Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I always use whole milk yogurt, but if you do try it with low-fat yogurt, please let me know in the comments how it works out. I don't recommend non-fat yogurt for this recipe. This recipe can easily be halved or doubled.

  • Yield: Makes 2 cups


  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt


1 In a large pot, bring the milk, yogurt, heavy cream (if using), vinegar, and salt to a boil. Very gently boil for one to two minutes, until the milk is curdled.

2 Meanwhile, line a strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl.

3 Pour the milk mixture into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and squeeze gently to extract any excess liquid.

Storage: Homemade ricotta is best served slightly warm, although it can be refrigerated for up to three days, if desired.

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  • Leo

    I made a half recipe using non-fat dry milk, Chobani non-fat Greek yogurt, and heavy (36%) cream. I used 3/4 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup cream, and a bit more vinegar. The result was beautiful and tasty.

    Kitchen hack: I didn’t have any cheese cloth so I used a reusable coffee filter to drain the curd. It worked great.


  • Lisa

    Dear David, I just made this recipe. Thank you for taking the mystery out of a delicious cheese. It’s easy and only requires equipment that you already have in your kitchen.

  • Erika

    Is it possible to make ricotta using lactose-free milk? My husband is lactose-intolerant and while he can eat hard cheeses, soft cheeses such as this give him trouble.

  • David

    Susie: I don’t use ultra-pasteurized milk for anything, so I can’t advise. But if someone else uses it for cheesemaking, or making ricotta, let us know.

    Tiana: Some people use the whey to make bread or as a base for soup. I’ve also heard of using it in place of water for making rice, too.

    (In reality, ricotta was invented as a way to use leftover whey from cheesemaking. The method is somewhat more complicated and takes longer, but you can read How To Make Ricotta from Whey here, if interested.)

    Maria: Because this is drier than the store-bought stuff, I toss ricotta like this in hot whole wheat pasta with lots of long-stewed greens, garlic, olives and red chili flakes. And yes, it is so easy!

  • Susan

    David, thank you so much for this recipe. I cannot believe how easy it is and how very, very good. I used a half recipe and got just about 12oz from it, drained for an hour. I plan on using it in the lasagna I’m making tonight and can’t wait to make the ricotta pound cake recipe sitting patiently on my to-try list. This is SO simple I can hardly wait to make more!


  • Cathy

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I used store brand low-fat yogurt in place of the whole-milk yogurt and it turned out wonderfully. This ricotta is so creamy and flavorful. I can’t wait to try it in Italian Cheesecake.

  • Melanie

    Thank you David! I didn’t even know I could make ricotta cheese. My husband’s birthday dinner party is in a couple days. The centerpiece to his birthday dinner is always a huge lasagna. I took over making the traditional lasagna last year when we got engaged but I was unimpressed with the grainy ricotta I found in the store. So glad you provided this recipe. I followed your directions exactly and ended up with the the most creamy and perfect ricotta. I can’t wait to taste it in the lasagna. I’m working on my second double batch now. Thanks again!

  • KG

    Home made cheese is also called as paneer in India. Paneer can be used to make variety of dishes which are extremely delicious. You can try shahi paneer which one of the prime dish of paneer.

  • Anne

    I made this today but I used full fat sour cream and lemon juice. It tastes like the sour cream. The only difference is that I needed more sour cream than you say to use of the yogurt.

  • Lindsay

    Oh, and I used lemon juice instead of vinegar. Yummy.

  • Lindsay

    I just made this with a 32 ounce container of lowfat yogurt I purchased for .14, thanks to store markdowns and couponing. =) It is delicious, and extremely easy to make! I am going to buy a couple more containers to make more in the upcoming month. It’s so cheap, I will find ways to use it!

  • David

    Grace: As mentioned in my comments above, with the link, there are recipes to make real ricotta, provided one has gallons of whey on hand. This recipe is designed for home cooks.

    Shira: I’ve bought the sterilized goat’s milk and it has no taste, so I’m not sure I’d want to try it again. I have been buying raw cow’s milk and using that at home, and the difference in taste is pretty incredible.

