Queso frito (Fried cheese)

Dominican breakfast

“Dominicans will eat ANYTHING for breakfast” observed a friend from a European country which shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty. He was watching his Dominican wife tuck into a bowl of soup at the breakfast table. It is true that Dominicans do have some breakfast preferences that to foreign eyes sometimes appear a little eccentric… but let me present the evidence to the jury and put it in an international context.

Exhibit one: casabe with olive oil and garlic – sounds like an extreme tastebud explosion first thing in the morning but I know from first-hand experience that this is common practice in Spain, with toasted bread instead of casabe, to great anti-social effect on your fellow public transport users and co-workers.

Queso frito (Fried cheese)

Exhibit two – queso frito (fried cheese) and salami – a grease and cholesterol overload which most people cannot take so early in the day. Consider the full English breakfast though: fried sausage, fried bacon, fried egg, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes and baked beans which for some reason escape the fate of the frying pan.

Exhibit three: mangú – I described it in a previous article as “liquid cement” and I hasten to add that this less than complimentary comparison is a quote from a Dominican (the soup-eater, as it happens). I remain in the British isles for the next piece of evidence for the defence, in the shape of traditional Scottish porridge (oatmeal) in all its gluey and lumpy glory.

Queso frito (Fried cheese)

The most common breakfast in Dominican homes is simply bread dunked into a cup of coffee or cocoa, which is pretty much universal. Heavy breakfasts of all sorts were more common in the past, when people worked in more physically demanding jobs. In the Dominican Republic if you get up early to work in the fields you will probably need a mangu to keep you going, but if you work in a bank, coffee and a pan de agua is more like it, and the mangu breakfast is saved for weekends or special occasions.

For those with more delicate constitutions, the ideal breakfast while in the Dominican Republic could consist of a plate of tropical fruit: papaya, pineapple, melon, banana, passion fruit or whatever is available. Some nutritional experts consider this the best way to start the day. This is usually my preference but I spoil it by washing it down with a hefty cup of strong black coffee, which tends to cancel out the healthy effect.

Queso frito (Fried cheese)

So, I rest my case. Dominicans may eat some unusual things at breakfast time but so do many other people in other parts of the world. Learn how to make the traditional Dominican Republic breakfast with our recipes.

What is the strangest thing you have ever been served – or even eaten – for breakfast? I can’t think of anything in particular but I once saw a man in a hotel in Italy eating a huge plate of pasta for breakfast.

Aunt Ilana
Queso frito (Fried cheese)
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Queso frito is a common component of the Dominican breakfast, for this you will need authentic Dominican "queso de freir", a salty, stringy cheese that does not melt easily.
Serves: 4 servings
  • 12 slices of queso de freir (2" x 3", ¼" thick)
  • ¼ cup of oil for frying
  • ½ cup of corn starch
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a frying pan.
  2. Cover the slices with corn starch and shake off the excess.
  3. Fry in the hot oil on one side until it turns golden brown.
  4. Turn and repeat.
  5. Do not add many slices at the same time as the oil must remain very hot to prevent the cheese from staying in the oil for too long.
  6. Serve hot with mangú.
A good "queso de freir" will keep its shape when deep fried, but as some times it is not necessarily the case we present you here a simple trick to make it a successful experience.

Fry a test slice, if it melts too quickly then use the cornstarch; if it holds its shape when you fry it just skip that step.

If you cannot find "queso de freir", haloumi is the closest substitute you could use.
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{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Jacob Sonenshine July 15, 2014, 4:34 PM

    Clara, I live in NYC. Where in the city can I get queso de freir?

  • Vilma May 7, 2014, 12:00 PM

    Great article! I am Dominican, married to an Irish man and we mved to Ireland six years ago. I sometimes crave a dominican Breakfast, mainly the Mangu and Salami.we can’t get plantains here, so i’m out of luck in that category..i’ve been lucky to find yuca a few times in the indian/ethnic store but that’s only the odd time. Haloumi is a good substitute for the Fried Cheese as it has a similar texture. do you have any recommendations for a sausage that is similar to Salami.

    • Aunt Clara May 9, 2014, 11:38 AM

      Yes, I recommend haloumi in the recipe as an excellent substitute. As for the salami, I don’t think I know anything close to it. Sorry.

  • Eleanor September 16, 2013, 9:29 PM

    Hola Tia Clara: I’ve been on your website quite a few times. My husband is a beautiful Dominican and I made the fried cheese tonight. You have to eat it immediately. When I was down in the DR it was cold when I got it. Since we are in NY he has found every Dominican Deli in our area – so that is good for him. He misses home. I’m a good cook – but it’s not Dominican even though I try. Thanks for helping me with recipes!

    • Aunt Clara September 16, 2013, 9:37 PM

      Glad to hear you found our blog useful, Eleanor. Thanks for writing.

  • Theresa August 25, 2012, 8:02 PM

    what type of cheese for the frita, manchego, i am having a hard type finding it, i have had Mangu straight from Puerto Plata, DR en campo, it was wonderful, since i been back in the states its hard to duplicate, they didnt use water at the end just a little leche

    • Aunt Clara August 25, 2012, 8:13 PM

      The cheese is “queso de freir”, it’s nothing like Manchego. The closest thing to it is Halloumi.

  • Cheramie April 18, 2012, 6:07 PM

    My boyfriends brother brought us some of this cheese when he came back from DR and it was soo good. we ate it cooked in the deep fryer and in the frying pan and both were fantastic, do you know of any place in ALASKA that might sell it? ive looked for latin markets with no luck. i would get his mom to send us some but it would be to expensive on her end. Thanks

  • Emma April 11, 2012, 11:30 AM

    We eat this very rarely. But I LOVE this cheese and we have never fried it in oil. It doesn't need oil! Neither does the salchichon. A quick spritz of Cooking spray will do it.

  • valentina March 7, 2012, 9:57 AM

    In London, UK, it is very hard to find many of the ingredients used in dominican and latin cuisine in general. So I have to be creative. Ive used mozzarella cheese (the type for pizzas that comes in a rectangular shape and is stringy) or haloumi cheese cut in thick slices. Dipped in egg and then the corn starch.

  • Aunt Clara September 19, 2011, 8:43 AM

    Thanks, Kellie. Where do you live and where do you buy it? In case there's another reader in your area.

    • Kellie February 15, 2012, 12:30 PM

      I'm from New Jersey. And it could be found in most of our supermarkets here like, Shoprite and Pathmark. But my best advice is go to a majority Hispanic community and stop into one of the supermarkets in the area or Bodega.

  • Aztry Kelly January 29, 2011, 3:27 PM

    I live in an odd area of California. It is very hard to find dominican frying cheese. Are there any suggestions on where I can purchase dominican frying cheese online. Having a hard time finding websites. Thank you

    • Kellie September 19, 2011, 8:35 AM

      The best brand of frying cheese is called Tropical. You can just Google it and it will come up. The one you want to buy is called Tropical Frying Cheese (Queso de Freir).

      • Susan July 3, 2013, 2:29 PM

        Actually the best brand to buy is called queso de freir Dominicano by a company called El Viajero and can be found at most SAMs clubs nationally. It doesn’t purge water and is pure cheese through and through.