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What Can You Substitute for Oaxaca Cheese?

From piping hot pizzas to delectable desserts like cheesecake, the use of cheese stretches far and wide.

One type that’s making a name for itself is the Oaxaca variety, a type of cow’s cheese that originates from a town of the same name in Southern Mexico.

But what about when you can’t find it anywhere? Luckily for Oaxaca fans, there’s quite a handful of alternatives that can be used in place of this semi-soft cheese.

What Can You Use Instead of Oaxaca?



Mozzarella is one of the most well-rounded choices when it comes to substitutes for Oaxaca cheese.

It shares the same classification of being semi-soft and is categorized as an unaged cheese, which means they are so fresh that the milk/cream used in its creation should be no more than 60 days old [1].

Much like its Mexican counterpart, it’s also created using the pasta filata method, which involves heating and stretching the cheese several times during production in order to achieve the desired shape and texture.

Mozzarella can be used as a substitute as its taste and texture is almost identical to Oaxaca, with there only being the slightest difference in flavor depending on the type of Mozzarella used.

Buffalo Mozzarella’s flavor has less saltiness to it, so if you’re going to opt for this choice, be sure to add a small dash of salt to replicate the charm of Oaxaca’s taste. Otherwise, other types of Mozzarella are good to go without any additions.

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Monterey Jack

monterey jack

Monterey Jack is made from cow’s milk, but unlike Oaxaca, it is a semi-hard cheese. Its consistency holds together more solidly than Oaxaca.

Don’t let that deter you, for it is just as creamy and is a worthy substitute if your main concern focuses on replicating the flavor of Oaxaca, such as using it in a grilled cheese as it melts very well.

However, due to the firm consistency of this cheese, it can’t be torn up as easily as Oaxaca, so it may be best to avoid Monterey Jack if your objective is to make a good visual presentation with your dish.

String Cheese

string cheese

A popular item in lunch boxes all around the world, string cheese is one of the more easily accessible alternatives for Oaxaca.

It shares the same neutral flavor, making it ideal if your aim is to capture the fresh taste of the Southern Mexican cheese.

String cheese gets extra points here as it mimics the texture of Oaxaca. It can be torn quite easily, which can be implemented seamlessly if your recipe calls for Oaxaca cheese to be torn up for the purposes of visual presentation.



Asadero is a cheese that is almost identical to Oaxaca, even originating in Mexico too, only from a city called Chihuahua in the north. This often results in these two cheeses being labeled the same, but the region where they come from is what separates them from each other, giving them their own unique identity.

It is a semi-soft cheese created utilizing the same pasta filata method in its production. A small difference lies in the flavor, as Asadero presents a gentler taste than Oaxaca, but it can still be used as a substitute for taste and texture purposes.

Muenster Cheese

muenster cheese

Here we have another semi-soft cheese, Muenster cheese. It is created using cow’s milk before being combined with an orange rind to achieve the color of the final product.

It can be utilized as a flavor substitute as just like Oaxaca, it is on the neutral side.

It is also very creamy and can be used in recipes that call for Oaxaca to be melted, sliced, or even grated due to its creaminess.



Ricotta is also very easy to find. It is unique in its creation, as it is not limited to one animal in particular, instead being able to be produced from any animal’s milk.

Ricotta cheese cannot be grated, sliced or torn, as it is a super soft cheese. Therefore, it wouldn’t be ideal if your main goal is replicating Oaxaca’s texture. However, it’s perfectly ideal to substitute in any recipes that call for melted Oaxaca.

It does not have a strong, distinct flavor either so don’t worry about it compromising the final product if used as an alternative.

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Queso Fresco

queso fresco

Queso Fresco, a popular cheese used heavily in Mexican cuisine. It boasts a large variety of textures, so the “correct” choice would depend on how Oaxaca cheese is used in the recipe you’re following.

It’s important to note that Queso Fresco possesses a slightly acidic flavor, but this shouldn’t compromise the flavor of your dish. It has a very soft texture, and can be used for any purpose in place of Oaxaca cheese.

