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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.
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 32 servings (2 tbsp each)
Calories 73kcal


  • 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


  • 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.



  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.


Serving: 2tbsp (1 oz) | Calories: 73kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 196mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 192IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 1mg