Five Best Oaxaca Cheese Substitutes

Oaxaca cheese is a staple of many Mexican dishes. It comes from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, from which it gets its name.

Oaxaca cheese is a soft cheese with a texture like mozzarella. The production process is even similar to mozzarella—the cheese is stretched into strings, then wrapped into a ball. It has a mild salty taste. Oaxaca cheese melts well and complements other ingredients, which is why it is a popular ingredient in quesadillas, empanadas, and other filled dishes.

Oaxaca cheese is delicious, but it can be hard to find in your local grocery store. If you still want to have Mexican food for dinner, here are some cheeses that work well as substitutes.


As mentioned above, Oaxaca cheese is very similar to mozzarella in terms of texture, taste, and even production process. It makes sense that mozzarella can replace Oaxaca thanks to its similarities. Add shredded mozzarella to your next tostada or top your tacos with it.

Mozzarella has a much higher water content than Oaxaca cheese. To get around this, try to look for low moisture mozzarella in the store. It still might not work as well in quesadillas or other recipes that require melting the cheese.

String Cheese

Most people think of string cheese as a snack, not as an ingredient that can go into a cooking recipe. However, string cheese can work as a replacement for Oaxaca cheese in a pinch. Both cheeses are soft, stringy, and have low melting points. Their mild, salty flavor is also similar.

String cheese is also more readily available than Oaxaca cheese or many of the proposed substitutes. However, most string cheese is heavily processed, and the taste will be more artificial than Oaxaca cheese. The production process also hampers its ability to melt, although it will still work well in a quesadilla.

Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is another Mexican cheese, although this one comes from the state of Monterey instead of Oaxaca. People often compare its mild, salty flavor to Oaxaca cheese, and the similarities in taste are why it is a good substitute. Monterey Jack also melts well, so you can use it as a substitute in empanada fillings, quesadillas, and more.

When buying Monterey Jack, be sure to get the unaged kind if you are searching for an Oaxaca cheese replacement. Aged Monterey Jack has a saltier, more pungent flavor so it will overwhelm the dish.

Asadero Cheese

Asadero cheese is another popular Mexican cheese. It is made in northern Mexico, in the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Michoacán. It is a soft, mildly salty cheese that melts well and grates easily. Traditionally, asadero cheese is used for chiles rellenos and other filled dishes. It can replace Oaxaca cheese in quesadillas and similar dishes.

Asadero is one of the best substitutes for Oaxaca thanks to its similar taste, texture, and even place of origin. However, asadero is even rarer in the United States than the much more popular Oaxaca. If you are looking for a substitute because you can’t find Oaxaca cheese at your local grocery store, you’re not likely to find asadero either.

Muenster Cheese

Muenster cheese is a mild, semi-soft cheese with an orange rind. It was first made in the United States by German immigrants who were trying to replicate a cheese from their native Alsace (a region now in France).

Muenster is soft and melts well, like Oaxaca cheese, so it can go into quesadillas. However, be careful not to get the aged type because it is much more pungent.

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