Queso Fresco Recipe (no rennet needed)

Today I want to share Queso Fresco recipe, a Mexican fresh cheese that you can make easily at home. You only need a few ingredients to enjoy this delicious cheese that will go wonderful with your favourites Mexican dishes.

This type of cheese is made from raw milk (or store-bought) and there’s no need for rennet because the vinegar and yogurt will do the trick.

Queso fresco on a plate.

What is Queso Fresco?

Mexican fresh cheese is a soft, white cheese with a fluffy and soft texture. It is prepared mainly with cow’s milk and sometimes with a mixture of goat and cow’s milk. The Spanish name for this type of cheese is “Queso fresco”.

It is a dairy product widely used in Mexican cuisine and it accompanies countless dishes; from the classic mexican antojitos to more traditional and elaborate dishes such as enchiladas.

How To Use It

This cheese is perfect for crumbling on top of flautas, taquitos or tostadas. Personally, I love adding it to green mexican spaghetti or on my frijoles de la olla as well.

Is also used in many other main dishes, such as caldo de queso or queso con chile. Whatever you choose, I assure you that it will enhance the flavor of your dishes.

Queso con chile served with de la olla beans.
Queso con chile rojo served with beans.

How to store

This queso fresco recipe last only a few days in the fridge (about 4-5 max). So keep this in mind that when making it. To store it, place the cheese in a glass container preferably and put it in the coldest spot in fridge.

You can also save some whey from the preparation and immerse the cheese on it. This will help to preserve the cheese fresh for another couple of days.

Can you freeze cheese?

Yes. Even though experts will tell you to never freeze fresh cheese (or any other type for that matters). I do it all the time because is the best way for me to storage my homemade queso fresco. So, what I do is to cut the cheese in small portions, then wrap it in parchment paper and place it in the freeze.

Once I’ll need the cheese, I’ll just defrost it in the fridge for a couple of hours before using it.

Queso fresco displayed on cheesecloth

Ingredients for this recipe

  • MILK – Use store-bought whole milk and avoid using low fat milk or any vegetable beverages such as almond milk, soy milk, etc. Even though the best queso fresco recipe comes from unpasteurized milk, truth is, you won’t be able to find it easily, but in case you do, go with it for better results.
  • YOGURT – Greek yogurt gives a nice texture and helps making the curd; but it’s totally optional. If you not adding the yogurt, add one extra tablespoon of vinegar.
  • VINEGAR – White vinegar or apple cider vinegar are a good option.
  • SALT – Any type of salt, I prefer sea salt.

Utensils you’ll need

  • A large pot where you can place 1 gallon (4 liters) of milk or more.
  • A digital thermometer for accurate reading. It can be done also without it, just pay special attention when the milk will be ready to boil.
  • A medium bowl to place the colander over.
  • A medium colander to place the curd to drain off the excess of whey.
  • Cheesecloth. If you don’t have one, also a cotton kitchen cloth or paper kitchen towels works fine.

Queso fresco recipe – Step by Step

Place the milk in a large pot. Heat it until the milk is about to boil, that is, between 178°F to 190°F (80°C and 90°C).

If you do not have a thermometer, you will notice that the milk begins to form some little bubbles around the edges of the pot before boiling, that would be the exact moment that is called “to the point of boiling”.

Milk in a pot with a thermometer.

Turn of the heat and then add the yogurt. Stir for 10-15 seconds and let it sit for 2 minutes.

Adding yogurt to milk to make the cheese

Add half the vinegar and mix again for 10 seconds. Then let it sit for another 2 minutes. Stir in the other half of vinegar and mix slowly for one minute.

Adding vinegar to the pot with milk to make queso fresco

You will notice how the milk has become a curd and has started to separate from the whey. Set aside until it reaches room temperature (about 1 hour).

Queso fresco curd, mixing with a spoon

Line the colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and set it over a large bowl.

Transfer curds to the prepared colander, cover the exposed top with cloth, and allow to drain for about 20 minutes.

Placing cheese onto a cheesecloth

When most of the whey has drained off, lift the edges of the cheesecloth up and twist, wrapping the cheese into a ball; then carefully squeeze off excess whey.