    Susie: I would ask my grocer if that milk was really UHT. I don’t recall seeing much sterilized milk in the US, but since Americans are pretty good milk-drinkers, I’d be surprised if it was UHT milk. It would be interesting to hear back, if you find out.

  • Grace

    That’s not ricotta. It’s curd.
    Ricotta is not made with yoghurt but with whey.
    It’s like telling me all sparkling wine is Champagne.

  • Chef Lulu

    David, I tried your recipe today and the results are better than I expected, so thank you for giving me a way to make a wholesome product without all the chemicals and salt. I used Greek style 2% (Fage) yogurt and apple cider vinegar instead of white because it was what I had on hand (didn’t want to use white balsamic). I also reduced the amount of heavy cream to 1/4 cup. When the heating process was finished, I used a yogurt cheese maker which is basically a very fine meshed strainer made by Graham Kerr’s company. Perhaps I pressed the cheese a bit more than I should have because I ended up with about 1-1/2 cups of the best ricotta cheese I have ever tasted. Will use this cheese to make a polenta cake topped with a plum conserve. Next time I will use low fat milk just to see what happens. I also stirred the milk mixture as it was heating up to insure that the ingredients were well distributed. Next time I will let the curdled mixture sit in the pot off heat for an extra 15 minutes to make sure I get every bit of cheese possible. So many possibilities!


  • Shira

    David, I’ve never seen raw sheep or goats milk here in Paris, though from what I understand of the method above, it could be done with the sterilized stuff. Re raw cows milk, I trust you have a source, but I saw it again this weekend at the President Wilson market, sold by the guy who has fresh cheese.

  • Susie

    Contrary to the comment that most milk is NOT UHT?
    In my area most of the milk IS the ultra pasteurized. I wish it wasn’t. Unless I want to pay $5 a gallon for the non UHT milk, I’m mostly out of luck around here in Northern Illinois. As I had posted earlier, I love making mozzarella and when I just couldn’t get it to come out right with store bought milk (no UHT labeling) I checked it out further to find out that it was in fact the UHT stuff.

    Perhaps something has changed since I’ve looked last, but when I did ask about the cartons with no specifics about that I was told that most milk is UHT and therefore they rarely label it at such anymore. at least that seems to be the info in my part of the world. I will check it out again.

  • carolyn

    I made this with lowfat milk and lowfat yogurt and it turned out great. I did let it sit for a few minutes before straining, and I used a fine mesh strainer, rolling the curds a bit to get the excess whey out. Very tasty with castagnaccio!

  • David

    Wow Shira, I’d love to know where you get fresh sheep’s milk (or fresh goat’s milk) in Paris!

    I’ve tried looking for it and have only seen the sterilized stuff.

    If I get my hands on some sheep’s milk, I’ll give it a try, too.


  • Shira Schnitzer

    Curious if anyone has tried with sheep’s milk. My source for sheep’s milk ricotta is closed for holidays, and it’s become a bit of a staple in my kitchen.

  • Rumana

    As someone who’s recently learned that she’s severely allergic to cow’s milk (sob), I’m always looking for new ways to get my cheese on. Will this method work with non-animal’s milk? Like soy? Perhaps I should try it and see what happens…..

  • Lyne

    I made this last night using my homemade yogurt (made with whole milk) and it is amazing, much better than store bought and yes I do have a container of store bought in my fridge in case this recipe didn’t work out. I wish I had read the comments before making the ricotta as I threw out the liquid but will use it next time to make bread :-)


  • David

    Rachel: Cheesemaking is about separating cheese curds from whey in milk and you should get about 2 cups of ricotta from the recipe, which is about right for the 2 qts of milk you start with. (Makes you appreciate the price of cheese!)

    If it’s too dry, it sounds like it was drained too much. I use muslin, which has rather small holes. If you do try it again, just let it drain until it’s to the moistness level you prefer.

  • Rachel

    So I tried this and I was really disappointed. I got very little cheese for the amount of milk used. Also, the texture was terrible. The cheese was dry and crumbly instead of creamy and soft. Did I cook it too long? boil it too hard? What went wrong?

  • Christine

    With company coming for dinner, I made this in 1 hour at 3:00 pm the same day. It was perfect scooped onto good bread and topped with a tomato-olive spread.
    What a great, simple recipe!
    The only thing I would add to the directions is to gently stir the mixture while it is heating to keep the contents from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
    Next time I’ll omit the cream to see how it turns out.

