Are you interested in making your own cheese? Homemade Ricotta Cheese From Scratch is one of the easiest cheeses to make at home and so much better than store-bought!
Have you been thinking that you'd like to start making some of your own cheeses, but "haven't had the time"? Well then you're in for a treat because this homemade cheese is so incredibly easy to make and it's hands down, my favorite cheese to make at home. It's easy. It's fast. It's homemade Ricotta Cheese From Scratch!
If you've been curious about making your own cheese for a little while now, homemade ricotta cheese is definitely one of the easiest to make and the perfect place to start on your homemade cheese-making journey!
Simple ingredients you may already have!
- Whole Milk - Definitely needs to be whole, full fat milk.
- Fresh lemon juice - Bottled juice works fine too!
- Kosher Salt - Regular table salt works, too.
- Citric Acid - This is key to curdling the cheese into curds.
Ok did you just look at that list and go, Citric acid, whaaaat. Ok ok, most people don't have citric acid in their spice pantry (although you should so you can make ricotta or mozzarella anytime!). But if you DON'T have it, Apple Cider Vinegar is a great substitute!
Or, if you want to stock up on some, you can usually find it in the bulk spice section of your grocery store, or find it here on Amazon.
- Large stainless steel or nonreactive pot
- Large slotted spoon
- Sieve or colander (here's our sieve)
- Thermometer (here's one we love)
- Cheese Cloth This is the one we love!
As long as you have these things, this ricotta cheese from scratch is truly one of the easiest cheeses you can make at home!
How to make Homemade Ricotta Cheese:
Seriously, it's so easy.
- Slowly heat the milk
- Add lemon juice, citric acid, and salt
- Let rest
- Spoon curds into cheesecloth-lined sieve
Can it get any easier when it comes to homemade cheese?! Trust me, it doesn't. We've made a few in this household:
But truly, this homemade ricotta is the easiest of them all!
Tips for making Ricotta
Ok, yeah I say it's the easiest, although for your first time, there are definitely a few things you'll want to keep in mind!
Take your milk out of the fridge to warm up a little before! This way you're not trying to heat up fridge cold milk. I usually take it out about 30 minutes before I want to get my cheese makin' on.
Low and slow, you don't want that milk to burn!
Once the milk starts to heat up, check it often because it can get to temp fast and you don't want to get it too hot.
Start by scooping those gentle curds into your cheesecloth and letting them drain. Once you have a majority of the larger curds out, then you can pour the rest of the curds and whey slowly into the cheesecloth to get the rest. Do this in little bits of time and let it drain before pouring more. You don't want to overload/overflow your cheesecloth.
You can give your colander a little swirl to help the draining process along. That'll let the whey drain out of the higher edges of your cheesecloth that don't already have drain cheese.
Be VERY careful gathering the edge of the cheesecloth - make sure that it's all collected so you don't lose any!
Yes. Ensuring proper temperatures is vital to cheesemaking. We absolutely love this Thermoworks Chef Alarm that allows us to set the temp we want and be alarmed when it meets it. But any other digital thermometer works great too! Just be sure to check the temp in the center of the pot, and don't let it touch the pot!
You can also head over to my Instagram to see my highlighted stories of some process videos!!
This recipe makes about 14 oz of cheese. Which is about the same size as a tub of the store-bought stuff. And it's the perfect amount for a batch of Lemon Ricotta Cookies!
Or if you double the recipe (which is what I usually do!) then you can also make:
Fresh Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken
Fresh Ricotta Ravioli From Scratch
Ricotta Tomato Pie From Scratch
Oooh AND when you're done you're going to have all of this lovely, Whey! And just wait to see what we make with it!!
Stay safe, friends! Again, if you're home and you have some extra milk around, now's a great time to start makin' some cheeeesssee!
As always, if you do please let me know!! I love to hear about it on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!
Ricotta Cheese From Scratch
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon citric acid OR 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Take milk out of the fridge and let come to room temperature.
