Homemade Ricotta Cheese – Eating my Curds and Ditching the Whey

I’ve always wanted to dabble a bit in cheese making, and after seeing a recipe for homemade ricotta cheese, I knew I had to try it! In the end, it not only worked out beautifully, but it served another purpose, a pretty important one at that!.

Last Friday I was babysitting my amazing and adorable 10-month old nephew.  I love this kid to pieces, so I look forward to being able spend time with him, especially since I have all the time in the world at this juncture!  Naturally, the best part of being with him is cuddling him and playing with him, and the diaper changes are no big whoop because nothing ‘baby Zach’ is gross to me.  He’s my little banana puff puff!

Anyway, one game he really loves I call ‘Bouncy Bouncy Boo Boo’.  I lie on my back and lift him up and down, bringing him all the way to my face so we touch noses, then all the way back up so he can ‘fly’.

While we do this, I repeat “BOUNCY BOUNCY BOO BOO” sporadically, in a silly voice, which makes him laugh hysterically.  His sweet and goofy laughter just fills my heart and makes it impossible not to smile so wide that my cheeks hurt.  Well, he got into such a fit of laughter during Bouncy Bouncy Boo Boo last Friday, that when I brought him back down to touch noses, my gaping grin so wide that you could probably see my wisdom teeth from a mile away, he suddenly dropped his head full force, right onto my right front tooth.  PAIN plus a cracking noise, then numbness.  It felt like an anvil had crashed through my roof and onto that tooth.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese                                               My sis and baby boulder head

Of course my first concern was him, but he was fine, still laughing.  The babe has one hard head!  After checking his head, looking into his eyes, and panicking briefly, I afforded myself a nano-second to examine my tooth.  A little blood, and boy did it hurt, but of most concern, after him, was the fact that it felt a little loose. OH NO! (stereotype alert) Is it time to pack me off to Appalachia with a case of pork rinds and a banjo?? Should I take up ice hockey? (Disclaimer: This is not meant to hurt or insult anyone. I’m referring to the movie, ‘Deliverance’, not the actual, beautiful and ‘toothy’ people who live in Appalachia.  I never, ever saw a person with a missing tooth when I was there.).

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Just my luck, my dentist wasn’t going to be back in the office until Wednesday for evening hours, but I was told that if there’s only slight mobility, the tooth will tighten up on its own within a few days to a week and to just stay away from hard foods like apples, hard pretzels etc.  Well, it has tightened up a little, and the pain has subsided, but it still feels weird, so I’m setting up an appointment for Tuesday or Wednesday, just to be safe.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Because of this, I’ve been existing on soup for the past week. I don’t want to take ANY chance of a chunk of even soft fruit in yogurt jostling that tooth. What a perfect time to try homemade ricotta cheese! It’s soft, no biting down..no gaping hole smile.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Technically, this isn’t how ricotta cheese is made, but it tastes exactly like (but better) the ricotta cheese we’re all used to and it IS ricotta cheese. Ricotta (meaning recooked) is usually made out of whey, the liquid separated out from the curds when cheese is made, like mozzarella, and recooked.  In this recipe, you’re using whole milk and cream plus acid to make the ricotta, and discarding the whey (although you can use it in homemade breads, or other preparations which I can’t conjure up at this moment).  This is the perfect time to ask, Can anyone think of any good uses for the liquid whey outside of watering the garden?

I have this weird obsession with waste.

That being said, not only is ricotta cheese easy to make with just 4 ingredients and a super rapid cooking time, but the results are well worth it.  You’ll never want to eat store bought again, well, to a degree, since you don’t always want nor have the time to make cheese  However, it does take quite a bit of milk..as in 8 cups of milk plus 1 cup of cream for a yield of about 2 plus to 3 plus cups ricotta,  OK, maybe you shouldn’t completely rule out store-bought, but trust me, homemade ricotta cheese is well worth tackling every so often, and the fresh, creamy result is to die for.