  • David

    Sadie: As Randy mentioned above, the heating kills the active cultures, which sounds probable to me. It’s best to use the 1/2 cup cooked in the recipe, and enjoy the other half on it’s own!

    Pippa: The stores that cater to the expat community do sell cheesecloth (like Thanksgiving on rue St. Paul), but I use étamine, cotton gauze that I buy up in the Marché St Pierre near Montmarte, the huge fabric emporium. It’s beautiful, quite inexpensive, and re-usable.

  • Sadie

    Do the live active cultures from the yogurt maintain their health benefits when they are boiled in this recipe?

  • Sonia

    I can’t believe how easy this was, and how great the cheese turned out! I did use lowfat yogurt because my supermarket only had lowfat and nonfat to choose from. I also let it sit in the pot for about 15 minutes before straining it, since someone here made the comment that the mixture continues to curdle and I would get more cheese. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!


  • Mandira

    That’s exactly how you make paneer (Indian cottage cheese) though we press the curds together once they’ve drained into a block. Yummy…I didn’t realise ricotta was so similar.

  • David

    MsMC: Ricotta Cheesecake is excellent; lighter than ‘regular’ cheesecake, too. The main thing to remember, if you try one out, is not to overbake it. Because ricotta has less-moisture than cream cheese, the baking time is more critical.

    Seattleite: Yes, that is the way that true ricotta is made. I’ve linked to a recipe & technique, above, for those who have an excess of whey on their hands and have the inclination to make ricotta that way.

    Angel Elf: Thanks for the recipe!

  • MsMC

    Any one has a tried and tested recipe for cheesecake using homemade ricotta?

  • RG

    David, I’m told Greek yogurt is simply yogurt that’s been allowed to drain to about half it’s volume, 24 hours in the frig.

  • Seattleite

    Again, this is not ricotta cheese. It is delicious, and many people use this recipe to make paneer, with either buttermilk or yogurt or some other acidic ingredient added to milk, but ricotta is made completely differently, with whey. This makes a perfectly delicious alternative, but if you taste it side by side with ricotta, you’ll see it’s very different.

  • Angel Elf

    Hello David and Elise;

    Here is my homemade ricotta cheese recipe. The acid is provided by the buttermilk. Please use buttermilk that has active cultures. It takes about half an hour to make. ENJOY!


    Serves: Makes about 4 cups

    1 gallon whole milk
    1 quart buttermilk
    Instant-read or candy thermometer
    Cheesecloth or clean muslin, rinsed


    Select a sieve or colander with a wide surface area so the curds will cool quickly. Rinse a large piece of cheesecloth or muslin with cold water, then fold it so that it is 6 or more layers, and arrange it in the sieve or colander placed in the sink.

    Pour the milk and buttermilk into a large nonreactive saucepan. For some reason if you rinse out the pot with cold water and leave it wet inside the milk will resist scorching.

    Place over high heat and heat, stirring the mixture frequently with a rubber spatula and making sure to cover the whole pan bottom to prevent scorching. Once the mixture is warm, stop stirring.

    As the milk heats, curds will begin to rise and clump on the surface. As the curds begin to form, gently scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula to release any stuck curds.

    When the mixture reaches 175° to 180ºF, the curds and whey will separate. The whey looks like cloudy water underneath a mass of thick white curds on the surface.

    Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Working from the side of the pot, gently ladle the whey into the prepared sieve. Go slowly so as not to break up the curds. Finally, ladle the curds into the sieve.

    Lift the sides of the cloth to help the liquid drain. Resist the temptation to press on the curds. When the draining slows, gather the edges of the cloth, tie them into a bag, and hang the bag from the faucet. Continue to drain until the dripping stops, about 15 minutes.

    Untie the bag and pack the ricotta into airtight containers. Refrigerate and use within 1 week.

  • David

    gail: Thanks for the feedback on using UHT, and especially low-fat milk. Our waistlines appreciate it! ; )

    cara mia: I don’t know how commercial ricotta is produced in the US since I don’t live there anymore. But I’m fairly certain their websites have information about how their cheeses are made. And it would be interesting to compare.

