Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

An easy recipe to make creamy whole milk ricotta at home to spread on crostini, add to pasta, spread between layers of lasagna, or just eat by the spoonful while it’s still warm.
Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

To begin again.
I try and try and try again,
To at once start over and then again.

My family is often frustrated with the state of being, the simple condition of life. The monotony of daily life can be tiresome, wearing on us until we feel thin and weak, holding on to the threads of a well worn sweater. The same homework, chores, and piles of laundry welcome us home every night. We become lost to it.

In those moments where life seems to be swallowing you whole, I vacillate between how to manage, whether by running away and taking a break from it all or switching up the routine right where we stand. Running is not always an option, though I wish it were at times. I’d love to plop all my children on a plane and go explore life someplace else for a while. Still, some days it’s best to just stop all of the customary routine and focus energy on doing something entirely different.
Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com
Breaking the routine of spring break squalor required stuffing our car full with a single suitcase, packed between bursts of writing and the ordering of small hands entrusted with filling it. Snowboards lined the top of the truck, smallest to tallest (40″ to 76″), strapped down for the drive north. While my husband collated everyone’s gear, I sent the crew into the kitchen to turn the milk we wouldn’t be drinking into cheese we would be eating.
Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta 3recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com
Whole milk ricotta starts with milk in a pot. A bit of salt and lemon juice are the only things needed to turn hot milk into spreadable cheese that can be consumed on the spot or savored over the course of a few days. We turned it into gnocchi and filled a lasagna (recipes forthcoming), and then we headed out of our urban wasteland to the north where there were bigger hills to climb…err, ride down.
Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com

  • I made ricotta because I knew we wouldn’t use up all of our milk while we were out of town. It doesn’t take a lot of babysitting, especially if you have someone to stir the pot for you, and then it just strains for a while whilst you sneak spoonfuls straight from the towel.
  • Use a double layer of cheesecloth if you’re not using a tea towel. The curds are quite small, and so you’ll need the dual layer in order to catch them all.
  • What to do with all the whey? Whey can be used in place of water in pancakes, waffles, bread, as well as used as a stater for lacto-fermented fruits, vegetables, and beverages. It is great for the garden soil, too, if yours isn’t covered with snow. You could sprout grains with it.
  • Update: I nearly forgot to include this. Don’t use ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk for this. The results won’t be quite the same, and you’ll likely need more acid (lemon juice, in this case) to get the curds to form.
1 gallon whole milk
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Add the milk, cream, and salt to a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the milk reaches 190º F.

Once the milk reaches the temperature, remove the pan from the heat and pour in the lemon juice. Stir to distribute the juice evenly, and then allow the pan to sit for five minutes while the curds form.

Wet cheesecloth or a thin tea towel with water, and ring out. Line the inside of a fine mesh strainer and fit over a large, heat proof bowl Ladle the liquid and curds into the cloth and strainer. Allow the ricotta to drain for at least one hour. The whey that is collected can be saved and used elsewhere. Remove the cheese from the cloth and store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.

Makes 4-5 cups ricotta.
Copyright © Food for My Family.

Pictured: Warm ricotta spread on toasted baguette, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with fresh herbs.
Homemade Whole Milk Ricotta #recipe via FoodforMyFamily.com


  1. This is amazing Shaina! I had no idea how easily I could have fresh, homemade cheese right from my kitchen. So trying this!! I cannot WAIT for the homemade gnocchi recipe with HOMEMADE ricotta!! Incredible!! 🙂

  2. I love ricotta and didn’t realize it’s simple to make. I’m happy when I change up the old routines here, too and think nothing of taking the kids sledding on a school night! You just have to live!

  3. Taking off, shaking things up and exploring when the monotony creeps in sounds like the perfect prescription.

  4. I love making homemade ricotta. My family was pretty skeptical the first couple of times but they have come to love it as much as I do. I can’t resist it spread on any kind of bread with a little fresh rosemary and olive oil. I have been making it with vinegar and never thought to use lemon juice. I have to try it very soon.

  5. Have a great time.

  6. So impressive! And, I hope you had a great time snowboarding 🙂

  7. It’s been way too long since I’ve made ricotta. It’s been on my list for a while as I have similar recipe I’ve wanted to try. This looks so good!

  8. This looks fabulous, Shaina!

  9. So easy! Wow, I had no idea. And you don’t even need special cultures or whatnot from cheese stores like with mozerella!

