Both Cotija and Feta cheese act as a catalyst for the dishes. They don’t change their appearance much but work to make any food tastier and mouthwatering.
A big plus is that you can even include them in your low-carb meals. It’s one of the reasons why these cheeses are better than the others.
They do ensure a delightful experience but differently. The cheeses have this quality that makes them simultaneously both- the same and different. So, to stop you from getting confused, we thought to shed some light on the difference between Cotija vs Feta.
Let’s jump into the details.
A Brief About Cotija Cheese
Named after Cotija Michoacan, it’s one of the Mexican cheeses. Cotija can be aged between 3 to 12 months. While the fresh cheese has a soft texture, the older is hard.
What Does Cotija Cheese Taste Like?
Cotija cheese is considered slightly saltier than other variations. That said, its taste varies based on age. Younger ones are creamier and milder with hints of fresh milk. On the other hand, the aged one’s taste is sharper, tangier, and nuttier.
The flavor of such cheese is also similar to Feta when young, or parmesan when old. Some variations can also have fruity and buttery notes.
What Is Cotija Cheese Made Of?
Cotija cheese is primarily made of raw milk of cow and/or goat. The milk is either heated to 154°F or boiled at 199°F for 30 minutes. After it’s cooled down at 95°F-it’s mixed with lactic acid bacteria that help produce energy and annatto which is a natural coloring ingredient.
Later, animal rennet is added to curdle the milk for around 40 minutes. The curd is then stored until the whey is completely drained and salted. When the cheese becomes ready, the cheese finally molded into a shape– mainly round.
Cotija Cheese Uses
Since the cheese doesn’t melt but soften when heated, you may not want to use it as the main ingredient. Instead, you can enhance the flavor of your dishes with this cheese. It would be perfect if grated atop the food and used as a topping. Let’s see some uses of Cotija Cheese.
Esquites And Elotes
Grilled corn on or off the cob, spread with mayonnaise or sour cream, and topped with finely-grated fresh Cotija, Tajín seasoning, ancho chili powder, cilantro, and lime juice.
Tacos And Quesadillas
Warm the tortillas and fill them with vegetables, meat, chopped cilantro, and melting cheese- such as mozzarella, cheddar, Oaxaca, or Queso Chihuahua. For quesadillas, fold them closed and fry in the butter or oil. Lastly, top them with aged Cotija that would give them an extra saltiness.
If it’s pizza, top the base with mozzarella and/or cheddar cheese, meat, veggies, spices, and lastly Cotija cheese. Then, bake it in your oven.
Also read: Get a good quality pizza peel for ooni koda.
For pasta, cook the spaghetti at first and heat the mixture of heavy whipping cream or buttermilk, garlic, and chili pepper at a low flame. After the mix is prepped, add Cotija cheese and blend it well. Add the spaghetti on top of the cream mixture and season with pepper.
Cotija cheese can also be used with the burger. All you have to do is, combine the cheese with ground beef, hot sauce, and taco seasoning. Form it into a patty and cook it. Add the patty between the burger buns and top the patty with lettuce, fresh Pico de Gallo, and smashed avocado.
Here’s a good post If you’re interested in more about burger meat mallet alternatives to flatten out thick cuts of meat.
Condiments, Soups, And Stews
Top the crumbled cheese over black bean soup that would make it cheesier and tangier. You can do the same with condiments, guacamole, and moles and serve them with the main course.
Grate the cheese atop crispy tostadas with refried beans, chopped tomato, avocado, salsa, and sliced lettuce.
Benefits Of Using Cotija Cheese
Toppings And Flavors
Cotija cheese would be ideal if used as toppings. If you grate the fresh ones atop the food, you get fluffier flakes than the aged ones. While the young ones would give you strong notes of creaminess, the latter would be nuttier and earthier. Despite differences in taste, both can make your dishes rich in flavors.
Cotija has a very low amount of carbohydrates. So, it would be ideal for your low-carb diet. You can have the cubes as a snack or top them over your salad to make it more flavorful.
Because the cheese is made of goat and cow milk, it naturally has a good amount of nutrients. With every 100g portion, it contains 40% of protein. Also, this can help fuel your energy.
Such a portion also has around 62% of Calcium. This can be helpful to keep the bones strong and healthy.
Moreover, there’s around 25% of vitamin A and 3% of potassium which ensure the interiors of your body function well.
Promote Healthy Gut
Cotija cheese contains lactic acid bacteria that help create probiotics. These work to make the gut healthy. Not just that, the probiotics can also make your body prevent diarrhea, constipation, and other related inflammations.
