Oaxaca Cheese: A Complete Overview

Are you a cheese lover looking to expand your palate? Look no further than Oaxaca cheese! In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the origins of this delicious cheese, its unique taste and texture, how it is made, and the best ways to enjoy it in your favorite dishes. Whether you are a cheese connoisseur or simply curious about this Mexican delicacy, this ultimate guide has everything you need to know about Oaxaca cheese.

History of Oaxaca Cheese

Oaxaca cheese, also known as queso Oaxaca or queso quesadilla, has a rich history that dates back centuries. This traditional Mexican cheese originated in the Oaxaca region of Mexico and has since become popular worldwide for its unique taste and texture.

Origins of Oaxaca Cheese

Oaxaca cheese is believed to have been first made by the indigenous Zapotec people in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. The cheese is known for its distinctive braided or rolled shape, which is said to resemble the knot of a sarape, a traditional Mexican shawl. The cheese is made from cow’s milk and is known for its mild, slightly salty flavor.

Traditional production methods

The production of Oaxaca cheese is a time-consuming process that requires skill and precision. The cheese is typically made by hand, with the curds stretched and kneaded to create the signature braided or rolled shape. The cheese is then aged for a short period of time to develop its flavor before being enjoyed in a variety of dishes.

Cultural significance

Oaxaca cheese holds a special place in Mexican culture and cuisine. It is a staple ingredient in many traditional Mexican dishes, such as quesadillas, tlayudas, and molletes. The cheese is also often used in Mexican street food, such as tacos and tortas. In addition to its culinary importance, Oaxaca cheese is also used in cultural celebrations and festivals throughout Mexico, where it is often enjoyed with family and friends.

Characteristics of Oaxaca Cheese

Texture and Appearance

Oaxaca cheese is known for its unique stringy texture, similar to mozzarella. When pulled apart, the cheese forms long strands, making it perfect for melting and stretching. The appearance of Oaxaca cheese is smooth and white, with a slightly shiny surface.

Flavor Profile

The flavor of Oaxaca cheese is mild and slightly tangy, with a hint of saltiness. It has a creamy and buttery taste that pairs well with a variety of dishes. Oaxaca cheese is versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet recipes.

Varieties of Oaxaca Cheese

While Oaxaca cheese is traditionally made from cow’s milk, there are also variations made from goat or sheep’s milk. Some producers also add herbs or spices to create flavored versions of Oaxaca cheese. No matter the variety, Oaxaca cheese is a delicious and essential ingredient in Mexican cuisine.

Uses of Oaxaca Cheese

In Mexican Cuisine

Oaxaca cheese, also known as queso Oaxaca or queso quesadilla, is a staple in Mexican cuisine. It is commonly used in dishes such as quesadillas, enchiladas, and tlayudas. Its stringy texture makes it perfect for melting, adding a creamy and savory flavor to traditional Mexican dishes.

In International Dishes

Oaxaca cheese has gained popularity outside of Mexico and is now used in a variety of international dishes. It is often used in Italian recipes as a substitute for mozzarella, adding a unique twist to dishes such as pizza and pasta. The mild and buttery flavor of Oaxaca cheese pairs well with a wide range of flavors, making it a versatile ingredient in global cuisine.

As a Standalone Snack

In addition to being used in recipes, Oaxaca cheese can also be enjoyed on its own as a standalone snack. Its mild flavor and stringy texture make it a delicious and satisfying option for a quick and easy snack. Simply slice or tear off a piece of Oaxaca cheese and enjoy it on its own or paired with crackers, fruit, or cured meats.

How to Store and Serve Oaxaca Cheese

Proper storage methods

When it comes to storing Oaxaca cheese, it is important to keep it in the right conditions to maintain its freshness and flavor. The best way to store Oaxaca cheese is to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator. Make sure to keep it away from strong-smelling foods as it can easily absorb odors. If stored properly, Oaxaca cheese can last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Serving suggestions

Oaxaca cheese is a versatile cheese that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is commonly used in Mexican dishes such as quesadillas, tacos, and enchiladas. To serve Oaxaca cheese, you can simply slice it or shred it depending on the recipe. It is also great for melting, so you can use it in grilled cheese sandwiches or as a topping for nachos. Additionally, Oaxaca cheese can be served alongside fresh fruits, nuts, and crackers for a simple and delicious cheese platter.

Pairing recommendations

When it comes to pairing Oaxaca cheese with other foods and beverages, there are several options to consider. Oaxaca cheese pairs well with fresh fruits such as apples, pears, and grapes. It also complements salty meats like prosciutto and chorizo. For beverages, Oaxaca cheese goes well with light-bodied white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. You can also enjoy it with a refreshing Mexican beer or a glass of sparkling water with a splash of lime. Experiment with different pairings to discover your favorite combinations.

Where to Buy Oaxaca Cheese

Local markets in Oaxaca

When visiting Oaxaca, one of the best places to buy authentic Oaxaca cheese is at the local markets. These markets offer a wide variety of cheeses, including the famous Oaxaca cheese, which is perfect for making delicious quesadillas, tlayudas, and other traditional Mexican dishes. Some of the popular markets in Oaxaca where you can find Oaxaca cheese include Mercado Benito Juarez, Mercado 20 de Noviembre, and Mercado de Abastos.

Online retailers

If you’re not able to travel to Oaxaca but still want to enjoy the authentic taste of Oaxaca cheese, you can purchase it from online retailers. There are many online stores that specialize in selling Mexican cheeses, including Oaxaca cheese. By ordering online, you can have Oaxaca cheese delivered right to your doorstep, allowing you to enjoy this delicious cheese no matter where you are located.

Specialty cheese shops

Another option for buying Oaxaca cheese is to visit specialty cheese shops that import authentic Mexican cheeses. These shops often carry a wide selection of Mexican cheeses, including Oaxaca cheese, and can provide you with guidance on how to best enjoy and store this cheese. Some specialty cheese shops also offer cheese tasting events, allowing you to sample different varieties of Oaxaca cheese before making a purchase.


In conclusion, Oaxaca cheese is a versatile and delicious cheese that adds a unique flavor and texture to a variety of dishes. Whether you’re melting it on top of a quesadilla or incorporating it into a salad, this cheese is sure to impress your taste buds. With its rich history and traditional production methods, Oaxaca cheese truly embodies the spirit of Mexican culinary tradition. So next time you’re in the dairy aisle, don’t hesitate to pick up a package of Oaxaca cheese and elevate your cooking to new heights.