    • Actually, the only additional ingredient you need for mozzarella is rennet. I’ve even had success using junket rennet tablets which can be found in the baking aisle of most supermarkets, although I’ve had generally better results with liquid rennet (which is harder to find). Better still, the leftover whey from making mozzarella can be (and traditionally was) used to make ricotta!

  10. You’re inspiring me to give this a try again! I’ve made homemade ricotta before, with so-so results. But I think my issue may have been with using a colander rather than two layers of cheesecloth to strain the curds – you’re right, the small curds really do require the finer mesh. I will try it your way next!

  11. Gorgeous girl! Now I’m craving a batch. I like it warm, with a drizzle of maple syrup.

  12. I’ve always wanted to make my own ricotta. It’s one of my favorite cheeses. This recipes looks totally doable, I can’t wait to try it!

  13. It always amazes me how you can turn something so simple into something so amazing…it’s like food magic 🙂 Can’t wait to see the lasagna!!

  14. YES to fresh ricotta – such a simple luxury. I like to use the leftover whey in smoothies, another thing the husband never notices!

  15. I want to live in your brain, just for a bit. Going on vaca, well, let’s make ricotta. Dude, I would have just thrown the milk down the drain. You are a genius!

  16. Oh holy heaven, wish I was your next door neighbor. I’d be stopping by to borrow a cup of sugar every day!

  17. I can’t believe it’s this easy to make cheese. Further, I can’t believe I’ve never tried to make my own cheese. I make everything else.

    I love the look on your daughter’s face. 🙂 Total cuteness!

  18. I made ricotta for the first time this past summer. I couldn’t believe how easy it was and SO delicious!

  19. I have had those days. In fact, just had one on Friday. I posted about it on my blog. The post is called A Discontent Spirit. The whole day is just blah. I really don’t like those days. But we keep going and we pray about it and we have better days. And now we can make Ricotta from scratch to help us feel even better! Love it. Going to pin this!

  20. What a great recipe. I wonder if it would work with a thick soy milk? I think I’m gonna give it a try because the results look like it would be so good!

  21. I have yet to try fresh ricotta and never realized it was so easy. I hope you had a lovely time!

  22. We happen to have an overabundance of ultra-low pasteurized milk sitting in our garage refrigerator right now. So trying this!

  23. I really want to try this! And those top two photos are beautiful – if you sold them as art prints, I’d buy them and hang them in my kitchen. Gorgeous photography and styling!

  24. Have you ever heated your milk in a crock-pot??? That way you don’t have to stand over it so it won’t burn. I use my crock-pot for making yogurt.

    • I don’t tend to babysit my milk, just checking in on it occasionally as it heats. My concern would be how high the slow cooker gets. The milk needs to reach 190º F, so it would probably take considerably longer than on the stove. If that’s not a downside, then it’s probably fine, but I would keep the lid off to avoid the condensation that occurs when using a slow cooker. Let me know if you try and have success with it!

  25. I’ve been making ricotta with buttermilk and no lemon juice.

    • Buttermilk works, too, and no lemon juice because the acid is already present. I turn to ricotta usually just when I have milk I need to use up, but if I had buttermilk to use up, it would be a great option, too.

  26. Chengang6 says:

    We’re just starting on this better food journey. I was so excited to see this recipe!! Can you freeze this for later use? About how much cheese does a gallon of milk produce?
    Thanks so much!!

    • I end up with about 4-5 cups of cheese. I have only frozen it inside lasagna or stuffed shells, but I’m thinking you could do it in ice cubes or something, too.

      Let me know if you need anything else!

  27. I can’t believe it’s that easy to make cheese! The countless tubs I’ve bought to make lasagna or tiramisu. You said no UHT milk, will normal pasteurized milk work?

  28. I have the full cream milk, an apple cider vinegar but I don’t have lemon juice, I do hope I can try this with apple cider vinegar. By the way the salt is added during the milk being cooked or after all the whey have been filtered out?

  29. I love this recipe and I believe it won’t be difficult to try out at home! Thanks for sharing this.

  30. Just made the Ricotta, I have made it lots of times and it’s so good. Today still warm on toasted bread with spoonful of ricotta and a spoonful of just made pesto. Heaven!!

  31. The Ricotta in this recipe , will it work for a cheese cake?

  32. healthy foods says:

    All foods are playing vital role to keep a human body in balancing form. The delicious foods are listed are great one too.


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