Homemade Ricotta Recipe

The minute I read Heidi’s post about making your own ricotta and her comment that “this ricotta tastes and smells like the milk it is made from so use the best and freshest dairy you can find”, I instantly thought what a perfect use it would be for the bottle of raw milk that Christoph and Susanne gave me for my birthday as part of their superb farm-fresh gift basket.

I set to work in late afternoon the next day, slightly incredulous as to whether this would actually work: I mean, heat up some milk and surely what you get is hot milk, not cheese, right? I must say I am pretty baffled by my own tendency to be the St Thomas of food chemistry — I’ll believe it when I see it. Where does that come from? I shall write myself a prescription to carefully read the entire revised work of both Harold McGee and Alton Brown.

And sure enough, everything went according to plan. When the combined milk and fermented milk reached the magic temperature (I was merrily using the candy thermometer I acquired months ago and never ever used, not even once), curds started to gather at the surface: this was my cheese! I carefully ladled first the whey then the curds into the prepared dishcloth and sieve, waited a bit, gathered the dishcloth into a bunch, tied it to the faucet with a string and a shoelace knot, waited some more, and reopened the dishcloth to collect my pretty ball of fresh ricotta. Does it get any easier? I think not.

Later that night Maxence and I tasted it on its own, then spread it on little Swedish crispbreads, and again in the morning on slices of toasted bread under a thin layer of Christine Ferber’s blackcurrant and violet jam, and declared it to be among the best fresh cheeses we had ever had, one in which the real tastes and smells of the milk and the barn and the happy cow all explode in your mouth — a far cry from the muted fluffy thing that they sell as ricotta in grocery stores here.

Maxence requested that I make a fresh batch for him every day.

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Homemade Ricotta Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yields about 250 ml (1 cup).

Homemade Ricotta Recipe


  • 1 liter (1 quart) whole milk
  • 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk, kefir, lait ribot, or other fermented milk


  1. Have ready a large colander lined with five layers of cheesecloth (see note), and set the colander over a large bowl, or over the sink.
  2. Pour the milk and buttermilk in a nonreactive saucepan, preferably one with a thick bottom. Set the pan over medium high heat and, as the mixture heats up, scrape the bottom of the pan regularly with a rubber spatula.
  3. When the milk is hot enough to steam, stop scraping. The mixture will gradually turn cloudy, and curds (small white lumps) will rise to the surface. Scrape the bottom of the pan gently to loosen any curds that may be stuck.
  4. When the curds form a thick layer that has entirely separated from the whey (this will happen when the mixture reaches 80°C or 175°F; you can use a candy thermometer to watch for this temperature), remove the pan from the heat and, using a ladle or a slotted spoon, transfer the curds carefully to the prepared sieve.
  5. Let the curds drain for 5 minutes. Gather the sides and corners of the cloth into a purse, and twist to drain the curds further, without pressing on the curds themselves. Let them drain another 15 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.


  • I didn't have cheesecloth on hand. Heidi sugested using a pair of (clean) tights or nylons, but I used my non-terrycloth kitchen towel with a cheesy Montmartre pattern on it, thinking it would be most appropriate. It worked, but I think it is a bit too closely knit to be really efficient, the liquids seemed to have a hard time seeping through it.
  • In French, cheesecloth is étamine, whey is petit lait (literally "little milk", isn't that cute?) and curd is caillé. Just so you know.

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  • Don’t you love it? Isn’t homemade always better?

  • fallenangel

    homemade is always better… even if it takes time to prepare ! Homemade ricotta is an amazing idea… i must try your recipe !

  • binky

    ooh.. just caught me on a dismally boring and uninspired day
    thank heavens, we shall be making ricotta today and cheesecake tommorow!

  • Homemade ricotta is one of the tastiest things ever. My mom made it when I was little and keeps trying to get me to make it for myself here in New York. Because in America everything is pasteurized, she had to tweak the recipe for pasteurized milk when we came to the U.S. I should ask her for the recipe and share it. Because it is incredibly tasty and good for you!

