Making a recipe that calls for Oaxaca cheese? Check out these easy ways to substitute for Oaxaca cheese here!
Oaxaca (pronounced “wa-ha-ca”) is a traditional Mexican cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a semi-soft, stringy, stretchy texture and a mellow, milky flavor with a bit of earthiness to it.
Oaxaca is immensely popular in Mexican cuisine since its versatile flavor goes well with most other ingredients. Its semi-soft texture helps it maintain form when grated, shredded, or sliced but melts well when cooked.
Oaxaca is used to top nachos, tacos, salads, and as a filling for quesadillas, enchiladas, stuffed peppers, etc.
Texture plays a prominent role in its versatility, so when possible, try to prioritize it over flavor similarities when substituting.
Best Substitutes for Oaxaca Cheese
Mozzarella cheese is probably the closest alternative to Oaxaca cheese. The two are made similarly, with their textures and flavor profiles, sharing the stringiness and milky flavor. Mozzarella tends to be blander than Oaxaca, so either aim for a saltier mozzarella or adjust how much salt you add to the dish. Otherwise, you can use it to substitute Oaxaca at a 1:1 ratio.
Stracciatella is a soft, almost cream-like Italian cheese made from buffalo or cow’s milk. Its texture is somewhat runny and much softer than Oaxaca’s, but it has a similar stringy quality and mild, milky flavor. Stracciatella is best used to substitute Oaxaca in complex dishes where it’s a topping rather than the main ingredient. It’ll work well as pizza, enchilada, or taco topping. Decrease the amount at around 0.7:1 to Oaxaca to account for extra moisture.
The main advantage of substituting Oaxaca with string cheese is that they share a similar stringy texture, and you can easily swap one for the other at a 1:1 ratio. However, string cheese has a much more plain flavor than Oaxaca, so consider adding some spices and seasonings to account for differences in the taste.
Queso Panela is another Mexican soft cheese made from cow’s milk. While its texture isn’t precisely stringy, it’s malleable and versatile, fit for being served cold (grated over the finished dish) or as an ingredient in a more complex dish. Queso Panela is known to absorb flavors easily and is often covered in garlic and peppers from the outside, giving it a more robust, sharp flavor compared to Oaxaca. If that doesn’t bother you, use it at a ratio of 1:1; if it does, adjust according to your spice tolerance.
Mexican Queso Fresco is a soft cheese made with a mix of goat and cow milk. Its texture isn’t stringy but rather smooth and buttery, but it’s still a good alternative for Oaxaca cheese in most cases, especially in recipes that require melting cheese. It has a bolder, tangier flavor than Oaxaca, so use it a bit more sparingly, at around a 0.8:1 ratio.
Asadero is another Mexican cheese that’s made using a kneading process similar to Oaxaca. While its texture is slightly harder than Oaxaca, it has an elastic quality due to kneading, especially noticeable once the cheese is cooked. Asadero is often used in baked and grilled dishes and can easily substitute for Oaxaca in most recipes. It does have a sharper, somewhat tangy flavor but still works best at a 1:1 ratio.
Monterey Jack Cheese
The key is using Unaged Monterey Jack cheese. Unaged Monterey Jack has a flavor profile similar to Oaxaca: mellow and milky, with only a slight touch of saltiness. It does have a stiffer texture with no stringiness, but it melts well and can thus easily substitute for Oaxaca in most dishes at a 1:1 ratio. It’s probably the closest you’ll get flavor-wise. Want to learn more about substituting for Monterey Jack cheese? Click here.
American Muenster cheese (not to be confused with French Munster) has a soft, buttery texture and mild flavor with a slight nuttiness. It’s well-known for its melting quality and is often used in baking or grilling recipes. Muenster isn’t exactly an identical match flavor-wise but can be a good replacement for Oaxaca at a 1:1 ratio well enough (if the cheese is too robust for you, try cutting down on other spices).
Ricotta Salata is an aged, firmer and saltier version of regular soft ricotta. It has a crumbly texture and isn’t exactly an ideal substitute, but if used at around a 1:1.5 ratio to Oaxaca, it can give the dish a characteristic milky flavor, similar to Oaxaca. Best used for dishes requiring baking, but can be used as a cold topping as well if used sparingly.
Cotija is Mexican semi-hard cow milk cheese, somewhat similar to feta cheese but milder in flavor. When aged (Cotija Añejo), it becomes harder and sharper, thus an unfit substitute for Oaxaca. On the other hand, Young Cotija has a similarly milky, if somewhat saltier flavor. Cotija doesn’t melt well (though it does soften), so it’s better used cold, in slices, or as a topping. Adjust for saltiness as you see fit, but 1:1.2 Oaxaca would work well.
Common questions about Oaxaca cheese substitutions
What is Oaxaca cheese made out of?
Oaxaca cheese is a semi-soft, creamy, stretchy, stringy cheese made of cow’s milk.
What does Oaxaca cheese taste like?
Oaxaca cheese has a mellow, milky flavor with some earthiness.