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How to make Cream Cheese - 2 ingredient Homemade Cream Cheese. No cultures needed and it takes minutes to make.

How to Make Cream Cheese (Bold Baking Basics)

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My Homemade Cream Cheese recipe could not be easier to make, because everything you need to make rich, creamy, and tangy cream cheese is most likely already in your fridge.


Hi Bold Bakers!

To say I have received tons of requests for this recipe is an understatement because How to Make Cream Cheese has been the most-requested recipe for my Bold Baking Basics series. Since starting Bigger Bolder Baking, you Bold Bakers have shown me what ingredients are and are not available in the countries you live in, and cream cheese was one that was not available or is a completely different texture from country to country.

I usually only like to use ingredients that are accessible to you no matter what country you’re in, however, some ingredients still aren’t as mainstream as you would think. So what do we do? We make our own!

How to Make Homemade Cream Cheese

This Homemade Cream Cheese could not be easier to make, because everything you need to make rich, creamy, and tangy cream cheese is most likely already in your fridge.

Believe it or not, myHomemade Cream Cheese is actually made with milk. I use whole milk in this recipe to get the richness we all know and love in a thick cream cheese. It starts with milk, then I use lemon juice. That’s right: these 2 ingredients create a reaction which curdles the cheese. Then it’s just the process of straining the cheese from the whey, and what I have left is the beginnings of my cream cheese.

After blending thoroughly, I transfer the mix to an airtight container and store it in the fridge. This way, I always have cream cheese waiting on me for baking, cooking, and of course, spreading onto a freshly toasted bagel!

Is This the Same As Regular Cream Cheese?

When researching “How to Make Cream Cheese,” I tried a lot of recipes and wasted a lot of milk. I couldn’t find a recipe that worked without having to buy active cultures or hang a cream cheese for hours. I hate waste, and I don’t want you to waste your ingredients, so I have a foolproof recipe for you that yields delicious Homemade Cream Cheese. My one piece of advice would be to add a generous amount of salt and try eating it warm.

It is just heaven on a cracker.

If you find after blending the cream cheese is a bit gritty, just keep on going. The added salt will season the cream cheese and help the curdles to break down farther into the most lovely smooth cream cheese.

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How to Use This Cream Cheese, and Can You Bake With It?

This cream cheese can be used just like any other, it’s not just for topping and eating plain, it can be baked and cooked with as well. I love to use this cream cheese in my Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting and of course in the glaze I use to finish off my No-Knead No-Machine Cinnamon Rolls! This cream cheese also acts as a great substitute for yogurt in lots of recipes, the versatility really is endless.

If you enjoy making your own homemade ingredients at home you will love learning how to make Homemade Butter!]

How to Store Cream Cheese

This recipe yields 1 cup (8oz) of Homemade Cream Cheese, so check your cheesecake recipe and see how much Cream Cheese you need and then multiply. You can really easily double or triple this recipe. Just like any other dairy product, it’s important to store the cream cheese in an airtight container in the fridge. Since this is made with fresh milk, and has nothing added to preserve it, I suggest you use it within 10 days of making it.

 

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4.49 from 175 votes
How to make Cream Cheese - 2 ingredient Homemade Cream Cheese. No cultures needed and it takes minutes to make.
How to Make Cream Cheese
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

My Homemade Cream Cheese recipe could not be easier to make, because everything you need to make rich, creamy, and tangy cream cheese is most likely already in your fridge.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 cup
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
  • 4 cups (32oz /1000ml) whole milk (full fat, not low fat)
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (lime juice or white vinegar)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt (read notes)
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk on med-high. Stirring constantly until it starts to a rolling simmer.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time, in 1-minute intervals. Continue stirring constantly.
  3. Continue cooking until the mixture curdles. Stir constantly till the mixture has separated completely, this should take just a few minutes. There will be a green liquid on the bottom and thick curdles on top. Remove from the heat. This should happen within a few minutes.
  4. Lay a sieve with cheesecloth over a large bowl. Pour the curd mixture into the sieve. Let it strain and cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer curds to a food processor and process until curds have come together and are totally smooth and creamy. It will take around 3-4 minutes. Keep going if your cream cheese is grainy.
  6. Add salt and taste. Add more if you want more flavor. Now is also a good time to add herbs, garlic or any other flavors you like.
  7. This cream cheese must be stored in the fridge. I always use it within 7 days but can last as long as up to 2 weeks.
Recipe Notes

