What Cheese to Use for Tamales de Rajas? Exploring Mexican Cheeses

tamales de rajas

Mexican cuisine is famous for its rich and flavorful dishes, and tamales de rajas are no exception. But to truly elevate your tamales de rajas game, it’s important to choose the right cheese.

So, what cheese should I use for tamales de rajas? Oaxacan, Monterey Jack, and Queso Fresco cheese are frequently used in this recipe.

Are you looking to make delicious tamales de rajas? If so, then you need to know what cheese to use. This article will explain why the right type of cheese is essential for making Mexican dishes and how to find out which one is best suited for your needs. 

This article will tell you how to find the right cheese for your tamales de rajas, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned chef.

Understanding Mexican Cheeses for Tamales de Rajas

Traditional tamales de rajas are made with Mexican cheeses, which give the dish flavor, texture, and richness. Mexican cheeses come in a wide range of varieties, each with its own unique flavor profile, melting properties, texture, and appearance.

Understanding the different types of Mexican cheeses is key to selecting the right cheese for tamales de rajas.

Mexican cheeses are made from cow’s milk and are typically fresher and crumblier than other types of cheese. They are also less salty than other cheeses and have a mild, tangy flavor. 

Common cheeses used in this dish include Queso Fresco, Monterey Jack, and Oaxacan cheese. Each of these cheeses has its own flavor and texture, so picking the right one for tamales de rajas depends on your personal taste and how you want the dish to taste and feel.

Experimenting with different cheeses can lead to new and delicious flavor combinations.

What Cheese to Use for Tamales de Rajas?

When choosing a cheese for tamales de rajas, it’s important to consider the dish’s desired flavor and texture. Experimenting with different cheeses can lead to new and delicious flavor combinations.

1. Queso Fresco

queso fresco cheese

Queso Fresco, also known as “fresh cheese,” is a type of cheese that is commonly used in Latin American cuisine. It has a mild, salty flavor that can complement the taste of other dishes. The cheese is made from cow’s milk or a combination of cow’s milk and goat’s milk.

Tamales de Rajas are tamales made in the Mexican style and filled with roasted poblano peppers and onions. Queso Fresco cheese goes well with this dish. The tangy and creamy cheese balances out the spicy and savory flavors of the roasted peppers and onions to make a well-balanced and satisfying dish.

2. Queso Blanco

queso blanco

Queso Blanco is a type of cheese that has a mild, slightly nutty flavor and a creamy texture. Unlike other types of cheese, it melts easily when heated, making it an ideal ingredient for use in dishes such as tamales de rajas. 

When melted, queso blanco provides a creamy, smooth texture that can help balance out the spiciness of the rajas peppers. This not only adds to the overall flavor of the dish, but it also helps to create a more enjoyable and well-rounded eating experience.

3. Panela Cheese

queso panela cheese

Panela cheese is a type of cheese that is commonly used in Latin American cuisine. It is a dense, crumbly cheese that is often used to top or decorate dishes, like tamales de rajas.

Panela cheese is a great choice for grating on top of tamales de rajas because it is dense and crumbly. The cheese provides a satisfying crunch that helps to break up the dense texture of the tamale, making it more enjoyable to eat. The cheese’s mild taste also makes it easy to blend with the flavors of the dish, giving each bite a subtle richness and creaminess.

Panela cheese’s mild flavor also means that it won’t overpower the other flavors in the dish, making it a good choice for those who prefer a mild and subtle cheese flavor. The cheese has a slightly sour and slightly salty taste that goes well with the roasted poblano peppers and onions in the filling of tamales de rajas.

4. Asadero Cheese

queso asadero quesadilla

Asadero cheese, also called Oaxaca cheese, is a Mexican cheese that has a unique texture and flavor profile. This cheese is semi-soft, meaning that it is neither too hard nor too soft, and it has a smooth, creamy texture that makes it ideal for melting.

As a result, it is a popular choice for making tamales de rajas, which is a traditional Mexican dish that consists of a corn-based dough filled with seasoned peppers and cheese.

