How To Make Homemade Ricotta In Under an Hour - Kitchen Conundrums with Thomas Joseph

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How to Make Ricotta Cheese

Two Methods:

Ricotta cheese, the delicious key ingredient in Italian dishes from lasagna to cannoli, is simple to make in your own kitchen. Homemade ricotta cheese requires just a few ingredients, and the result is lighter and fresher than store-bought cheese. See Step 1 and beyond to learn how to make a batch today.


Milk-Based Ricotta

  • 8 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Equipment: nonreactive bowl, cheesecloth, fine-mesh strainer, saucepan, candy thermometer, ladle

Whey-Based Ricotta

  • Whey left over from making cheese
  • Equipment: nonreactive bowl, cheesecloth, fine-mesh strainer, saucepan, candy thermometer, ladle


Milk-Based Ricotta

  1. Prepare the strainer.Line the fine-mesh strainer with a large piece of cheesecloth, and set it over the nonreactive bowl. Set this contraption on your work surface so to have it ready for the cheese mixture.
    • If you don't use cheesecloth, it will be difficult to separate the cheese curds from the whey. You can substitute a double layer of paper towels or a thin cotton dishcloth in a pinch.
  2. Heat the milk, cream and salt.Place the milk, cream and salt in the saucepan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat. Allow it to heat until it reaches 200 degrees F. When the mixture is hot enough, turn off the heat and move the saucepan so the milk can begin to cool. It should take about 5 minutes to reach the correct temperature.
    • Stir the mixture as it's heating to prevent it from scorching on the bottom.
    • Use your candy thermometer or an instant-read thermometer to determine whether the mixture has reached the right temperature. If you don't let it cook long enough, the curds won't separate from the whey. If you overcook it, the texture will be ruined.
  3. Slowly add the vinegar.Use one hand to stir constantly while the other hand slowly pours the vinegar into the heated milk and cream mixture. The vinegar will cause the curds to coagulate and separate from the whey. You'll see solid bits forming and floating to the top of the liquid. Keep stirring until all of the vinegar has been added.
    • The curdling agent in this case is vinegar, but some people prefer to use other substances. Try substituting 3 tablespoons (44.4 ml) of lemon juice for a different flavor.
    • For a more traditional touch, try using animal rennet as your coagulant.Mix 1 teaspoon of rennet with 1/4 cup of cold water, then stir it into the milk mixture.
  4. Let the mixture sit until it's thick.Wait about 10 - 20 minutes for the coagulant to go to work and cause the curds to separate from the whey. It's ready when the curds have floated to the top to form a thick layer, leaving the liquid whey underneath.
  5. Ladle the curds into the strainer.Scoop out the thick top layer of curds and ladle them over the cheesecloth-covered strainer. Keep ladling out the curds until all that's left in the saucepan is the whey. You can discard the whey at this point.
  6. Let the ricotta drain.Wait at least an hour for the last of the whey to drain from the ricotta through the cheesecloth into the bowl. It will take about half an hour for the ricotta to fully drain. Don't attempt to stir it or push it through the cheesecloth, as this will just push the curds into the cloth.
    • If you'd like a creamier final product, stop draining the ricotta after 5 - 10 minutes. For a drier final product, wait an hour for it to drain.
  7. Spoon the ricotta into a bowl.The finished ricotta is now ready to use in your favorite recipe. It's delicious as part of a savory dish or a dessert. Ricotta will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Whey-Based Ricotta

