do mexican restaurants use pasteurized cheese

Do Mexican restaurants use pasteurized cheese? This is the question we intend to find answers to in this article.

The use of pasteurized cheese has been a touchy subject for quite some time, especially when it comes to the subject of dining at restaurants.

If you are wondering what kind of cheese is being served at Mexican restaurants and if they are pasteurized, this article is for you.

So do read on.

Yes, most of the cheese served at Mexican Restaurants is pasteurized. But they are Unpasteurized options you could go for.

What Type Of Cheese Do Mexican Restaurants Use?

types of cheese

A proper starting point when trying to figure out if Mexican restaurants use Pasteurized Cheese or not would be having a deep understanding of the kinds of cheese that are being served at most Mexican Restaurants.

Cheese is an essential part of modern-day cooking, so it comes as no surprise that most Mexican dishes employ the use of different varieties of cheese to make their dishes look and taste a whole lot better.

Aside from the yummy taste, cheese has some much-needed nutrients which are great for everyone’s consumption.

However, pregnant women should avoid unpasteurized cheese.

This is because Unpasteurized cheese is a cheese that still contains a lot of bacteria which can be harmful to an expectant mother.

Note: Cheese made from goat’s milk is a lot easier to digest than cheese made from cow’s milk.

Here are some of the most commonly used cheese variants served at Mexican Restaurants.

Option #1: Queso de Oaxaca

queso de oaxaca cheese

Queso de Oaxaca is a rich creamy cheese variant that gets its name from the city of Oaxaca in Mexico. It is obtained from the milk of a cow and looks a lot like standard Mozzarella string cheese.

The Queso de Oaxaca is known for its sweet but a little salty creamy and buttery flavor that is simply divine.

It tends to melt easily and is used in most Mexican dishes thanks to its rich bundle of taste.

Traditional meals like chiles, rellenos, and quesadillas use the Queso de Oaxaca as stuffing once melted.

Tip: It can also be used as a garnish for some beans, soups, and tostadas.

Is the Queso de Oaxaca Pasteurized?

Yes, the Queso de Oaxaca that is used in most Mexican restaurants is made from pasteurized cow’s milk.

It is, therefore, a pasteurized Cheese.

Option #2: Queso Fresco

queso fresco slice

The Queso Fresco or commonly known as fresh cheese, is another top cheese variant being served in most Mexican restaurants.

It is made from either Cow’s milk or Goat milk and takes only a few days to age.

When it comes to taste and appearance, the Queso Fresco has a rather crumbly but soft feel. It is most times compared to feta cheese as they both share some similarities.

When it comes to taste, the Queso Fresco has a salty or tangy taste that varies.

Most restaurants use Queso Fresco as stuffing. This is because it can be easily melted.

Tip: They are also sprinkled over tasty Mexican bean dishes and tacos.
block of queso fresco

Is Queso Fresco Pasteurized?

When answering the question of is queso at Mexican restaurants pasteurized?

Or is Queso Fresco Pasteurized, the answer is yes. They are made from Pasteurized goat or cow milk.

Tip: Before ordering a particular cheese-based meal at a restaurant, ask if it was pasteurized.  

Option #3: Cotija


Another Mexican cheese that is named after a Mexican town, Cotija cheese, is named after the town of Cotija which is located in Michoacan.

It is a well-known cheese variety that has a more solid texture than both the Queso Fresco and the Queso de Oaxaca.

Cotija cheese also features a strong salty taste which can be great when compared with most Mexican dishes like the antojitos, the bean dishes as well as most Mexican salad dishes.

This cheese variety isn’t known to melt with ease when heated, but it would lose some of that hard texture it is known for.

Is Cotija Cheese Served At Restaurants Pasteurized?

Cotija is a great-tasting cheese variety that is made from raw cow’s milk.

This, therefore, makes it an Unpasteurized cheese variety.

Option #4: Queso Anejo

queso anejo blocks

Queso Anejo is practically aged cheese. It is obtained when you keep Queso Fresco for a few days leading to months.

It shares a few similarities with Cotija, in the sense that the aging done on it has left it rather hard and dry. But it also does have a great taste that is quite wonderful. 

This cheese variety is most times grated and served as a topping for Mexican dishes like Enchiladas.

Is Queso Anejo Served by Mexican Restaurants Pasteurized?

Since it is made from aging Queso Fresco, the Queso Anejo served by most Mexican Restaurants is pasteurized.

Option #5: Queso Chihuahua

The Queso Chihuahua has a rich taste that leaves a buttery feel in the mouth.

It is semi-firm in appearance and can be quite similar to the very popular cheddar cheese

queso chihuahua sliced block

It features a yellow color which can appear pale under certain lighting.

The Queso Chihuahua or Chihuahua cheese is often melted and served as fillings in most Mexican restaurants.

Tip: You can find it in Casarolles, Chiles rellenos and Tamales.

Is Queso Chihuahua Cheese Pasteurized

Queso Chihuahua cheese is made from raw milk initially, which makes it Unpasteurized.

But recently, there has been a lot of Queso Chihuahua cheese being made from pasteurized milk.

Option #5: Monterey Jack

shredded monterey jack

Monterey Jack cheese is a common cheese variant that is served in most Mexican restaurants.

It is made mostly from cow milk and has a similar texture to that of Cheddar cheese. Although, its flavor is a lot less mild than that of Cheddar.

There are two variations of Monterey Jack cheese.

These are the regular Monterey jack cheese that has been left to age for some time, which is called the dry jack, and the slightly peppered version which is called the Pepper spiced Jack.

All in all, the Pepper spiced jack is used in most Mexican Restaurants as a topping for Enchiladas, Rellenos Squares, and Quesadillas.

Is Monterey Jack Cheese Pasteurized?

Monterey Jack cheese is made from Pasteurized cow milk and therefore the cheese itself is pasteurized.

Tip: When shopping for cheese at a grocery store, search for a clear label on its product that states if it is pasteurized or not.

Do Mexican Restaurants Use Pasteurized Cheese?

using pasteurized cheese

So from the little research, we did above, we can see that most of the cheese used by Mexican restaurants is made with pasteurized milk, therefore they are pasteurized.

Popular cheese options used by most Mexican Restaurants, like the Queso Fresco and the Queso de Oaxaca, are clearly pasteurized.

However, you can get unpasteurized cheese from Mexican restaurants too.

If you order meals made with Cotija or the Queso Chihuahua, you might be getting unpasteurized cheese. Discuss with the chef to know the exact type of cheese you are getting.

Tip: You can heat up unpasteurized cheese on a stove for some time to make it a little pasteurized.


So, do Mexican restaurants use pasteurized cheese? And how safe are they?

Well, after reading this article, I’m sure you should be able to answer that with relative ease.

Pasteurized cheese is said to be safer than Unpasteurized cheese.

However, the process of pasteurizing does kill some useful or good bacteria, which further reduces the nutritional value of the Cheese.

If you happen to be at a Mexican restaurant, remember to ask the chef to know what kind of cheese is being used.