Making Homemade Ricotta Cheese is so easy – I predict – after today’s Cooking Lesson, you’ll never look at a container of ricotta cheese at the supermarket the same way ever again! And, homemade ricotta cheese is so delicious, you’ll make it again and again!
Here’s how you do it:
You’ll need some whole milk, heavy cream, kosher salt, and fresh lemon juice (the exact proportions are listed below in the recipe).
You’ll also need a candy thermometer, and a large fine mesh strainer lined with 3 or 4 layers of cheesecloth. Make sure that the cheesecloth hangs over the edges of the strainer, and place the strainer in a deep, sturdy bowl.
Combine the milk, cream and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Attach the candy thermometer to the side of the sauce pan and heat the milk mixture, stirring occasionally. When the mixture reaches 190 degrees, turn off the heat under the pot, add the lemon juice and then give the mixture a gentle stir.
Allow the mixture to set for 5 minutes (you’ll start to see some small curds form!), then carefully pour the curdled mixture through the cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer.
Allow the whey to drain from the ricotta for 1 to 2 hours – depending on how wet or dry you want your cheese to be. Also, it’s important to keep an eye on the amount of whey that is collecting in the bowl underneath your strainer. If the bottom of the strainer is sitting in the whey, the ricotta won’t fully drain, and it will stay very wet. (I used a turkey baster to suction out the excess whey into a separate bowl while my ricotta drained!)
We drained the ricotta you see here for a full two hours because we are using it in this really fantastic lemon ricotta pancake recipe that requires a well-drained ricotta cheese. If you are planning to use your homemade ricotta in a recipe such as lasagna (see here or here) or to make ricotta cookies, I’d suggest allowing your ricotta to only drain about 1½ hours, keeping it a wetter ricotta.
Total time listed does not include time required (1-2 hours) for the cheese to drain.
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2–3 lemons)
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a deep bowl and line with 3 or 4 layers of cheesecloth, making sure that the cloth hangs over the edges of the strainer. Set aside.
- Combine the milk, cream and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the sauce pan and heat the milk mixture, stirring occasionally.
- When the mixture reaches 190 degrees, remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, giving the mixture a gentle stir.
- Allow the mixture to set for 5 minutes (you’ll start to see some small curds form), then carefully pour the curdled mixture through the cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer.
- Allow the whey to drain for 1 to 2 hours – depending on how wet or dry you want your cheese to be. As the ricotta drains into the bowl, avoid having the bottom of the strainer sit in the whey. (Pour off any excess whey so that the ricotta will fully drain.)
- Store refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.
You may also like these recipes that use ricotta cheese: