Homemade Ricotta Cheese is surprisingly easy to make, only requiring 4 simple ingredients and 20 minutes of time. And tastes a million times better than store bought!
Have you ever made (or tasted) homemade ricotta cheese? It will sort of blow your mind if you’re used to store bought. They are absolutely nothing alike!
What is Ricotta Cheese?
When you make cheese, you separate the milk into two things: the solids (curds), which are pressed, and the liquid that is left behind, which is called whey. Ricotta (translated to recooked in Italian), is a “whey” cheese. It’s made from sheep, cow, goat, or Italian water buffalo milk. Cheesemakers repurpose the whey by heating it with a small amount of milk and some form of vinegar or citrus, which creates curds. Then the curds are transferred to a cheesecloth and strained. What remains is delicate, fluffy, glorious ricotta.
If you’re at all into bread (and what sane person isn’t?), chances are you’ve heard of Nancy Silverton. She’s a pioneer when it comes to yeast and flour and has been at the forefront of efforts to revitalize sourdough and artisan breads in the United States. She’s also a James Beard award-winning pastry chef, founder of La Brea Bakery, co-owner of Mozza in Los Angeles, and author of 7 cookbooks. How’s that for a resume?
I was fortunate enough to attend a cooking demo she put on, where she created some small bites, which included amazing homemade ricotta cheese.
How Do you Make Ricotta Cheese?
(Full printable recipe is at the end.)
You only need four simple ingredients! Whole milk, heavy cream, fresh lemon juice, and kosher salt.
- All the ingredients go into a small, heavy-bottom stainless steel saucepan. Bring it to a boil, without stirring. Then turn off the heat and set the saucepan aside until the mixture cools slightly, 5-10 minutes. (You’ll see the mixture separating into curds.)
- Line a strainer (or colander) with cheesecloth and place in the sink. Very gently scoop the curds out of the saucepan (don’t pour! which will break up the curds) and into the strainer to drain.
That’s it! Serve warm over bread, with fresh herbs, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of pepper!
Awesome uses for Ricotta Cheese
- Dollop a bit on crusty bread, drizzle with quality olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simple and delish!
- Take your breakfast up a notch and spoon it onto scrambled eggs.
- Include it as part of the mixture for homemade meatballs.
- Make my absolute favorite snack with roasted grapes. Life changing.
- Combine it with some grilled fruit, granola, and honey for a light dessert.
- Use it as a layer in lasagna.
- Stir it in cooked pasta and spaghetti sauce.
- Mix it with spinach and cheese to make a tasty dip!
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Freezing homemade ricotta is not ideal. Since it’s a soft cheese, the high moisture content becomes ice when you freeze it, and then once thawed, you can see the division of whey and curds, resulting in a drier, grainier texture. I don’t recommend it!
Watch the video for Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed, strained lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Without stirring, pour all of the ingredients in a small heavy-bottom stainless steel saucepan; bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and set the saucepan aside until the mixture cools slightly, 5-10 minutes. (You’ll see the mixture separating into curds.)
- Line a strainer (or colander) with cheesecloth and place in the sink. Gently scoop the curds out of the saucepan (don’t pour! which will break up the curds) and into the strainer to drain.
- That’s it! Serve warm over bread, with fresh herbs, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of pepper!
- If you don't have a cheesecloth, 2 layered coffee filters does the trick, too!
- If you don’t want to use the ricotta warm, you can tie the cheesecloth onto the handle of a long wooden spoon; place the spoon over a bowl or pan so it’s hanging. Then place in the refrigerator to drain until you’re ready to use it, for up to 2 days.
- Unfortunately, it takes a lot of liquid to get a mere 1 cup of product. But don’t waste it. Use the reserved liquid (whey) to replace water or milk in any yeast bread recipe, and also for cooking rice or pasta!
- For several ways to use delicious ricotta, refer to the article.
recipe compliments of Nancy Silverton