Guide to Mexican Cheeses: Cacique® Queso Panela

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Guide to Mexican Cheeses: Cacique® Queso Panela

Whether you’re a Mexican food connoisseur or a novice home cook seeking a little excitement and magic in the kitchen, Cacique’s cheeses, creams, chorizos, and more are sure to meet your everyday needs. Through our full line of authentic Mexican food products, we hope to inspire you to add a little chispa [chee – spah] (spark, that is) of flavor to all of your meals. To help you along your culinary journey, we’ve put together an informative series that will guide you on how to enjoy all of our delicious products.

Before you get cooking, check out a few fun facts and innovative ways to use each of our products. Here, we introduce you to our Queso Panela [keh – soh · pah – neh – luh], a creamy cheese with a mildly tangy flavor that’s sure to enhance your next breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

What is Queso Panela?

Queso Panela is a fresh, white cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk that is sometimes called “queso canasta” or “queso de la canasta” (“basket cheese”) due to the baskets traditionally used to mold its shape. It is Cacique’s mildest cheese and is incredibly versatile due to its ability to absorb other robust flavors. While it has a smooth, firm texture that squeaks just a bit thanks to its curds, it can also be made creamier when heated up—though it never fully melts. Think of panela as similar to paneer, halloumi, or a very firm ricotta.

Fun Queso Panela Fact: Queso panela has one of the highest production volumes of any Mexican cheese. In fact, almost 20 million pounds of the cheese were produced in Mexico back in 2012. Why so popular? Aside from the taste and versatility, many point to its low fat content as a big draw among more health-conscious consumers.

How can I use Queso Panela?

Queso panela is an excellent addition to traditional Mexican dishes like chiles rellenos [chee – lehs · reh – yen – ohs], quesadillas [ke – sah – dee – yahs], crumbled or cubed over an ensalada de nopales [en – sah – lah – dah  · deh  · no – pahl-es], or cut into slices for a superbly rich torta [ tor – tah]. Panela also makes for a delectable snacking cheese—sliced fresh, or pan seared to give it a chewier quality—all on its own or wrapped in a warm tortilla.

Here are a few other delightful and creative ways you can enjoy Cacique’s Queso Panela:

  • Stuff into mushrooms with chorizo and cream cheese for a scrumptious appetizer
  • Coat with oil and spices, then bake and serve with tortilla chips or crusty bread
  • Layer and sprinkle in a lasagna with roasted veggies for a Mexican twist on an Italian favorite
  • Pair with watermelon and dress with lemon juice and chili-lime salt for a refreshing summer salad
  • Grill and toss over a fresh mango salsa and be the hit at your next barbecue
  • Use as a topping for soups like a traditional warm pozole [poh – soh – leh] or an inspired chilled gazpacho
  • Crumble over any breakfast egg-based dish, from huevos rancheros and chilaquiles to your favorite scramble or omelet
  • Cut into cubes and serve with fruits, nuts, and dried meats at your next party
  • Slice and serve alongside rice and black, pinto, or small red beans for a quick and easy lunch
  • Place over puff pastry with guava paste, bake, and serve for a sweet treat everyone will love!

What Next?

  • Start Shopping – Our Cacique® Queso Panela is available at retailers across the U.S. Visit our store locator to see which products are available at your local grocery store.
  • Get Cooking – For more delicious and authentic recipe inspiration, check out the recipes section of our website.
  • Share the Cacique Love – Be sure to share your creations with us and tag @caciqueinc on Instagram so we can see what you’re cooking up!