Squeezing the cheese with hands

Place the cheese on a container and add salt to taste. Mix well with a wood spoon but try to not overmix otherwise you’ll end up with cream cheese.

Mixing cheese and salt in a bowl with a spoon

Your queso fresco recipe is done. So, use molds to give it a shape or make it rounded with your hands. You can also use a bowl and place it there. Just try to not press too much or it won’t crumble easily.

Shaping queso fresco using two cheese molds.

Place Queso Fresco in the refrigerator and let it sit for a couple of hours before consuming it. I recommend allowing to rest overnight.

Recipe Notes

  • If it’s the first time you make this Queso Fresco recipe, you might notice that the cheese is a bit creamy (like cream cheese); this may be for several reasons. For example overmixing when seasoning with salt or pressing so hard when shaping.
  • You can omit the yogurt if you want, just add one more tablespoon of vinegar.
  • I’ve noticed that when I don’t let the curds cool completely, the cheese tends to get creamy, so it’s important to let it cool completely if you want a cheese that crumbles well.
  • Making Queso Fresco with the exactly crumbly texture from the store-bought version takes a bit of practice. The first few times it will tend to be creamy, other times it will be a little crumbly (like cottage cheese). The important thing is the taste. So don’t get discouraged and keep trying until you’ll reach the texture you prefer.
  • This queso fresco recipe yields about 1 ½ lb (740 gr) of fresh cheese.

Queso fresco recipe

Queso Fresco recipe is a mexican fresh cheese that you can make easily at home. You only need a few ingredients to enjoy this delicious fresh cheese.
PREP 10 minutes
COOK 10 minutes
resting time 1 hour 20 minutes
TOTAL 1 hour 40 minutes
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 1
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1 gallon ( 4 liters) whole milk
  • cup (80 gr) greek yogurt (optional)
  • cup (160 ml) white vinegar
  • salt

Instructions

  • Heat milk in a large pot over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it registers between 178°F to 190°F (80°C to 90°C) on the thermometer. (see notes)
  • Turn of the heat and then add the yogurt. Stir for 10-15 seconds and let sit for 2 minutes.
  • Add half the vinegar and mix again for 10 seconds. Then let it sit for another 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the other half of vinegar and mix slowly for one minute.
  • You will notice how the milk has become a curd and has started to separate from the whey. Set aside until it reaches room temperature (about 1 hour).
  • Line the colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and set it over a large bowl.
  • Transfer curds to the prepared colander, cover, and allow to drain for about 20 minutes.
  • When most of the whey has drained off, lift the edges of the cheesecloth up and twist, wrapping the cheese into a ball; then carefully squeeze off excess whey.
  • Place the cheese on a container and add salt to taste. Mix well with a wood spoon (don't over mix!).
  • Use molds to give it a shape or make it rounded with your hands. You can also use a bowl and place it there.
  • Place Queso Freso in the refrigerator and let it sit for a couple of hours before consuming it.

NOTES

  • This recipe yields 740 gr (about 1 ½ lb) of fresh cheese.
  • If you do not have a thermometer, you will notice that the milk begins to make little bubbles around the edges of the pot, that would be the exact moment when you need to add yogurt and vinegar.
  • I’ve noticed that when I don’t let the curds cool completely, the cheese tends to get creamy, so it’s important to let it cool completely if you want a cheese that crumbles well.
  • If it’s the first time you make the Queso Fresco recipe, you might notice that the cheese is a bit creamy (like cream cheese); this may be for several reasons. For example overmixing when seasoning with salt or pressing so hard when shaping.
  • You can omit the yogurt if you want, just add one more tablespoon of vinegar.
  • Making Queso Fresco with the exactly crumbly texture from the store-bought version takes a bit of practice. The first few times it will tend to be creamy, other times it will be a little crumbly (like cottage cheese). The important thing is the taste. So don’t get discouraged and keep trying until you’ll reach the texture you prefer.
Nutrition
Calories: 2379kcal | Carbohydrates: 184g | Protein: 126g | Fat: 123g | Saturated Fat: 71g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 31g | Cholesterol: 382mg | Sodium: 1655mg | Potassium: 5094mg | Sugar: 193g | Vitamin A: 6135IU | Calcium: 4361mg | Iron: 1mg
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