By the way, my tooth is back to normal, so I may not have to relocate after all.  NOT that I would mind because Appalachia is beautiful. Maybe a second home when I hit the lottery.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese                                      MY ‘soft’ dinner – with honey and black pepper

Finally, there’s another reason I made ricotta cheese from scratch, but you’ll have to stay- tuned to find out (don’t you hate when people do that?) I know I’ve said this before and not come through (I accidentally deleted the photos of what I did with the dark chocolate Valentino, so I will tell you. I paired it with spiced poached pears, walnuts and creme fraiche, plus, the supposed coming soon post on the A-Rod deal), but this time it’s for real.  I think. I hope.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese                          

Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 2 plus to 3 plus cups fresh ricotta
Straining time: 1 to 2 hours or overnight.
Recipe adapted from Brooklyn Farmhouse
  • 8 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white vinegar
  1. Line a large strainer or sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth * and place the strainer over a large bowl.
  2. In a large pot or saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep milk mixture from scorching. If you have a good kitchen thermometer, about 180 to 185 F is the ideal temperature to bring it to.
  3. Add all the lemon juice or vinegar, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring gently once or twice, for 2 minutes. The mixture will curdle immediately. When you've got a ton of curds, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. After 45 minutes to 1 hour, pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let strain for an hour or two. Do not press down on it, let it strain itself. Discard the liquid whey (or keep it and use it for bread baking!) and refrigerate the ricotta or use immediately. If you want it really dry, wrap it back up with the cheesecloth, leave it in the strainer over the bowl, weighted down with something heavy, and refrigerate overnight.
* If you can't find cheesecloth, paper coffee filters work well.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese - 4 Ingredients, 2 minutes cooking time. SO much better than store bought! Outside of the typical uses, try it with honey and black pepper!
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96 Responses to Homemade Ricotta Cheese – Eating my Curds and Ditching the Whey

  1. Elyse says:

    Oh my goodness. Zach is totally precious, and man, that kid must have one hard noggin. Glad to hear your tooth is feeling better and that you’ll be able to see the dentist soon enough. Man oh man, what an accident! In the mean time, this “soft” ricotta looks amazing! I really need to try my hand at making it!

  2. slow-1 says:

    Does it still taste grainy like most store bought Ricotta?

  3. Beautiful pixs of the ricotta and the baby. Things happen for a reason sometimes and this time it was for you to make this tooth friendly soft ricotta. Your cheese shots are most professional. Waiting for your surprize.

  4. lisamichele says:

    slow-1 – Actually, it did not have a grainy taste or texture at all – ‘curdy’….but creamier than store bought. I think that probably has something to do with the heavy cream.

    Thanks Audax and Elyse! 🙂

  5. Maris says:

    OMG Lisa what an adorable little guy! That big smile is precious.

  6. Laura says:

    Oh lord I’ve been bonked by my kids like that… and it hurts. Usually my nose or chin–I’ve never gotten a loose tooth. Although I know someone whose cornea was scratched by her kid–yikes.

    I’ve never liked ricotta–but reading this I gotta wonder if homemade would change my mind.

  7. Denise says:

    Hey pretty girl, your blog is looking fierce! I’m blown away that you made ricotta cheese from scratch! If I stop over, could you whip up a batch for me? I’ll just eat it out of the strainer with a spoon!

  8. ingrid says:

    Your nephew is crazy cute! You know that their heads are so hard and soft (insane right?) at the same time to keep THEM from getting hurt. On of the twins fell so much I worried about brain damamge. The doctors told me if I was that concerned to put a helmet on him and let him go otherwise except for something extreme he’d be fine. You know except when he’s playing sports he’s an accident waiting to happen.

    I love ricotta cheese and you’re saying this is even better? Hmmmm, I’ll be honest I’mnot sure about the honey and black pepper together on top of my ricotta cheese. I’ll have to take your word it’s a just do it!