SMALL CURDS: I have heard feedback that lemon juice yields a smaller amount of curd than vinegar, and this may very well be true for pasteurized milk. Choose a white vinegar, cider vinegar/white wine vinegar will do it. When using lemon juice use it fresh from the fruit.

Salt: Just add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and then taste. If you would like it saltier then feel free to add more.

 

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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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1 Comments

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  1. barbara erb on February 20, 2019 at 3:52 am

    dont know what went wrong but my milk didn’t curdle used homo milk its 3.25 percent and lemon juice

    • Gemma Stafford on February 20, 2019 at 4:25 pm

      That’s very odd, sometimes it just need to be cooked a bit linger you can also add more lemon juice to make the reaction stronger.

  2. Karen Wiseman on February 19, 2019 at 11:23 am

    I love boursin cheese but it is expensive. I suspect this would work with the addition of garlic, herbs, and maybe a bit more salt….. if you ever get around to publishing an imitation recipe, or some advice on a herb garlic cream cheese I would be very grateful 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on February 19, 2019 at 11:49 am

      Oh, that’s a great idea! Ill have to work on that!

  3. Rhonda on February 18, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    Can you blend it with a blender

    • Gemma Stafford on February 19, 2019 at 3:22 pm

      Yes, you can.

  4. Joseph Burke on February 18, 2019 at 5:06 am

    If you’re using only milk then it is not cream cheese, it is Neufchatel. Cream cheese gets it’s name because it is made with a blend of milk and cream. Neufchatel is made with milk only.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 19, 2019 at 2:56 am

      Ok! Joseph, I stand corrected!
      The problem is that this type of cheese was made in any number of cultures all over the world, and they called it Fresh Cheese, Farmers Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Paneer etc. The same applies to mascarpone, not owned by any particular culture, made by many. In Germany this is called ‘Doppelrhamstufel’ get your tongue around that one!
      Gemma 😉

  5. Franx on February 17, 2019 at 12:05 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I would like to ask what would we do with the strained water from the cheese? Thank You. 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on February 17, 2019 at 1:55 am

      Hi there,
      This is a bit like a whey, and acid ingredient, which will work really well in your baking. This has the effect of softening the gluten in baked goods to give a tender crumb. works really well in scones/biscuits in place of buttermilk, combined with fresh milk. Works too as a marinade, for chicken for instance and combined with spice.
      Lots of ways to use this!
      Gemma 🙂

  6. Rhonda on February 15, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    Can you mix it with a mixer or a blender I have no food processor

    • Gemma Stafford on February 16, 2019 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Rhonda,

      Yes you can, that is fine too. Try and get it as fine as possible. Add in a little milk or the whey to help it blend.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  7. Align on February 14, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    So, I made this homemade cream cheese. And it’s turned out beautifully. I used it to make mini cupcake bites for Valentine’s dinner😍

    • Gemma Stafford on February 15, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      Well done you!

  8. Leslie on February 10, 2019 at 11:26 am

    This question is probably bananas, but if I had some whole milk that was starting to sour, such that my daughter refused it over cereal…could I perhaps save the waste by making this recipe? And if so, would you dial back or skip the lemon as it has already started to curdle? I love your recipes, thank you!!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 11, 2019 at 3:39 am

      Hi Leslie,
      Sorry, but no!
      Milk nowadays, because it is pasteurized, does not sour as much as goes bad! There is only one thing to do with bad milk, and that is dispose of it, it would make you sick.
      Gemma 🙂

