Queso Panela - Everything There Is To Know!

Queso Panela – Everything There Is To Know!

If you already love queso cotija, you must also try queso panela. It’s one of the unique cheeses made in Mexico. Queso panela is used in a wide variety of Mexican dishes. If you are not aware of the use of queso panela and its health benefits, substitutes for panela, etc, this article will clear all your doubts regarding this Mexican cheese. Let’s learn more about queso panela.

What Is Queso Panela Cheese?

Queso panela is a versatile Mexican cottage cheese made of pasteurized or skimmed cow’s milk. It is a semi-soft, flexible cheese in white color. However, it will not melt and lost its shape when heated. Queso panela is also famous under other names such as queso canasta or queso de la canasta.

What Is Queso Panela

This fresh cheese has almost a close resemblance to Indian paneer. Panela has a milky flavor. It is mainly served with a part of salad and quesadillas. Fresh panela occupies a similar moisture environment to mozzarella. Queso panela is a highly remarkable Mexican cheese for its different uses in making cuisines.

What Does Queso Panela Cheese Taste Like?

As aforementioned, it has a soft and creamy texture. Most people are consuming panela due to its mild taste. It can be paired with many foods.

One of the distinctive features of panela is, it does not melt like other cheeses. Panela can absorb different flavors. usually, it is sold covered with a pepper or garlic paste.

Where To Buy Panela Cheese?

Panela cheese is available in Mexican grocery stores and markets or you can buy this from the Latin food section. The website of Ubuy is selling cacique panela cheese which is imported from the USA store. Panela cheese is considered one of the most widely used Mexican cheeses. In America, people are using different alternatives to panela cheese. 

What Are The Substitutes For Queso Panela?

As aforementioned, Queso panela is available in most grocery stores in Mexico. But sometimes you may struggle to find the product among other cheeses. In such situations, what would you do? Do you wanna try other alternatives which give a similar taste to your recipes? Here are some of the best alternatives that can replace queso panela. 

  • Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese is an excellent alternative to panela cheese. Ricotta is also made of pasteurized cow’s milk. Ricotta has a close resemblance to panela cheese in soft texture and mild flavor. Ricotta is the best option in many pasta and lasagna recipes.

  • Paneer Cheese
Paneer Cheese

It is an Indian fresh cheese similar to panela. This cheese is mainly used for frying. It is rich in nutrient sources like protein. If you don’t have a panela cheese, paneer can replace this Mexican cheese and gives a similar taste. Paneer clubs well with sandwiches, soups, or curry. Some people are using this cheese in making sweet dessert recipes. You can buy this cheese from Indian or Asian markets.

  • Queso Blanco
Queso Blanco

It is a Mexican cheese used as an alternative to panela. The salty, moist, and spongy flavor makes a delicious alternative for panela. queso Blanco is a better option for garnishing on the top of salads and tostadas. Like queso panela, Blanco doesn’t melt when heated.

Comparatively, young queso Blanco works well with fried or grilled recipes.

  • Cotija Cheese
Cotija Cheese

Cotija cheese can also be used as an alternative to queso panela. But what’s the difference is that cotija is an aged cheese. However, young cotija can replace the panela. Like, panela it has a salty flavor and is easy to crumble by hand. Cotija cheese can be added to fresh salads, soups, or bean dishes. cotija cheese contains more salt than panela cheese. But, you can use the cheese interchangeably in your recipes.

  • Queso Fresco 
Queso Fresco 

Queso fresco is similar tpo cotija cheese. The young queso fresco can replace the panela cheese. Because the young queso fresco has more similarities to panela. The mildly salty, moist, and spongy queso fresco is the best option for making salads and soups.

How Do You Melt Queso Panela Cheese?

As you all know that panela doesn’t melt when heated. Panela is a curd-style cheese and it can easily crumble. If you want melted panela, you can use the oven and keep the panela cheese inside and turn the oven to 190 degrees celsius for 10 minutes. This method helps to soften and melt the cheese completely. 

How Long Does Queso Panela Last?

The homemade queso panela can last up to two to three days. But it should be kept in the refrigerator. Queso panela is sold as frozen cubes. If it’s removed from the fridge, it may spoil after two days. Keep queso panela refrigerated at all times. The unsealed panela can last three days in the fridge.

What Is Queso Panela Cheese Used For?

Panela cheese is mainly used for baking, frying, and garnishing. The sliced panela cheese is added to sandwiches. Queso panela has also a vital role in traditional Mexican hot dishes like soups, vegetables, quesadillas, tacos, and enchiladas. It is also better to eat alone or as a dessert. Mexican people are widely consuming this cheese by adding it to their favorite dishes.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Queso Panela?

What Are The Health Benefits Of Queso Panela

Whenever choosing a cheese, you might be confused about which cheese is good for your health. When it comes to queso panela, you don’t need to be afraid of eating this Mexican cheese. Compared to other Mexican cheeses, queso panela is not exposed to any maturing process.

It contains a high percentage of water. Panela cheese has a lower amount of fat and is rich in nutrient sources like protein and calcium. Doctors suggest that queso panela is a highly recommended cheese that helps to resist hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It is considered one of the best choices for diet and it helps to lose weight.

How To Make Panela Cheese?

Making cheese at home sounds fun and interesting. What if making Mexican cheese sounds like? It will be more delicious and natural. Let’s look at the ingredients and the process of making panela cheese.

How To Make Panela Cheese


Panela cheese doesn’t require many ingredients. Only four ingredients can make delicious Mexican cheese. They are,

  • Milk- (low-fat or skim milk)
  • Nonfat greek yogurt
  • Acid
  • Kosher salt


  • The first step is to create good bacteria by combining the milk and nonfat greek yogurt and setting aside the mixture at room temperature for four hours.
  • In the next step, heat the mixture and stir gently at the bottom of the top. Pour the added vinegar and stir until you see the cheese curds are separating from the mixture.
  • Stir the curds well and transfer them into a colander.
  • Allow the whey to dip through. When it is ready, you can cut it into slices by using a knife.
  • Then transfer it to the bowl and add some salt to the cheese and mix well using your hands. In order to experiment with new flavors, you can add your favorite flavor for a more delicious taste.
  • In the last stage, press the curds into your needed shape and pack them tightly. Envelop the cheese in plastic wrap and top it with a heavy plate.
  • Keep it in a refrigerator for several hours and taste the yummy homemade panela cheese.

Final Words

Queso panela is one of the popular varieties of fresh cheeses such as queso fresco, queso Blanco, Asadero, etc. This Mexican invention changed the standard of Mexican cuisine and it helped to reach wide acclaim among other international cuisines. Enjoy the delicious taste of panela and add this cheese to your favorite list.  

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