    Btw, are you finally pushing 100%? Or do you still have a ways to go?

  9. tiamatsrevenge says:

    OMK!! That’s what I don’t have for my lasagna … LOL

    I found my card reader and uploaded my cookie pix …

    Your pix make mine look horrible … You’d never know that I got a degree in photo-journalism … But, then again, there’s a difference between “still life” and “real life” … LOL

  10. There’s nothing like homemade ricotta!

  11. Juliana says:

    Interesting recipe…I’d like to try it. The baby is very precious. Great pictures.

  12. John says:

    Great ricotta cheese..gonna roll that up in some manicotti?

    Oh, heard what happened….is he crazy? I’m here if you need a shoulder, or anything…….. seriously.

  13. I love that you’ve made your own ricotta! Cheese making is one of those things I’ve never tried but yours looks so delicious, I really should!

  14. Mirthful says:

    Aha. Now that’s an idea. Home-made ricotta would fit the bill perfectly.

  15. Tooth…OH NO! Baby Boulder Head…HA!

    Honey on ricotta does rock — I went to a honey tasting that paired them together and I was in hog heaven (that’s a shout out to your stereotype inserts…which made me literally LOL). The instructor mentioned how easy it would be to make your own ricotta…and looks like you’ve proved him right! Do you think…it could be done with 2%?? I wonder if it would achieve the same effect (albeit not as delicious, I’m sure!).

    And…um…Yankees? Very depressing. So depressing I may just need to splurge and go for the whole milk. 😉

  16. Katrina says:

    Ooh, ouch! I hope your tooth is feeling better by now!
    Cool, ricotta!

  17. Sophie says:

    Home made ricotta is lovely & delicious! You did a great & wonderful job! Honey goes great with ricotta!

  18. Rosa says:

    Fantastic! I’ll also have to try making my own fresh cheese soon…



  19. Giselle says:


    I sent you an email and tried to call, but no answer either way. So so sorry for your loss, honey. I’m here for you..always.

  20. BitterSweet says:

    Aww, such an adorable little nephew you have Hopefully you can help teach him to be a real foodie as he grows up. 😉

  21. A&N says:

    Ricotta is on our to-do list for the daring cooks this weekend 😉
    and is there a reason you chose to add pepper? Thats a really interesting combination (honey and black pepper).

    and I think I’ll spare too many comments about the Yankees. I am surprised that there is no website titled ‘firejoegirardi.com’ or ‘firedaveeiland.com’

  22. Arlette says:

    I hope you are doing with your tooth!!!!
    nice looking Ricotta and delicious flavours.
    I love the home made Ricotta,or as we say in Arabic fresh Areesheh.
    one of the best selling sandwiches in Lebanon, specially if you are going on a tour trip the bus driver will stop at one place in Shtourah – Bekaa, and every one will go for a sandwich of warm fresh Lavash Bread and Areesheh w Assal(Ricotta with Honey)
    the owners of that place has their own dairy farm.

    thanks for sharing the recipe

  23. Sarah says:

    I recently made fresh ricotta and used the whey as a cooking liquid for pasta.

    Maybe kind of indulgent, but definitely delicious.

  24. Snuggle Puppy says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Sorry Zach gets a little too excited playing with you. He whacked me in the eyebrow with a remote control a few weeks ago. Looks like I might need a helmet being his Mom. Your ricotta looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it. Hope you are feeling better. We’ll get through this.


  25. shellyfish says:

    Ha ha ha! Can’t wait to see the “why”! 🙂
    I hope your tooth is ok – but what a freaking cutie! Hannah at Bittersweet had a bread recipe using whey – it was soy but it would probably work ok for you.

  26. susie says:

    left my comment on your about you..love your photos and I will be back! Thanks for dropping by!

