3 November 2022

The 13 best substitutes for Oaxaca cheese for your recipes

By Killian

We are all familiar with the most popular types of cheese: feta, gouda, cheddar, and parmesan. But one of the lesser known, but equally delicious cheeses, is Oaxaca cheese.

Somewhat resembling mozzarella, this wonderfully stringy and buttery cheese has become a favorite both for snacking and for use in all manner of foods, such as grating it into pasta dishes. and my personal favorite, which is putting it in a quesadilla.

But being a more specialized type of cheeseIt is not always available in all supermarkets and grocery stores.

That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of best substitutes for Oaxaca cheese so you can enjoy that characteristic flavor and texture without having to look too hard.

The best substitute for Oaxaca cheese is mozzarella. Alternatively, you can also substitute Manchego, Chihuahua, or Monterey Jack cheese for the Oaxaca cheese. Finally, in case you need a stringy cheese, you can substitute Oaxaca cheese for Asadero, String and homemade Oaxaca cheese.

The best substitutes for Oaxaca cheese

Oaxaca cheese is made from cow’s milk by combining rennet, which is a complex set of enzymes from a baby cow, lamb or goat while its diet is still 100% breast milk. This gives the cheese its unique, rich and creamy flavor.

The process to make it is quite long and complicated, in which the softened milk curd is thoroughly stretched and kneaded to give it that fibrous quality.

It is originally from Mexico and is one of its most produced cheeses.. But due to its popularity, it is now produced in quite a few countries, and in particular the US is now a big producer of Oaxaca cheese.

1. Manchego

Although Manchego has a slightly firmer quality because it is made from sheep’s milk, it retains much of the rich, buttery flavor that Oaxaca offers.

Where it differs is in the texture, as instead of the wonderful sticky, stringy texture that Oaxaca has, this is a bit harder and more yellowish due to being aged potentially up to 2 years.

This makes it less ideal for something like a pizza topping, but for anything baked like lasagna, it’s the perfect substitute.

2. Ricotta

One of the biggest advantages of ricotta cheese is that it is very easy to get. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting it at your local grocery stores and supermarkets.

It has a nice, mild flavor and isn’t going to change the feel of a dish much compared to Oaxaca, and it works really well on anything like sandwiches, manicotti, and lasagna.

Because it has a slightly softer texture (though not in the “stringy” sense), it can also be used as a dip or even as a spread on sandwiches.

3. Chihuahua

Not to be confused with the small dog breed, Chihuahua is actually the name of a small state in Mexico where this particular type of cheese comes from.

So far, all of the suggestions have been fine from a flavor standpoint, but they lack that softer, mushy texture that Oaxaca has, making them less ideal when used as a topping where stringiness is required.

This is where Chihuahua cheese comes in, it’s great melting and has that wonderful soft quality that makes it great for things like quesadillas or salsas.

4. Monterey Jack Cheese

Monterey Jack cheese can be a really good substitute, but there are a few things to keep in mind and take steps to make it the best possible substitute.

The first thing to keep in mind is that you can get this cheese “unripened” or “ripened”. Compared to Oaxaca, the unripened version has a milder flavor.. So even though it’s a little more expensive, you might want to get the aged cheese for a little stronger flavor..

The next step is (whether you’re using hard or uncured Monterey Jack cheese) to make sure you shred it regardless of the cooking setting. This will help it melt evenly and achieve a consistency a little more like Oaxaca.

5. Grilled cheese

Asadero is another cheese that is actually made mostly in Chihuahua and uses a similar kneading process during its production that is somewhat similar to that of Oaxaca..

This gives it that characteristic soft texture and stringy quality when cooked.

Taste-wise, it’s maybe a bit milder than Oaxacan, but if you’re cooking something like pasta or making quesadillas, there’s plenty of opportunity to get that stronger flavor with other ingredients. Try pairing it with green chiles or cilantro for an extra kick.

That texture and stringy quality requires quite a specific process to achieve, so substitutes like this work exceptionally well.

6. String cheese

While perhaps not as authentic (or flavorful) as some of the higher-quality Mexican-produced cheeses mentioned here, the simple processed string cheese has that soft, stringy quality many seek in Oaxaca.

