Making Cheese at Home: Queso Fresco

Queso fresco, meaning fresh cheese, is a great addition to your homemade recipe repertoire. Fundamentally, queso fresco is curdled milk – but don’t let that be a deterrent to using or making this versatile cheese. Its mild flavor complements spicy Mexican dishes, like enchiladas and burritos, but also provides a great accent to salads and soups. Queso fresco does not melt, causing it to keep its shape when heated.

You may experience a little déjà vu with this recipe, as making queso fresco is very similar to preparing three-ingredient ricotta. What’s the difference? Double the milk plus a step on shaping into a disk.

Tools You’ll Need

  • Large saucepan
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Whisk
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large fine-meshed sieve
  • Cheesecloth
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Slotted spoon
  • Small plate
  • 1 can to press cheese (can be a can of vegetables, beans, tomato sauce… whatever you have on hand)


  • 1 gallon of whole milk (do not use UHT labeled milk)
  • 1/3 cup of lime juice or 1/3 cup distilled vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of salt


  1. Heat the milk. In a large saucepan, heat the milk slowly over medium-heat until milk reaches 200⁰F. Milk will be steaming and foaming but do not boil. Be sure to whisk often to prevent burning.
  2. Add the acid and salt. Remove from heat. Add your acid of choice – lime juice or vinegar. Add salt. Pillowy curds will start floating to the top – that’s a sign of success!
  3. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes. Patience is a virtue. The curds and whey will continue to separate. If the milk does not separate fully, add another tablespoon of lime juice or vinegar and wait a few more minutes.
  4. Strain with cheesecloth. Line a large fine-meshed sieve with cheesecloth and set on top of a bowl. With your slotted spoon, gently remove the curds from your saucepan and nestle them in the cheesecloth. Gently pour remaining curds as needed. Let the queso fresco drain until the curds stop dripping whey.
  5. Shape curds into a disc. Simply shape into a disc, wrap tightly with cheesecloth, place a plate on top then add a can from your pantry to weigh it down. Press cheese for 15 minutes to one hour.

How to Serve Queso Fresco

Queso fresco can be grated, crumbled or cut into cubes. Top soups, salads, casseroles or mix with fresh herbs, like basil. You can even try it crumbled over this Homemade Blue Corn Blinis with Maple-Chile Braised Pork Belly and Cilantro recipe.

Looking for more #DairyAmazing recipes to pair with your homemade queso fresco? Find more recipe inspiration here.

By Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Sarah is a registered dietitian nutritionist and foodie. She has a special interest in sports nutrition and is certified in food allergy training. When she isn't working, you can find her in the kitchen baking delicious cakes and beautiful pies. Learn more about Sarah

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