On the Line / Menu + Food / What is Cotija?

What is Cotija?

What is cotija?

Cotija is a type of Mexican cheese that’s named after the town of Cotija in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. It’s made from cow's milk and is known for its salty, tangy flavor and crumbly texture. It’s often used as a topping for a variety of Mexican dishes, such as tacos, salads, and grilled vegetables.

What does cotija taste like?

Cotija has a pungent, slightly sour aroma and a salty, savory flavor that becomes stronger with age. Cotija cheese is aged for several months, during which time it develops a hard, dry rind and a pale yellow-to-white interior. It has a crumbly texture and is typically used as a topping for a variety of dishes, rather than being eaten on its own. 

What is the history/origin of cotija?

The history of Cotija cheese dates back to the early colonial period in Mexico when cheese-making techniques were introduced to the region by Spanish settlers. The town of Cotija in Michoacán became known for its production of high-quality cheese, and the cheese produced there became known as Cotija cheese.

Today, Cotija cheese is an important component of Mexican cuisine and can be found in many Mexican and Latin American markets, as well as some specialty cheese shops and supermarkets.

How is cotija served? 

Cotija cheese is often used to add flavor and texture to Mexican dishes, such as tacos, salads, and grilled vegetables. It’s also used in the traditional Mexican dish of chilaquiles, in which it is crumbled over a plate of fried corn tortillas and red or green sauce.

How do you make cotija? 

Here are the necessary steps to make cotija cheese:

  1. Begin by heating milk in a large pot over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 85°F.
  2. Add the starter culture and rennet to the milk, stirring gently to combine.
  3. Allow the mixture to sit for about 30 minutes, or until the milk has curdled and formed curds.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, carefully scoop the curds out of the pot and transfer them to a cheesecloth-lined colander.
  5. Tie the cheesecloth into a bundle and hang it over a sink or large bowl to drain for several hours, until the excess whey has drained off.
  6. Once the curds have drained, transfer them to a large bowl and add a pinch of salt. Mix the curds and salt together until they’re well combined.
  7. Press the curds into a cheese mold and allow them to sit at room temperature for several hours until they’ve formed a solid block of cheese.
  8. Once the cheese has formed, transfer it to a cool, dry place to age for several months. As the cheese ages, it will develop a hard, dry rind and a pale yellow-to-white interior.
  9. Once the cheese has aged to your liking, remove it from the mold and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Cotija cheese is a great topping for tacos, salads, chilaquiles, and much more! 

Is this article helpful?

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.