  27. Mark says:

    Lisa, a little birdie told me what happened. Double whammy is an understatement and I wish i could say something soothing outside of a cliche “I’m so sorry, sweetie”. You are beautiful, and pure sunshine, especially when you flash that dazzling smile. You always made everyone around you feel great, and that’s a gift. Rotten luck downed you for a while, but that inner glow was still there waiting to bust out in full force again.

    Alright, I’m starting to sound like a bad poet, so since this is your blog, and this blog is about your STOMACH GROWLING cuisine, I need to demand that once you’ve healed, you’re making me dinner and dessert! Now, will you check your work email addy, please?? I bet it’s filled to the brim. Lots of love, M

  28. Alana says:

    I got inspired by your post and got to making my ricotta today, and oddly enough, the milk didn’t curdle when I added the lemon! I did some quick research and added white vinegar, and it did the trick. Your ricotta looks luscious though- and thanks for the inspiration.

  29. Jose says:

    The beautiful pearl was callously ejected out of the shell she loved and lived in for years….BUT this is a good thing! Now we gotta get you walkin’ again, babe!

    Oh, I want your cheese..and your cheesecake too 😉

  30. Barbara says:

    I remember getting whacked by my kids and it hurts! Your ricotta looks perfect. I’ll look forward to your secret post!

  31. pinkstripes says:

    Your nephew is so cute!! Your homemade ricotta looks gorgeous. I really need to make my own one day.

  32. Jude says:

    Glad to hear you didn’t have to lose it. If it means I’d be having something like this, I wouldn’t mind the momentary pain.

  33. Natalie says:

    Hope your tooth is ok!!
    Your homemade ricotta looks so delicious and creamy!

  34. Alana says:

    I made English Muffin bread with my whey, as well as Cheddar Chive Beer bread. It was a success I think, and I avoided pouring it down the drain.

  35. Elle says:

    That is one cute baby…with, thank heavens, a hard head. Glad your tooth is OK. The ricotta looks amazing, but sounds like quite a process. Didn’t know you could water the garden with whey…will have to try that when I make fresh ricotta!

  36. Sophie says:

    MMMMMM….home made ricotta! Looks so lovely & yummie!!!

  37. msmeanie says:

    I love homemade ricotta. It’s also called paneer (Indian cheese). There are some great Indian recipes that use paneer. Thanks for visiting my blog! Your site is great. I will be back for more recipes!

  38. Pingback: This is the first Daring Cooks Challenge – Ricotta Gnocchi « Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives

  39. I’ve been hit it the nose by my infant son with a hard plastic teething ring, and heard a loud crack. Luckily, it was just bruised. Hope your tooth feels better. Honey and cheese is one of my favorite pairings…

    I just read a Slate article about how you can save the whey to use instead of water when you make bread or bagels. Here’s the link: http://www.slate.com/id/2216611/pagenum/all/

  40. Catalina says:

    This looks so yummy!
    You can use the whey to lacto-ferment lots of things.
    Like pickles, black beans, ect.
    It’s very easy.

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  45. Thanks so much for the impetus to finally make ricotta. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you through the Secret Recipe Club.

  46. well written article, saved this page, I’ll be returning later.

  47. Pingback: Delphia

  48. jamieflares says:

    This is basically how you make paneer for Indian dishes! The recipe I have for paneer doesn’t use the salt, but is otherwise the same as the “extra dry” version of this where your press more water out. Mmm…love me some saag paneer w/ some fresh homemade paneer!

    • Lisa says:

      Yep…I’ve made paneer too..the only difference being that paneer is pressed..so technically..a little extra salt and pressing would also give you ricotta salata 🙂

  49. Food Snob says:

    Use the whey for fermented veggies. Check out the cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. The sauerkraut is wonderful!!!!

  50. Yummy! Have done this before, but not the honey and pepper pairing. Interesting! Use the whey in smoothies, if you want the protein. 😉

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for the tip on using the whey, Rosemarie, can’t wait to try it! Try the honey and pepper, it’s a great dessert or snack! 🙂

  51. Brittany says:

    Use whey to make probiotic lemonade!

