Make it Yourself: Homemade Ricotta Cheese Tutorial
Written by Mindy, Contributing Writer
I have a strange fascination with making things myself. I’m one of those weird people who likes to make things like homemade peanut butter, homemade vanilla extract, and even my own deodorant. I’m sure many of you are just like me when it comes making things yourself!
Homemade cheese is one area of “make-it-yourself” that I haven’t researched too deeply yet. I don’t have any special cheese making equipment, and I don’t own any cows or goats (yet!); so, I haven’t really spent much time or energy working on the homemade cheese thing.
There is a homemade cheese that I have made many times though – homemade ricotta cheese! It is super easy to make, and it doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients. It’s made using common ingredients that you probably have on hand, and a few simple kitchen tools that you most likely already own.
Besides being a lot of fun to make, homemade ricotta cheese tastes so much better than what you buy at the store. It’s so sweet and creamy! You will love it.
Four simple ingredients for homemade ricotta cheese:
The simple process for homemade ricotta cheese:
1. Heat up the milk and cream.
To begin, combine the milk and cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat. Gently cook the milk and cream, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. You will heat the milk up until it gets all foamy and frothy on top or until an instant read thermometer reads 185oF. This should take about 10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat; add vinegar and salt.
Once the milk and cream are heated up to 185o remove the pan from the heat. Add the vinegar and gently stir for 30 seconds. The milk will immediately begin separating into curds. Add the salt and continue stirring for 30 seconds longer.
3. Cover and let set.
At this point, place a clean towel over the pot and let it set for two hours.
4. Strain cheese in a colander lined with cheesecloth.
Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the curds from the pan to a large colander lined with cheesecloth.
Tip: Clean white t-shirts cut into smaller sections make a great, tight “cheesecloth”. You can wash them and reuse them when you are done and they will last a very long time.
Bring up the edges of the cheesecloth and fasten or tie them together. Set the colander over a bowl and let the whey drain off of the ricotta for 30 minutes.
You can adjust this time to get the cheese to your desired consistency. Drain longer for a firmer cheese and less for a looser cheese.
5. Place in clean container and enjoy!
Transfer to a clean container and use immediately or place in the refrigerator.
The yield is around 1 1/2 pounds or 3 1/2 cups. It will stay good in the refrigerator for up to four days, but it will probably not last that long. At least, it never does in our house!
What to do with your homemade ricotta cheese:
- Eat it plain with a spoon!
- Mix it with fresh herbs and spread on crackers
- Use it along with mozzarella for topping homemade pizza (so good!)
- Make amazing homemade lasagna
- Make a delicious Spinach Ricotta Pie
- Drizzle with a little bit of honey and top with fresh fruit
The possibilities are endless!
Cool, Mindy! I’ve made something similar…but with kefir. However, I called it cottage cheese. 🙂 Wonder what the difference is between the two?
Stacy — can you tell me how you made it with kefir? I am so curious. I drink homemade kefir every day, made with raw milk, and am looking for some cheese recipes. Do you mind emailing me the recipe? firstname.lastname@example.org is my email address that will go directly to me. Thank you so much! <3
I’m sure that they are basically the same thing, Stacy. At any rate, I’m sure that they’re both delicious and that’s what matters, right? 🙂
I have made something similar but it was called Farmer’s Cheese and you could spread it on crackers. It is delish !!! I will certainly try the ricotta cheese recipe. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Theresa! The Farmer’s Cheese sounds yummy too. Just the name of it makes me want to try it! 🙂
I have always made ricotta cheese with the leftover whey from making mozzarella cheese, I have never even thought about making it the way you describe. How cool. When I use the leftover whey from mozzarella, one gallon of milk ends up making only maybe 1/4 cup of whey. Seemed like a lot of work for a little output. Thank you for this! I am going to try making some and make some homemade lasagna for my family!
I’ve heard of making ricotta cheese that way before, Rebecca. I’ve never tried it because of the yield being so small, but it’s a great way not to let anything go to waste! I hope that you like the ricotta made this way – it’s delicious in lasagna! 🙂
I can’t wait to try this! Just need to get some cream. Recommendations on a brand or type? Full fat? Low fat? Organic?
I just use regular heavy cream from a local farm. You definitely don’t want to use low fat. Anything that says “heavy cream” or “whipping cream” should be good.
That’s exactly how I make cottage cheese, but after the curds have drained, I mix a little milk back in to make it creamier. It is delicious! Thanks for the idea to use the curds for ricotta 🙂
Yes, I think this is very similar to a cottage cheese. Mine doesn’t turn out with the same kind of curds that classic cottage cheese has. It tastes really yummy though, so I don’t mind 😉
Oh I SO want to try homemade cheese! The idea of it grosses my husband out but I think he would love it! 🙂 Thanks for the tutorial and recipe!
