4-Ingredient Easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese [Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese]

This easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese takes just 4 simple ingredients and about 30 minutes to make. Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese is a light, white, soft curd cheese with a mild creamy flavor. It’s also a very versatile cheese and making your own means you’ll always have it on hand when you need it!

What is Whole Milk ricotta Cheese?

True ricotta is a traditional Italian cheese made from the whey left behind after making mozzarella cheese. The whey would be heated and curdled to form the ricotta cheese curds. The literal translation of “Ricotta” in Italian means cooked twice or recooked.

In the United States, ricotta can still be made in the same way using the leftover whey after the production of other cheeses but ricotta cheese recipes are typically made in the home kitchen using whole or part-skim 2% milk. The curds are separated from the whey yielding a light, fluffy, and soft spreadable ricotta cheese making this a whole milk ricotta cheese recipe.

Is Ricotta Cheese Pasteurized

Since most milk sold in the grocery store is pasteurized, this homemade ricotta cheese is pasteurized and therefore safe to eat during pregnancy. Pasteurization is a process of heating liquids and foods to kill off harmful bacteria like listeria that can cause infections.

How do you Make ricotta cheese from scratch

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

Whole milk is the main component of whole milk ricotta cheese. This is usually cow’s milk but can also be goat, sheep, or even buffalo milk. I am using cow’s milk in this recipe.

Heavy cream gives the ricotta its creamy flavor, salt lends a savory flavor and you can adjust the amount to taste. I start with a small amount so I do not overpower the flavor of the fresh cheese. The vinegar is what creates the curds by curdling the milk and separating it from the whey. If vinegar is not available, lemon juice makes an acceptable substitute.

A pan of milk and cream fitted with a thermometer for reading the temperature to slowly bring the milk to a boil to make whole milk ricotta cheese.

How to Make Ricotta Cheese

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

Start by heating the milk and cream in a heavy bottom stockpot. Using a Candy Thermometer [paid link] with an attached pot clip is optional but I like being able to know the temperature of the milk while it’s heating.

Making ricotta works best with whole milk, although I’ve had success with making part-skim ricotta cheese as well using 2% milk. Skim or nonfat milk will not work as there just isn’t enough milk fat in the milk to separate into curds and whey. Also avoid using ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk (most organic brands), as this process changes the protein structure of the milk and prevents it from separating into curds.

Slowly bring the milk, cream, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pot. Once the milk comes to a rolling boil, add the lemon juice (or vinegar) and reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles for about 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and set the pot aside for 10 minutes, undisturbed.

Line a large sieve with a layer or two of fine-mesh cheesecloth [paid link] and place it over a large bowl but you can certainly make ricotta without cheesecloth [paid link]. Alternate methods include a jelly or nut milk strainer [paid link] style mesh bag, a flour sack towel [paid link] will also work well for this application. People also say coffee filters or paper towels may be used, but I have not used either of these methods.

Next, pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for about 15 minutes.

Transfer the fresh ricotta to a covered dish and refrigerate. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 to 5 days.

Homemade whole milk ricotta cheese being strained in a nut milk (jelly) straining bag.

All things equal, this whole milk ricotta cheese, couldn’t be easier or more delicious. I will confess: I am not usually a fan of store-bought Ricotta cheese because of its grainy texture. However, I found myself eating this homemade version by the spoonful. I was actually amazed by the super creamy texture and it tastes absolutely delicious!

Ricotta vs. Cotatge Cheese

These kinds of cheese look similar and can often be used interchangeably in many recipes making cottage cheese a good substitute for ricotta. Cottage cheese comes in large or small curds and can be made from sheep, goat, or buffalo milk but is most usually made from cow’s milk. Cottage cheese production, however, uses additional ingredients like rennet and mesophilic cultures while ricotta does not. Ricotta’s flavor has more depth and is usually sweeter than cottage cheese.

PRO KITCHEN TIP: The process for making ricotta works best with whole milk, although I’ve had success with 2% as well. However, skim or nonfat milk will not work as there just isn’t enough milk fat in the milk to separate into curds and whey. Also avoid using ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, usually organic, as this process changes the protein structure of the milk and prevents it from separating.

For me, whole milk ricotta cheese has a much better creamier texture and flavor than anything I’ve ever bought at the grocery store. I believe that this is due in large part to the fact that it’s freshly made. I like that I can control just how wet or dry the ricotta is simply by how long I let it drain.

recipes using ricotta cheese

Use wetter, looser ricotta for recipes like pizza, baked spaghetti, ravioli, Air Fryer Stuffed Chicken Parmesan, or an easy lasagna recipe with ricotta cheese made on the stovetop in a skillet or this baked spaghetti recipe which is always a family favorite.

