Homemade Ricotta Cheese
In 30 minutes

Let me explain a little something about myself.  And I’m not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me, or elicit sympathy comments.  It’s a fact of  my life and I’ve been living with it for quite some time.

I have an acute cheese deficiency.

As a result.  I always want to eat cheese.  All the time.  Chew it up with my teeth and eat it.

Don’t cry or anything, but at this point in the post it would be alright if you got a look of concern and let your chin quiver a bit.  You’d have to be a cold hearted kitten hater, not to.

It isn’t something that’s been officially diagnosed of course but that doesn’t make it any less real.  If you’re conducting a clinical study on cheese deficiencies I’d love to be a part of it.  Especially if treatment involves feeding me cheese.

So as a result of this “cheese deficiency”, when I go to a restaurant, a lot of times I look for the dish that contains the most amount of cheese.  Conversely, one time when my mother was ordering pizza she realized that all the toppings were the same price, so she ordered an all meat pizza, figuring she was getting the most bang for her buck that way.  (no beverages included in the meal please)  Turns out a ham, bacon, sausage and pepperoni pizza  might make for a happy wallet, but not necessarily a happy intestine.

Recently I went to an all organic, whole foods, grown locally etc. etc. restaurant and ordered a salad that came with … cheese.  When I tried to replicate the salad at home (as I often do with restaurant dishes) it just wasn’t right.

The cheese in the salad was ricotta.  It was the creamiest, dreamiest, most delicious ricotta cheese I’ve ever eaten.  When I searched for the best ricotta cheese in the grocery store  … it just wasn’t the same.  The grocery store ricotta was grainy.  Which is good in certain dishes, but it just wasn’t right for this salad.  I tried whipping it, mashing it and stirring it, but nothing could get rid of that grainy texture.

So yesterday on a whim I made my own ricotta cheese.  It took 4 ingredients and 30 minutes.  And if you too have a cheese deficiency, you should do it immediately.  You might have everything you need in your fridge right now.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese 


4 cups homogenized milk

1 cup cream (any cream … I used whipping cream)

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Ricotta Ingredients


Put everything in a pot and heat over medium – medium/high heat until it just starts to boil.  Do NOT stir at any point.  Remove from heat immediately.

Ricotta 2

Let the milk sit for 15 minutes to allow the curds and whey to separate.  If you can’t bare to leave it alone, go find a tuffet and sit until it’s ready.

Ricotta 4

Meanwhile set up a strainer covered in cheesecloth over a large bowl.

Ricotta 3

Once the mixture has sat for 15 minutes remove the curds (such a grotesque word) with a large spoon into the cheesecloth.

Do this carefully so as not to break up the curds.

ricotta 5

Let the cheese (yes … it is now a form of cheese) drain for about 15 minutes.

ricotta 6

After 10 or 15 minutes, it will look like this.

Ricotta 8

And will taste like this …

Ricotta final

In case your Tasternet isn’t working let me describe it for you.  The makeshift Ricotta is creamy, creamy, creamy with a slight sweetness to it because of the heated milk and cream.  There’s also a hint of a nutty flavour.  It’s the perfect ricotta for desserts or on an English Muffin with some fig jam and honey.  Add some lemon juice to it and it would be a beautiful lemon ricotta.  If you want a slightly less sweet ricotta just omit the cream and add in another cup of milk. (cream sweetens more than milk when heated)  This is a slightly bastardized version of a ricotta that was featured in Bon Appetite magazine last month.  I cut back the salt and used whipping cream as opposed to a regular cream.  Another recipe I referenced used  buttermilk.  So take your pick.

Oh!  I almost forgot.  About my cheese disease.  If you insist, you can send condolence cards to my email address or Facebook Fan page.  If you insist.


  1. Kat says:

    Is there any chance this may work with soymilk or canned coconut milk?

    For the cheese deficit among us who can’t have dairy?
    So sad! *cries*

  2. Milley says:

    I am years late but here is my two cents:

    Ha Ha I enjoyed your funny article and am motivated to find my own tuffet now that you have shown me the whey.

  3. Barbie says:

    Thank you SO much Karen! :)

  4. Barbie says:

    Karen, I don’t know if you get this question “before” I get busy making your ricotta (which I have wanted to do for soooo very long)…..taking it on a picnic tonight with my hubs…I finally remembered while at the grocery/nursery/electronics/furniture/child care/bank/coffee stand/clothing store (Fred Meyer)! that I wanted to get the heavy cream I needed for this recipe then got home and saw that you called for whole milk…so here’s my question. If I use skim milk have I just screwed up the whole thing? Don’t want to do this whole thing and not have it turn out because I only have skim milk. :)

    • Karen says:

      Barbie – Just use the skim if that’s all you have. If however, you have the cream you went out to buy, use 3/4s skim milk with 1/4 cream. Or half and half. It’ll work out just fine. ~ karen

  5. Cindy Marlow says:

    BTW – I made the lemon ricotta and tomato salad for lunch today and it was magnificent! I used white wine vinegar because I did not have white basalmic and it was such a marvelous blend of texture and taste. I have tons of little golden current tomatoes that are a perfect bite size but I still cut them in half to expose more surface to the cheese, salt, pepper, and ricotta.