  1. Save the whey from making cheese in a non-reactive pot.When you make homemade cheese, you'll have curds at the bottom of the pot, and you'll pour off the whey. Filter as many of the curd particles out as you can since they would otherwise form tough "beads" in the final ricotta. Cover the whey and let it sit for at least 12 hours at room temperature to develop sufficient acidity.
    • Acidified whey acts as its own coagulant, making it unnecessary to add vinegar or lemon juice to separate the curds.
  2. Heat the acidified whey.Pour it into a saucepan and heat it while stirring, taking care to avoid sticking or burning. Heat until the temperature has risen to about 175 degrees Fahrenheit and a white appears on the surface. Continue heating and stirring until the temperature reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Note that the foam will build up somewhat.Be careful. If it boils, it can boil over.
  3. Remove the whey from heat and wait for it to curdle.Cover it and allow it to cool undisturbed until comfortable to the touch. The curds will soon appear like clouds suspended in the whey, while the whey will be clear and yellowish green.
  4. Strain the ricotta.Do not stir up the curd.Instead, set up a receiving pot with a large strainer and a fine clean cloth on top. Ladle the curds into the cloth, leaving the whey in the saucepan. Discard the whey.
    • Be sure to scoop out the curds gently. Because the curds are very fine and delicate, they can stop up the cloth easily. This will cause very slow draining if they are broken up.
  5. Drain the whey through the cloth.It can take 2-3 hours for the whey to completely drain. If you prefer, you can set the strainer in the refrigerator and let it drain overnight.
  6. Remove the ricotta from the cloth.Pack it into a container, cover it and store in the refrigerator. Use it soon after making.
    • Ricotta will keep up to a week in the refrigerator. Alternatively, ricotta freezes very well.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Will the milk based ricotta work if I replaced the cream with more milk? Would it work with skim milk?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can make it with just milk, instead of cream. You will get the best results with whole milk, though some people have success with 2%. Don't use skim.
  • Question
    Can you reuse the whey after making whey cheese?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can reuse whey as the liquid when making bread, giving it a sourdough flavor.
  • Question
    Can this be made without the salt to accommodate a low sodium diet?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, but the flavor will be less strong.
  • Question
    If we use vinegar as the coagulation agent, will the cheese taste sour like vinegar?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No. The cheese will have an almost imperceptible slight bite at the back of your jaw, kind of like Greek yogurt, but much less. I prefer the Heinz distilled white vinegar, as it is guaranteed to be 5% acidic. I also like to mildly dust the draining curds with popcorn salt and 1 envelope "TRUE LEMON".
  • Question
    I make (Greek) yogurt from whole milk. The byproduct is whey, which is very clear and looks like lemonade. Can I actually produce ricotta from this event though there appears to be no milk solids?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    There shouldn't be visible solids in your whey. I was skeptical before trying the whey recipe above, and even while heating could not see much "ricotta-looking" material. However, once I removed the simmering whey from the heat, clouds of ricotta appeared. I didn't get tons of yield from my process but I was using skim milk powder. I would think you might have better luck with whole milk.
  • Question
    I didn't get curds. I heated a gallon of milk with 1 cup distilled vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt to 185 and let it sit for over 1 hour. It looked like the milk had separated but it didn't form curds and when I tried to scoop out the solids, they just dissolved into the whey.
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Don't scoop out the solids. Drain it into a pot though a cloth over a strainer, as it says in the instructions.
  • Question
    What is the temperature the milk, cream and salt should reach before the vinegar is added?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    93 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Farenheit. You need to cool it for 5 minutes off the heat before adding the vinegar.
  • Question
    What do I do if I don't have curds?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Don't use ultra pasteurized milk, it won't make curds. Same with ultra pasteurized cream. Use pasteurized (not ultra pasteurized), or unhomogenized milk is even better!
  • Question
    How much ricotta cheese results from the 8 cups of milk?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    About 2 cups ricotta from the heated acidified whole milk. I made ricotta from 1 gallon of whole milk and yielded 4 cups of ricotta.
  • Question
    If I make butter from cream, can the buttermilk be used to make ricotta?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, this should be fine.
Unanswered Questions
  • What's the least amount of whey I can use to get a descent yield? I make yogurt in 2 quart batches and then strain it to make thicker yogurt?
  • When do I add salt to the whey based ricotta?
  • How much ricotta does this recipe make?
  • If I use lemon juice instead of vinegar, what would be the proportion in relation to the vinegar?
  • How to make ricotta salad?
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  • This process relies on allowing the inoculated bacteria in whey to further ferment the liquid as it sits at room temperature for an additional 12-24 hours. During that time, the remaining sugars are converted to lactic acid, which lowers the pH of the whey. The solubility of the protein in acidified whey is reduced. Heating the acidified whey denatures the protein causing it to precipitate out as a fine curd.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-reactive pot, either stainless steel or enameled. If you use a thin enameled pot, you should either heat the whey in it over boiling water, or stir nearly continuously.
  • Wooden spoon or long handled spatula (with square end to help to keep curd off the bottom)
  • Thermometer (0-110 °C) to monitor temperature of whey while heating
  • Receiving pot the same volume or greater as cooking pot (a clean plastic bucket will do)
  • A fine meshed strainer to dip out floating curd.
  • Large strainer to suspend over receiving pot
  • Fine cloth (e.g. a clean sterile handkerchief or a non-terry cloth dish towel)