  52. laura N says:

    You can find a rricotta at Aldi’s…Priano brand. Not grainy at all. I want to try this recipe, though.

  53. beth says:

    Whey~lacto fermented foods!!!!! pickling without boiling vinegar! the natural way. very nutritious and super tasty! probiotics from food you made!

    • Lisa says:

      You.are.awesome. Thank you so much for that, Beth! I never, ever would have even entertained the idea and now I’m wicked excited to try it!! Time to make some more cheese to get to the whey! lol

  54. Marti says:

    So this would be luscious for lasagna????? Looks delish!

    • Lisa says:

      Ack, some of my comments got lost! Just ran into yours! So sorry for the delay! That said, absolutely luscious for lasagna! I’m guessing about double the recipe for the ricotta would fill a lasagna well 🙂

  55. aj says:

    This cheese can be used to make cheese cake. It is just as tasty and more economical than store bought. I like your photo shots too.

    • Lisa says:

      Yes, aj! Ricotta cheesecake is amazing! Or cut in ricotta with cream cheese or mascarpone! 🙂 Thank you for the photo compliments! I love the pouring shots!

  56. MochasMom says:

    Wow. I pinned this for the ricotta recipe. When I actually went through and read the post, I was appalled. I’m from the heart of Appalachia, and your stereotype jokes were in very poor taste. It isn’t socially acceptable to make fun of people for being from any other part of the world, why should Appalachia be any different? Can you imagine the outcry if your stupid stereotype jokes pertained to “the ghetto” or “some third-world country”?

    • Lisa says:

      Wow, I’m really sorry you were offended by that, MochasMom. I made a point to say ‘stereotype alert’ meaning it’s a joke and not meant to insult or hurt anyone. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Appalachian area and the people are lovely and wonderful – never saw any missing teeth. 😉 I was making fun of myself and using the fictional hillbilly ‘Deliverance’ movie angle was my way to get that across in a joking, satirical way. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I added a side note to the post clear that up.

    • Susan says:

      Get over it MochasMom. I’m born and raised In the heart of Appalachia, and I find it funny as hell!! I’m proud to be where I’m from….I mean, our kinfolk even invented the toothbrush! If someone from another region invented it, it would have been called a Teethbrush! ???

      • Lisa says:

        I literally spewed water from my nose while lmao at the ‘toothbrush/teethbrush’ barb. I’ve never heard that one before! Thank you so much for the laugh, Susan! That said, yes, it was just a stereotypical joke based on the movie, Deliverance, all for laughs. My ex played professional baseball and started out in the farm system in the Appalachian league, so I spent a good part of one summer in that region. Not once did I see anyone missing any teeth, but I did see A LOT of pretty people!

    • Jeanette Rogers says:

      I agree with you. If she didn’t mean to insult, she shouldn’t have said it. I am greatly offended.

      It is NOT a joke. It is not funny.

      • Alyssa says:

        AS a native of Pulaski, VA…oh my goodness gracious, ladies, get the sticks out of your booties! She is clearly referring to a movie and she makes it very CLEAR that it’s a joke based on that movie. A toothless bigot? SERIOUSLY?? LOL!

      • Jeanette Rogers says:

        And that movie was an insulting stereotype. There is no stick up my ass you twit. Take up for your people!

  57. Ahmed Laboy says:

    Me gusto esas recetas pero del queso ricotta super

  58. martha says:

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm estoy segura me encantara y facilicimoooooooo me encanta gracias

  59. Wendy says:

    I just took a cheese cooking class and they said whey is a secret ingredient for breads

  60. baketrail says:

    I wonder, will this work with UHT milk or does it have to be fresh?

