Queso Blanco is an easy to make, fresh, mild, crumbly Mexican cheese. It’s great on salads, chili and Mexican dishes. It doesn’t melt well so it works well on hot foods when you want the cheese to hold it’s shape. This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Mary Karlin’s Artisan Cheesemaking at Home.
If you want to make your queso blanco a little fancier, you can marinade it in olive oil, herbs, and spices. This will add a nice flavor and also better preserve it.
- 1 gallon pasteurized whole cow’s milk
- About ⅓ cup distilled white vinegar (can use cider vinegar too but may impart a cidery flavor)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal brand)
- (Optional) 1 pint quality extra virgin olive oil
- (Optional) Herbs and spices of your choice (I used a few bay leafs and whole black peppercorns)
- Thermometer capable of reading 195° F
- Nonreactive, heavy bottom 6 quart pot (5 quart pot can be used if careful) and cover
- 4 sq ft butter muslin
- Strainer or colander (non-reactive if reusing whey)
- Bowl for catching whey if reusing whey
- Rubber gloves
- (Optional) Quart-sized mason jar for marinading cheese
- (Optional) Plastic, grape tomato container like this one:
- Let milk sit out of fridge one hour prior to bring it up to room temp
- Sterilize pot, thermometer, and strainer and bowl (if reusing whey)
- Heat the milk in pot over medium heat to 195°F. Stir now and then to prevent scorched milk. It should take about 50 minutes to get to temperature. Turn off heat.
- Stir in ⅓ cup vinegar using a whisk. Cover pot and remove from the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes to coagulate. Here’s why the milk coagulates, if interested. It should then look something like this:
- Peek through the curds. If the whey is cloudy or there are lots of real small curd bits in the whey, add vinegar teaspoon by teaspoon to fully coagulate the curds. Be careful though, it’s easy to add too much and get a vinegary taste in the final cheese.
- Line a strainer/colander with a layer of clean, damp butter muslin. Place strainer/colander over bowl or sink. Gently ladle the curds in with slotted spoon. If the slots get clogged up you can use the side of the pot to help drain out excess whey from each scoop. After transferred, let the curds drain for 5 minutes.
- Distribute half the salt over the curds and gently toss with your hands to incorporate. Add the rest of the salt and toss again. Wear rubber gloves, those curds will be hot! Be gentle and try not to mash the curds.
- Tie two opposite corners of the butter muslin into a knot. Do the same with the other two corners to make a little hobo draining sack. I hung mine on my sink to continue draining. You can also use a long wooden spoon or something similar to drain over the bowl. Let the curds drain for 1 hour, or until the whey has stopped dripping. My curds stopped dripping after about 45 minutes.
- Remove curds from the cheese cloth. Taste. Add a pinch or two more salt if you’d like. Store in an airtight container or saran wrap. They should keep in the fridge for a week or two. I had some of mine a week later and they still tasted good!
- (Optional) Marinade your queso blanco in olive oil and herbs. Get the curds into cube form first by laying them in a butter muslin-lined tomato container. Fold muslin over top. Put a couple pounds of weight on top and let sit for an hour. Then, gently slice the loaf into cubes and place in mason jar. Add olive oil, herbs, and spices.
I was pretty happy with how this queso blanco turned out, especially since it was my first homemade cheese. Side note: I actually did end up scorching the milk pretty bad but I couldn’t taste it at all in the cheese.
I think I ended up scorching it because the pot I used did not have a heavy bottom. I think having a heavy bottom pot (or warming the milk really really really slowly) would have prevented this from happening.
Anyways, let me know how yours turned out and what you’d do differently next time!
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