  9. JanP on February 10, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Gemma,
    You are genius! This is easy and much less expensive that store bought cream cheese (here in the US).
    Gallon milk has been around $1.25 /gallon in my area. So this is around .40 cents for 8 oz. (using 32 oz milk), vs $1.25 for 8 oz pre-made cream cheese.
    I make cultured cream using whole milk yogurt (also homemade) as a starter for the heavy whipping cream (only first batch is the yogurt used), which I like better than any store bought sour cream.
    I will add this recipe to my list of homemade items. Homemade is always better!
    Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 11, 2019 at 2:00 am

      Hi Jan,
      sounds like I have nothing to teach you, but you have bold ideas for us! Keep them coming, we appreciate this input.
      Thank you so much, even doing the math! not my strong suit 😉
      Gemma 🙂

  10. Hina on February 6, 2019 at 9:57 am

    U r love. A big thank you

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 4:46 pm

      😀 thank you!

  11. Katherine DeMonico on February 6, 2019 at 9:53 am

    will this recipe work for non-dairy milk alternatives like coconut or almond milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      I’ve never tried that so i’m not sure it will come out the same.

  12. Align Tom on February 6, 2019 at 12:33 am

    Hi.
    I don’t have a food processor. Can I use a hand blender instead?
    I really need to use cream cheese for Valentine’s day surprise dinner for my husband 🙈 but I can’t get it easily in my city

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      Hi yes this will work very well in the blender.

      • Align on February 7, 2019 at 5:17 pm

        Thanks 😘

  13. Kinjal Vora on February 3, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    Can we use this for baked cheese cake?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 4, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      Yes, you can 😀

  14. Norma Durr on February 3, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing your expertise with us.
    Cream cheese, ricotta & mascarpone are on my list to make at home.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 4, 2019 at 3:58 pm

      It’s my pleasure, you have to try it!

  15. komal on January 30, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Can we use this for cheesecakes? I had a similar attempt, but failed.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 30, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      Hi, yes you can 😀 enjoy!

  16. Susan VanOsdal on January 27, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Sorry Gemma, but this is not cream cheese. At best, and to be more accurate, this might be suitable to use as a cream cheese substitute if you would like. Real cream cheese is a cultured product that requires either a cream cheese starter culture or mesophilic culture to make it yourself. This is a recipe for ricotta cheese — which is NOT cultured. If I make a batch of ricotta (exactly like this using lemon juice or vinegar or citric acid) or I buy a tub of ricotta cheese at the store and put it into a food processor, it doesn’t miraculously turn into cream cheese. That would still just be a blended or creamier (non-cultured) ricotta cheese. To call this actual cream cheese is misleading. It’s the same as making sour cream from milk and calling it yogurt as, again, sour cream is not a cultured product but yogurt is cultured.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 28, 2019 at 2:21 am

      Hi Susan,
      I take your point, up to a point!
      What we have is what was known as a fresh cheese/farmers cheese/cottage cheese/curd. A homemade thing, before people had access to cultures for cheese making. It is a valid way to make a cream cheese, as that is what it is, a creamed curd. It is not for the purist though, and that is ok too, but it makes a good alternative for people all over the world who have access to fresh milk, but not necessarily the cultures etc.
      Ricotta too is actually made from the whey traditionally, but this is also a bridge too far for the home cook, generally, and given a world wide audience for this type of recipe. So, I am with you, and I know that my simple solution is not for everyone, but it suits a lot of my audience, and that matters too.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Suzanne on February 7, 2019 at 1:45 pm

        This recipe is Riccotta (in Italy), Quark (in Germany), Fresh Cheese almost everywhere else. I prefer it to the dense American processed version which is very heavy. I make a Riccotta for cheesecakes and process it with a bit of cornstarch for smoothness. Given how much milk is overproduced in the USA, we should all make our own fresh cheese. So simple and without chemicals!

        Thanks, Gemma! Your recipes are terrific😘😘🙋🏻🇨🇦

        • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 4:24 pm

          Wow, i’ve never heard of adding corn starch. Great job!

