Fresh Homemade Ricotta Cheese

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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I love cheese.  Especially fresh homemade ricotta cheese! One of my favorites ways to eat fresh ricotta is with a sprinkle of pine nuts and a light drizzle of honey.  Yum!!!

Making ricotta is so easy and simple.  And once you taste it fresh, you’ll never buy the stuff in the plastic tubs again.  All you need is milk, cream, salt, and some sort of acid.  Traditionalists will use whole milk.  But I have no use for leftover whole milk… so my recipe uses 1% lowfat milk instead.  Believe me – with the addition of the heavy cream, it won’t matter that you are using lowfat milk.

Some ricotta recipes call for vinegar – but I prefer the mildness that lemon juice brings.  I think it also makes the curds finer and more delicate.  But feel free to use white vinegar instead if you do not have any lemon juice – just limit the volume to 3 T. of vinegar only if you are doing the substitution.  Many recipes will also call for cheesecloth to strain the ricotta.  I have some cheesecloth – somewhere in the black hole that is my kitchen – but I can never find it.  It’s much easier just to use paper towel.  Take one large sheet and separate it into one-ply thickness, and use to line your colander.  This recipe will make about 2 cups of fresh ricotta.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese: 

  • 4 c. 1% milk
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 5 T.  lemon juice
  • colander
  • cheesecloth or paper towels
1.  Line a colander with cheesecloth or 1-ply paper towel.  (I always use paper towel since it’s much more convenient than trying to find cheesecloth.)
2.  Heat milk, cream, and sea salt to a slow simmer in a large stock pot on medium heat.  Stir gently to prevent the milk from scorching.
3.  When the milk starts to look foamy, and small bubbles start appearing towards the edges, add 3 T. lemon juice.  Turn down the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 4 minutes.  Add another 2 T. of lemon juice if the milk seems watery and you do not notice any fine grains of precipitate forming when scooping up a little bit of the mixture with a spoon.  (The fine grains will be hard to see… so look carefully).  Simmer another 4 minutes.
4.  Turn off the heat and allow the milk mixture to rest for 10 minutes.  Pour the mixture through the paper towel lined strainer.  You can do this over a bowl if you want to re-use the whey for whatever purpose, or you can do what I do, and let the whey drain down the sink.
5.  Allow the mixture to drain for about 60-75 minutes.  You now have about 2 cups of a wonderful soft ricotta that will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator.  Store in a small plastic container.


  1. I’m making this right now! I think I may have been a little too generous with the lemon juice though; preliminary taste testing shows a distinct lemony-tart flavor to it. Maybe this will go into a cannoli…

  2. Mika Mika says:

    Go easy on the lemon juice at first… I generally start with 3 T. and only add more if needed. But while still draining, the whey gives it a more lemony flavor – the final result usually doesn’t taste lemony once you are done draining. Hope it works out for you! :)

  3. kxj says:

    Hello – I live at 4,200 feet, where things boil at a lower temperature. Do you have the exact temperatures the mixtures should get before they’re ready for straining? Thanks, KXJ

  4. Mika Mika says:

    Sorry, I don’t take exact temperatures when I make this recipe. :( You don’t actually need to boil the milk though… just basically scald it, add the acid, then let it simmer a little bit longer (but not boil). After about 10 minutes, it should be ready for straining. It’s not really the heat that creates the precipitate… it’s the acid.

  5. Pati says:

    I made this today and it was fantastic!!!
    It was easy and soooo decadent. This will be a new household staple. Thank you for the recipe!!!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Pati! :)

  6. tzur says:

    hi there :)

    if i’ll leave it more then 75 min, will i get it a little bit thicker?
    i’m here because i saw your Cannoli recepie. and i want a thick ricotta cream..

    • Mika Mika says:

      Yes, if you strain it longer, more of the whey will draine out and it should become a bit stiffer.

  7. wick says:

    Ok, dumb question time…….. after you strain it, are we keeping the stuff on top of the strainer or the stuff that has passed through the strainer?

    • Mika Mika says:

      The liquid we are straining out can go down the drain. The curds will be in the top of the strainer.

  8. Hi

    Can I use 2% milk instead of the 1%. I always have 2% in my refrig.

    • Mika Mika says:

      I think that would work just fine.

  9. Lee says:

    Is your t like 3t a tsp or table spoon

    • Mika Mika says:

      “T.” (capital letter T.) = tablespoon
      “tsp.” (lowercase letters tsp.) = teaspoon