Learn About Cotija Cheese

Author: Chef Sydney

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What is Cotija?

Cotija is a type of cheese originally from a town called Cotija in Mexico.  Because cotija is handmade, the cheese slightly differs in taste and texture every time it is made.  It is a white crumbly cheese with a dry, firm texture.  Cotija often comes in blocks, but it is also found in grated form.  It comes fresh or aged, which changes the texture and flavor of the cheese.  Fresh cotija is similar in texture to feta cheese and aged cotija is similar in texture to parmesan.

What Does Cotija Taste Like?

Cotija has a salty taste, but its overall flavor is unique.  Its fresh flavor is often compared to feta cheese while its aged flavor is compared to parmesan.

Learn About Cotija

How Do You Eat Cotija?

Most people enjoy cotija as a topping for other dishes because this cheese softens when heated.  Common uses for cotija include as a topping for tacos, enchiladas, salads.  Corn and cotija are a popular pairing and are often used together in elotes, corn dishes, and corn salads.  This cheese is frequently used in chicken, steak, and seafood dishes.  It is often paired with vegetables, such as zucchini or avocados in guacamole, or spicy foods like hot peppers.

Where Can You Buy Cotija?

Look for cotija cheese in the cheese section of most well-stocked or international grocery stores.  Cotija is often produced seasonally, so it may only be available from mid-summer to mid-fall.

How Do You Store Cotija?

Seal cotija in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator.

Fun Fact About Cotija

It’s sometimes referred to as the parmesan of Mexico because of its texture and flavor.

Did You Know?

This cheese is considered seasonal because traditional cheesemakers feed their cows the grass that grows in the rainy season.

Recipes Using Cotija Cheese

Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Cotija Salad

This salad is great for making in advance and uses roasted sweet potato and roasted poblano. To make the salad, combine cubed, roasted sweet potato, diced poblanos, cooked quinoa, arugula, cotija cheese, and green onions in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chipotle powder, and maple syrup to make the dressing. Drizzled the dressing over the quinoa and vegetable mixture and top with more cotija, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro.

Chili and Cotija Corn off the Cob

This corn dish is a take on Mexican street corn on the cob but is mess-free and a bit easier to eat. In a frying pan, melt butter and add chili powder and cumin. Add in fresh or frozen corn kernels and cook until tender. Towards the end of cooking, add lime juice, cilantro, salt, and cotija cheese.

Spicy Black Bean Dip

In a food processor, combine garlic, cumin, black beans, chipotle peppers in adobo, cilantro, and lime. Blend until smooth, adding warm water to adjust the consistency. Top the dip with a layer of cotija cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

Cilantro Salad Dressing

This dressing is a great way to add Latin flavors to a salad. To make it, add canned Anaheim chiles, pepitas (AKA pumpkin seeds), garlic, oil, red wine vinegar, and cotija to a food processor and pulse to break up ingredients. Working in batches, add cilantro until it is thoroughly pureed and the dressing is emulsified. In a bowl, add mayonnaise and fold in the cilantro and oil mixture until combined.

Avocado and Cotija Dip

This take on guacamole is much smoother and had cotija cheese blended right into the dip. In a food processor, blend cotija, cilantro, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until well combined. Add in avocado and blend until smooth. Place the dip in a bowl and mix in finely chopped red onions and tomatoes before serving.


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