That’s so funny that the idea of homemade cheese grosses you husband out, Jami! Just wait until he trys it – I think he’ll change his mind 😉
I’ve never made cheese, but you make this look so easy, Mindy! I hope I can be dairy free again soon, so I can try this! Pinning! 🙂
I hope you can be dairy free again soon, too, Erin! 🙂
What is the difference between ricotta and cottage cheese. This looks similar to a recipe we made as a child for cottage cheese.
To me, ricotta cheese is a bit smoother and doesn’t have defined curds like cottage cheese does. I think that it also has a bit of a milder flavor. But it sounds like a lot of people make homemade cottage cheese in a way similar to this homemade ricotta cheese, so I’m sure that the homemade versions of both cheeses are very similar.
I have made this before. Very good. I have also made an herbed ” feta” type cheese like this using goats milk. I just tossed in some basil and parsely to the warmed milk. I let it drain untill it lwas almost dry. Good on lamb or beef in a salad.
That’s a great idea to add herbs to the warmed milk, Steff! I’ll have to give that a try. I’m sure it’s wonderful made with goat milk also.
Yum! This is so easy! Thanks for sharing!
It really is easy, Rachel. And it tastes so good! 🙂
What do you do with the leftover whey?
Susan, you can keep it in a jar in your fridge and use it in things like smoothies or in place of water in baking. It’s excellent in homemade bread, and really gives the bread a great texture.
Or you can leave it out and make Riccotta (meaning recooked in Italiano) with it.
LOL, I tried to make this a couple of weeks ago. EPIC FAIL. I think I made it too hot. Wasted a lot of milk I could not afford to, so I have been hesitent to try it again. I don’t have a thermometor (mine broke and I live WAAAY out in the boonies-so no chace for a while of getting a new one!).
Awe, that’s too bad Christine! I’ve never tried it without using a thermometer before, but I’m sure it’s harder to have a consistently good turnout without using one. I hope you can get a thermometer sometime and try it again 🙂
Thank you for posting this! I made a batch yesterday & LOVED it for dinner last night in stuffed shells. I wrote a review (with links back to this page) here –> http://naturallawcatholiclife.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/homemade-organic-ricotta-cheese/ Have a great day 😀
Thanks, glad it worked so well for you! 🙂
This is cottage cheese, Ricotta is made with whey. Still a nice recipe though.
Thanks for sharing the recipe! I’m not familiar with cheese making but this looks simple and I’m hoping to try it soon. Do you have to heat the milk to make all cheese? Is there any way to make raw milk cheese?
I’ve made this several times and it works very well. I use it several ways but it is great on pizza and save the whey. It makes an amazing pizza crust.
Yummy! I live in a country where you can’t buy ricotta in the stores anyway. My latest e-version ladies’ magazine had a recipe for ricotta pancakes, so that was my inspiration for trying to make some. Cooling and curdling as we speak. Ricotta pancakes tomorrow. Yay!
Tried it tonight and the whey didn’t turn clear, so I saved it, heated it and some more vinegar and salt and voila! A second batch! Much smaller, but still delish! Thanks for the recipe/tutorial.
Hi – I made this once following the directions exactly and it came out great! Tried a second time but halved the recipe and added some herbs with the salt. It didn’t work at all. Any thoughts?
I just want to make a small correction to this recipe. What you are actually making is not ricotta but paneer or queso fresco. True ricotta is made by separating the whey from whole milk and using the whey as opposed to the whole milk.
Delicious! I will never buy “tub stuff” again!
I am now actively convincing my friends and family to make this ASAP- sweet and delicious! We added it to our homemade calzones and it put them over the top- rich, creamy, incredible.
THANK YOU 🙂
I followed this recipe and my cheese won’t curd. I’ve tried twice.
this isn’t ricotta. Ricotta is made from leftover whey after you’ve already made cheese. This is much more akin to queso blanco
Which cream? I will appreciate if you letme know.
Why I never thought of a tshirt to do this is beyond me and is the reason for never making it good idea on that ty lol.
This is not ricotta – similar but not. Ricotta is made from whey which is also high in protein and low in fat.
After following this receipe all that is left is a yellow liquid…the whole milk fat and cream fat all go into the end result. Very fattening. I like it but can’t afford it. Find out when fresh ricotta is delivered to your local grocery store and buy it.
For ricotta cheese: what kind of vinegar, please?
This looks great. My younger son was asking for lasagna. We have a neighbor who sells raw milk. I think I need to pay her a visit!