- In a large pot over medium heat, add milk to pot and heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This can take about 12-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and then add lemon juice, citric acid, and salt and give a gentle stir and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Line a sieve or colander with a cheese cloth and place over a tall pot. You want something that will allow all of the whey to under the bottom of the sieve / colander. Make sure the whole sieve / colander is covered so that you can easily gather it ALL up - I try to tuck the cloth between the sieve / colander and pot to secure it.
- After 10 minutes use a spoon to check to see if curds have formed by gently pulling at curds to see if they separate from the whey.
- With a slotted spoon, ladle curds onto cheese cloth. Go slowly. Let the whey drain. Add more. Let the whey drain. Until most of the larger curds are ladled out.
- When you have most of the large curds out, slowly poor the rest into the cheese cloth. Just a little bit at a time, don't fill it all too much. Be careful to not let the cloth slip. To speed up the process you could gently turn it all so that whey can drain out the upper edges of the sieve / colander.
- Once it all has been poured and drained, gently gather all of the edges of the cheese cloth and give it a gentle squeeze to get a little more out of the whey out. Not all - you want to keep some to keep a nice moist ricotta cheese!
- Transfer cheese from cloth into bowl and either use immediately or cover and store in fridge for up to a week.
I have tried a few recipes for ricotta but this is super easy and very good cheese. I wanted the whey mostly at first but now I have TWO items from one and enjoy the freshness of both. Whey is great and easy, keeps well. Ricotta does not stay around very long but the freshness of it in dishes/recipes is amazing.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH
Thank you so much for your help in ricotta making. Have had success with some other recipes but not all the time. My problem was that I guess the acidity in the lemons wasn’t enough. Would have to have to add more lemon juice. Another problem was there was no whey. It just looked like white instead of yellow. Would not use white vinegar As I have read your recipe you say you CAN use cider vinegar.. So now I have a plan. Thanks soo much. Carol
Thank YOU Ralph!! So glad you enjoyed it, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!
I know this is a little late to the post. I have been making my own ricotta for years.
Don't ever let the liquid left from straining your ricotta go down the drain. Use it when you make bread, muffins, alsmost any baked good that calls for water or milk.
Oh wow - GREAT tip, Jackie!! Thank you so much!! I can't wait to try it!
Is there such a thing as non-dairy ricotta? Some in my family can't have dairy.
Hi Suzzy! Yes, there is! There are a variety of different vegan "ricotta" cheeses out there. Whole Foods sells as tofu one and there are cashew based "ricotta" as well. Here's a great recipe for a cashew one! http://www.simple-veganista.com/2012/10/cashew-ricotta-cheese.html
Hi Tracy - thanks again for inspiring me - it took me two attempts to get there but here's how it looked: http://feastwisely.com/2015/02/18/how-to-make-ricotta-cheese-easily-at-home/
Stephanie @ The Cozy Cook
MAN oh MAN you are the the BEST at making cheese! Is this why we're best buds?! For life?! I think SO!!!! Maybe there are a few other reasons but it might just revolve slightly around cheese!!!! MMMMMMM!!!!!
Hahahahah awww I adore youuuuuu! xoxoxoxo
I have this on my 'to do' list for tomorrow already so after seeing how easy it is I am inspired to make a big batch!
Oooh I hope you did!! How did it turn out?
Pretty poor to be honest - the curds just did not form! First try though - second time will be better!
What do you recommend I do with the liquid left over? 😊
You can use it in a lot of ways! Boost your compost, cook your pasta in it, add it to smoothies, and add to smoothies!
I've been wanting to try this for a while...yet, keep putting it off... your beautiful results have given me the kick in the butt I needed! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your recipe and results, Tracy!
You should, Nancy!! 😀
You are so impressive, Tracy! The things you make from scratch amaze me. Let me know if you ever hire a taste tester!:)
Awww Shari you are too sweet! And I can always use a good taste tester! 😀