Bold Baking Basics, Homemade Ingredients

How to Make Cream Cheese (The Easiest Cream Cheese Recipe)

4.57 from 1374 votes
My Homemade Cream Cheese recipe couldn't be easier, because you likely have everything you need to make rich, creamy, and tangy cream cheese.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details.

Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPEMy Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe shows you the easiest way of how to make cream cheese whenever and wherever needed with the most common ingredients you likely always have in the fridge! The result is soft, creamy, tangy, and works just like store-bought cream cheese! Never cream cheese shortage!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 3/29/2023, to include clear definition, additional step-by-step photography, FAQs (comparison with store-bought ones, why grainy, why milk not cream), and Pro Chef Tips( lactose-free option, how to use cream cheese).  

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.  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 where you are. However, some ingredients are still aren’t as mainstream as you would think. So what do we do? We make our own!

When researching “How to Make Cream Cheese,” I tried a lot of recipes and wasted a lot of milk. However, I couldn’t find a recipe that worked without having to buy packets of active starter culture 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.

TABLE OF CONTENT

What is Cream Cheese?

Cream cheese is a soft and creamy fresh cheese with a tangy taste made from milk and cream. It usually comes in two forms – firmer one in blocks or softer and more spreadable one from tubs.

In commercial production, lactic acid bacteria are added to pasteurized milk to coagulate casein to form curds (most milk on the market available to most people is pasteurized to some point to kill harmful bacteria that can lead to diseases). Heavy cream is added to adjust the fat content and add creaminess to the final product cream cheese.

Comparatively, this diy Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe uses lemon juice, lime juice or plain white vinegar and cream is optional.

Homemade Cream Cheese

Tools You Need

Ingredients List

  • Whole milk: I use whole milk in this recipe to get the richness we all know and love about cream cheese. It will yield more and bigger curds than reduced-fat milk. I also always use whole milk (full-fat milk) in my recipes for its rich taste and creamy texture.
  • Lemon juice: You can also use lime juice or plain white vinegar
  • Salt: Brings out flavors!

ingredients for making cream cheese at home

How to Make Homemade Cream Cheese

  • Heat the milk: Firstly, bring the milk to a rolling simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium-high heat. Do not let it boil.
  • Add acid: Secondly, reduce the heat to medium. Add the lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time, in 1-minute intervals. Continue stirring constantly.
  • Curdle: Stir constantly till the mixturecurdles and has separated completely, this should take just a few minutes.Remove from the heat.
  • Strain: Thirdly, lay a sieve with 1 or 2 layers of cheesecloth over a large bowl. Pour the curd mixture into the sieve. Let it strain and cool for about 15 minutes.
  • Blend: Last, transfer curds to a food processor and process for around 3-4 minutes or until curds have come together and are totally smooth and creamy. Keep going and add leftover clear liquid back in gradually if your cream cheese is grainy.
  • Season: Add salt to your liking. Additionally, now is also a good time to add dried or fresh herbs, garlic or any other flavors you like.

Step by step instructions PART1 for homemade cream cheese-making curds

How to Store Cream Cheese

Since this contains fresh milk and has nothing added to preserve it, I suggest you store the cream cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.

Is This the Same As Store-Bought Cream Cheese? Is This Real Cream Cheese?

This Homemade Cream Cheese recipe yields REAL traditional fresh cream cheese which does not contain commercial stabilizers or preservatives. It’s delicious and works as well as store-bought cream cheese in cheesecakes or other baking and cooking.

Step by step instructions PART2 for homemade cream cheese-processing curds FAQs

Why is my cream cheese grainy?

The milk was overheated due to inaccurate timing, which tends to separate fat from the cheese. This can be avoided in commercial production by adding stabilizers such as carob bean gum, guar, or carrageenan to make it creamier and smoother.

This can also be avoided/reduced in homemade cream cheese by heating the milk to a simmer instead of a boil. 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. Adding more whey gradually back into the food processor during blending will also help.

Why is there milk in cream cheese making?

When the acidity increases from adding lemon juice, calcium causes precipitation of the casein and thus dairy curdles.

Cream contains virtually no casein or lactose. While in cow’s milk, approximately 82% of milk protein is casein and the remaining 18% is serum or whey protein.

So milk curdles more than cream in contact with acid and cream is added in some occasions for its creaminess and adjusting cream cheese’s fat content.

What’s the difference between cream cheese and other cheeses?

Chiefly, they differ in their nature and the last step of production.

CREAM CHEESE is fresh/non-aged strained curds that have to be processed until smooth; (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/how-to-make-cream-cheese/);

COTTAGE is non-aged curds and whey;

RICOTTA is non-aged or aged semisoft curds with whey strained out ;  (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/ricotta-cheese-recipe/)

PANNER is non-aged curds that have to be pressed.

MASCARPONE is made with cream (no milk) and acid. (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/mascarpone-cheese-recipe/) .