One of the key features of Asadero cheese is its stringy texture. When the cheese is melted, it has a gooey, stringy appearance that adds a unique texture to the dish. This texture is what makes the cheese so well suited for use in tamales de rajas, as it provides a creamy, satisfying mouthfeel that balances out the spiciness of the rajas peppers.

5. Oaxaca Cheese

oaxaca cheese

Oaxaca cheese is a type of Mexican cheese that is long and stringy and has a mild flavor. It is made from a combination of cow’s milk and sometimes a small amount of sheep’s or goat’s milk, which gives it a unique flavor profile that is similar to mozzarella cheese. This cheese is known for its ability to stretch and stretch easily, which makes it an ideal cheese for wrapping around the filling of tamales de rajas.

When heated, the cheese becomes soft and pliable, making it easy to stretch into long, stringy strands. This is why Oaxaca cheese is often referred to as “quesillo,” which means “little rope” in Spanish. The cheese’s ability to stretch makes it perfect for wrapping around the filling of tamales de rajas. This gives the spicy peppers a creamy and flavorful contrast.

In addition to its use in tamales de rajas, Oaxaca cheese is also popular for use in a variety of other Mexican dishes, such as quesadillas, tacos, and burritos. It is also often used as a topping for soups and salads and as a filling for sandwiches and other dishes. Its mild flavor and stringy texture make it a versatile cheese that can be used in a wide range of dishes.

What Is the Secret to Moist Tamales?

Tamales are a staple in Mexican cuisine, and the key to a great tamale is moist and flavorful masa, the dough that wraps around the filling. One of the secrets to achieving this is not being shy about adding fat to the dough. In Mexico, lard is the traditional fat used to make the masa for tamales, but there are alternatives for those who prefer not to use it.

Lard is a popular ingredient in many traditional Mexican dishes, and its high fat content is what makes it ideal for use in tamale dough. The fat in the lard helps to keep the tamales moist and gives the masa a rich, creamy texture. 

It also gives the tamale a hint of pork flavor that goes well with the filling and spices. When used in the right amount, lard can be a key ingredient in making delicious tamales.


If you do not want to use lard, you can opt for a vegetarian version by using shortening or softened butter. Shortening is a vegetable-based fat that is similar in texture and flavor to lard. It is a great alternative for those who prefer not to use animal products, and it provides the same moistness and richness to the dough as lard does. 

Softened butter can also be used, but it does not have the same high fat content as lard or shortening, so it may not provide the same level of moistness.

Do You Eat Tamales with Sauce?

Tamales are often served with different toppings that give the dish more flavor and texture. Ranchero sauce, guacamole, and sour cream are just a few examples of the many toppings that can be used with tamales. However, the most popular condiment of all is the traditional red chili sauce.

The red chili sauce, also known as “salsa roja,” is made from a blend of dried chili peppers, garlic, onion, and spices. It is a staple of Mexican cuisine and is used to add heat and flavor to a wide range of dishes, including tamales. The typical method of making the sauce involves rehydrating dried chili peppers and blending them with other ingredients to produce a smooth and flavorful sauce.

When serving tamales, the red chili sauce is often spooned over the top of the tamale, adding both flavor and moisture to the dish. It can also be used as a dipping sauce, allowing diners to control the amount of heat and flavor they add to their tamale. 

Some people also like to spread a small amount of the sauce inside the tamale, mixing it into the masa and filling for a more intense flavor.


Take note that the red chili sauce is not to be confused with ranchero sauce, which is a thicker sauce made from tomatoes, chilies, and other ingredients. While ranchero sauce can also be used with tamales, it is not as commonly used as the traditional red chili sauce.


In the end, tamales de rajas are a tasty Mexican dish that tastes even better when the right cheese is added. There are many different kinds of Mexican cheese, and each has its own flavor, way of melting, texture, and look. Queso Fresco, Queso Blanco, Panela, Asadero, and Oaxaca are some of the cheeses that are most often used in tamales de rajas.

When choosing a cheese for tamales de rajas, you should think about the flavor and texture you want. Experimenting with different cheeses can lead to new and exciting flavor combinations. No matter what kind of cheese you use, adding it to tamales de rajas will take the dish to the next level. It will add a creamy, delicious element that goes well with the heat and spice of the rajas peppers.

Similar Posts