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How to Make Ricotta Cheese

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From topping pizzas and lasagna, to incorporating in classic cannoli and Italian gelato, I will teach you my Ricotta Cheese recipe — a wonderful and versatile blank canvas.


Hi Bold Bakers!

My How to Make Ricotta Cheese recipe is one of my most favorite Bold Baking Basics to date. Who knew making creamy, rich ricotta cheese at home could be so easy? All you need is milk, cream, and some lemon juice to make it!

There are countless sweet and savory recipes this cheese can be used for, too, from topping pizzas and lasagna, to classic cannoli and Italian gelato (and don’t forget — my new 2 Ingredient Pasta Recipe that can be made without a machine!). Ricotta cheese is a wonderful blank canvas and an impressive ingredient to make from scratch! Get ready to show off!

What Food is Ricotta Used For?

This cheese is soft and spreadable making it perfect for flavoring. I like to spike my ricotta with lemon and herbs and dollop it on top of my Homemade Pizza Recipe. The ricotta can just as easily be sweetened with honey or sugar and added to things like cheesecakes and custards. The versatility of this cheese is what makes it so great have on hand. Oh, and my Ricotta Recipe goes really well with my new 2 Ingredient Homemade Pasta (Without a Machine)!

Why Won’t My Ricotta Curdle?

To make the ricotta, you simply bring cream, milk, and salt to a boil then introduce an acid — like lemon juice (or even white vinegar) — to make the mixture curdle. The curds that separate are what become the ricotta cheese and the remaining liquid gets strained away. If your cheese doesn’t curdle right after adding in the lemon juice, be patient and keep on stirring with a wooden spoon.

[ Make a cheesecake in the microwave in just 5 minutes with my 5 Minute Microwave Cheesecake Recipe! ]

If after 1 or 2 minutes you only see small grainy bits, go ahead and add more lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time. This extra acid along with the heat will provide you with nice large curdles.

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My Ricotta is Too Runny, What Happened?

After the milk and cream mixture is curdled I pour it into a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth. If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can use a thin tea towel instead. The whey will separate from the cheese leaving you the lovely ricotta.

After allowing the ricotta to drain on the countertop for about an hour, I like to bring the cheesecloth and lightly twist it together, closing up the ricotta. This not only brings the cheese into a nice ball shape, but it allows me to ring out any additional liquid that might not have drained off. This is the secret to a smooth, yet thick ricotta. As long as you don’t skip this step, you should not have runny ricotta.

What is Whey?

If you’ve never made cheese before you might not be familiar with whey. Whey is a by-product of cheese making. It is the liquid that remains after separating the curds. It should always be saved and added in place of buttermilk or milk in baking. For this reason, I always save my whey because nothing should go to waste! If you don’t think you will use it straight away then pop it in a labeled tub and into the freezer.

Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?

This homemade ricotta can be frozen and used at a later date. To do so, freeze the cheese in an airtight container and just allow to thaw at room temperature before using. However, in my honest opinion, you get the best results when you use it straight away without freezing.

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4.62 from 13 votes
How to Make Ricotta Cheese
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

From topping pizzas and lasagna, to incorporating in classic cannoli and Italian gelato, I will teach you my How to Make Ricotta Cheese recipe.

Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts (4 pints) whole milk
  • 1 cup (8oz/225ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Instructions
  1. Line a large strainer or sieve with a layer of cheesecloth or thin tea towel. Place the lined sieve over a large bowl, set aside. 

  2. In a large pot over medium heat combine the milk, cream and salt.

  3. When the cream and milk mixture comes to a simmer stir in the lemon juice. 

  4. Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture curdles. Once fully curdled it should look like watery cottage cheese. 

  5. Pour the curdled mixture into the sieve and allow to drain at room temperature for about 1 hour.

  6. After 1 hour, gently squeeze the cheesecloth around the ricotta releasing any excess *whey. Feel free to enjoy this warm at this point of transfer the sieve and bowl to the fridge and allow the ricotta to set and chill until you're ready to use it.

  7. Cover and store the cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

  8. Now you have ricotta what do you do with it, well you can put it on pizzas, canolis or you can even pair it with my homemade pasta.

Watch the Recipe Video!

Recipe Notes
  • Save the whey that has drained off the ricotta and use it for baking or cooking in place of milk or buttermilk. 