A Brief About Feta Cheese
The term Feta means slice in Greek. It comes from the same origin. As the name suggests, such cheese is typically made in slices or blocks. It’s a soft, pickled cheese and is mostly available in brine. If unopened, the cheese can last up to 3 months. It can reduce down to a week once you open it.
What Does Feta Cheese Taste Like?
The most recognizable characteristics of Feta cheese are that it’s tangy, creamy, and slightly salty. It might sometimes have a citrus aftertaste. However, it’s mostly mild. Just like almost all cheese, the flavor of Feta becomes more peppery and stronger as it ages.
Its taste also varies based on the milk used in the making. If it’s of sheep, then the cheese would be more rich, buttery, and bolder. And if it’s of cow, then it would be milder and a bit sour.
What Is Feta Cheese Made Of?
The Feta cheese is mostly made from 100% sheep’s milk. However, some versions have a mix of 70% of sheep’s and 30% of goat’s milk.
It’s heated to 86°F. As soon as it reaches the temp, Feta culture is mixed with the milk. Then it’s stored for around an hour to be ripened.
After that, rennet is added to the cool filtered water and then stirred into milk. It’s set overnight so that milk curds turn solid and get separated from the whey.
The whey is removed while the curds are cut into Feta cubes. They are left to be set for 10 minutes undisturbed and then are stirred again for 20 minutes. Next, the curds are stored in a colander lined with cheesecloths at 68-72°F. After 4 to 6 hours, the cubes are removed from there, sliced again, slightly salted, and kept in a plastic or wooden container for aging. For strong Feta flavors, the cubes are stored in a container that has a liquid salty brine for a month.
Feta Cheese Uses
Feta cheese can’t be melted if it’s heated. Instead, the cheese will soften which makes it great as toppings. Since it has a rich flavor, you can have the cube by itself too.
Mix a small pumpkin, cooked chickpeas, and radicchio (without the leaves and roots). Add virgin oil, salt, and pepper. Lastly, top the mixture with Feta flakes. You can pair the cheese with both- veg and fruit salad.
Bake the pizza until golden and crispy. After that, top it with cooked meat, olives, onions, chopped tomatoes, and lastly grated Feta. Adding raw veggies over the Feta can also give it a unique flavor.
Bread And Crostini
Grilled Feta slices would pair best with bread and crostini. The soft and toasty flavor makes the dish more appetizing. Just make sure the cheese has golden grill marks. That’s how you would know it’s ready to go with the dish.
Meat, Poultry, And Fish
Feta cheese would be a great addition to fish, meat, and chicken. Fish naturally has a note of saltiness. So, when you combine it with Feta, the dish would be enhanced with full of flavors. It would be great if paired with salmon. When cooked, the salmon would get milder in taste, but the cheese will bring tangy boldness to the fish.
If you’re making pasta, then combine the cheese with garlic, chickpeas, lemon, and olive oil. This combination would make the dish absolutely delish with a tangy surprise. Of course, the pasta can have other ingredients according to your preference.
Add Feta to the Mediterranean-style omelet for the final touch. If you want to make it tastier, then combine the cheese with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach.
The cheese doesn’t always have to be paired with salty and savory items. You can drizzle some honey over the blocks and make it a single dish. The sweet, salty, and tangy flavor would give the dish an ideal balance and make each bite delectable.
Benefits Of Using Feta Cheese
Pairings And Flavors
You can grate it atop the dish. Slice it over bread or use it individually with honey on top. The salt and tangy flavor of the cheese can make any dish delightful- be it savory or sweet.
Low-Fat And Carb
You can have Feta cheese and live a healthy life. Typically, the cheese has a lower amount of fat and carb contents. So, you can add it to your keto diet. The big plus is that- it can turn any boring food into something interesting.
Feta cheese has a good amount of calcium and protein since it’s made out of milk. Having these nutrients can help provide energy to your body and make the bones stronger.
It also has 13% of thiamin or Vitamin B1 per 100g that would contribute to a healthy nervous system. With 6% niacin or Vitamin B3, the consumption can help convert fats into energy.
One noticeable factor is that- it has 4% iron. Although low, it can work to maintain healthy blood to some extent.
Promote Healthy Gut
Feta cheese has probiotics as well. Since it’s a good bacterium, it can support your immune system and promote a healthier gut.
Feta vs Cotija : Head To Head Comparison
Cotija is a Mexican cheese and is named after the town Cotija, Michoacán. Its Mexican roots may not be easily identifiable since its taste is almost similar to Parmesan.
