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« Vinaigrette | Main | Homemade Cinnamon Bread »

How to Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese

It's hard to get back into the swing of things after such a lovely holiday break with all my sons home under one roof, but here we go into 2011.  I sure did a lot of cooking, baking and cleaning with all the entertaining we did and having family come from out of town.  What fun we had.  And I had such a picture perfect day for my birthday - sitting in front of a roaring fire with all my boys, watching my favorite Lord of the Rings movies and knitting to my heart's desire.  It just couldn't get any better than that.  

How many of you really love grocery store ricotta cheese?  No one.  I even get e-mails from people saying they won't make a recipe if it calls for ricotta cheese because they despise that grainy stuff so much.  And  really good fresh ricotta cheese is hard to come by, unless you have a great Italian deli nearby or live in places like New York City and can get to Murray's.  But the next best thing is to make it fresh, at home.  It's not the real deal, but it's a fine substitute. And yes, it is very easy.  If I have the ingredients in the fridge I can just whip up a batch in about 10 minutes.  

There are two versions - I've tried both and both are good - you can choose which one to make according to which ingredients you have. Once you make it, you won't want to buy those mealy tubs in the grocery store again.  Try this ricotta cheese while it's still warm. Drizzle a little olive oil and sea salt over a spoonful or for something sweet, stir in honey and swoon.


Homemade Ricotta Cheese

for a printable recipe, click here

you will need cheesecloth and a strainer to make the cheese

Ricotta Cheese Version #1:

makes about 2 cups

from Richard Ferretti at Gourmet


  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 


Line a large strainer with a layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. 

Slowly bring the milk, cream and the salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

Pour into the lined strainer and let drain for 1 hour (note: I let it drain for just a few minutes, so it does not become so dry).  After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered.  It will keep in the fridge for 2 days.

Ricotta Cheese Version #2:

from Russ Parsons at Los Angeles Times

makes about 2 cups or 1 pound


  • 9 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons distilled vinegar


Heat the milk and buttermilk in a heavy pot over medium heat to a temperature of about 185 degrees. Stir in the salt and vinegar and remove from the heat. Let stand until curds have formed, 5 to 10 minutes. Pull the curds gently to the side.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Using a perforated skimmer, gently lift the mass of curds out of the pot and into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Repeat until no more curds remain. Discard the remaining whey.

Drain the curds for 5 minutes, then transfer to a covered container to store in the fridge until ready to use. The ricotta is best the same day but will still be good for 2 to 3 days. 

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Reader Comments (59)

What a great "how to!" I would never have thought to make my own. :)

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlog is the New Black

Beautiful! I love ricotta and use it often. Think I need to try to make it on my own soon. Your pictures also inspired me to dig through my grandmothers trunk and get out some of her linens to use in my photography.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStrawberry CAKE

We have never made cheese before. What is wrong with us? :) I can't wait to try this recipe! Looks perfect!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

wow, this is beautifuly Elaine! I always have left over buttermilk and cream and this is a great way to use it up! beautiful photos - as always!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthe urban baker

Holy cow! I knew it was easy to make ricotta at home, but I didn't know just how easy. Looking forward to trying one of these methods soon.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

This looks GREAT. I can get to Murray's without too much trouble (but I really think the best - the absolute best - ricotta in NYC is at DiPalo's on Grand Street, which also means they have pretty fabulous ravioli), but when I'm upstate on the weekend, this will be a lifesaver. Luisa at The Wednesday Chef has a simple recipe for pasta with tomato sauce and a little ricotta stirred in right before serving. It is divine but only when made with wonderful ricotta. I am going to try this on Saturday.

Thank you for all your wonderful posts and recipes. Happy, happy new year.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

Elaine, Happy belated birthday, sounds like you had a fantastic one with your family!
Although I have no problem finding good ricotta here I've always wanted to try making it myself. Just curious, which version did you prefer?

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarie

From The Italian Dish:

Hi Marie! You're lucky to live in Chicago and can find decent ricotta. I thought both versions were very close in taste. Personally, I'm more apt to use the lemon juice version simply because I don't use that much buttermilk and hate to see it go to waste. If I could find buttermilk in half pint sizes, that would be nice. Both recipes are very good.

Victoria: I love the Wednesday Chef! I will have to look up that recipe. Sounds simple and perfect.

January 6, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

This looks so easy! I cant wait to try it! Spinach and ricotta cannelloni here I come!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiam

I've had making ricotta on my to-do list for months - now I'm going to get going! Amazing how lovely your photos are when it's almost entirely just white - really nice!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCooking with Michele

Two syllables: Polly-O

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

Thank you so much for this recipe! I'm going to try it! I love your blog, and have made many recipes. Thank you.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNina

What a beautiful web site!! I do have a great Italian deli close to home, but over the holiday when I went to pick up cheese's for my manicotti I stood in line for more than an hour. They don't just cater to our local Italians.. they have a great sandwich collection too. :) But.. I wished I had had the time to have made my own.
Buon Anno.. I look forward to visiting again!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

Lovely!! Puts me in the mood to try this! I have made it with citric acid, but not boiling the milk, just bringing it to a certain temp, maybe 180? Not sure without the recipe in front of me. I will give the version 1 a try this weekend!

