How To Make Queso Fresco

Are you looking for a delicious and easy-to-make cheese recipe? Try this Queso Fresco Recipe that uses just 4 ingredients! Use it to top all of your favorite Mexican dishes.

Homemade queso fresco on a glass plate.
How To Make Queso Fresco | A Quick & Easy Method

How Much Queso

Contrary to what Mexican inspired restaurants will lead people to believe, Mexican food is never drowning in cheese.

Sure Mexican cuisine uses cheese but not to the extent that those aforementioned restaurants use.

Cheese in Mexican cuisine is most often used as a light topping — light being the key word.

When used as a filling then of course the amount of cheese required is more, and we do actually have a few dishes that are all about the queso, like quesadillas, chiles rellenos, seared cheese and queso fundido.

But other than that in a real authentic Mexican restaurants, and Mexican homes, you’ll never be served Mexican dishes with so much cheese you can barely tell what’s underneath.

Perhaps one can use the amount of cheese on a plate as a measuring point to the authenticity of the food in a restaurant?

Oh, and the spiced cheese bags or mixed “Mexican” cheeses do not exist in real authentic Mexican food.

Three crispy fried tacos on a brown plate and topped with lettuce, cheese, sour cream and mild salsa.

Cheese in Mexican Cuisine

The Spanish conquistadors are who originally brought cows and cheese making, and milk based products for that matter, to Latin America.

Later as Swiss and German settlers arrived in different parts of Mexico they introduced their own dairy processes and cheeses.

Modern day Mexican cheeses range from soft fresh cheeses to firm aged cheeses. The variety is small compared to let’s say French cheese, but the small variety do their job perfectly in Mexican cuisine.

What is Queso Fresco

Mexican queso fresco (or queso blanco) is a type of mild flavor fresh, white cheese widely used in Mexican cuisine. It’s has been around for centuries and is one of the more popular cheeses in Mexican cuisine.

Its a cheese with a salty, slightly tangy flavor, and can vary in consistency depending on the recipe.

This is a fresh cheese, meaning that it’s not aged like other cheeses. It’s soft texture and salty flavor, make it the perfect addition to many meals.

It’s perfect for crumbling over on top of tacos or enchiladas, salads, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, migas, and soups; it’s also eaten alone as an appetizer with salsa or guacamole.

Did you know queso fresco can be used in both sweet and savory dishes? It’s delicious crumbled on capirotada.

As a filling, queso fresco can be used as for quesadillas, tamales, burritos and tacos.

The only thing is that this cheese doesn’t melt too well. Queso fresco is not aged like hard cheeses, so it does not melt well when cooked.

This is the reason why many Mexican cooks prefer to use other cheeses like Oaxaca or Chihuahua when making dishes that need melted cheese.

Queso fresco has become popular in many countries outside of Mexico. It has also gained attention for being low in fat while providing good amounts of calcium, protein, vitamins A and B12 as well as phosphorus – all important elements for healthy bones and teeth.

Three rolled up hot dog tacos on a plate with lettuce, salsa, and cheese.
Crispy Mexican Hot Dog Tacos

Can You Make Queso Fresco at Home

Queso fresco is actually a very easy cheese to make at home. It’s the perfect beginner’s cheese.

It’s perfect for satisfying that cheesy craving, and it’s also vegetarian friendly because my easy recipe does not use rennet!

So if you’re looking for a fun new way to spice up your meals, then this recipe is for you! It only takes a few minutes to make. So what are you waiting for? Give this delicious recipe a try!

Ingredients for making Mexican queso fresco.

Queso Fresco Ingredients

Queso fresco is usually made from cow’s milk or a combination of cow’s and goat milk. My recipe uses just cow’s milk. Additionally I used pasteurized milk, although the old traditional recipes can call for raw milk.

Traditionally the milk is acidified (or curdled) with liquid rennet to create the curds. But rennet is an animal product and we won’t be using that.