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

You can use LACTOSE-FREE MILK but expect much smaller curds.

Lacose-free milk still contains casein which curdles in contact with acid. Consequently, the denaturing process may make it not able to curdle as normal.

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

This cream cheese can perform just like any other. It’s not only for topping bagels in different flavors and eating plain, but also can it bake and cook with as well. I love to use this cream cheese in my Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting for my Carrot Cake 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.

Creamy and smooth cream cheese made with milk and lemon juice.

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 accordingly.

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was updated and improved on 3/29/2023, to include clear definition, additional step-by-step photography, FAQs (comparison with store-bought ones, why grainy, why milk not cream), and Pro Chef Tips( lactose-free option, how to use cream cheese).  

Use your Homemade Cream Cheese in making the perfect cheesecakes and more with your copy of the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day cookbook available now.

Weeknight Family Favorites Chapter from the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook

Watch The Recipe Video!

How to Make Cream Cheese (The Easiest Cream Cheese Recipe)

4.57 from 1374 votes
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.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 1 cup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
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.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (32 oz /1000 ml) whole milk (full fat, not low fat)
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (lime juice or white vinegar)
  • ¼-½ teaspoon salt (read notes)

Instructions

  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk on med-high. Stirring constantly until it starts to a rolling simmer.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time, in 1-minute intervals. Continue stirring constantly.
  • Continue cooking until the mixture curdles. Stir constantly until the mixture has separated completely, this should take just a few minutes. There will be a yellowish liquid on the bottom and thick curdles on top. Remove from the heat. This should happen within a few minutes.
  • Lay a cheesecloth in a large sieve and place it over a large bowl. Pour the curds into the sieve. Let it strain and cool for about 15 minutes.
  • Once cooled, use the cheesecloth to squeeze the excess whey out of the curds. (Note: You can reserve the whey for marinades, bread, pancakes etc)
  • Transfer curds to a food processor and process until very smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. If the mixture seems grainy and stiff then add in a splash of the whey or cream to loosen it.
  • 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.
  • This cream cheese must be stored in the fridge. I always use it within 7 days.

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.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

2.5K Comments
most useful
newest oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tony Saliba
Tony Saliba
4 years ago

Bomb recipe! I can’t submit a picture because I ate it all before I could reach my phone😁

Randall
Randall
4 years ago

I have made this twice with lactose free milk. The first time with vinegar because I was out of lemons, and it was a good enough substitute to $6 lactose free cream cheese. But today I used lemon juice and let me tell you it is a world of difference. I Love this recipe It has become a new staple in my house! Thank you so much for posting it!

Pia Promina
Pia Promina
4 years ago

This in my opinion is not cream cheese. This is how we make Indian Paneer. No matter how much you process it, it will be granulated. I use this process to make ricotta since it is not easily available. It is just a substitute. Apologies for me my negative comment.

Afua Kyeh
Afua Kyeh
4 years ago

I don’t have a food processor yet. Can I use a blender instead? And how do I use it?

Erich Beer
Erich Beer
4 years ago

I think the results will always be variable as cow’s milk is variable – it depends on what exactly the cows ate to produce the milk, and especially the fat content of the milk. I used two 1-liter sachets of fresh, full-cream milk bought from the supermarket. My curds looked different than those in the video but the cheese came out fine. I added about a tablespoon of fresh cream to make the “grains” come together in the food processor. The 2 liters of fresh milk yielded 300 grams of cheese. It might well be different the next time I… Read more »

Sabour
Sabour
4 years ago

Hi Gemma,
Can I freeze this cream cheese if i don’t need it right away? I plan on making a little bulk; and freeze and then use as required. Would it work?

April
April
4 years ago

I made this recipe with whole milk using lemon juice and adding the salt at the end while in the food processor. I found the cheese to be on the drier side. Is this because I over cooked it or cooked it too quickly? Any guidance on why it would be dry? I ended up using it for a dip and it was great and had great flavor it just didn’t work for eating plain on crackers.

Brenda
Brenda
4 years ago

How does this differ from Ricotta, other than being smooth?

Daniel H
Daniel H
4 years ago

Hi Gemma,

I’ve just made this, it came out fine was creamy and thick with a good yield but it tastes and smells like sour milk….is it supposed to be like that? I used fresh full fat milk from Tesco bought today (in date, not gone off….)

Ester Rowe
Ester Rowe
4 years ago

made it today with full cream longlife milk and vinegar. Used handblendr and blitz it for a second and it so creamy

This Recipe Made By Bold Bakers

71 Images

Nason

Nason

Giselle.bg

Giselle.bg

Mary Aris

Cynthiavangoethem

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

Weeknight Family Favorites Chapter from the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook

Gemma's
Summer Dessert Cookbook

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream scooped in a bowl

Summer recipes that have been loved by millions of real bakers

51435