By the way, have you ever used the whey in pizza dough? Delicious! Sometimes we make calzones after we make the ricotta using the whey as the liquid. Have a lovely day, Lisa

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Shenk

I just found your site & LOVE it! I'm a NJ transplant living in Kansas -- fresh ricotta, so far, far away ... until now! Just one question -- if I don't use it up right away (which I don't foresee, as I'll probably eat the entire batch standing in the kitchen as soon as it's ready), does it freeze well? Thanks a bunch!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

Oooh, what a great suggestion! I would never have thought of making my own ricotta. Now I just need to think of a reason to need ricotta so I have an excuse .... Hmmm

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristen |

This is something I've been meaning to make for a long time and you're giving me the push I need. Your photos are just beautiful - and I love those purple edged linens.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterciaochowlinda


Just stumbled upon your blog and love it :) I will certainly try your ricotta recipe, I never thought it would be that easy (or as easy as you have convinced me it is!). Have all the right things in the fridge but I will not be able to used it all up over the weekend, but perhaps I will make it next weekend for when we are having food-loving guests staying. Thanks for the recipe. Will let you know how it turns out!

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLovingFood

OMG, there is a wonderful cheese store in Philly, and they make the best homemade baked ricotta cheese. The cheese has to be on the dry side. I am positive this recipe will enable me to make my own baked ricotta instead of having the shop ship it to me.

Thanks Elaine!!!

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna B.

From The Italian Dish:

Anna B: What do you use baked ricotta for? Let me know!

January 7, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Great how-to and amazing photography! Wed love to see your stuff posted at

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLacey

Using 9 cups of milk/cream yields only 2 cups? And you throw out the other 7 cups of liquid? About 1/4 yield from your ingredients. This seems somewhat wasteful to me, and expensive. Is it really worth it?

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlove to cook

I made homemade ricotta on my blog a few months ago and was shocked at how easy it is to make! It's SOOOOO much better than the store-bought stuff and cheaper too. No going back.

true ricotta is made from the whey left over from making mozzarella / hence the name "ricotta" which mean twice or (re) cooked / this recipe for milk curds can be used as ricotta / it is also similar, if not the same, as the Indian "cheese" known as paneer / the whey left from making what you are calling ricotta is also useful in baking, feeding plants, and giving it to dogs or livestock

remember Miss Muffet eating her curds and whey ? that's what you are making not true ricotta as is made in Italy

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

From The Italian Dish:

Love to Cook: Yes, it takes a lot of milk to make the cheese, but it's not something you would be making all the time, just when you want some superior ricotta to what is in the grocery store. For something special, I think it's worth it.

Katherine: Yes, I know how genuine ricotta cheese is made and that is why, in my post, I said "it's not the real deal" but something that you can make at home that is better than the ordinary stuff in the grocery store.

January 8, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I stumbled upon on your blog seeing this beautiful ricotta via tastespotting.The way you have outlined for cheese making is exactly the same way in which we make indian cottage cheese[paneer] at home.The difference is that I use either of lemon & heavy cream.And in the second version also either buttermilk or vinegar.And we let it set for atleast 4-5 hours to drain out the liquids so that it becomes a cube like & not crumbly.Thanks for sharing little tips..I will ricotta also the next time at home coz I generally dont like store bought as you pointed.

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTanvi@SinfullySpicy

i'd love to make my own ricotta. would like to try both of these recipes. thanks!

January 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDina

Wow, this seems surprisingly simple! Thank you so much for sharing these easy tutorials and beautiful photos, Elaine. I love your how-to posts... I want to try them all! Especially this one.

I have made my own - but never with cream - that must be wonderfully rich. I am a lazy-bones though and pick up fresh ricotta at a local cheese store. Now with the snow, you are tempting me to leave the car in the garage and make my own!

January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

O my, fresh ricotta must be divine. Wow, can't wait to try to make my own :)

January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoyti

I have just made the first recipe and it was really easy and straightforward. It's 10pm here now and we shall be eating it tomorrow. I will use half in a salad and half in spinach and ricotta baci. Thank you again for sharing :)

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLovingFood

I specifically came to your site to look for a recipe for homemade ricotta! Cannot wait to make some!

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

This sounds so much easier than I would have thought. I love ricotta cheese!

January 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaris (In Good Taste)

WOW!!! just made it, it is amazing will have to hide it from my son

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterINGRID

Perfect! I have been wanting to make cheese at home. I have been told that it is only possible if you use ra wmilk though. In my state i cannot currently access raw milk. Do you use raw or pasturized? I am asuming you would state if using raw so I am going to give it a try!