  • Whole Milk: Use full fat milk.
  • Buttermilk: Not traditional, but lends a nice creaminess to the cheese.
  • Lemon Juice: Instead of the rennet.
  • Salt

Ingredient Variations

Some recipes will call for lime juice or for vinegar to help make the milk curds for the cheese.

Depending on the queso fresco recipe, because there are now some different versions, some people will add fresh herbs and spices to their homemade queso fresco.

If you wanted to make like a spicy queso dip, you could add some chopped green chiles to the cheese to serve with some tortilla chips.

You could also even mix in a little bit of olive oil for flavor. I recommend this if you add fresh herbs and spices.

Showing how to make Mexican queso blanco.

How to Make Queso Fresco at Home

  • Heat the milk in a large pot heat the milk under medium-low heat.
  • Allow the first bubbles to form prior to boiling – do not bring to a boil. The temperature should be warm but not hot that sticking a finger in the mild will burn you.
  • Turn the heat off.
  • Gently stir in the buttermilk.
  • Stir in the fresh lemon juice.
  • Keep stirring until curds begin to form.
  • Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Place a colander with cheese cloth over a large bowl to catch the whey.
  • Pour all of the pot contents into the lined colander. BE CAREFUL the liquid is hot. You can also use a slotted spoon instead to transfer curds to the damp cheesecloth.
  • Gather all sides and tie over a wooden spoon or just twist.
  • Remove the colander and place the gathered edges of the cheesecloths over a deep container. You don’t want the curds to touch the liquid, it needs to drain off.
  • Drain for 30 minutes and tightening the cloth from time to time.
  • Once drained untie the cloth and place the cheese into a large container.
  • Salt and season as desired while working the salt into the cheese.
  • Gather the cheese and place in a container to mold and cover. Make sure it’s at room temperature.
  • Place in the refrigerator to chill and set overnight.

Allowing your queso to drain longer and rest overnight will give you a firmer cheese. You can always adjust these steps to create the texture you’d like.

If you have a cheese mold at home you can totally use it to make this queso recipe.

By the way did you know ricotta cheese is made quite similarly?

Homemade Mexican vegan Cotija queso on a small a white plate.

Try These Mexican Cheese Recipes

Here are some delicious Mexican cheese recipes you can make any day of the week.

Queso Fresco Recipe — Quick and Easy Method

Making queso fresco is easier than you think! With just four simple ingredients, you can whip up some delicious Mexican cheese right in your own kitchen anytime.

This queso fresco has a delicious savory taste and a very creamy consistency. You won’t be disappointed —it’s sure to become one of your favorite recipes!

So if you’re feeling adventurous and want to add something new and exciting to your meals, why not try making some homemade queso fresco?

Go on get the milk out and start your queso for tonight’s Mexican dinner!

Corundas with Queso, Sour Cream and Salsa.
How To Make Queso Fresco | A Quick & Easy Method

How to Make Queso Fresco (The Easiest Recipe)

Nancy Lopez & MexicanMadeMeatless.com
Are you looking for a delicious and easy-to-make cheese recipe? Try this Queso Fresco Recipe that uses just 4 ingredients! Use it to top all of your favorite Mexican dishes.
5 from 42 votes
Save Recipe Pin Recipe Leave a Review
Print Recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Lacto-Vegetarian, Mexican
Servings 6 servings
Calories 122 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 34 oz whole fat milk I used 3.5% fat
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice freshly squeezed, extra if needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat the milk in a large pot heat the milk under medium-low heat.
    How To Make Queso Fresco | A Quick & Easy Method
  • Allow the first bubbles to form prior to boiling – do not bring to a boil. The temperature should be warm but not hot that sticking a finger in the mild will burn you.
    Showing how to make Mexican queso blanco.
  • Turn the heat off. Gently stir in the buttermilk. Stir in the fresh lemon juice. Keep stirring until curds begin to form.
  • Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Place a colander with cheese cloth over a large bowl to catch the whey. Pour all of the pot contents into the lined colander. BE CAREFUL the liquid is hot. You can also use a slotted spoon instead to transfer curds to the damp cheesecloth.
  • Gather all sides and tie over a wooden spoon or just twist. Remove the colander and place the gathered edges of the cheesecloths over a deep container. You don’t want the curds to touch the liquid, it needs to drain off.
  • Drain for 30 minutes and tightening the cloth from time to time. Once drained untie the cloth and place the cheese into a large container.
  • Salt and season as desired while working the salt into the cheese. Gather the cheese and place in a container to mold and cover. Make sure it’s at room temperature.
  • Place in the refrigerator to chill and set overnight.
    Homemade queso fresco on a glass plate.