And, Feta comes from Greece where the term ‘Feta’ means slice in Greek. Its distinct Mediterranean flavors make it easy to identify its roots.
The milk used in cheese production is what makes Cotija different from Feta. While Cotija uses cow’s and/or goat’s milk, Feta is made with either pure sheep’s milk or a mix of sheep and goat milk with 70:30 ratios.
Cotija cheese is aged between 3 to 12 months. There are two versions available when it comes to such cheese. Tajo is aged for a shorter period and Cotija de Montana can last up to 12 months.
Feta cheese doesn’t last long. As long as it’s unopened, the cheese can be aged for 3 months. But, once you open the packaging, it remains good for 4 to 7 days.
Cotija cheese has different textures depending on the age. Tajo being young, has a soft, crumbly-like texture. And Cotija de Montana, being old, has a dry, hard, and grainy texture.
Feta cheese has higher moisture content when compared to Cotija since it’s cured and sold in brine. The texture can change from soft to slightly hard as it ages.
Cotija is mainly saltier than Feta. If you have the cheese alone, it would give you the notes of milky flavor. There might also be some hints of fruity and buttery. As the cheese ages, the taste can become sharper. It might be a bit tangy and mostly nutty.
If we talk about Feta, it’s always considered a tangy cheese, be it young or old. And just like the other one, the taste gets sharper and tangier as time passes. Some of the Feta can have a mild citrus aftertaste.
The price of the cheese can go up or down depending on the availability and supply. Feta is comparatively more available than the other. Hence, it would be easier to find in any local grocery store. Because it comes with a deeper market, it would be more budget-friendly.
Meanwhile, a pound of Cotija cheese can cost 4 times more than that of Feta.
The protein and calcium level of Cotija is higher than Feta. The cheese also has a higher amount of potassium and Vitamin A. So, Cotija can be a good source of these nutrients. Then again, it has more fat contents. So, you may not want to include it in any non-fat or low-fat diet. However, this can be an ideal addition to low-carb meals.
On the other hand, Feta has a lower amount of both fat and carb. So, if you want, you can add it to your keto diet. The cheese has a fair amount of protein and calcium. You would also get some iron, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin B3 from the Feta. All these nutrients would benefit you differently.
You can check and compare the nutritional values here-
Contents Per 100g
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Make Cotija With Sheep’s Milk?
No. Cotija can only be made with cow’s or goat’s milk. You can also mix both kinds to make the cheese. If you have sheep’s milk, you can make Feta with that.
Generally, sheep’s milk gives the cheese a distinct tangy flavor, and Feta is known for that particular taste. Meanwhile, Cotija isn’t a tangy but salty and milky flavor. You need cow’s milk, or a combination of cow’s and goat’s milk to make it taste like Cotija.
And if you’re making Feta, then do use at least 45 to 70% sheep milk.
Can You Substitute Cotija With Feta?
Yes. Young Cotija cheese can be substituted with Feta since their texture and flavor are somewhat similar. One big plus of Feta is that- you can easily find the cheese in the market. Not just that, it’s considered a better low-fat option than Cotija.
Feta has a soft and crumbly texture just like young Cotija. Although, it may have a little tangy note.
However, the trick wouldn’t work if you’re planning to substitute older Cotija with Feta. It’s because such cheese would be drier in texture while Feta is mostly moist. You would need Romano or Parmesan if you’re looking for something similar.
Are There Any Similarities Between Cotija And Feta?
Yes, both Feta and Cotija cheese have some similarities. For instance, if you heat them, they wouldn’t melt but soften. Hence, they would be very ideal to be used as toppings. If you want, you can have the cubes individually.
Both of them have a low and similar amount of carb content. They can be included in your low-card diet as well.
The younger version has a softer texture than the older one. As the cheese ages, the taste will become stronger and sharper.
Which Cheese Would Be More Nutritious?
Both Feta and Cotija can be a good source of nutrition. Although Cotija has a higher amount of protein and calcium, you would be benefitted from both. All the nutrients would contribute to bettering your immune system, fueling your energy, and making the bones stronger.
But if you don’t want the cheese to have high-fat contents, then opt for Feta. Not only it’s reasonable but delectable as well.
In the comparison between Feta vs Cotija, it’s hard to pick a winner when it comes to flavor. While Feta gives the dish a tangy touch, Cotija strikes a dish with its saltiness.
You would also find them rich in nutrients. Although, Feta has low-fat contents than Cotija.
Because both are a winner in their world, you can pick either one for your dishes.