    • KernersvilleMom on February 7, 2019 at 3:36 am

      Perhaps we could call it “Creamed Cheese,” instead. In reading the article, Gemma clearly states she wanted the recipe to NOT need a culture; for she desired people from varied countries to be able to make “cream cheese” from simple ingredients they could easily find. She’s done that.

      Thank you, Gemma! Can’t wait to try this!

      https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2012/10/how-to-make-cream-cheese.html This is a recipe with links to the culture to make what we buy at the store.

  17. Sondae on January 26, 2019 at 8:45 am

    I used 18% butterfat coffee creamer that was about to expire, I doubled the amount of lemon juice, and cooked it longer. I was able to skip the straining and processing. It’s smooth, creamy, and delicious!

    • Gemma Stafford on January 26, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      Oh wow! That is just amazing! Who would’ve thought coffee creamer 😉

  18. David Parkison on January 25, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    I tried the recipe using lemon juice. I may have used to much juice as it has a lemony taste but to use it in my cheesecake recipe I could omit the lemon juice. All in all I’m much happier with this batch as I can work with the lemon flavor. ty

    • Gemma Stafford on January 25, 2019 at 5:55 pm

      Well done Bold Baker!

  19. David Parkison on January 23, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    I’m going to try it using lemon juice.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 23, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      Let me know what you think 😀

      • Joseph Reid on February 1, 2019 at 5:57 pm

        HOW. TO. MAKE. CHOCOLATE. ICEING

        • Gemma Stafford on February 2, 2019 at 6:22 pm

          Here you go:

          Best,
          Gemma.

    • David Parkison on January 25, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      I used the lemon juice and it came out much better. I may have used to much juice as it had a lemony flavor but I can work with that. Ty with the cost of milk here I can make it cheaper than I can buy it.

      • Gemma Stafford on January 25, 2019 at 5:55 pm

        Yes, you can easily adjust to yield a cheese with a flavor that works for you. Glad it worked!

  20. Dani on January 22, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    Can this be made with lactose free whole milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on January 23, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Yes, it can!

  21. Dawn Hall on January 22, 2019 at 4:59 am

    I am not sure that I can get whole milk where I live – Albania. We regularly see “village milk” for sale; it is not treated in a way, so I only buy it for use in cooking. My first thought is I could use that, but I notice that it doesn’t separate like I would expect fresh milk to… I think someone told me that the villagers separate the milk before bottling it (in plastic liter bottles) because they can get more money for the cream. Does that make sense to you? I guess I need to find someone who owns a cow and get them to sell me fresh milk to try this out? I also need to find cheesecloth or something similar…

    • Gemma Stafford on January 22, 2019 at 6:27 am

      Hi Dawn,
      yes, that makes perfect sense. Usually though there is some cream left behind. If the milk is not treated then that cream should settle on the top, a little collar of cream, and very delicious!
      If this is produced in your village then you should be able to buy whole milk, and I think it will be perfect, for everything, if you trust the source!
      Thank you for this little glimpse into life in Albania,
      Gemma 🙂

  22. David Parkison on January 21, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Gemma I followed your recipe for cream cheese to the letter. I used Organic Cider vinegar and the finished product tasted like the vinegar very strongly, what did I do wrong?

    • Kevin Kurtz on January 23, 2019 at 9:55 pm

      Hi David,

      Sorry for my late reply. I’m not sure if ‘maybe’ it was your vinegar. I suggest lemon or a white vinegar. I wonder is apple cider to strong?

      Let me know,
      Gemma.

  23. Nate on January 19, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    This is a recipe for ricotta cheese…

    • Gemma Stafford on January 19, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      They are similar but treated differently so they yield a very different texture.

  24. Melinda Drabek on January 15, 2019 at 2:55 am

    What if I dont have a food processor? Can I use a bullet or blender? Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on January 15, 2019 at 5:19 am

      Hi Melinda,
      Yes, you can do this in your bullet, other bold bakers have done this successfully,
      Gemma 🙂

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