Use the drier, firmer ricotta for desserts like cheesecake and cannoli. The absolute best way to enjoy fresh ricotta is with fresh berries and honey or slathered on a savory toasted, garlic crostini. It’s amazing.

For a firmer cheese, wrap the drained ricotta in cheesecloth and press it beneath a weighted plate in the refrigerator overnight. This will make simple paneer (Indian cheese), queso fresco (Mexican-style cheese), or fresh farmers’ cheese (Yum!).

Freshly made whole milk ricotta after being turned out of the straining bag into a serving bowl.

Uses for leftover Whey

When you make whole milk Ricotta cheese, you end up with a lot of leftover whey. Leftover whey is that nutritious milky liquid left after from curdled milk after the curds are removed. But what can you do with it?

I wondered just this myself It just seemed very wasteful to throw it out. What I found was that whey contains the water-soluble proteins, vitamins, and minerals in the milk, so it’s a shame to pour it down the drain.

There are many things you can do with this leftover whey. It can be used to water plants, but because of the added vinegar only use it to water acid-loving plants, such as junipers or roses.  You can use it for the liquid in pancakes, muffins, bread, biscuits, cakes, and cupcakes.

Whole milk ricotta cheese formed into a ball surrounded by fresh berries; strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

FAQs

Is Ricotta Gluten-Free [Gluten-Free Ricotta Cheese]?

Yes, ricotta cheese is gluten free. Source u003ca href=u0022https://www.beyondceliac.org/gluten-free-diet/is-it-gluten-free/cheese/u0022u003eBeyondCeliac.comu003c/au003e .

Can Ricotta Cheese be frozen [Can you freeze ricotte cheese]?

Yes and No. It can be frozen, but it will be watery once it’s thawed because the cell structures break down releasing water. So it may not perform as well in most recipes. It can be drained and made into dips or spreads after thawing.

How long is ricotta cheese good for?

Ricotta will last about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Ricotta vs. Cottage Cheese

Although they look similar and are often interchangeable in many These kinds of cheese look similar and can often be used interchangeably in many recipes. Cottage cheese comes in large or small curds and can be made from sheep, goat, or buffalo milk but is most usually made from cow’s milk. Cottage cheese production, however, uses additional ingredients like rennet and mesophilic cultures while ricotta does not. Ricotta’s flavor has more depth and is usually sweeter than cottage cheese

This picture of Ricotta Cheese takes just 4 simple ingredients and about 15 or 20 minutes to make. Creamy, light white, spreadable whole milk ricotta cheese.
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This Homemade Ricotta Cheese takes just 4 simple ingredients and about 15 or 20 minutes to make. #Italian #Fresh #Cheese #Ricotta #Homemade

4-Ingredient Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
This easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese takes just 4 simple ingredients and about 30 minutes to make. Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese is a light, white, soft curd cheese with a mild creamy flavor. It’s also a very versatile cheese and making your own means you’ll always have it on hand when you need it!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, pasta, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 318 kcal

Equipment

  • Stock pot
  • Cheese cloth or flour sack style low-lint towel
  • Mesh strainer
  • Refrigerator-safe storage container

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups Whole milk [See Note 1]
  • 2 cups Heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons Lemon juice or distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt fine. Table salt may be substituted.

Instructions
 

  • In a stock pot. slowly bring the milk, cream, and salt to a boil over medium to medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pot.
  • Once the milk comes to a rolling boil, add the lemon juice (or vinegar) and reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles; about 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and set the pot aside for 10 minutes, undisturbed.
  • Line a large sieve with a layer or two of fine-mesh cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. If you do not have a cheesecloth, a jelly/nut milk strainer style mesh bag, or a flour sack style tea towel will also work well for this application.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for about 15 minutes to an hour. The time will be detrmined by the desired wetness preferred in the ricotta cheese.
  • Transfer the fresh ricotta to a covered dish and refrigerate. It will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.

Notes

  1. This process for making ricotta works best with whole milk, although I’ve had success with 2% as well. However, skim or nonfat milk will not work as there just isn’t enough milk fat in the milk to separate into curds and whey. Also avoid using ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, as this process changes the protein structure of the milk and prevents it from separating.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup (1/4 cup serving)Calories: 318kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 7gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 392mgPotassium: 292mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1171IUVitamin C: 3mgVitamin D: 3µgVitamin E: 1mgVitamin K: 2µgCalcium: 246mgFolate: 13µgIron: 1mgZinc: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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