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Learn how to make ricotta cheese at home. It’s quick and easy: all you need is milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt.

Homemade ricotta cheese in a blue bowl with a knife resting along the side.

Technically, authentic ricotta cheese is made from cooked whey, which is a by-product of the cheesemaking process.

However, this is a recipe for an easy milk-based ricotta, which is more like a fresh farmers cheese. It’s just as wonderful and works perfectly well in all sweet and savory recipes which call for ricotta cheese.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. How to Make Ricotta Cheese Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients for making ricotta cheese at home.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Milk: Use pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized / UHT) whole milk.
  • Lemon juice: Use regular lemons (not Meyer lemons; they don’t have enough acid to curdle the milk).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Line a colander with a triple layer of cheesecloth and set in sink. In a liquid measuring cup, combine lemon juice and vinegar.
Ingredients and cooking tools needed to make ricotta cheese.
  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat milk and salt to 185 degrees. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula to prevent scorching.
Ricotta cheese ingredients being temped.
  1. Remove pot from heat and gently stir in lemon juice and vinegar until the mixture curdles, about 15 seconds. 
Ricotta cheese being made in a silver pan.
  1. Let rest, without stirring, until the mixture fully separates into solid curds and translucent whey, 5 to 10 minutes. If curds do not fully separate the whey looks milky, stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar and let sit 2 to 3 minutes longer. Repeat this process until curds separate.
Ricotta cheese being made in a silver pan.
  1. Gently pour prepared mixture into prepared colander. Let rest, without moving, until whey has drained from edges of cheese but center is still very moist, about 8 minutes. 
Ricotta cheese being strained.
  1. Gently transfer cheese to large bowl, keeping as much whey in center of cheese as possible. Stir well to break up large curds and incorporate whey. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours, or up to 5 days. Stir ricotta before using.
Ricotta cheese in a clear bowl.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 2 pounds (4 cups) of ricotta cheese, or 32 (1-ounce) servings (2 tablespoons each).
  • Storage: Store ricotta covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Leftover whey: Add it to smoothies for a protein boost or use it in place of water when making bread and pizza dough (it feeds the yeast).
  • Simple spread: Drizzle some fresh ricotta cheese with honey, then sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Serve with toasted baguette slices.
Ricotta cheese in a small dish surrounded by pieces of bread.

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Put your ricotta to work

Homemade ricotta cheese in a blue bowl with a knife resting along the side.

How to Make Ricotta Cheese

Learn how to make ricotta cheese at home. It's quick and easy: all you need is milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt.
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Cooling Time 2 hrs
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 32 servings (2 tbsp each)
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 73

Ingredients 

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar plus more as needed
  • 1 gallon pasteurized whole milk (not ultrapasteurized or UHT)
  • 2 teaspoons Salt

Instructions 

  • Line a colander with a triple layer of cheesecloth and set in sink. In a liquid measuring cup, combine lemon juice and vinegar.
  • In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat milk and salt to 185 degrees. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula to prevent scorching.
  • Remove pot from heat and gently stir in lemon juice and vinegar until the mixture curdles, about 15 seconds. 
  • Let rest, without stirring, until the mixture fully separates into solid curds and translucent whey, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If curds do not fully separate the whey looks milky, stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar and let sit 2 to 3 minutes longer. Repeat this process until curds separate.
  • Gently pour prepared mixture into prepared colander. Let rest, without moving, until whey has drained from edges of cheese but center is still very moist, about 8 minutes. 
  • Gently transfer cheese to large bowl, keeping as much whey in center of cheese as possible. Stir well to break up large curds and incorporate whey. 
  • Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours, or up to 5 days. Stir ricotta before using.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Milk: Use pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized / UHT) whole milk.
  2. Lemon juice: Use regular lemons (not Meyer lemons; they don’t have enough acid to curdle the milk).
  3. Yield: This recipe makes 2 pounds (4 cups) of ricotta cheese, or 32 (1-ounce) servings (2 tablespoons each).
  4. Storage: Store ricotta covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  5. Leftover whey: Add it to smoothies for a protein boost or use it in place of water when making bread and pizza dough (it feeds the yeast).
  6. Simple spread: Drizzle some fresh ricotta cheese with honey, then sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tbsp (1 oz)Calories: 73kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 196mgPotassium: 159mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 192IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 134mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

    1. Hi Geri, you can, however, the ricotta may take on a more vinegar-like flavor. The lemon juice imparts a nice flavor to the finished ricotta. Enjoy! – Meggan

  1. I never imagined making ricotta could be so doable! I made mine and had it in the fridge for 72 hours before making a lasagna. It still spread incredibly well and tasted just like what you get at stores. Canโ€™t recommend this enough!5 stars

  2. So excited to try this recipe! I am a die hard ricotta lover! I am wondering if the bottled lemon juice is ok? Or is the fresh squeezed necessary?

    Thank you!5 stars

  3. Gorgeous recipe! I did wait about an hour to strain my curds because it took that long for the mixture to warm to the touch. It was perfect but since it’s my first attempt I have no idea if this added time made a difference :). Thank you for the clear instructions and the VERY fun discovery that is the ease of making my own ricotta!5 stars

  4. Hi from Toronto Canada. I am keen to give this a try …but need to ask if I can use 1% or 2% milk instead of whole milk?

    1. Hi Anne, thanks for trying this recipe! You can use 1% or 2%, but it will not have the same creamy texture as if you used whole milk. – Meggan

  5. I’m going to try this today, we have to make a dish for my daughters cooking class. We are making homemade manicotti.
    Question, the part above about making ricotta from whey. Is this the leftover whey from the first ricotta process?

    1. Hi Juli, such timing! Thanks for giving this a try. Making ricotta cheese from Whey (as described in the body of post, not in the actual recipe card) is more labor-intensive process that is closer to the way ricotta cheese is traditionally made. You could only do that if you had whey left over from some sort of cheese-making enterprise in your backyard, which you probably don’t (unless you are secretly a cheesemaker!). But the way I put in the recipe card, which is also the way we made it in culinary school, is much easier and the ricotta tastes great. I cannot even tell the difference. It’s just a really easy way to make it. So ignore the part about making it from Whey, and just go by the recipe. Does that make sense? Sorry this was confusing. I’ll try to clarify in the post so no one else is confused. Good luck with your manicotti!!! Thanks Juli! -Meggan