It also gets points for its availability, as you should be able to find it in many grocery stores, regardless of what country you live in.

To make up for what it lacks in the flavor department, consider using some additional spices and herbs to kick up the flavor a bit.

7. Panela cheese

What makes Panela Cheese an ideal cheese is that it is well known for absorbing the flavors of what is served..

So it’s very common for cheeses to be coated with things like garlic and chili, which really imparts this intrinsic, delicious flavor.

In terms of being an Oaxaca surrogate, its main redeeming factor is that it’s very bland. It’s not necessarily known for being “stringy,” but its light, malleable quality makes it ideal for any baking scenario, such as pizza or lasagna. Or even soups work well too!

8. Fresh Cheese

It is a soft and fresh cheese that has a slightly salty and spicy flavor.. This makes it less ideal in certain situations, such as topping a pizza, but it works well for anything baked or cooked, like lasagna or pasta.

It’s considered a staple Mexican cheese and as such is relatively affordable, you should be able to find it pretty easily!

But its most redeeming quality is the texture, which is nice and smooth, so while it’s not stringy, it does develop that soft, buttery feeling when cooked, making it a good substitute for Oaxaca.

9. Muenster cheese

This is a fairly basic cheese not unlike something like American or Swiss. It has a light and sweet flavor with a wonderfully creamy texture.

This makes Muenster cheese a great choice for almost any application where Oaxaca cheese would normally be used, particularly for sandwiches and pizza toppings.

10. Cotija

This one is only useful in particular circumstances, since it is quite firm and salty.. This makes it less ideal for pizzas or quesadillas, where the flavor of the cheese is more “exposed” to the diner.

But when heated it softens quite a bit, so when used in lasagna and similar dishes, it can work well.

Since this is a handmade cheese, it is also quite hard to come by and can have quite a few variations from purchase to purchase. Try asking if you can sample a bit before you buy it.

11. Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are essentially small pieces of curdled milk that many will know and love for their predominant use in the Quebecois poutine dish.

It is quite mild and carries with it a mild flavor, so when used in place of Oaxaca it can offer many of the same qualities, just not the stringiness part..

Plus, they’re pretty cheap and easy to come by, so you can always grab some in a pinch.


One of the best substitutes for Oaxaca of all time.

During the manufacturing process, mozzarella cheese is placed in hot salty water, which on a molecular level rearranges the proteins into long strands that are then repeatedly compressed and expanded.

This gives it that stringy characteristic that Oaxaca has, but arguably makes it even better. It is the perfect choice for a pizza topping.

Plus, it has a mild, understated flavor that works great in almost any culinary setting.

13. Homemade Oaxaca cheese

If you’re willing to put in a little extra work, it’s quite possible to make Oaxaca cheese at home yourself.

Since it is so similar to mozzarella, you will see that the process is almost the same. Basically, you just have to boil the milk with some type of acid, like lemon juice, until everything curdles.

It’s not a quick and easy fix, but if you learn to do it right, you’ll never be without a suitable replacement.

How to choose the best substitute for Oaxaca cheese

One of the aspects that define Oaxaca cheese is its mild flavor. But usually when people go for it they also look for that soft, stringy quality.

It’s incredibly easy to find a substitute that addresses one of these aspects, making it appropriate for certain culinary scenarios. But it is quite difficult to find substitutes that combine both qualities.

So here’s a quick rundown of which substitute offers the best qualities.


For that characteristic mild flavor we recommend Muenster cheese, which can be used in any situation where you would normally use Oaxaca and will not disappoint from a flavor standpoint..

Although keep in mind that it is a soft cheese, but not the most fibrous in the world.


For this we recommend mozzarella, there’s a good reason why it’s so commonly used on things like pizzas and that’s because it’s the quintessential “stringy” cheese.


String cheese is by far the most accessible, often used by children for school lunches, you should be able to find it anywhere.

Our best choice

The best substitute for Oaxaca cheese is, in our opinion, the good old Mozarella.

It has an extraordinarily mild flavor that works perfectly in any cooking situation where you would normally use Oaxaca, and more importantly, it has that wonderful stringy quality that really makes it the best substitute..