Mexican cheese blend is typically a mixture of different melting cheeses that originate in Mexico. The most common cheeses used in Mexican cheese blends are Oaxaca, Asadero, Chihuahua, and Queso Quesadilla. These cheeses all have a similar melting quality that makes them perfect for blending together in Mexican recipes.
What is Mexican Cheese Blend?
Mexican cheese blend goes by many names – Mexican melting cheese, Tex-Mex cheese, Queso Blend, etc. But they all refer to the same thing – a mixture of cheeses that melt smoothly and are commonly used in Mexican cuisine. The exact blend can vary, but it typically contains some combination of the following cheeses:
- Oaxaca Cheese – A white, semi-soft pulling cheese from Oaxaca, Mexico. It has a mild, creamy flavor that melts well.
- Asadero Cheese – A white, semi-soft cheese from Northern Mexico. It has a subtle buttery flavor and melts smoothly.
- Chihuahua Cheese – A pale yellow, mild cheese originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. It has a soft, creamy texture when melted.
- Queso Quesadilla – A generic term for cheese used in quesadillas. Usually a mild, white melting cheese.
- Monterey Jack – A white American cheese with a mild flavor. Often added to Mexican blends for its excellent melting properties.
- Cheddar Cheese – An orange cheese that adds bold flavor. Aged cheddars are sometimes blended with milder cheeses.
The goal of blending these cheeses is to create a cohesive melting cheese layer with a balance of flavor and textures. Oaxaca and Asadero give the blend its signature stretchiness. Chihuahua and Queso Quesadilla contribute creaminess and smooth melting. Monterey Jack brings meltability. While aged Cheddar gives a tangy, sharp flavor contrast.
Common Uses for Mexican Cheese Blend
Here are some of the most popular ways that Mexican cheese blend is used:
- Quesadillas – Flour or corn tortillas filled with cheese are griddled or grilled to create quesadillas. The cheese blend melts to a stretchy, creamy consistency.
- Queso dip – Cheese dips and sauces rely on the smooth melting quality of Mexican cheese blends. Often other ingredients like tomatoes or chiles are added.
- Enchiladas – A filling of meat or other ingredients is rolled up in corn tortillas and baked with melted cheese on top.
- Chilaquiles – Fried tortilla chips are simmered in salsa and finished with melted cheese on top.
- Tacos – Ground beef, chicken, or other taco fillings get topped with shredded Mexican cheese blend.
- Nachos – Cheese sauce and shredded cheese are essential for gooey, loaded nachos.
- Empanadas – Savory pastry pockets are filled with ingredients like seasoned ground beef, beans, or chicken and baked with melted cheese.
Mexican cheese blends are the ideal choice for any dish where you want thick, creamy melted cheese with a bit of stretch. Their ability to melt smoothly without separating makes them perfect for drizzling, dipping, filling, or topping.
Where to Find Mexican Cheese Blend
There are a few options for finding authentic Mexican cheese blends:
- Latin American markets – Look for brands like Cacique or El Mexicano in the refrigerated section.
- Online – Several brands sell Mexican cheese blends online to ship nationwide.
- Make your own – Purchase individual cheeses like Oaxaca and Asadero and blend them yourself.
- Substitute – Monterey Jack or a “Tex-Mex” blend can substitute in most recipes.
Pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend is convenient to buy. But for the best melting and stretching, shred blocks of cheese yourself. The anti-caking agents on pre-shredded cheese can inhibit proper melting. Look for natural cheese without added starches or cellulose.
How to Cook With Mexican Cheese Blend
Working with Mexican cheese blends takes some technique to get that perfect melted consistency:
- Shred cheese from a block rather than using pre-shredded. It will melt more smoothly.
- Add shredded cheese to hot dishes so it can melt from the residual heat.
- Stir melted cheese sauce frequently so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
- Use medium-low heat to gently melt cheese and prevent separation.
- Add a teaspoon of cornstarch or flour if your cheese sauce won’t thicken up.
- For quesadillas, spread shredded cheese on a tortilla and griddle over medium heat until melted.