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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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44 Comments

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  1. Aniko on March 22, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Hi Gemma,

    Looks good, I did know,the way how to make this,
    We are using this with your home made pasta on top of that sour cream and fried bacons.
    Before as to build a menu, a good goulash soup is served.
    This is a Hungarian style menu.

    Thanks for sharing the ricotta recipe

    • Gemma Stafford on March 23, 2019 at 2:00 am

      Hi Aniko,
      You had me at goulash! yummy food, especially for the winter months. Bacon makes everything better, at least that is what we think in my house. This all sounds pretty perfect. Thank you for telling us about it,
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Hilary Smith on March 20, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Hello Gemma,
    Can this be used in lasagna and also will it be creaming if I add one egg to it for the dish?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 21, 2019 at 5:11 pm

      Hi, yes this can be used for that, great idea!

  3. Bethenie on March 13, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Can you use vitamin d milk or 2%?

    • Gemma Stafford on March 13, 2019 at 3:04 pm

      Hi Bethenie,

      Yes I use full fat bit D milk.

      Hope you like it,
      Gemma.

  4. jospehine on March 4, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Hi Gemma- one question (please don’t laugh :-p ) is there a way to make a lower fat version? Or do you need full fat milk and cream to curdle? Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 5, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      Hi, there for the right flavor i suggest full fat.

  5. Linda S Smith on February 26, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    I’m so glad I found you! I wanted to make clotted cream like we haVe enjoyed in England and Scotland. (We have not made it time Ireland yet). I. Have not tried it since I have not found the correct cream here in Florida. I was going to ask your advice, but I just read a post that answered my question. She used the ultra pasture iced cream. So now I will give it a go as well. It is strawberry season here in Florida, so Strawberry Jam will be the perfect topping. Do you have a tried and true Scone recipe?
    Thank you so much.
    L. Sue Smith

    • Gemma Stafford on February 27, 2019 at 6:35 am

      Hi Linda,
      Good to have you with us in Florida, where I spent many happy family holidays as a child.
      I saw one lady here using ultra pasteurized cream, but it is not what I have used. I have used Fresh Dairy Cream/Heavy whipping cream, from the dairy cabinet in my stores here in LA. That will give you a great result, ans is what is generally used in the UK.
      So lovely that you had this treat when you visited the UK. We never had this as a traditional thing in Ireland, and I think it is because our dairy produce was always so available. Interesting though!
      I hope you get to visit Ireland too now, you will be made most welcome,
      Gemma 🙂

  6. Melissa on February 10, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    I don’t know where I went wrong!
    Followed the directions to the letter, used 35% fat heavy whipping cream for the cream, and it just wouldn’t curdle! I ended up doubling the lemon juice trying to get it there.
    It’s currently very soupy and draining in the cheesecloth. I hope it can still come together somehow.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 11, 2019 at 3:13 am

      Melissa, it may have been the temperature of the cream. see here: salt.

      When the cream and milk mixture comes to a simmer stir in the lemon juice.

      Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture curdles. Once fully curdled it should look like watery cottage cheese.
      This is what I can think of, all things being equal. Do try again, it is worth it,
      Gemma 🙂

  7. Bakertry on February 9, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Just made this ricotta cheese and wow it was so easy and so good. My curds were very tiny, but after straining it, it worked fine. So tasty.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 10, 2019 at 2:19 am

      Good! thank you also for posting a pic of this, delighted that you enjoyed this,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Pattie Jns on February 7, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Gemma, thank you for answering. I didn’t explain well enough. where would I find you recipe for mayonnaise.
    I have checked everywhere. thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 9:34 pm

      Oh, i do not have a recipe for that, but great idea!

  9. Pattie Jns on February 7, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Gemma, thanks for these….. I was looking for your recipe for mayonnaise. As I use all of these.
    thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      It’s my pleasure! Enjoy!

  10. Edwina A. Gill on February 6, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Wonderful recipe, homemade ricotta is so ‘silky smooth.’ When ‘sweetened and flavored’ it is the filling for
    Cannoli.
    If you take this same recipe and substitute heavy cream (for the milk) .. you’ve now made the
    Italian Dessert cheese called Mascarpone. It’s a most delicious filling for layer cake.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 4:44 pm

      YUM, i love the sounds of that!