Oh, my! Never in my wildest southern dreams would I have considered making ricotta cheese. We jiust buy the nasty stuff from the local grocer. Never again will that go in my Alfredo Lasagna. I just made my first batch (made half), and now wishing I had made a whole recipe. The look on my husband's face when I let him taste it was one of pure wonder. We have tons of wonderful food in the South, but not much of the wonderful ethnic specialties that make food just dreamy. Thanks so much Lisa for the recommendation of using the whey in pizza dough. I have a pizza making friend who will appreciate my "donation" as will my two pups.

January 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

We live at a place where we can get ricotta fresh, It is in Lansing, Mi and the name is Roma Bakery.It is the best around here . Thanks for your beautiful site.

February 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercatherine

I have never liked ricotta cheese. Having only ever tasted what can be bought at the local maga chain in a tub I never understood how people could stomach eating plain ricotta in sweet applications. I was eating this stuff warm directly out of the cheese cloth. Amazing. I will never buy store bought ricotta again. Thank you!

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy M

Making Ricotta is so easy!!! And the final product costs a fraction of what you'd pay at Whole Foods!!!! I usually make mine with buttermilk but I have decided to experiment with various souring agents (lemon juice, vinegar, etc...) I posted pictures from my experiment on my blog:

April 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercucee sprouts

Love the recipe, but see only one flaw...don´t discard the whey! It is a great and fortifying addition to any soup or stock. If you went to the troube to make cheese certainly you are someone who is interested in healthy eating and less ¨wasteful¨ food. I freeze my whey in 2 cup portions and add it to every soup. Please try this! Don´t be a disgarder!!

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Elaine, I made 3 batches of the ricotta cheese and homemade pasta this past week to make lobster raviolis. This was my first time making the mixture and the ravoiolis. The cheese and pasta were WONDERFUL I must say. I made them and froze them. I gave some to a friend who loved the cheese and lobster mixture. I mixed the pasta mixture in my Kitchenaid to begin with just as you had recommended. It was very easy. I also used the Kitchenaid pasta rollers, and purchased 2 ravioli molds. They certainly helped alot! Thanks so much for sharing our lovely recipes.

November 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGail

I read that one may use the discarded whey from yogurt in making ricotta cheese. If this is in fact true, is the whey a substitute for the lemon (recipe 1) and vinegar (recipe 2) and would you use the same amount of whey? I hate to toss the whey when I drain my yogurt and would welcome any suggestions. Many thanks.

November 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHarris

Hi after searching for ricotta cheese for the past 3 days i nearly gave up and decided to make my lasagna without it. Googled and found your blog. Beautiful pictures and sounds very easy to make. I am going to make it later and use it for lasagna dinner party tomorrow.

January 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramutha

I love fresh ricotta! Can't get enough of it! I use buttermilk (kefir) method. I just introduse buttermilk to whole milk and let it culture. It usually takes overnight. Then just pour cultured milk in a stainless still pot and set it over low heat stirring the milk occasionally. I don't babysit my milk, if the heat is low. But if you want to speed up the process just use medium heat. Soon enough you will see curds separating from the whey. Do not bring to boil!!!! Or above 160F. It will make your cheese dry and grainy just like store bought (unless you like it that way). When I see curds forming I just scoop some with a spoon and try it. It suppose to be creame, but have some texture to it. When it ready just strain it through cheese cloth. Leftover whey is great for making pancakes (use it instead of milk), baking and makes wonderful skin toner!

February 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMargo

My son and I made this ricotta a couple of days ago. He is 15 and just learning how to cook so for Spring Break we are cooking together every day. This recipe was simple and straight forward. We had a lot of fun making it and then even more fun stuffing pasta for raviolis with it.... Very good. Thank you so much!!

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimlyn Esser

I read that one may use the discarded whey from yogurt in making ricotta cheese.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBig Berkey

This is the best recipe I've found. It's kind of ironic, but I used to work in an Italian cheese plant (Losurdos) and never knew how to make any cheese. (Lord of the Rings: you have great taste!)

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharon M

ETA: Whey is very good for protein. Don't disgard it. I've poured it over my pets food, and used it in smoothies

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharon M

Why would you discard the whey when it's so chockablock full of nutrients?

July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary Yamada

Hi! Actually ricotta is made from the liquid you get from the first "cagliata"...sorry I don't know how to explain it with your words..I'm writing from Italy...all steps are right but that isn't ricotta...ricotta literaly means "cooked twice" (ri-cotta) once you have what you call ricotta and you also have the liquid in your pan, you have to do an other time all the process with the vinegar (or lemon juice or yogurt) and then you have the ricotta. there are a lot of italian foodblogs that also indicate this process from ricotta because it's just easier and you can get more pruduct which is good anyway, but it isn't ricotta..sorry for my english and for bothering you..Bye Bye from Italy!

August 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErika

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