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Whenever you think of tacos, they are always topped with some lettuce, salsa, and sometimes jalapenos or other spicy chilis. Of course, I have missed out on arguably the most important topping for a taco; the cheese. If you are not putting cheese in your taco then you are not making them right. Cheese and tacos belong together just as much as salt and pepper do. Whether it is cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese, it must be added to a taco.
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Why Is Cheese Needed On A Taco?
Tacos are one of those globally loved dishes that appeal to almost everyone. They can be changed so much that they become so versatile and can suit any palette or diet needed. On top of this, tacos are so delicious and can be made from beef, pork, chicken, or fish, making them that bit more delicious.
So, why is there a need for cheese? Well, to be truthful, it is not needed. You can eat a taco without cheese, similar to how you can drink a soda in the sun without ice. It is possible, but it is definitely not as enjoyable as it can be. Cheese elevates tacos from being a nice dish to a brilliant one.
Cheese is always a brilliant addition to a taco or any Mexican dish for that matter, yet, it can sometimes be overwhelming to choose the right cheese to go with your taco of choice. Obviously, you have safe options such as cheddar cheese or shredded cheese from the supermarket, but, if you are wanting to break free from these traditional choices, you have come to the right place.
Best Cheese Choices For Tacos
To make sure you get the most out of your taco, you want to pair some really delicious cheeses with it for maximum flavor and enjoyability. Thankfully, I can help. While all cheeses mentioned are likely to be borderline mind-blowing, some of them will be more in line with your preference than others.
When you mention cheese, it is almost impossible for cheddar to not be mentioned. This is by far the most popular cheese across the globe, and for good reason. Cheddar has a great salty flavor and can even come in varying strengths. It can suit you if you want a mild flavor, or you can opt for something stronger like a medium cheddar or a sharp cheddar.
Cheddar can be grated and shredded so that it can be nicely placed on your taco and start to melt as you eat it. Once the cheese melts on a taco, it starts to work its way between the ground beef which helps you mix the flavors. Melty cheese is seriously amazing.
Oaxaca cheese is initially from South Mexico and is named after the state it is from. This Mexican cheese tastes very similar to Monterey Jack yet has the texture of mozzarella and other string cheese. It is loved by many, so much so that people can eat it alone as a snack without getting bored of it.
When adding it to your taco, be very generous and heap it on. Don’t be shy, the more the merrier.
Monterey Jack Cheese
Monterey Jack is a cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk in the US. This semi-hard cheese has a very pale yellow color and a high moisture content. This makes it brilliant for melting as it also has a nice buttery flavor. It is a mild cheese although it can come in different flavors such as pepper Jack and aged or dry Jack. The aged Jack is aged for 6-9 months and can be compared to the likes of an aged cheddar in terms of flavor.
Chihuahua cheese, also known as queso menonita, is a mild flavor cheese that is similar to a mild cheddar. It is used in a lot of Mexican dishes as it can be easily added and really suits the flavor profile of the dishes.
The cheese is named after the state it was made in, Chihuahua, which is also home to another famous cheese known as queso asadero. This is another mild flavor cheese that is similar to queso Oaxaca and can be melted very easily.
Cotija is an aged cheese that has a strong salty flavor. It is perfect for pairing with taco fillings and will also pair very well with sour cream. Cotija cheese is a dry and crumbly white cheese when at room temperature or below, but when it is slightly heated it can be a lot softer.
While you may not immediately consider feta when thinking of different cheeses, I can assure you it is a good choice. This cheese is tangy, salty, and full of flavor. It pairs so well with heavy meats such as chorizo and other taco fillings such as iceberg lettuce. While it may not fit in Mexican tacos, feta is amazing if you are feeling bold. As unorthodox as it is, try adding pineapple into the taco with your feta, they pair together really well.
If you are going to pick any fresh cheese, the best choice will be mozzarella. Mozzarella has the same texture as string cheese and is also a bit watery but it can be paired easily with chorizo or a nicely seasoned ground steak. When using mozzarella in Mexican tacos, it is essential that you do not use too much as it can be a bit overwhelming when used in large quantities.
What Other Toppings Should Be Added?
As far as tacos go, the ingredients are rather simple and can easily be remembered. There are a few categories that are necessary such as the meat, the salad, and the sauces. However, once these are remembered, you can mix and match your options until you create your perfect taco.
When it comes to choosing the meat in a taco, the most traditional option will be ground beef. This is fine as it is tried and tested, and proven to be a brilliant choice. If you are looking for more flavor, you may consider adding chorizo instead. This spicy Spanish sausage is sure to add some more flavor to your taco if you are getting bored.
Alongside these two choices, there are a lot of other options you can look at. Turkey mince, chicken, pork, and fish are all amazing options that should be considered. I am personally a big fan of turkey mince as it is healthy and tastes amazing.
The salad is a crucial part of tacos as it adds more flavor, texture, and nutrients to the dish. The most common choices are iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and green onions. These are the basics, yet they can be swapped out for other choices if you want. Red cabbage works quite well in a taco in place of the lettuce.
The sauces may not be the most important addition to a taco, but if you like them, they are insanely nice to add. Salsa, guacamole, and sour cream are added traditionally as they are the most common options. They are all great choices as they taste amazing and pair well with the flavors of the meat and salad.
For more diversity, garlic mayo or a BBQ sauce can be used instead as long as it pairs with the meat you have chosen. It is easy to test this as you can try the meat and the sauce together before making the taco.
What Cheese Is The Best?
While a lot of people will argue that Mexican cheeses are the way to go, it is all down to personal preference. If you are wanting a spicy cheese that melts into the other fillings, flavoring the entirety of the taco, then choose pepper Jack. If you are looking for a subtle but salty cheese, choose Cotija as it has all the salt you could ever need. Whether it is Mexican cheese or international cheeses, you can easily try them all if you need to and decide for yourself.
The cheese you end up choosing might not even come from this list, you may see some queso fresco, queso Blanco, or queso asadero, and decide to choose that instead.