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Cotija Cheese

  • Made from cow's milk

  • Country of origin: Mexico

  • Type: hard, artisan

  • Texture: crumbly and dense

  • Rind: rindless

  • Colour: white

  • Flavour: salty, strong

  • Synonyms: Queso Cincho, Queso Seco

  • Made from cow's milk

  • Country of origin: Mexico

  • Type: hard, artisan

  • Texture: crumbly and dense

  • Rind: rindless

  • Colour: white

  • Flavour: salty, strong

  • Synonyms: Queso Cincho, Queso Seco

What Is Cotija Cheese and How To Pronounce It?

Cotija cheese is a popular Mexican cheese known for its distinctive taste and crumbly texture. Cotija can be difficult for some English speakers to pronounce - the proper pronunciation is "koh-TEE-hah".


What is Cotija Cheese Made of?

Made from raw cow's milk. Cotija cheese is crafted by local artisans who follow traditional methods passed down through generations, involving curdling the milk, draining the whey, and pressing the curds to create a firm texture, before aging the cheese for several months to develop its distinct flavor profile.


Where Is Cotija Cheese From? Exploring Cotija's Origins

Cotija cheese originated in the town of Cotija, Michoacán, in Mexico. Cotija has been produced for centuries and is deeply ingrained in the local culinary traditions. 

The town of Cotija is famous for its traditional cheese-making techniques, and the art of making Cotija cheese has been passed down through generations, with local artisans dedicating themselves to this craft.

In recent years, the cheese has gained international recognition and has become a sought-after ingredient in Mexican cuisine around the world.


What Does Cotija Taste Like? What is Cotija's Flavor?

Cotija cheese has a bold and salty flavor. It has a slightly tangy and nutty taste, with a hint of sweetness. The longer it is aged, the more intense the flavor becomes. This cheese adds a delightful depth to various Mexican dishes and can be grated or crumbled over food for a burst of umami, making it the perfect complement to many savory dishes.

Cotija is often compared to Parmesan or Feta cheese, but it has its own special characteristics.

While it shares some similarities with the aforementioned cheeses, Cotija has a bolder flavor and more crumbly texture, providing a completely different culinary experience.


The Distinctive Characteristics of Cotija Cheese

When young, it is white, fresh and salty, thus bearing immense resemblance to feta cheese. However, with aging, it becomes hard and crumbly like Parmigiano-Reggiano. Its similarity with Parmesan has earned it the nickname "Parmesan of Mexico". The cheese is also known as Queso Cincho or Queso Seco.

In addition to being a crumbling cheese, Cotija can also be aged to develop a harder texture, similar to Parmesan cheese. This aged version, known as Cotija Añejo, has a more intense flavor and is often grated over dishes for a bold burst of taste. Whether you choose the fresh crumbly Cotija or the aged Cotija Añejo, both varieties bring a unique and delicious dimension to your culinary creations.


Is Cotija Cheese Healthy to Eat?

Cotija cheese, like most cheeses, can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. While it is rich in calcium and protein, it is also high in saturated fat and sodium. Therefore, it is recommended to consume Cotija cheese in small portions to maintain a healthy eating pattern.

It's worth noting that Cotija cheese can be a good source of calcium for individuals who follow a vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian diet. However, it's essential to consider your overall dietary needs and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any specific dietary concerns.


The Health Benefits of Cotija Cheese

While Cotija cheese should be enjoyed in moderation, it can offer some health benefits.

  • Calcium: Cotija cheese is a good source of calcium, which is crucial for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.

  • Protein: This cheese also provides a good amount of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair.


What is the Nutritional Information for Cotija Cheese?

In general, a 1-ounce (28 grams) serving typically provides:

  • Calories: around 120

  • Total fat: approximately 10 grams

  • Saturated fat: about 6 grams

  • Protein: around 7 grams

  • Calcium: approximately 15%

The nutritional information for Cotija cheese can vary slightly depending on factors such as the brand and the specific aging process. Always verify the label to confirm the producer’s information.


How to Use Cotija Cheese

Cotija cheese is incredibly versatile, lending itself to a variety of culinary applications. Whether grated over tacos, enchiladas, soups, and salads, crumbled onto roasted vegetables, grilled meats, or pasta, or incorporated into creamy dips and spreads, Cotija cheese adds a burst of flavor and richness:

  1. Grating: Cotija cheese can be grated over dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, soups, or salads to add a burst of flavor.

  2. Crumbled: The cheese can be crumbled and sprinkled over roasted vegetables, grilled meats, or even pasta dishes for an added layer of richness.

  3. Stuffing: Cotija cheese can be used to stuff chiles or bell peppers, adding creaminess and a delicious cheesy filling.

  4. Dips and spreads: The cheese can also be incorporated into creamy dips or spreads, lending its unique flavor to party platters or appetizers

  5. Street Corn: Mix Cotija cheese with mayonnaise, lime juice, and chili powder, then spread the mixture over grilled corn for a mouthwatering treat.

Click here to discover a variety of delicious cotija cheese recipes that will take your cooking to new heights.


Creative Recipes Featuring Cotija Cheese

Take your culinary adventures to the next level by incorporating Cotija cheese in these creative recipes:

  • Tacos al Pastor with Cotija Cheese: The salty and tangy notes of Cotija perfectly complement the juicy marinated pork in this classic Mexican dish.

  • Corn on the Cob with Cotija Cheese: Grilled corn on the cob, slathered with mayonnaise, sprinkled with Cotija cheese, and finished with a squeeze of lime creates a delicious and unique flavor combination.

  • Cotija-Stuffed Mushrooms: Stuff large mushrooms with a mix of Cotija cheese, herbs, and breadcrumbs, then bake until golden and enjoy the savory goodness.

  • Watermelon Salad with Cotija Cheese: Combine juicy watermelon, crisp cucumber, and crumbled Cotija cheese for a refreshing and unexpected burst of flavors.

  • Cotija and Avocado Stuffed Chicken: Stuff chicken breasts with a mixture of mashed avocado and crumbled Cotija cheese, then bake to golden perfection.

  • Cotija Cheese Dip: Mix Cotija cheese with cream cheese, jalapeños, and spices to create a zesty and creamy dip for tortilla chips or vegetables.

Click here to see the full recipes using Cotija Cheese.


What To Pair With Cotija Cheese

Foods Pairings for Cotija Cheese

Given its strong, salty flavor, Cotija cheese pairs well with a variety of foods. It's often used in Mexican cuisine, where it's crumbled over dishes like tacos, enchiladas, and elote (Mexican street corn). The cheese's robust flavor stands up well to spicy, flavorful dishes.

How to Pair Cotija Cheese With Beverages

When it comes to beverages, Cotija cheese pairs well with a variety of wines and beers. Light-bodied white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio can balance the cheese's saltiness, while robust red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon can complement its strong flavor. For beer lovers, a crisp lager or a hoppy IPA can be a great match.


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Substitutes for Cotija Cheese