    If you do get a chance, do try sheep’s milk ricotta, which is sold in cheese shops and specialty foods stores (or if you’re lucky, your local farmer’s market). That’s amazing stuff.

    Luana: Wow, homemade Greek yogurt! Now that’s something I’d like to give a try myself.

  • cara_mia

    David –

    Do you happen to know if this is the way commercial ricotta cheese is made in the US? (IE, Sargento and Sorrento brands, etc., available in the grocery store.) Traditional ricotta cheese, (and I imagine most ricotta available in Italy,) is made from whey – ricotta means “recooked” in Italian. I’m also curious as to whether the ricotta made from whey tastes significantly different than the farmer’s cheese versions – and if I should investigate specialty shops for it!


  • stile mediterraneo Italy

    Dear David, thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe! I come from Puglia, a region in the South of Italy where there is a ricotta and mozzarella artisan at every corner. We use tons of ricotta for many different recipes and I will definetely start making it at home as well.
    What i really like is the GIUNCATA, which is a type of ricotta made using a bamboo colander, instead of the regular strainer (in Italian, bamboo translates into Giunco). We wrap the ricotta in the bamboo strainer and the risulting ricotta tastes like the bamboo! The Giuncata is made without any salt.
    Another type of ricotta is made placing a few layers of rocket/wild arugula leaves over the strainer (instead of the cheesecloth).
    We use the resulting liquid to store the mozzarella, which otherwise would get dry.

  • reese

    So….if lemon juice can be used in lieu of yoghurt, what would the proportion be to the milk? Am thinking….milk/cream/lemon/seasalt might be best for sweet dishes and milk/yoghurt/salt best for savory? What a great recipe, I am grateful for it! Reminds me of an anecdote from my late great Italian family, when I called a great -aunt to ask her what “basket cheese” was, and she said, “It’s cheese that comes in a basket.” :-)

  • gail

    I’ve made this with ultra-pasturized milk (doesn’t work) and 2% lowfat milk (works fine). I’ve only added vinegar or lemon juice and salt, but next time I will use buttermilk or yogurt.

  • David

    Hi Caroline: Yes, those are fewer ingredients. I made the heavy cream optional but due to variations in yogurt, I find that using it alone doesn’t always coagulate. Thanks for responding!

    Renee: If you have leftover ricotta I’m pretty sure you can freeze it. It loses something in the texture, but for making lasagna or another baked dish, it should be fine to use.

  • Vanessa

    I have made this using low-fat yogurt and low-fat milk (2%) and it turned out absolutely lovely … though I have to admit it was an accident – I was making homemade yogurt and absent-mindedly forgot to cool my scalded milk, so it all curdled when I added the yogurt. What I coincidence that you post this only two days later! anyway, I ended up with delicious ricotta, and yes, I used the whey to bake some great bread.

  • Bruce

    Most milk sold in the US is not ultra-pasteurized (UHT) unless so labeled, but rather high temperature/short time (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasteurization for more info.) In any case, it’s not so much the pasteurization of milk that’s the culprit, it’s the homogenization. They spray the milk through very fine nozzles which breaks the fat up into extremely small globules which cannot recombine and float to the top. This extends the shelf life, which is why the industry likes it.

    You can buy milk which is pasteurized but not homogenized at Whole Foods, but it is of course expensive.

    If you can befriend a dairy farmer or join a milk co-op you might be able to obtain raw milk and pasteurize it yourself. Heat it to 145 degrees for a half hour, then proceed with the recipe.

    @Maggi: It’s expensive because the yield is not all that high (2 cups of cheese from 2 quarts of milk in this recipe), and because it doesn’t have a very high sales turnover for its shelf-life.

  • fethiye

    David, we make it a bit simpler than this if you are interested in making it with less ingredients; I have mentioned how while giving this cookie recipe http://www.yogurtland.com/2006/04/09/mastic-lor-cookies/

    At the end of the day, all you need is to curdle the milk and drain it, no? ;)

  • Randy

    There is NO health benefit from the yogurt in this recipe; the boiling kills the active cultures. Any acidic ingredient (yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk) can be used to achieve the curdling effect, so experiment to find the one that gives the taste you like best.

