Large serving tray filled with crunchy chicken tacos, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and peppers.
Food - Drink
What Makes Queso Fresco Unique
A ubiquitous Mexican-style cheese that is different from any other is queso fresco, which has a tangy flavor and a crumbly texture that resembles feta cheese, but isn't exactly the same. You may have eaten this cheese served on top of dishes like tostadas, salads, and tapas, and here are just a few of its many unique qualities.
Queso fresco, which means "fresh cheese" in Spanish, came about in the 1800s in Mexico, when refrigeration and methods of maturing cheese were not available, leading to the use of "fresh" cheeses that are not aged. Don't confuse queso fresco with melty queso dip, since queso fresco isn't much of a melting cheese.
When queso fresco is heated, it does soften, but it doesn't melt and become smooth, and it's likely to stay chunky if you make it into a dip. It's usually served cold and freshly crumbled over foods as a garnish, rather than heated up, and makes a good replacement in recipes that call for feta, goat cheese, or even ricotta.
It's fairly easy to find queso fresco in the dairy section of most supermarkets, but it's also very simple to make at home. Simply add heat and an acidic ingredient to whole milk to make it curdle, giving the cheese its unique crumbly texture; Serious Eats' recipe also uses a cheesecloth to squeeze out excess liquid.