Queso Panela

This is another creamy cheese boasting a super soft texture. Queso Panela melts very well, and can aid in achieving a texture full of softness.

Also known as Queso Canasta, this cheese holds the salty flavor, ensuring your food will come out just as savory should you opt for this Oaxaca alternative.

Queso Chihuahua

queso chihuahua

The second cheese on the list to originate from the city of Chihuahua in Northern Mexico, this cheese comes in many different forms, from blocks to balls.

It holds a similar flavor to Jack cheeses (think Monterey Jack), which as previously mentioned, makes an ideal flavor substitute for Oaxaca.

This cheese can also be integrated for uses such as being sliced, torn or grated, and can also melt easily, due to its semi-soft texture. This makes it another well-rounded alternative.

How to Choose the Best Oaxaca Cheese Substitute

The question of which type of cheese is the “best” substitute in replacing Oaxaca isn’t one that can be answered definitively.

As Oaxaca is a cheese that holds unique characteristics in its taste, texture, and function, it’s important to choose an alternative that encapsulates at least one of these traits, depending on what purpose you were going to use Oaxaca for in the first place.

Let’s break these traits down in order to make a better choice for a substitute.


As mentioned, Oaxaca has a neutral flavor, thus naturally giving a wider choice for what other cheeses can be used to replicate its taste.

To be more specific, Oaxaca bears a savory taste, sporting hints of salt and butter.

In our list of substitutes above, we listed the following as worthy contenders for matching Oaxaca’s flavor: Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, String Cheese, Muenster, Queso Panela and Queso Chihuahua.

It’s perfectly safe to opt for any one of these cheeses if all you’re looking for is to match the flavor of Oaxaca, even if some of them differ in texture or function.


Oaxaca falls under the category of a semi-soft, meaning its water content rests between 36% – 45% [2].

It is also unaged, guaranteeing its freshness with the use of milk/cream that’s less than 60 days old used in its creation. The resulting texture comes out as elastic, tender and stringy, making it a popular choice for recipes that call for a visually appealing use of this ingredient.

The types of cheeses that share the same texture of Oaxaca are Mozzarella, String Cheese, Queso Chihuahua, Queso Panela, Queso Fresco, Asadero and Ricotta.

Any one of these choices make for a great alternative if you’re focusing on a texture substitute.


Just because a cheese bears a similar taste or shares the same texture as Oaxaca, it doesn’t always mean it’s the correct substitute to go with.

Some cheeses, like Monterey Jack, do a good job in closely capturing the taste of Oaxaca but don’t not tear up as easily.

In other words, it’s important that you know how you are going to incorporate your cheese into your recipe before making your decision. Through this consideration, you’ll find your “best” alternative.

FAQs About Oaxaca Cheese

What is Oaxaca Cheese?

Oaxaca cheese is made using cow’s milk in the town of Oaxaca, located in the south of Mexico.

It is created using the pasta filata method, whereby it is heated and stretched several times during its making in order to achieve the desired shape and texture.

How can I melt Oaxaca cheese?

Oaxaca cheese can be easily melted in the microwave. If looking for a more thorough method, you can opt for using a double boiler, which melts the cheese through indirect heat.

Where can I buy Oaxaca cheese?

Oaxaca cheese can be found at any one of your local supermarkets, such as Walmart.

Alternatively, it can be sourced online from vendors like Instacart. It is also known as quesillo, so look out for that name too!

How does Oaxaca cheese taste like?

Oaxaca cheese sports an earthy, buttery flavor with a hint of salt. Think Mozzarella (one of our substitutes!) and you’ll have a good idea of Oaxaca’s savory flavor.

In Conclusion

When it comes to cheese substitution, Oaxaca has a vast amount that can cover over a wide range of uses.

So don’t fret should you find yourself in need of a suitable alternative! Just remember to know how you’re going to use your cheese and you’re set to go. Happy baking!

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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