    @sudu: if you’re starting with low-fat milk, you get low-fat ricotta (whole milk is between 3.5 and 4% fat).

    @radish: it should be good 3-4 days in the fridge.

  • radish

    this could not have come at a better time – i have to make it this weekend — will it keep until Tuesday if I make it Saturday or Sunday?

  • sudu

    Ricotta is the base for making many many desserts in India. This is actually a very flexible recipe. I love the idea of adding heavy cream -I think it would make the ricotta more richer and creamier…yummy! But you can actually follow the same with just plain milk and vinegar/lemon juice (anything acidic with pH of I think around 2 is good). I have even tried it with 2% milk and vinegar with pretty good results- so that I can splurge a bit more ‘considering’ its low fat!
    (I have actually no idea if ricotta from 2% has actually lower fat than that from whole milk- anyone?)

  • David

    Maggi: I think it’s because you get that fabulous reusable plastic tub ; )

    Maurice: You could absolutely make this without the salt, although if someone is on a low-fat diet, I don’t think this falls into that category. There are reduced-fat cheeses on the market and I urge you to taste a few and hopefully find one that is appropriate.

    Paula: As mentioned above, I’ve not used UHT milk, so can’t advise. Sorry.

    Caroline: I’m not sure how different your method is to this one. I presume you’re replacing the yogurt with buttermilk or lemon juice, but it would still need to be heated and drained. (Some people have told me that buttermilk is hard to find, so here I use yogurt, which is often more easily-available.)

    If there’s another method that’s less-complicated, I’d be interested in hearing out it because I’m all for making things easier!

  • Paula K

    I can only get my hands on UHT milk where I’m at. Do you happen to know if it will work for this?

  • caroline

    It doesn’t have to be this complicated– a gallon of milk and a quart of buttermilk will also make ricotta. Or you can use milk and lemon juice.

  • Maurice

    Due to my father in law’s recent heart experiences I have to now cook heart healthy aka low sodium, low fat and low cholesterol. Is Ricotta, store bought or homemade, a good ingredient to use for heart-healthy recipes?

  • Maggi

    Wow. It’s really this simple, and this cheap? Makes me wonder why it is SO expensive at the grocery store. :-

  • Soma

    This is a lot like making the Indian Cheese Paneer, except for the use of Yogurt & Cream. Now I understand why while making some Indian desserts it calls for Ricotta in the absence of Paneer.

  • Tiana

    Can you do anything with the strained liquid?

  • Maria

    This is how we make farmer’s cheese in Russia, except without yogurt or cream, which makes for a more dry result. It’s fantastically low-effort; I love it.

  • Susie

    I make mozzarella cheese when I get fresh milk, but you CAN’T use the ultra pasteurized milk for mozzarella. Can you use the regular store whole milk – ultra pasteurized for ricotta? The only time I’ve ever made the ricotta is after making the mozz. I’ve lost my source for fresh milk, but I’m looking for another………..

    Could someone let me know? I’d like to try this, but don’t want to waste the milk if it won’t work.


  • Toni

    My grandma used to boil spoiled leftover whole milk without any other ingredient. The resulting cheese was not as creamy as ricotta but a thicker version that in Catalonia is called “mató”. I use lemon juice or vinegar to force the curdling.

  • David

    fethiye: That’s interesting. Since I’m so frugal (a gift from my mother), it’s good to know. Next time I make this, I’m certainly going to try that and see if I can maximize my yield. Thanks!

    arugula: I’ve not made ricotta with just milk and cream but am wondering how it coagulates without an acidic ingredient or rennet added?

    Some nutritionists argue that cultured yogurt don’t do all that much for you, unless it has bifudus in it. (Aside from the vitamins and calcium present in most dairy products.) So even though I’m not a nutritionist, I make it a point to try to eat, and use, yogurt with that in it. And hopefully gain any nutritional benefits.

  • arugulove

    I have made ricotta before but not with yogurt. Just milk and cream. Interesting…I wonder how different it tastes? I’m wondering if there’s more of a nutritional benefit if it’s with yogurt?

  • fethiye

    If you cool the mix before straining it, you will get more ricotta. It keep curdling for a while as it cools…