  • Ant

    Superb! I shall definitely try this myself.

    Good to learn some new French words, too. (Although why I already knew étamine is a complete mystery to me… I don’t remember having ever talked about cheesecloth in France before.)

  • Annie

    What a wonderful description – I’m sure you now have a whole bunch of converts to homemade ricotta – and the photo is so sweet.

  • I’ve been missing out.

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for this recipe – I’ve always wanted to try home-made soft cheese, but, like you, never quite believed it would work :) I’ll have a go now. Is there any use for the whey? It seems a shame to let it go down the drain? Or am I being too frugal? :)

  • Lisa

    wow thanks for the recipe. Will definitely try this…. considering how much I use ricotta. I make paneer (the Indian cheese) for my palak paneer (spinach+cheese) almost the same way.
    Happy belated birthday,Clotilde and glad you are still enjoying those deliciosu and amazing birthday pressies!

  • Sabrina

    We make mozzarella and cheddar at home using either raw milk (it is available in the US, you just have to find a friendly dairy) or organic milk. We haven’t tried ricotta yet. I really enjoy your site.

  • Sabrina: I’m intrigued, how do you make mozzarella and cheddar?

    Clotilde: Félicitations et Joyeux Anniversaire – I’m new to your blog and am extremely impressed. It’s inspiring. Thank you.

  • Nice! I have been making cheese at home with pasteurized milk for a few months now and we do enjoy it a lot!


  • During your studies, you may enjoy Shirley Corriher’s COOKWISE. (She shows up on Good Eats all of the time.)

    Great interview here:


  • Lisa

    Evil, evil woman. I’ve ruined my waistline with your chocolate cakes, your stuffed zucchinis and now I’ll have to add the ricotta.

    Oh well, I have a large butt, but it’s a happy, well-fed butt!


    Thanks for the wonderful site!

  • clotilde, did you do anything with the whey?

    I’m trying to make my own kashk, the persian whey paste that is crucial to several of our dishes.

  • Sciencegrrl – Thanks for the recommendation, I’d never heard of Shirley…

    Sabrina – I second Casey’s request for more info regarding the mozzarella and cheddar!

    Stephanie and Fatemeh – I threw out the whey, not knowing what to do with it, but if anyone has suggestions I’d love to hear them!

  • Interesting. I made paneer not too long ago (using lemon juice rather than buttermilk) but otherwise the process is nearly identical. Does that mean that paneer and ricotta are nearly the same thing, merely formed into different shapes and then paneer is eventually cooked? Must research…

  • Hi Clotilde

    you know what, this has got to be one of the most delightful moments in my life… (have I gotten too far?) I have checked that post about home-made ricotta by Heidi, and felt turned down because I can’t find buttermilk over here in Japan, either. And now you have opened up the door – I know I can get kefir! Hooray!

    Now do you think I can make home-made creme fraiche, using cream and kefir instead of buttermilk, as well?

  • I recently borrowed the revised edition of the Harold McGee book from my library after seeing an old copy on a friends bookshelf in Sydney . It is such an intersting read I’ve decided to buy my own copy. I make a similar spread to the ricotta using low fat milk and yogurt which I have on my morning toast with a rhubarb jelly. The two flavours match really well.

  • Lisa

    yupp I use Lemon too – lemon+buttermilk+fullcream milk, hence the almost. I didn’t realise you omit lemon and get ricotta!
    I used buttermilk for better structure and flavour of the paneer.

  • Sounds so simple!I think I may give it a go, and try making the paneer as well.

  • Jenji

    What a fabulous experiment, Clotilde! Thank you also for including the vocab words / phrases, here and in your newsletter.
    That reminds me of an “L.A. Times” article I thought you all might like on French food-based idioms (link below). A favorite: “Tu as le cul borde des nouilles”! (Literally, your bum’s surrounded by noodles, meaning you’re lucky.) How on earth did that phrase come into being?!