  6. Tracy says:

    Who knew this was so easy to make?! I pay $6 or $8 for 2 tubs of this stuff when I want to make manicotti. I’m definitely going to give this a whirl.

    Just glad it was only a hangnail and not a papercut. Everyone knows papercuts are the very worst pain.

  7. Cindy Marlow says:

    OK…my attempt at this cheese only yielded about 1/2 – 3/4 cups of cheese out of those 5 cups of liquid. What did I do wrong? What I have is good, but it is salty and tastes a lot like lemon. I removed it from the heat once the top had little rumblings on it. With the scum on top, I figured it was boiling but I just couldn’t really see it. Maybe I didn’t let it get quite hot enough?

    • Karen says:

      Cindy – Well … I just don’t know! I also found the cheese to be salty but I adjusted for that in the recipe I posted. And it shouldn’t taste of lemon at all. (you can add lemon later to make a delicious lemon ricotta) Honestly, without being there I have no idea what went wrong! :( ~ karen

      • Cindy Marlow says:

        The recipe calls for 1 tsp of salt and 2 TBS of lemon juice…wouldn’t that make it taste of lemon?

        • Karen says:

          Cindy – I know it sounds weird, but it really doesn’t flavour the ricotta very much. When I made mine last week I couldn’t taste lemon in it at all. In fact if anything it tasted a bit too sweet! Did you use cream? Or all milk? Maybe that’s the difference. ~ k!

        • Cindy Marlow says:

          I followed the recipe using whole milk and heavy whipping cream. Mine tasted very lemony and that was a good thing! I’m cleaning up the rest by adding a little more zest and some sage honey. I don’t think I’ll even use bread…just eat it straight!

  8. Amy says:

    Yummmmmmm, cheese!!! I love cheese. You should try making a grilled cheese sandwich on garlic bread it’s the bomb!!

  9. shelly says:

    One year in my upholstery business, I only made tuffets. I even got a license plate that said
    TUFFETS. What was I thinking?

  10. Kasia says:

    Being from Wisconsin, I’m all over the cheese thing. And milk. I cannot LIVE without my morning moo-juice. Although, I love soy milk too. Someone told me once that cheese will stopper you up – never experienced that, but wonder if that is a myth or not?

  11. Jenny says:

    I was going to ask if you could make this with goat’s milk, but a comment implied you couldn’t. My sister got goats so she could sell the milk. She likes this kind of stuff.

  12. Sue says:

    P.S. I have cheesecloth in my kitchen drawer that I bought eons ago when I was in Martha mode and was going to make jelly or something. I get to use that up too! Thanks! At this rate I won’t have to have a garage sale! :-)

  13. Sue says:

    I wonder if the whipping cream that I have in the fridge will work? I may not have to add as much lemon juice to it though. I think it’s been there since strawberry season. ….. If I can make it I will have to make lasagna because it is so good or better yet I will make a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving and my kids will never know they’re eating outdated milk! Ahah! Thanks for the inspiration! My chickens BTW are laying up a storm so with all those wonderful eggs that should hide the outdated cream taste don’t ya think? Love ya! Suexo

  14. Edith says:

    Wow, this is really cool. I have watched so many Italian cooking shows and no one has shown how to make this cheese. Now I can make lasagna (sp?).

  15. karenagain says:

    I think I might try this tomorrow. Please tell the restaurant salad you had this on.

    I serve a salad of baby greens, roasted walnuts, blue cheese and a store bought blue cheese and pear dressing that I garnish with slivers of sour apples and pears.

  16. Connie says:

    When I make ricotta, I save the leftover whey and use it in place of water when I make bread or pizza dough. I imagine it would work in any baked good … especially baked goods that you’d top with homemade ricotta cheese.

    • Mel Robicheau says:

      Yay! That’s perfect because I’m making the ricotta toast to mix in pasta sauce and tomorrow I’m making pizza!
      I know this comment was from ages ago but thanks!

  17. Amy says:

    I adore ricotta cheese. I can’t wait to try this.

  18. Mindy says:

    P.S. My sister is in France this week for work. I told her if she didn’t smuggle me home some cheese, I would never speak to her again.

  19. Mindy says:

    I, too, suffer from this disease. Unfortunately, the people runnin’ the disability department won’t give me any money. What a scam.

