Even you can make homemade ricotta cheese with this easy 4 ingredient recipe!
When you think of ricotta cheese, the first thing you think of is lasagna, right? While that may be true, ricotta can be used in a lot of other great recipes or even just enjoyed as toast or on crostini or toast with veggies or honey on top!
Ricotta is awesome added to pancakes, cheesecake, inside of crepes or even spooned on top of a tomato pasta. With just a few simple ingredients and some basic steps, there’s no need to buy ricotta at the store!
What is Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta is a white, soft curd cheese with a mild creamy flavor that easily blends in with strong flavors like tomato marinara and basil pesto. It works well with stronger herbs and seasoning like roasted garlic when used as a spread for bread and crackers. It’s a pretty versatile cheese and making your own means you’ll always have some on hand when you need it!
Ricotta vs. Cottage Cheese
While they look similar and are interchangeable in most recipes, cottage cheese is strictly 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’s flavor has more depth and it tends to be a bit sweeter.
Ingredients and Variations
Milk is the main component in ricotta cheese, but not always cow milk. It’s can also be made with goat, sheep, or even buffalo milk. I use regular cow’s milk in this recipe.
Heavy cream and a dash of salt give ricotta it’s 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 as easy as 1-2-3 to make homemade ricotta!
- Combine milk, cream, and salt in a large pot.
- Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in vinegar.
- Let the mixture rest 30 minutes. Take two layers of cheesecloth and line a strainer or colander with it. Spoon the ricotta curds into the strainer and drain according to recipe instructions.
Stir it up and store it in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until it’s ready to use! Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?
- 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, ricotta cheese can be used for many things including filling homemade ravioli.
- Manicotti – perfect for weeknights
- Baked Ziti – so easy to make
- Calzones or Stromboli – cheesy and flavorful
- Blueberry Crepes – freezer friendly
- Cheese Cannelloni – a crowd favorite
Did you love this Ricotta Cheese recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below!
Homemade Ricotta Cheese (4 ingredients)
- 4 cups whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice
- Combine milk, cream, and salt in a large pot.
- Heat over medium heat while stirring just until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add vinegar. Stir just a few times to combine.
- Leave the mixture to sit undisturbed for 30 minutes.
- Line a strainer with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently spoon the ricotta curds into the strainer.
- Allow to drain 30-45 minutes.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Adapted from: “No Whey.” Canadian Living, Sept. 2018, 9.
I would like to know if there is any use for the liquid that is drained? Mahalo!
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!
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!
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
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?
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.
Thanks so much for the tip Rick!!
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.
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
Hi Angelina, Your ricotta may be a little moister but it should work well!
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!
I can’t say for sure how it’d turn out Laura. Let us know if you try it!
why my ricotta it come hard?
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?
So easy and taste better than store bought.
What is the volume of ricotta produced?
This will make approximately 1 cup, give or take.
Is it possible to make this with 1 percent milk? Thank you!
1 percent milk will work but the final product won’t be as rich if whole milk was used.
Way too much vinegar. I ruined good milk and cream.
Maria, did you allow the mixture to strain? There should be no vinegar flavor.
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