  • that’s amazing! i’d love to try your recipe out as i’ve a major weakness for fresh ricotta and homemade mango jam on fresh-baked bread!

  • bnky

    the whey, I bottled it to use for bread

    nice loaf, honey and whey

    heat the whey slightly, then whisk in a couple of spoons of honey, two tsp active dry yeast (or fresh, whatever is to hand) and 250g flour. leave to go bubbly for half an hour.

    add in 250g more flour, 50g melted butter and a couple of tsp salt.

    knead, rise, knock back and bake as per usual.

    it’s good with ricotta and some honeycomb spread on top. loosely adapted from “the handmade loaf” by dan lepard.

    course, you can just sub whey into any recipe you fancy. buttermilk pancakes for instance.

  • Antonietta

    yum, fresh ricotta! it reminds me when my mom used to make it for her ricotta pie. I would always eat the ricotta after she added sugar to it….:-)

  • Stephanie

    bnky, you’re must be reading my mind :)
    i was just thinking, if i make the cheese, i really should make the bread to eat with it!

  • I have made my own ricotta for many years using our goat milk. We have had much fun experimenting with adding spices and fruits and yes, even chocolate.
    So good to eat !

  • Sabrina

    Clotilde (and Casey) –

    I would be happy to share the information on making mozzarella and cheddar at home. The book we use is called “Home Cheese Making” and it was written by Ricki Carroll. She also has a website where she sells home cheese making supplies – http://www.cheesemaking.com. This link shows how to make “30-minute mozzarella” http://www.cheesemaking.com/includes/modules/jWallace/ChsPgs/1Mozz/Index.html. I’m happy to write more of a description of how we do it (with less equipment at least for the cheddar) if you can tell me where to send it. It will be too long for a comment.

  • Ami

    I read this post yesterday, I today I stumbled across this recipe to make buttermilk!

    1 oz yeast
    1 oz sugar
    4 pts water
    1 pt milk

    1. Cream sugar and yeast
    2. Warm the water slightly and mix with milk
    3. Gradually stir milk and water until the milk smells like buttermilk – slightly sour but not unpleasant
    4. Strain through muslin and use for bread and scone recipes calling for buttermilk. From the following site:

  • Alisa

    I AM inspired to try this at home – Perhaps you have gotten over your distrust of chemistry? You can try bread making now!

    Everyday Maxence?? Everyday??!!!

  • Kate

    I have had homemade ricotta a few times while working in italy, and it is absolutely fabulous, especially if made with some goat and cow’s milk combined. It adds just enough earthiness to give it a bit more flavor, and still goes great with bread, olive oil, and salt, or some fresh honey!

  • Clothilde, did you know that they exerpted this post in the Independent late last week? They credited chocolate and zucchini but they labelled you “anonymous blogger” !!

  • elaine

    Hello from Toronto! I’ve just stumbled upon your blog, and I’m completely addicted. I’ve already sent the link to 3 friends.
    I love the efforts you go to to make things like fresh ricotta cheese. When I was in my 20’s, i came upon a similar recipe for making fresh cream cheese (not the Philly kind, but real & creamy) Your article has inspired me to dig it up and resurrect it although it’s more of a winter recipe, because it involves leaving the mixture sitting on a warm radiator overnight.
    Best wishes.

  • Kathy

    A simple way to make buttermilk can be found in Paula Deen’s cookbook, “The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook.” Add one teaspoon distilled white vinegar to 1 cup fresh milk; let sour for five minutes.

  • john

    Something to do with the ricotta is to make Torta di Ricotta, also called Torta Nonna:

    Pastry (pasta frolla):

    260 gm. all purpose flour
    225 gm. unsalted butter at room temperature
    30 gm. sugar
    pinch of salt
    zest of one lemon
    4 egg yolks
    5 cl. sweet marsala

    Combine the flour, sugar, butter, salt, and lemon zest in the mixer on low speed; add the egg yolks one at a time, then the marsala. Mix just until it coheres, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour.


