substitute for cotija cheese

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Below, you will find the best ways to substitute for Cotija cheese.

Do you want to make a recipe that calls for Cotija cheese but your favorite market has run out? Do you need a readily available alternative? Are you just looking for a slightly different flavor or texture than Cotija cheese? There are plenty of substitutes you can use.  

substitute for cotija cheese

Cotija is a Mexican cheese named for the city of Cotija, Mexico. It is made from cows’ milk and has a milky and salty taste. It is used in a wide variety of Mexican dishes and is often crumbled or sprinkled since it doesn’t melt when heated.  

Below are some of the best alternatives for cotija cheese if it is unavailable, or if you are looking to experiment with new alternatives or need a few vegan options. 

So, what can you substitute for cotija cheese?

The best options are as follows:

  • Feta Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Romano Cheese 
  • Queso Fresco
  • Goat Cheese Crumbles
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Anejo
  • Pecorino Romano
  • Taleggio
  • Red Leicester
  • Vegan Cotija
  • Violife Just Like Parmesan

Each will be discussed in more details below. You can also get substitute ratios for ease of swapping.

Best substitutes for cotija cheese

Feta Cheese

Feta Cheese to replace cotija

This soft white cheese from the Mediterranean has a similar texture to Cotija but is saltier in flavor. It is popular in Greek salads and can be used as a 1:1 ratio substitution. 

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese has a mild flavor and soupy texture. It will need to be drained before it can be used as a substitute for cotija cheese. It is sweeter and milder and used as a 1:1 ratio despite its softer texture.

Romano Cheese 

Romano cheese derived from sheep, cows, and goat’s milk, is a salty and pungent but good cotija substitute that is available in most stores. Use a 1:1 ratio for the best results. 

Queso Fresco

Queso Fresco cheeses

This is another Mexican cheese, mainly used on tacos and dips, that has the same flavor as cotija making it a popular alternative despite it being a dryer cheese. It is used in a 1:1 ratio.

Goat Cheese Crumbles

Made from goat’s milk, it is a common cheese readily available as a 1:1 substitute for cotija. It is not as salty and has a tangy flavor. The dryer, crumbled variation, and not the log variation are recommended to match cotija’s texture also. 

Parmesan Cheese


This cheese has a hard, grainy texture with a stronger flavor than cotija. Parmesan is readily available and the best alternative to cotija when used as a 1:1 ratio. 



This aged Mexican cheese has a similar taste to cotija, making it a viable alternative. It does have a paprika outer coating so it may be a spicier option than the other alternatives. Use as a 1:1 ratio to cotija when substituting.

Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano

This cheese, named after Rome, is derived from sheep’s milk. Pecorino cheese closely resembles cotija and can be crumbled or grated. It is more salty and tangy but still used at a 1:1 ratio.



This thin-crusted Italian cheese has a soft texture and pungent aroma.  It is a mild cheese but retains a fruity tang. Taleggio is a good substitute for cotija when melted and stringy. Use as a 1:1 ratio when needed as a gooey meltable alternative. 

Red Leicester

This cheese derived from England is similar to cheddar cheese. It may be different in color and texture from cotija but can be the best alternative as a semi-hard option. It is great for shredding. Use as a 1:1 substitute for cotija cheese. 

Vegan substitutes for cotija cheese

Vegan Cotija

This vegan alternative is the best option to avoid animal products. You can also make a homemade version out of cashews, lemon, vinegar, and salt. Use as a 1:1 ratio for cotija cheese.  

Violife Wedge Just Like Parmesan 

Available in stores, this vegan option is similar to non-vegan parmesan and can be a good cotija substitute in the same manner. It is used as a 1:1 alternative for coitja cheese.  You can get a cheap version of this vegan cheese wedge online here.

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