Did you know that it’s super easy to make homemade ricotta cheese with just 4 ingredients?

To make this deliciously creamy ricotta cheese recipe, all you need is milk, cream, salt & vinegar; no special tools required.

Ricotta is great in lasagna but perfect on toast, for topping pasta, and great in crepes or mixed into dips.

Homemade ricotta cheese on a piece of bread

What is Ricotta Cheese?

Ricotta, Italian for recooked, is a soft curd cheese with a mild creamy flavor that easily compliments strong flavors like tomato marinara , basil pesto, or roasted garlic. It’s also great with fruit and a drizzle of honey over crostini.

Ricotta vs. Cottage Cheese

While they look similar and are interchangeable in most recipes, cottage cheese is made with cow’s milk and comes in large or small curds. Cottage cheese is less expensive and easier to find than ricotta, but ricotta has a more depth of flavor and tends to be a bit sweeter.

ingredients to make Homemade Ricotta Cheese

About The Ingredients

Milk is the main component in ricotta cheese, but not always cow milk. It can also be made with goat, sheep, or even buffalo milk. I use regular cow’s milk in this recipe, be sure you don’t use ultra-pasteurized milk (UHT).

Heavy cream and a dash of salt give ricotta its creamy flavor, but it’s the vinegar that creates those curds that burst with flavor as it rests.

Without an acid, ricotta won’t make curds, but if vinegar isn’t available, lemon juice is a good substitute.

How to Make Homemade Ricotta Cheese

It’s fun and easy to make fresh ricotta cheese!

  1. Boil milk, cream, and salt in a large pot (per the recipe below).
  2. Remove from the heat, stir in vinegar and let rest until it forms curds.
  3. Strain the curds in a colander and enjoy your homemade ricotta!

Save the Whey

Don’t discard the leftover whey (the leftover liquid strained from the cheese curds). Whey is great to add to baked goods like bread or pizza dough! Place the colander over a bowl to catch the whey.

a bowl of homemade ricotta cheese next to crostini

Leftovers

  • Ricotta will last about 5 days in the refrigerator before it needs to be drained, stirred, and re-seasoned with a little salt before using again.
  • It can be frozen, but it will be watery once it’s thawed because the cell structures that were once frozen will break down, so it may not perform as well in recipes. In this case, drain and make dips or spreads with thawed ricotta.

What Can Be Made with Ricotta Cheese?

Aside from a classic lasagna, this ricotta cheese recipe can be used in so many dishes! It’s is the perfect addition to pancakes, cheesecake, inside of crepes or (my personal favorite) spooned on top of tomato pasta.

Did you love this Ricotta Cheese recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below! 

a bowl of homemade ricotta cheese next to crostini
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Homemade Ricotta Cheese (4 ingredients)

This Ricotta Cheese tastes way better than store-bought, it's perfect for homemade pasta dishes and more!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Drain Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4
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Ingredients  

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice

Instructions 

  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat milk, cream, and salt over medium heat while stirring. Cook just until the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Remove from the heat, add the vinegar, and stir to combine.
  • Let the mixture rest undisturbed for 30 minutes to allow curds to form.
  • Line a fine mesh strainer or colander with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently spoon the ricotta curds into the strainer.
  • Allow to drain for 30-45 minutes.

Notes

Homemade ricotta cheese will last up to 3-4 days if stored in an airtight container in the fridge. 
4.99 from 54 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 254 | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 262mg | Potassium: 344mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 833IU | Calcium: 295mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American

Adapted from: “No Whey.” Canadian Living, Sept. 2018, 9.

creamy Ricotta Cheese on bread pieces with a title
bowl of Ricotta Cheese with a title
plated Ricotta Cheese with writing
Ricotta Cheese in a bowl and on bread with writing

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About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Comments

  1. Last night I tried this for the first time. It was the ricotta addition to a spinach and ricotta cannelloni recipe I have used for years. It was marvellous.
    Thanks Holly!5 stars

    1. I have never tried it so I can’t say for sure, Robyn. We would love to hear how it turns out if you decide to try!

  2. Making your lasagna recipe for Christmas Eve and would like to use your ricotta recipe too because I don’t like store bought ricotta. Is this recipe enough to make your lasagna? Thanks

    1. Hi Denise, our ricotta recipe will make approx. 2 cups so it’s the perfect amount to make lasagna. I would love to hear how the lasagna turns out for you!

    1. Hi Rebecca, ricotta cheese can be made without salt but we have only made it as listed in the recipe. If you do try it without salt we would love to hear how it turns out.

  3. Is there an alternative for the cream and/or can it be omitted? We have to use lactose free dairy products in our house and there are many options for lactose free milk, but sadly I haven’t been able to find lactose free cream yet.

    1. I haven’t tried this without cream so I can’t say for sure how it would work. Let us kow how it goes if you try it!

      1. I have made this without cream and it still comes out delicious. Sorry it’s a little late in reply.4 stars

    1. Hi Ku’ualoha, I have always drained the liquid off but I bet it would be delicious used to make homemade pasta, bread or in a creamy soup! I would love to hear what you end up using it in!

  4. Mine came out delicious. Used a full cream milk and used lemon juice. Cheese had a sweet smell after it was strained. Used it for ravioli, love it!

  5. I have done this 2 times. Followed every step. Never got any curds. Used white vinegar and whole milk. What am I doing wrong? Ps…I’m a very experienced cook and baker

    1. I can’t say for sure Jayne, we made this ricotta again this week and it turned out beautifully. Did you allow the mixture to just come to a boil? Did you use vinegar or fresh lemon juice?

    2. Hi Jayne,
      I suspect I know what your issue might be. Are you using a reactive pan? I have made this a few times (always in my enameled cast iron dutch oven) with great results! Right now, as we speak, I doubled the receipe in side by side pots, enameled cast iron dutch oven on the left and my aluminum pot on the right. The ricotta in the aluminum pot is not curdling, so I suspect this is the reason. I beleive the recipe only works in a non-reactive pot. My $.02 cents.

  6. Holly: Thank you for the recipe for homemade ricotta cheese. Planned on making lasagna had all the ingredients except the ricotta. Found the recipe here at your website, my son helped me but it together. It was simple. Did not have fresh whole milk but always have several cans of Nestle NIDO Fortificada Instant milk in my cupboard. Used the dry milk in place of the whole milk, just followed the directions for making four cups of milk. Followed your directions for the ricotta step by step. Wow! Now, have the ricotta cheese for my lasagna. Thanks again for posting this recipe.5 stars

  7. Sounds super easy. I’m gotta try it, since we use a lot of Ricotta. Does ultra-pasteurized Heavy Cream work, b/c that’s the only kind I find in my supermarket. Thanks

  8. This looks great, but unfortunately, all of the heavy creams at my grocery store has additives (either gellan gum or carageenan). Will this still work if I use one of those creams? Thanks!

    1. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that Vincenzo. I’m not sure what would cause it to be hard as I haven’t had that problem. Did you add heavy cream? Did you drain it for only 30-45 minutes?

    1. 1 percent milk will work but the final product won’t be as rich if whole milk was used.

  9. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me
    out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.5 stars