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National Cheese Lover Day: 10 Latin American Recipes That Will Satiate Your Need for Cheese

guava cheese

Cheese lovers listen up: while we are aware that any day you get to devour a bite of cheesy goodness feels like a holiday, there is actually a holiday dedicated to you — National Cheese Lover Day! Mark it in your calendars and stock your fridge with all the cheese you can carry, because January 20th is officially National Cheese Lover Day in the US. Yes, we promise it’s a thing; though would it matter if we made it up and gave you an excuse to eat more cheese? That’s what we thought…

January 20th is a day to celebrate cheese; to honor those of us who love cheese, the recipes that revolve around cheese, and the many time-honored traditions of Latin American cooking that really deliver where cheese-obsessed foodies are concerned. We salute you, and we’ve gathered the best, cheesiest, gooiest, most delicious recipes from south of the border and beyond.   

From queso to tequeños and everything in between, if you would choose a bite of cheese over a sweet treat any day, then this list of must-try recipes is for you. 

10 Cuñapes/Pão de Queijo (South American Cheese Bread) Recipe

This cheese bread uses Brazilian fermented tapioca starch, which delivers an authentic flavor and bread that is light and fluffy, salty and satisfying. The trick is to use chopped cheese instead of grated, which gives you the lighter, somewhat stretchy texture. And you can make it in bulk and freeze the dough to bake up whenever your next cheese craving strikes. 

9 Queso Fundido

This cheese dip is a no-brainer to serve at any dinner party, or even for a casual night at home when you really just want to smother your chips in a dollop of warm, savory cheese. The combination of mild cheddar with Monterey Jack and chorizo is as close to perfect as you can get, and the best part is you can reheat it for tomorrow (and the next day) or serve it for your next taco night. 

8 Latin American-Style Fried Cheese

Consider this the Latin American answer to your mozzarella sticks craving — but better. These fried cheese bites are like mouthfuls of heaven and make the perfect snack for the whole family or your party guests. While this dish is commonly enjoyed in Mexico, it is also popular in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico, where it’s served literally any time of day (fried cheese for breakfast, yes please!) Just make sure you use the right kind of cheese, such as queso de freier, queso blanco (white cheese) or queso fresco (farmer’s cheese), which all fry well.

7 Fried Plantains With Cheese

The combination of sweet and salty is pretty heavenly and is the ultimate comfort food for cheese lovers. It’s a hearty breakfast dish or a perfect late-night snack, and the best part is that it’s so easy to make. Lightly pan-fry thinly sliced plantains and then melt the cheese on top in the same pan. To make more of a meal out of this dish, simply add a fried egg and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.

6 Grilled Arepas with Farmer’s Cheese (or Queso Blanco)

Arepas, or corn cakes that are popular in Latin American countries like Columbia and Venezuela, are about as versatile as tortillas or pita bread or naan — you can serve them with your favorite toppings such as grilled veggies, meat, cheese, the sky’s the limit. This recipe takes homemade grilled arepas and tops them with a smear of farmer’s cheese or Mexican queso blanco, which is the perfect topping for any cheese lover.

5 Tequeños (Venezuelan Cheese Sticks) Recipe

These Venezuelan treats may look like mozzarella sticks with a twist, but they are actually totally unique and dare we say it, way better. The contrast of the rich, slightly sweet pastry crust with the salty queso blanco is as satisfying as it is indulgent. And while they might look fancy, they’re actually pretty easy to make at home.

4 Elote — Mexican Street Corn 

This Mexican street food is famous for a reason; it’s crunchy, slightly sweet, slightly spicy and smothered in the best creamy sauce topped with Cotija (a salty, dry Mexican cheese). 

3 Mexican Corn Dip

For dip lovers, this recipe is the perfect topping for your chips (or if you prefer, skip the chips and eat it by the spoonful). It’s like elote off the cob, made into a creamy, cheesy dip that will keep any crowd happy, especially if they like cheese as much as you do. 

2 Chilean-Style Cheese Empanadas (Fritas de Queso)

Empanadas are a staple in most Latin American and Spanish cuisines, and for that we are thankful, because they are so versatile and so tasty. These turnovers, which can be baked or fried, are pastry pockets with various fillings, from sautéed beef to chicken, vegetables, beans and our personal favorite, cheese. This fried empanada recipe is filled with melted mozzarella cheese, which melts perfectly and every bite is a bit crunchy and super cheesy. 

1 Guava Cream Cheese Pastries

And for those with a sweet tooth, these pastelitos (filled pastries) are the best for breakfast, snack, dessert, and everything in between. It’s as if a croissant and a cheesecake had a baby. The cream cheese filling is creamy and salty, and when it is mixed with the sweetness of the guava paste and the buttery pastry dough the end result is a dangerously addicting treat that you’ll want to make again and again.

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