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Quick Summary

To make ricotta cheese, start by heating milk, cream, and salt in asaucepan. Then, slowly stir in some vinegar so the mixture starts to curdle. After you add the vinegar, let the mixture thicken for 10-20 minutes or until all of the curds have floated to the top. Next, strain the curds through a cheesecloth over a bowl for 1 hour. After an hour, scoop the leftover ricotta out of the cheesecloth and serve.

Success Stories

Richardo Mulligan

Jun 25, 2019

"It is a good recipe. It says cook to 200 degrees then take it off the heat and wait 5 minutes until it gets to theproper temp. No where is the proper temperature mentioned. If you are going write proper temp at least tell what is."
Rated this article:

Jagdishchandra Desai

Apr 18, 2019

"The process detailed here with pictures will certainly help enthusiasts to understand thoroughly and implement. Ioften come across and feel fortunate to get basic information. I am 65 now, and a dairy technologist having served co-operative dairy industry in India from 1972 to 2009."

Raymond Brodie

Sep 7, 2019

"Absolutely blown away by the results. The finished product was to die for. I used the recipe as written, but added1 envelope of True Lemon (0.8 g). The color was yellowish and the texture firmer than store-bought with larger curds."
Rated this article:

Claire Depont

Aug 15, 2019

"It taught me how to make the farmer's cheese along with genuine ricotta. It also taught me that the whey left overfrom making genuine ricotta can be used to make sourdough bread. No waste whatsoever! Very excited to try it all!"

Stephen G.

Aug 5, 2019

"We used the milk-based method. Recipe is similar to one we used in a cooking class and it worked perfectly! I triedthe lemon juice and vinegar versions. Thanks for the help."
Rated this article:

Catherine Leniston

Jul 3, 2019

"Clear instructions. Worked great, even though I substituted vinegar with lemons. Will try making muffins with someof the whey as I would with buttermilk. Thank you."

Ann Crowley

Jun 3, 2019

"I'm experimenting with making cheese at home, and this article was very clear and helpful. Thanks. The detail ofthe timing and quantities was especially helpful."
Rated this article:

Richard Mulligan

Apr 4, 2019

"Great recipe. Step-by-step instructions were remarkably easy to follow. My first attempt at making this deliciouscheese. No more store-bought for me. Thank you."

Lillian Blute

Aug 16, 2019

"I thought it was great! Step by step, easy, and the finished product was amazing my whole family ate my ricottacheese in my ravioli. Thanks."


Feb 17, 2019

"I think the best way is to read the making method through properly. If you have any issues, reread it. Thanksheaps, was very tasty."

D. J. Beaulieu

May 29, 2019

"I was able to make ricotta cheese for a recipe with ingredients I had in the house, including how to make heavycream."
Rated this article:

Sigrid Quetschke

Dec 19, 2019

"I did my milk ricotta yesterday, turned out great. Saved the whey, will try that one this weekend."
Rated this article:

Maria Dominguez-Holden

Jun 22, 2019

"It was a very concise explanation on how to make ricotta, very clear on what steps to take next."


Jun 4, 2019

"Step-by-step instructions really helped. Would like to have nutritional facts included, too."


Mar 5, 2019

"The pictures added to the instructions show clearly what to do. Thanks very much."

Cindy Holson

Jun 21, 2019

"I love the article. This is very helpful with step by step instructions.

Video: Brad and Babish Make Ricotta Cheese | It's Alive | Bon Appétit

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