How to make the best vegan queso

Vegan queso fresco
Vegan queso fresco tastes great sprinkled over chilaquiles.
(Ren Fuller / For The Times)

Much like the dairy original, this cheese has a crumbly texture ideal for sprinkling over vegan chilaquiles or any other dish that calls for queso fresco. It also tastes much like queso with its mild creamy tang, thanks to tofu.

Vegan Queso Fresco

1 ½ hours, largely unattended. Makes about 1 cup.


  • 1 container (14-ounce) firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt


  1. Drain the tofu and pat very dry. Cut into 1-inch cubes, transfer to a large piece of cheesecloth, wrap tightly and wring as much liquid as possible out of the tofu.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and crumble into small pieces. Stir in the vinegar, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon salt. The mixture should taste quite salty. If it doesn’t, add more salt.
  3. Return the mixture to the cheesecloth and wrap tightly to form into a block of cheese. Put in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. When ready to use, discard excess liquid and crumble the tofu into bits of cheese.

Make ahead
The queso fresco can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Tool time
The kitchen staple you can substitute for cheesecloth
Cheesecloth is fine-mesh fabric made of cotton that is used to drain liquid. It’s finer than a metal sieve and can be used to wrap and squeeze all the liquid out of whatever’s in it. If you don’t have any on hand, line a fine-mesh metal sieve with large coffee filters or layers of heavy-duty paper towels instead. Set over a bowl and let stand to catch the liquid that drips out.