    1 kg. ricotta
    120 gm. sugar
    25 gm. flour
    zest of one lemon
    4 egg yolks
    50 gm. golden raisins

    Combine all ingredients.

    Assembling the Torta:

    preheat oven to 175° C.

    Roll out two-thirds of the pastry to a circle to fit your tart pan. (I use a fairly deep one, approximately 20 cm. diameter by 4 cm. deep, with a removable bottom.) Line the pan with the pastry and spoon the filling into it. Roll the remaining pastry into a rectangle and cut strips about 1 cm wide; make a lattice crust.

    Brush the crust with a little lightly beaten egg white; sprinkle on a few pignolis. Bake about 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

  • Emily

    Hi! I tried to click “here” for the link to the recipe and alas one of those nasty 404 page not found errors appeared: “Not Found
    The requested URL /archives/000185.html was not found on this server.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.”

    Hopefully you have the recipe some where else, it would be great to try, thanks!

    PS: Great idea of using Kéfir instead of buttermilk – I have been searching for a “replacement” for ages!

  • mangetout

    Emily – if you are referring to the link for the mozzarella recipe (you didn’t say which recipe you were having difficulty with) remove the full stop at the end of the url, in other words, .html not .html.
    which should clear it up.

    I’ve been looking for a ricotta recipe for a while, and will definitely try this. I’ve watched Italian dairies make it by hand; the ‘curd’ you get from the whey is actually albumen, which is perhaps why ricotta sometimes seems ‘eggy’ to me. Mmm…

    • Srirattan Binnani

      Ricotta cheese can be obtained directly by adding some small amounts of alum powder or three tbl spoon lemon juice and boiling it nicely. After obtaining ricotta cheese, filter it fast and let it contain water, one can add sugar to it and heat the mixture for five minutes in a pot continuously stirring and let it cool down , you get a sweat dish(desert). Sprinkle some cardamom powder on it, if someone one like.

  • Combine the flour, sugar, butter, salt, and lemon zest in the mixer on low speed; add the egg yolks one at a time, then the marsala. Mix just until it coheres, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour.

  • alexis

    you can also make buttermilk using heavy cream, just put it in a jar and shake it for around 15 minutes, you’ll get a lump of butter swimming in buttermilk, just drain the buttermilk, and if you are going to use the butter rinse it very well to get the buttermilk out of it

  • Domenica

    What a wonderful discovery, a treasure trove of information. I’am an Italian living in Canada and often remenise on the wonderful rich taste of the mozarella and ricotta I had on a couple of my trips back home, it just doesn’t comparare to anything in the supermarket. I’ve often tried to describe this rich milky taste to my boyfriend, now I will be able to let him taste it. Thank you for making this accesible ……a trip back to my origins without taking a plane. And thank you to Sabrina for web site on mozarella making.


  • Ross

    How do you smoke ricotta cheese? Thanks

  • Vanessa

    I use the same process (although sometimes it takes to 180 degrees), except that I use the following ingredients… 1 qt of whole milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, 3 Tbl lemon juice, and a 1/2 tsp fleur de sel. Makes a very luscious 1 1/2 cups ricotta.

  • Vanessa

    Re: Smoked Ricotta… My recipe that uses 1 qt of whole milk, 1 cup of cream, 3 Tbl lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt. You can use smoked salt instead of fleur de sel, to give it a mild smoked flavor. I’ve also used olive salt, rosemary salt, purple mediterreanean salt, etc.

  • Clotilde,

    I just googled “Home-made ricotta” and I cannot believe that I found your recipe AND these great reader-comments. WOW!

    I am in love with this recipe for heirloom tomato risotto with roasted ricotta, and I am tired of using the glop in the grocery store.

    Thank you thank you thank you! I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out!

  • I really enjoy making my own ricotta (we call it Tvorog.) I usually make it with a buttermilk/milk mixture by last week I decided to experiment and try other souring agents. I posted my results on a blog, together with my recipe.

    • Great post, thanks for the link!

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