    • Lisa says:

      Hi there! I’ve never tried this with anything but fresh milk, so I can’t confirm that it will work, but it’s definitely worth a try! Some of our best inventions were the result of trying things that may or may not work 🙂

  61. Cheryl Lane says:

    If you like ginger ale, it is made with whey. Can’t remember the other ingredients at this time. I do know that it takes real ginger. I think some lemon juice, I know there was something to sweeten it. Anyway, you leave it sit in a canning jar for about 3 days and it is done. It is easy to make. You can strain it so you won’t have bits of lemon pulp or ginger floating around in the drink. I pinned this just the other day so I will look it up and get back to you!

    • Lisa says:

      I LOVE Ginger Ale, Cheryl! Thank you so much for this idea! Unfortunately, due to some site restoration, I lost the link you posted. Hopefully you’ll see this and post it again 🙂

  62. Pingback: 4-Ingredient Homemade Ricotta Cheese Recipe

  63. Mary Beth says:

    The liquid whey can be used to replace water when making bread. I’ve also heard of it being used to thicken soups and stuff

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you so much for that tip, Mary Beth! I’ve heard about it for bread, but never as a thickener for soups plus. Now that’s pretty cool, but I wonder if it would make the soup taste funny (??). 🙂

  64. Ana Sánchez says:

    Hola!!! Yo lo quiero hacer!!!!! Se podrá rellenar canolis?? Y gracias por la receta

  65. Jennifer says:

    Do you know if this would work with lactose free milk?!

  66. kitblue says:

    I`m sorry that I didn`t read through all (83!) comments to see if someone has already respond to your request for how to use the whey. Whey is used to ferment vegetables, like sauerkraut, which is very good for your health. They help digestion and increase nutrients, just for two benefits.

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you SO SO much for that amazing tip for using whey, kit! In all 83 comments, not one has mentioned using it to ferment vegetables! I’m thinking Kimchi right about now!

      • kitblue says:

        Look for lacto ferment recipes. If you use Pinterest, my recipes can be found at MPaula on my board Sour Dough and Ferments (you don’t need an account to access my boards). There might also be some on Recipes – Condiments that I used before I set up the ferment board. Just goes to show we shouldn’t “assume” that another person knows what we know!

      • Lisa says:

        Thank you, kit! Is this your Pinterest account–> https://www.pinterest.com/mpaula/ ? If so, I don’t see a Sourdough and ferments board. Can you link it here or email it to me? 🙂

  67. Mark ciotti says:

    Really can’t wait to make the cheese & ricotta, I seen my grandparents and family make the dried sausage and homemade sausage for Sunday dinners so I’m good in that department , but always wanted to make cheese now I found a great way 2 Start for one thing …I would like to know what is the difference between using lemon juice and white vinegar is it just a taste thing???,but thank you for your recipes really appreciate it thank you very much and have a nice day…. the first thing I’m going to do after I make the cheese and test it to see how good it came out is definitely make lasagna with the homemade mozzarella and ricotta, it’s definitely going to be a great Sunday homemade sauce homemade lasagna can’t beAt home made Italian stuff!!!

  68. Pettacom says:

    OMG, this is delicious. It’s the 3rd recipe I’ve tried for ricotta — first was whey, didn’t care for it, second was all milk, better but fussy to make. Now I need look now further. This was easy to make, creamy, just slightly grainy, and firm without being dry. I used whole milk,cider vinegar in place of lemon juice, and the addition of a bit of cream makes all the difference. My only problem is keeping myself from snacking on it.

  69. Lori says:

    Does it have a slight lemony taste. I had the most delicious lemon ricotta ravioli and wondered if the lemon flavor was from the ricotta.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi, Lori! I wouldn’t say it has a slight lemon taste, but 1) the ravioli you ordered probably had lemon zest added to the ricotta since it was called lemon ravioli, and 2) the lemon juice in the recipe definitely gives it the brightness we’re used to when it comes to ricotta cheese, but it’s mainly used to curdle the milk into curds. 🙂

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