.

The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

Queso Blanco Recipes

Can You Eat the Rind?

Because it is typically sold within just a few days of being produced, queso blanco is technically a rindless cheese. The entire cheese, including the exterior, should be eaten.