    I also order the cheesiest thing on a menu from a restaurant and if it’s available, that would be a cheese platter with a side salad. Considering the fact that we rarely go out to eat, I normally insist on going to a restaurant that I KNOW has a cheese platter. Why go anywhere else?!

    Side note: I got a gift card to a restaurant from my sister as a gift. It’s called Cheese Bar. You order cheese. Fancy cheese. Amazing cheese. And you sit at a table and eat your fancy, amazing cheese. Heaven.

  20. Nancy says:

    I so love Ricotta..every time I buy it to make lasagna I have to buy an extra tub to make up for the amount I eat just all buy my little self..Must try this!!! I cannot believe how easy it is!!! And now everyone knows what to get you for Christmas!!!

  21. Sandy says:

    Oh, this is exactly what my cheese deficiency needs! Thank you!!

  22. jonquil says:

    I have to try this, it looks fab.

    And Karen, anytime you want to check out the cheese in the land of cheese (aka France) I’d be more than happy to have you over!

  23. Amy in StL says:

    Wow, I feel so bad for you having to bear the weight of such a horrible disease! AND a hangnail – oh the humanity! I have always disliked milk, so even as a young child I was fed a lot of cheese (which I continue to eat in goodly amounts) – this hopefully has prevented ever developing this disease.

  24. Susan says:

    It looks very yummy. How much cheese was the result of the 5 cups of milk and cream? It’s difficult to tell from the photos. Just trying to determine what the saturated fat content of a cup of it with milk instead of cream would be. My fella loves cheese, but is restricted to 15 grams per day of saturated fat. That determines how much of something he can have.

    • Karen says:

      Susan – The completed recipe makes around a cup. Slightly more perhaps. Don’t forget, you can try to just use milk. ~ karen

  25. marilyn says:

    had to chuckle about the cheesecloth karen i swear i spend at least 172 hrs trying to find the cheesecloth for customers like you so you are not alone! even the grocery store employees can’t find it!

  26. Claire says:

    Sounds divine! Can the whey be used for anything, or just tossed?

    • amyfaith says:

      Whey actually has *lots* of the protein left in it, and is really good for you. It’s pretty darned tart, but you certainly can drink it (back in the old days, everyone did). I use it in place of water when I make rice. I don’t notice any flavor change, but then I only cook brown rice, so YMMV.

  27. Heather says:

    When I can’t find cheese cloth, I’ve used a large coffee filter, and it seems to work okay.

  28. Sue says:

    Found your blog a few months ago and I’m amused daily! I made this same ricotta a few weeks ago, but I was left with LOTs of whey and only a little ricotta…not sure what went wrong….but that little bit of cheese was devine!!

    • Karen says:

      Sue – You probably didn’t use enough acid. (your lemon wasn’t acid enough) If that happens again, add more lemon juice. ~ karen

  29. magali says:

    where do you buy cheesecloth? I tried to find some to drain my pumpkin puré, but in the end I had to use one of those plastic strainers with extra tiny holes. would that work for the cheese as well? I have a feeling it wouldn’t…

    • Karen says:

      Magali – All grocery stores carry cheese cloth. Their favourite thing to do is hide it. I spend a total of 172 hours a year searching my grocery store for cheese cloth. It could be with the baking stuff, or the canning stuff, or sometimes it’s on one of those end displays. Other times it’s in with the kitchen utensils. Honestly. They hide it and they move it ALL the time. The best thing to do is just ask for it and someone in the grocery store will guide you towards it. ~ karen

      • Sara says:

        If you live in the States and are willing to shop at Walmart it can be found in the craft section there – particularly at this time of year when people are decorating their yards with “spider webs” for Halloween using cheese cloth. I’m assuming this means it could also be found at craft stores? I’m not crafty so I don’t shop craft stores. I just happened to buy cheese cloth once when I was attempting to make lebni – an amazing yogurt cheese I had in Dubai. Dannon yogurt didn’t quite cut it, but now with all the yummy Greek yogurts on the market, I’m almost brave enough to try again.

      • Geliac says:

        you can also find cheescloth in the paint dept of any hardware store.

    • sandra says:

      I buy cheesecloth from the fabric store. You can get loads of the stuff for next to nothing… and with Halloween coming you’ll need lots for all those spooky outdoor decorations you’ll be hanging while eating your home-made cheese.

    • amyfaith says:

      I second the craft/fabric store. All the cheese cloth I’ve ever found at grocery stores is a really loose weave so you have to use like, 8 layers. I’ve had good luck just using unbleached muslin – it’s cheap and dead easy to find. Just make sure to wash anything you buy at a craft store before using with food.

