Homemade Queso Fresco is one of the simplest recipes I can think of and tastes about a million times better than store-bought queso fresco. It is a soft Mexican fresh cheese with only 3-ingredients and takes less than 20-minutes to cook and has a rich, creamy flavor. Many kinds of cheese are best eaten the same day they are made, ricotta, mozzarella, etc. I used to live upstairs from a cheese shop in Brooklyn that made their own mozzarella, and that cheese eaten the same day vs. days old is no comparison. The flavor difference is like night and day. Same with queso fresco.
I use queso fresco in a lot of Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes. However, not everyone lives in Texas and may not have easy access to purchase it. Thus, my recipe for homemade queso fresco. The second reason for making this recipe is this; last night the CDC issued a warning of possible Listera contamination in some store-bought queso fresco and other ‘fresh’ cheeses. Trust me, you don’t want that particularly nasty foodborne illness.
What’s the Difference between Ricotta, Paneer, and Queso Fresco
Queso Fresco, Ricotta, and the Indian cheese Paneer all have identical recipes, and all have the same ingredients. The only difference is how much moisture is left in the cheese when you serve it. Ricotta is spoonable, queso fresco crumbles, and you can slice paneer. All are much, much better if eaten the same day they are made.
How Much Queso Fresco Does the Recipe Make?
That’s one of my favorite parts of making this cheese. You can make exactly how much you want. The yield is usually around 1:3, the finished product is roughly around 1-cup of queso fresco for every 3 cups of Half & Half that you start with.
Homemade Queso Fresco Ingredients
- Milk or Half & Half: It’s a personal choice. The higher the fat content of the dairy product the richer and creamier the cheese will turn out. I use Half & Half to make queso fresco, ricotta, and paneer cheeses. However, experiment with different dairy products to find the flavor you prefer.
- Acid: I use lemon juice or white vinegar as the agent to begin the curdling process. A little is all it takes to separate the solids (curds) and the liquids (whey). It’s like a little science experiment, your kids will love watching milk turn to cheese in just a matter of moments.
- Salt: This is not a salty cheese, so it only takes a very small amount
Here is my recipe for Homemade Queso Fresco
Homemade Queso Fresco
- Cheese Cloth
- 3 Cups Half & Half
- 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar Or lemon juice
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the half & half and the salt. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring often until it comes to a simmer. Then remove from the heat.
- Add the vinegar or lemon juice and stir, the mixture will curdle and separate into curds and whey.
- Place a piece of cheesecloth into a mesh strainer over a large bowl. Gentle pour the curds into the strainer and let it drain for approximately 15-20 minutes. Discard the liquid.
- Pick up the cheesecloth and twist the top closed tightly. Twist the curds inside the cheesecloth to remove as much of the liquid as possible.
- Use immediately or refrigerate for 1-2 days, no sense making fresh cheese if it's just going to go stale!
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