Chihuahua cheese is an authentic Mexican cheese that originated in the Chihuahua region of Mexico, hence the name. It is also known as queso menonita because it was first made by Mennonite farmers. It’s a young cheese, meaning it’s aged for three to six months.
It is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk and has a taste similar to cheddar or monterey jack cheese. It tastes slightly sour, salty, and mild. It’s also a good cooking cheese because it holds together when exposed to heat, so it melts nicely.
If you don’t have any chihuahua cheese available to you and you are still wanting to emulate the flavor, worry not. Several other cheeses make for an adequate chihuahua cheese replacement, such as mozzarella, mild cheddar, Monterey Jack, Oaxaca, and muenster cheese.
1. Mozzarella Cheese
Mozzarella is a lightly flavored cow’s milk cheese. You can find it at the grocery store in two forms. Mozzarella cheese can come in soft blocks or shredded in bags. Usually, shredded cheese comes in resealable bags which makes it very convenient to store in the fridge.
It is best known as a cheese that’s perfect for pizza. When substituting for chihuahua cheese, mozzarella is perfect for enchiladas or chili. It melts evenly and creates a perfect layer of stretchy cheese for flavor. Mozzarella is also similar to a few other types of cheese, so if you can’t find any for some reason, there are some other options.
2. Mild Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar cheese got its name because it’s created from a process called “cheddaring.” Cheesemakers will add rennet to the cow’s milk to make curds, then the curds are cut into slabs. These slabs will be stacked and turned numerous times. The process of cheddaring helps to eliminate moisture and acidify the cheese curd.
In terms of flavor, cheddar is the most similar to chihuahua cheese. It is slightly sweet and becomes more tangy as it ages. Like chihuahua, cheddar cheese is usually aged for anywhere from three to six months.
Sharp cheddar doesn’t melt as well as mild cheddar, so for melting purposes be sure to opt for mild cheddar cheese. When using mild cheese, it melts wonderfully and is a perfect chihuahua substitute for quesadillas. Cheddar is also one of the most readily available cheeses in American grocery stores.
3. Monterey Jack Cheese
Monterey Jack is a semi-hard cheese that originated in California. It was first produced in the 18th century and commercially sold by a man named David Jacks, who named it after himself. It is widely available in stores and its price is comparable to that of cheddar cheese.
There are many variations of Monterey Jack cheese, like Colby Jack and Cheddar Jack. Monterey Jack cheese is the hardest cheese of these chihuahua cheese substitutes, so it has the highest melting point. This makes it ideal for Queso Frito, which means “fried cheese” in Spanish.
For Queso Frito, chunks of cheese are breaded and deep fried, like mozzarella sticks. Hard cheese also crumbles better than soft cheese. So, for any dish that calls for queso chihuahua crumbles, substitute any type of Monterey Jack cheese. Should you be unable to find Monterey Jack, plenty of other cheeses are very similar.
4. Oaxaca Cheese
Oaxaca is also called quesillo and is a semi-hard white cheese. It originated in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Sometimes oaxaca cheese is also produced in the northern region of Chihuahua, where it is known as queso asadero. The texture of oaxaca is similar to string cheese and its flavor is most comparable to Monterey Jack.
It’s perfect for crumbling on top of dishes like tacos and nachos. It also melts perfectly so it can work well in stuffed pepper dishes. It’s easy to find in most southern states, but many places also have authentic Mexican shops. When shopping for it, just remember that oaxaca cheese and queso asadero are the same thing.
5. Muenster Cheese
Muenster cheese is usually served as an appetizer, so it’s great for substituting chihuahua cheese in appetizer dishes. When melted, it has a nice creamy consistency so it’s perfect for nachos or queso dip. It’s easy to find in American grocery stores, but most likely you’ll find it in blocks and not pre-shredded.
If you don’t have any chihuahua cheese available to you and a recipe calls for it, you’re not out of options. There are plenty of viable replacements for chihuahua cheese that have similar tastes and textures. Some are better for melting than others, so pick the substitutes that best suit your needs and enjoy!