    • Dee says:

      There are online fabric stores that sell different grades of cheesecloth, each with a separate purpose. I think the 50 grade is recommended for cheesemaking. Could save 172 hours a year that can be used making/eating cheese if a big roll of cheesecloth is sent directly to home;-)

  30. Kelly Jo says:

    I share your cheese deficiency…I think we should start a group. Love this simple recipe and am pinning it for future use!

  31. Liz S. says:

    I am in love. I never knew I could make something like this.

    As for your “condition”, think there may be a cheese eaters anonymous group. You meet in the cover of darkness. I am looking for a local chapter of the group for my toddler.

  32. amyfaith says:

    I have a sad, sad tale of my own. After years of sinus problems and chronic bronchitis, I finally went through major allergy testing and discovered – to my great dismay – that dairy was one of the main culprits (wheat too, unfortunately. Asian food has become my new best friend.). My symptoms have improved tremendously, but now I’m left with a cheese deficiency the size of Alaska! Luckly, goat dairy doesn’t seem to be a problem, but chevre only goes so far. I miss sharp cheddar! aged gouda (with the yummy salt crystals)! ooey gooey melted meunster on my toasty sandwiches! :-(

    So my question to you, Karen, is this: since the fat in goats milk is so tiny and doesn’t separate out, can it be used to make ricotta?

    Actually, now that I think more about it, perhaps I should just get up off my lazy azz, walk into the kitchen and try it.

    Sorry. Never mind.

  33. toni says:

    I think you and I should start a cheese-0-factory….I too am know far and wide for my cheese addiction….hence the nickname “cottage cheese thighs” from my dead-to-me ex-husband!
    Why do they even bother with the crackers? grapes? toothpicks?…just take a BIG BITE and ……float to heaven…..sorry…was transported….pray for me!…..Toni

  34. Diana says:

    Fess up…what was the salad that inspired the homemade ricotta?

  35. Michele says:

    I too have a “cheese deficiency,” I just didn’t know the name for it! We should start a support group (otherwise known as a cheese of the month club).

  36. Amanda says:

    I’m so sorry for your cheese deficiency. I have one, too. Worse, I actually have issues with casein, so cheese and I aren’t technically “friends.”
    But since it’s cheese, I eat it anyway as much as I can muster, and just pay the consequences. For I so love the cheese…

  37. Emie says:

    There’s also Paneer Cheese that’s made basically the same way…. except I think you add the acid after the milk is already heated. It appears to be a bit more dense than yours and it’s good on crackers.
    Thanks for sharing your process, Emie

  38. brie says:

    this sounds divine – thanks!

  39. Amy Schmucker says:

    Damn. I just love you. And your cheese problem. Because now I can make it cure my cheese problem. I would send you money if I had any, just to feed you extra cheese. 3am cheese cravings are the worst.
    Whole foods happens to have a most excellant very impressive cheese counter. I go in and have a cheese tasting. I tell the cheese man behind the counter, “Bet you can’t convince me to eat something other than cheddar”. Free samples get thrown at me so fast…I walk away full.

    I am going out to find some cheese cloth very soon so I can make this. Thank you from the cheese lovers all over the world.

  40. Jen says:

    I was all set to try this…and then I remembered I couldn’t find my tuffet…Hilarious. As always. Carry on….if you can…you poor dear. xo

  41. I never realised how easy this was to make. I will have to make it. Any idea how long it will last in the fridge?

    • Karen says:

      Perfecting Pru – This isn’t a “true, true” ricotta cheese. It’s a quick and easy version but is really good. And … no. I have no idea how long it will last, LOL. But I would imagine around 4 days. But that’s a total guess! ~ karen

  42. Mary says:

    Sympathies Karen. I also suffer from cheese deficiency; mostly because cheese gives me migraines. Did this fresh ricotta bring on a migraine? (Like anyone could tell in Southern Ontario this week with the barometer bouncing up & down. Rain one day, warm & sunny the next)

  43. Emily says:

    Yum! I always love the idea of making my own ricotta – especially since you can only find tiny pots of it at the grocery store here in Dublin. I wonder how long would it keep?

  44. Julianna says:

    I can’t believe I’m going to help an addict, but here goes: no salt, all whipping cream and 1tsp. lemon juice = Marscapone Cheese.

    Now I want a Cannoli.

  45. Hayley says:

    That would go fabulously with the spiced ginger pear jam I just made. And possibly keep me from eating bowlfuls of just jam by itself. Possibly.

    • Joe says:

      Spiced ginger pear jam + this creamylicious ricotta on a toasted english muffin. Pretty sure my day will be wasted dreaming about this.

  46. Marti says:

    Impressive! How often do you see “tuffet” used in a sentence? Very impressive. Sorry for your suffering.

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