  11. Melissa on February 5, 2019 at 4:24 am

    Can I add lemon juice instead of fresh squeezed?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 5, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      Fresh lemon juice works best here.

  12. Sabhia baloch on February 5, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Can I use this cheese for carrot cake icing

  13. Grace cassar on February 4, 2019 at 7:34 am

    Hi thx for the recipe. I have done it loads of times with white vinegar but I never added cream.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 4, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      Yes, you have got to try it!

  14. Denise on February 4, 2019 at 4:53 am

    I am excited to try this for my Lasagna this next week. Absolutely adore getting an email from you Gemma. If I think about it I will post a pick.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 4, 2019 at 1:10 pm

      Aw 😀 i am delighted to hear that!

  15. Amnah Gul on February 4, 2019 at 1:52 am

    Thank you for this great recipe. Also, try to share an Italian Classic dessert recipe of Ricotta Cheese Tart.

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

      Oh i’ll have to try that, thank you!

  16. jasonc on February 3, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Turned out great! I never had made anything like this and it is awesome, thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 4, 2019 at 4:18 pm

      YAY i am delighted to hear that!

  17. Bet on February 3, 2019 at 11:40 am

    I live alone and don’t use a lot of milk but always have it on hand. Therefore I make a lot of ricotta to use the milk before it spoils. Hence, I do freeze it quite often but find it works just fine when thawed. Lover ricotta pie.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 4, 2019 at 4:03 pm

      I like to freeze it too! I’ll have to try ricotta pie, YUM!

  18. Mary W on February 3, 2019 at 10:37 am

    This looks so easy and I will try it soon. I’m trying to find a good recipe for candied ginger. I had some this Christmas that was about 1/2″ cubes or less, very softened almost creamy interior and a whitish coating of candied sugar coating it. I absolutely adored the taste – not too spicy yet very much gingery and sweetened so well but not too much. I can’t find it now that it is past Christmas and want to bake ginger/molasses cookies, eat slivers with cream cheese on pecan halves and just enjoy it as a spicy snack. HELP, it could make a very good BASICS video, hint, hint. I am currently obsessed with clotted cream and found I could make it with ultra pasteurized heavy whipping cream! Cooked all night at 180 F in the oven, then cooked to room temp and put in the fridge till the next day. It is just fabulous even though the unpasteurized version is probably richer. I am so glad I was able to taste this without traveling to Europe! Some more is in the oven now and I’ll use the whey to make scones. YUM! Just picked a ton of tangerines and made a batch of marmalade which should be yummy with the cream and scones. How do you stay so fit with so many good things to eat?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 3, 2019 at 10:52 am

      Thanks for the suggestion! I will add this to my list!

      Oh, I just taste (Moderation in moderation!) and I do share 😉 It helps I have a hungry team and neighbors!

  19. Sam David on February 3, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Please let me know if I can put ice or wash it little with cold water

    • Gemma Stafford on February 3, 2019 at 10:37 am

      No need to wash! just squeeze excess whey, transfer to a container and then chill in the fridge. You’ll be grand!

  20. ca1949 on February 3, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Simple, Easy- and delicious.
    Thank you Gemma. I already passed the recipe to my friends and sisters.
    I love all your recipes and videos!
    Warmly, carol

    • Gemma Stafford on February 3, 2019 at 10:22 am

      Aw, thanks so much for sharing! I do appreciate it!

  21. Karen on February 3, 2019 at 8:56 am

    This looks great! I am definitely going to try it. I have made soft cheese using this method. One thing I found, though, that you might want to mention in the recipe – you can’t use ultra pasteurized milk. That stuff does not curdle. Pasteurized milk is fine, of course, but the ultra stuff is made to last a lot longer than regular milk and so never curdles. I had it sitting out for 24 hours and kept adding more lemon juice and absolutely nothing happened.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 3, 2019 at 10:22 am

      Thanks for sharing! It is valuable tips like these that I love from my Bold Bakers. I am learning from all of you as well

  22. Mei Highfill on February 3, 2019 at 8:23 am

    This is the curds and whey that Little Miss Muffett is eating. You can keep stiring so your curds remain small, add chopped veggies, salt and pepper and then you have the best soup! You can also use the whey in place of water when you make rice or even lemonade. This is a staple for lacto-vegetarians. Thanks for sharing.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 3, 2019 at 10:16 am

      No thank you for sharing! These are great ideas and tips!

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