Fresh cheeses have a crumbly texture and when they are heated, they do not melt, but they do become soft and creamy without losing their shape. You can also slice fresh cheese into sticks or cubes and fry it (without breading or anything on it) and it will become brown and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Fresh cheeses have a generally mild flavor and pair well with any dish that calls for cheese, especially dishes like enchiladas and chile rellenos since the cheese will melt, but stay inside the dish. Some fresh cheeses are
- Queso Blanco- very similar to Monterrey Jack or Mozzarella in flavor
- Queso Fresco- crumbles easily
- Panela- crumbles very easily and has a slightly salty flavor
- Requesón- a very soft texture similar to Italian ricotta cheese
Just as the name suggests, these cheeses were made to melt. They do not separate or get greasy when they are heated so they are ideal for any dish that calls for a lot of cheese like burritos or nachos. They are also great for American dishes like pizza and cheeseburgers.
- Queso Quesadilla- mild in flavor
- Asadero- stronger flavor
- Manchego- yellow color and tangy flavor
- Oaxaca- similar texture to string cheese
- Chihuahua- similar flavor to a mild cheddar
These cheeses have a hard texture and can be grated. They are often used in refried beans, not just as a topping, but actually mixed into the beans themselves. Because of the strong flavors, it makes a perfect topping for beans, salads and even grilled meats.
- Cotija- strong flavor, similar to Italian parmesan
- Enchilado or Anejo Enchilado- very strong flavor and coated in chile powder or paprika