Oaxaca and Asadero give fantastic stretching capacity to cheese blends. To achieve those long, elastic strands, whip, whisk, or twirl your knife through the melted cheese.
How to Store Mexican Cheese Blend
To maintain optimal freshness and texture:
- Keep cheese tightly wrapped at all times.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Freeze shredded cheese in an airtight container for 2-3 months.
- Thaw frozen cheese overnight in the refrigerator before using.
- If cheese develops mold, trim off at least 1 inch around the mold.
- Avoid freezing cheese blends with Monterey Jack, as they tend to separate when thawed.
Types of Cheeses Found in Mexican Cheese Blends
Oaxaca, also called quesillo, is a white braided pulling cheese from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. It has a soft, stretchy texture when melted. The taste is mild and tangy. Oaxaca is essential for quesadillas, melting well with just a bit of salty flavor.
Asadero comes from northern Mexico states like Chihuahua. It has a smooth, creamy taste when melted. Asadero cheese strings and stretches well, making it perfect for queso dips and sauces.
Named after Mexico’s Chihuahua state, this pale yellow cheese has a mild, buttery flavor. Chihuahua melts well into a smooth, creamy consistency. It’s often used for chile con queso dip.
Queso quesadilla simply translates to “quesadilla cheese.” It’s a Mexican cheese made for melting that’s mild and fresh in flavor. You’ll find it pre-shredded in many Mexican cheese blends.
Monterey Jack Cheese
While Monterey Jack originated in California, it’s commonly incorporated into Mexican cheese blends. It melts easily without separating. Monterey Jack brings a creamy, buttery component to the blend.
Aged orange cheddar provides a sharper, tangy flavor contrast to otherwise mild melting cheeses. Just a bit of cheddar in the blend enhances the complexity.
How to Substitute for Mexican Cheese Blend
Don’t have an authentic Mexican cheese blend? Here are some good substitutes:
- Monterey Jack – Melts well and has a neutral flavor.
- Colby Jack – Also melts smoothly, with an extra tang.
- “Tex-Mex” Blend – Contains American cheeses like cheddar and Colby.
- Provolone – Melts into stretchy strings with a mild, milky taste.
- Mozzarella – Excellent melted texture but lacks flavor complexity.
- Cheddar-Jack Blend – The most commonly available supermarket blend.
While you won’t get the exact same flavors, any cheese labeled as melting, quesadilla, Tex-Mex, or Mexican-style blend will work well in cooked recipes that call for Mexican cheese blend.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Mexican cheese blend real cheese?
Authentic Mexican cheese blends are made from real cheeses like Oaxaca, Asadero, and Chihuahua. Always check the ingredients list and avoid products with added starches, gums, or fillers. Real cheese should only contain milk, enzymes, and salt.
What is the white cheese used in Mexican restaurants?
The stretchy white cheese often used for dipping sauces and drizzling on dishes is typically a melted Mexican cheese blend. Queso blanco or queso fresco are fresh white cheeses, but they don’t melt in the same way.
Is Oaxaca cheese the same as mozzarella?
Oaxaca and mozzarella have some similarities, like their white color and stretchy melted texture. But they are made from different types of milk and processes. Oaxaca has a saltier, more robust flavor compared to mild tasting mozzarella.
Why does my Mexican cheese not melt properly?
Pre-shredded Mexican cheese blends often contain additives that inhibit smooth melting. For the best results, shred blocks of cheese yourself. Low-quality cheeses with more fillers are also more likely to separate or become greasy when melted.
Can I freeze Mexican cheese blend?
Yes, shredded Mexican cheese blend can be frozen in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Cheese with higher moisture like Monterey Jack may separate after freezing.
Mexican cheese blend is a versatile, melty mixture perfect for tacos, quesadillas, dips, and more. Authentic blends contain Oaxaca, Asadero, Chihuahua, and other Mexican-style cheeses. Look for cheese made from all-natural ingredients without additives for optimum melting and stretching. With its creamy melted texture and tangy flavor, Mexican cheese blend is the ideal topping for all your Mexican-inspired recipes.