Panela cheese

Panela cheese is one of the most popular types of cheese in Mexico and is widely produced and distributed throughout the country. The origin of panela cheese in Mexico is unknown but it is thought to have been an adaptation of Greek “basket cheese”  and is also commonly referred to as “queso canasta” or “queso de la canasta”.

How is Panela Cheese Made?


Panela cheese is made by heating skim (not whole) cow’s milk and adding rennet to form curds. The curds are then allowed to cool down, broken up with either a knife or with your fingers, then salted and drained in baskets. The fresh cheese then takes on the shape and texture of the basket it was made in. 

How Does Panela Cheese Taste?

Panela cheese is smooth, white and slightly salty. In its fresh, springy form, the cheese is generally sliced for sandwiches or cubed and used as a topping for salads and other cold dishes. Because this cheese can take high heat without melting or becoming runny, panela cheese is very commonly grilled or fried. After being aged for a bit, the cheese becomes drier and more crumbly and can be used in place of ricotta cheese or crumbled as a garnish for tacos, chili or guacamole.

What is Panela Cheese Similar To?

When it is freshly made, panela cheese is similar in taste and texture to paneer cheese,  haloumi and fresh mozzarella. As the cheese ages a bit it can be a good substitute for feta and ricotta cheese.

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The Best Substitute for Panela CheeseContents What is Panela Cheese? Panela (pronounced pa-NEH-lah) is a semi-soft, fresh Mexican cheese made from skimmed cow’s milk, rennet and sea salt. Panela cheese is commonly known as “queso canasta” or “queso de la canasta”. It takes its name from the baskets in which the cheese is commonly made … Read more

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Panela and Spinach soup In 40 minutes you can have this fantastic vegetarian tomato based panela and spinach soup. I was amazed how quick and easy this was to make. The flavors were fantastic and it made a great lunch for us with very little fuss. I used a Corvadonga panela cheese, which was excellent … Read more

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Panela vs Queso FrescoContents How to Use Panela Cheese and Queso Fresco in Your Cuisine Cheese is one of the most popular food items in modern Mexican cuisine. Despite the fact that cheese and cheesemaking techniques were introduced to Mexico just over 500 years ago, it now seems inconceivable to imagine a Mexican kitchen without … Read more

How to Use Panela Cheese

How to Use Panela CheeseContents Panela is a fresh, mild cheese that is great on salads and sandwiches. However,  it is most famously known as a cheese that can stand up to high heat. Panela cheese can be grilled, baked or fried without losing its shape. It will become soft and browned but will not … Read more

Can Dogs Eat Panela Cheese?

Can Dogs Eat Panela Cheese?Contents Yes, most dogs can eat Panela cheese in small amounts as a treat. As with all cheese, there are health considerations to be made when feeding dogs, but Panela cheese is relatively low fat compared to some other cheeses. Panela cheese can be great as a treat for your dog, … Read more
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It is nearly impossible to imagine the Mexican cuisine we know and love without Mexican cheese as a vital component. Enchiladas, chiles rellenos, chilaquiles, quesadillas and esquites….what would they be without cheese? Would these ubiquitous dishes even exist on the modern Mexican menus of today without the introduction of cheesemaking to Mexico? While cheese seems … Read more