Notes

Yields one 240g or 1/2 lb cheese
**If leaving overnight make sure to reserves some of the liquid to pour back in the container with the cheese. Otherwise the cheese will come or stick together and become more of a softer consistency, great for spreading.
* This quick methods yields wetter curds that after left together will bind and become a softer or creamier cheeses. Perfect for spreading.

Nutrition

Serving: 6servingsCalories: 122kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 7gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 491mgPotassium: 297mgFiber: 0.01gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 326IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 244mgIron: 0.02mg
Tried this recipe?Leave me a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and tag me on social media @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicanmademeatless!

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Recipe Rating




57 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Nancy,
    This is great way to make fresh cheese, and my grandmother use to make this kind of cheese also, just without lemon juice and buttermilk..but I am guessing it helps to sour faster onto crumbles. Looks fantastic to be honest with you! Really easy and delicious recipe..and I love your photos, very rustic and pretty!

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Sandra, Thank you:) Yes the lemon in place of rennet and once you add it to the milk it begins curdling right away. The buttermilk cultures the milk.

  3. 5 stars
    This cheese is new to me Nancy. I often make Paneer or cottage cheese at home. But I use either butter milk or vinegar or lime juice to curdle the milk. I will try making this cheese for sure 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I'm so glad you talked about the difference between tex-mex and authentic Mexican in the amount of cheese used. Too much cheese can spoil a dish, that's for sure. I love your step by step pictures! This looks awesome, I actually think I may try this after I go for groceries since I don't usually have buttermilk on hand.

  5. 5 stars
    Beautiful! =) Well, you I adore queso fresco and fortunately it's readily available here, but it's always more satisfying when I make it myself. Thanks for the link!!

  6. @Natalie, Thanks, you should try this is so easy!

    @Heidi, Yes! I hope you do try it:)

    @Heather, Thank you! Yes I know you had so many recipes I thought I send them to your club:)

    @Leanna, Thanks! Well everyone has different tastes:) You should, why not?

  7. 5 stars
    I have never made cheese before! Thank you for sharing this. I'm really excited to try it at home.

    When I visited Mexico, I was pleasantly surprised that cheese is only used as a garnish and to add texture, but to your point, the dishes were never drowning in cheese! This looks like a great addition to salads or just about anything.

  8. 5 stars
    All this while, I have this faint suspicion that mexican food will never appear to be drowning in cheese and this is the vices of the misinterpretation of this amazing cuisine! Apparently, you have proved my suspicion right. 🙂

  9. @Michelle, It is quite sad what people try to pass off as “Mexican” food. But it's also great when people recognize and appreciate real authentic Mexican cuisine 🙂

    @Mitinita, Oh what a great discovery then :)!

  10. 5 stars
    gracias por aclarar el HORRIBLE mito del queso amarillo en nuestra grandiosa Cocina Mexicana y gracias por compartir ésta receta.

  11. 5 stars
    I love fresh creamy cheeses. This sounds simple enough for a cheese novice like me. The amount of yellow cheese on anything bothers me, too, now that you've mentioned it.

  12. 5 stars
    This looks so familiar! We make paneer the same way, and press it under a heavy weight if cubes are called for. Great first cheese, lovely pics!

  13. Thanks evryone for your comments!

    @Tadka, I threw the whey out. I didn't know what to do with ? I read something about using it as a soup base. What do you recommend?

  14. 5 stars
    We use it in soup, dal-lentils, beans, curries, and breads, wherever a liquid is needed, and a bit of acid won't hurt. It gives a richer and slightly tangy taste to the dish.