How to Make Homemade Ricotta:
Skinny or Creamy or Something In Between

How to make ricotta cheese at home, with just pantry ingredients and a few minutes. I've made "Skinny Ricotta" with 2% milk and lemon juice for many years but have just recently begun to make "Creamy Ricotta" with a mixture of whole milk, cream and buttermilk. Here are all the in's and out's to make every batch a success.

Two ways to make fresh Homemade Ricotta, just milk, lemon and salt. Easy and delicious! Many tips, including skinny and creamy versions.


The Homemade Pantry
This recipe is part of a special new collection of recipes
(soon there will be a special page for them all)
that I call "The Homemade Pantry" – stuff we can buy,
often 'ingredients' more than dishes,
but for one reason or another, choose to make at home in our own kitchens.

Why, some times, do we make stuff so easily purchased?

Convenience. (Yes, when milk and lemons or buttermilk are already on hand, it’s easier to make homemade ricotta than to make a special trip to the grocery store.) Freshness. Occasionally but not always, cost.

For me, there’s also an 'anti-magician' factor. We’ve so lost touch with what foods really are, how they’re made. Making ricotta takes no magician – just some milk, an edible acid and a few minutes – but yields its own magic, a fresh homemade cheese.

I’ve been making Skinny Ricotta for so long, I don’t even think, I just make it. But Creamy Ricotta is something entirely new. I love its pillowy texture and buttermilk ‘tang.’

As written here, I use lemon juice for Skinny Ricotta and buttermilk for Creamy Ricotta. But if you like, swap one for the other. Either one acts as the “acid” needed to produce ricotta.

So add “flexibility” and “control” to the other benefits of making ricotta right on my own kitchen. Now I can develop my own “brand” of ricotta, starting with four to six cups of any dairy, using either lemon juice or buttermilk, creating blends that are rich when richness is called for, skinny when it’s not.

ALANNA’s TIPS Stick close to the stove when the milks are coming to a boil. Yikes, milk makes a mess when it boils over, my ceramic stovetop may never be the same. I’ve learned to use either a non-stick pan or a heavy (like LeCreuset) pan, this helps prevent scorching. That said, with less fat, Skinny Ricotta is more prone to scorching so keep stirring, keep adjusting the temperature. As it comes to a boil, the milks can double in volume, so account for that when selecting the cooking vessel. “Whey” is the yellowish liquid that separates out when the milk proteins congeal. If the liquid is white and milky, you’ll still get curds but not as many as when the solids and whey really separate. A milky whey (no relation to the Milky Way!) tastes good and can be used in soups or smoothies. But to cause separation, the milks must come to a gentle boil and the whey that results just doesn’t taste very good. No cheesecloth? For straining, I’ve had good luck using a layer of good paper towels lining a colander but paper is more delicate. To my taste, the Skinny Ricotta demands a healthy application of salt, the Creamy Ricotta does not. I love adding extra flavors to ricotta, like the zip of some lemon zest. Now that’s something you won’t find in a store!
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a recipe for a favorite "homemade pantry" ingredient that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

RECIPE for HOMEMADE RICOTTA

Two ways to make fresh ricotta at home
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
    SKINNY RICOTTA
    Makes 1 cup denser, heavier ricotta
  • 1 quart (4 cups) 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, optional (see TIPS)
    CREAMY RICOTTA
    Makes 2 cups lighter, looser ricotta
  • 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, optional (see TIPS)

FOR SKINNY In a large saucepan (see TIPS), gently heat the milk, bring to a gentle simmer. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring often at first, then continuously to prevent scorching.

Stir in lemon juice, then reduce the heat and gently stir until small curds form and the whey (see TIPS) separates, about 5 minutes.

FOR CREAMY In a large saucepan (see TIPS), gently heat the milk, cream and buttermilk. Bring to a gentle simmer, gently stirring occasionally, just enough to redistribute the heat. Let simmer until curds form and the whey separates, about 2 minutes.

FOR BOTH Remove from the heat and let rest for 30 to 60 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, lift curds out into a colander lined with cheesecloth over a bowl, leaving the whey behind. Lift the cheesecloth to create a “ball” of ricotta, letting drain for about 15 minutes. For firmer ricotta, drain longer, for softer ricotta, drain less.

Stir in salt if using, transfer ricotta into a refrigerator dish and refrigerate. Homemade Ricotta is a “fresh cheese” – it hasn’t been aged and will last a few days, a week at most.

Rinse the cheesecloth well right away, then run through the wash within a day or so.

HOW TO USE FRESH HOMEMADE RICOTTA I have a few recipes to share in the next while but in the mean time, check the ricotta recipes for ideas. Better yet, go straight to this Savory Peach Appetizer, it is a-w-e-s-o-m-e with Creamy Ricotta or for vegetable appetizers, try Creamy Ricotta with Tomato-Cucumber-Corn Salad and Herbed Ricotta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Note: I’m not sure how to estimate the nutrition impact of what’s being discarded with the whey. So I’ve kept 100% of calories, fat grams, etc.
SKINNY RICOTTA Per Tablespoon/Per Quarter Cup: 30/123 Calories; 1/5g Tot Fat; 1/3g Sat Fat; 4/19mg Cholesterol; 25/100mg Sodium; 3/12g Carb; 0g Fiber; 3/13g Sugar; 2/8g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points .5/1, PointsPlus 3
CREAMY RICOTTA Per Tablespoon/Per Quarter Cup: 48/192 Calories; 4/15g Tot Fat; 2/10g Sat Fat; 13/55mg Cholesterol; 21/86mg Sodium; 2/8g Carb; 0g Fiber; 2/8g Sugar; 1/6g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 1/5, PointsPlus 1/5
Creamy Ricotta adapted from Creamy Homemade Ricotta as published on Food52 by Jennifer Perilllo of In Jennie's Kitchen, (yes, that Jennifer Perillo, the one who asked us to remember our loved ones with peanut butter pie, in my case, Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie).

This Week, 2002 - 2010

Chicken à la King Peach Uncobbler Grilled Pepper Salads Potato Bites with Smoked Salmon Cantaloupe Smoothie

This Week, Elsewhere

Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Pi Pizzeria
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Fattoush (Traditional Middle Eastern Salad with Romaine, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Fried Pita Chips and Lemon-Sumac Vinaigrette)
A Veggie Venture

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How funny is this, I just made a salad with Whole Foods ricotta and was thinking there must be a way to make this at home, and healthier for me (low/no fat). And there is! Thank you!
 
MrsMac ~ How cool is that?!! Some times I get kinda creeped out when the Internet seems to know what I'm thinking. But your experience? I hope to replicate it often for you and other readers! Thanks for letting me know!
 
Have you tried this with 1% milk? That's what I have on hand. I could really have fun with this - skillet or crockpot lasagna comes to mind right off the bat.
 
Cyndi ~ Give it a shot, especially for the lasagna you're working on, where texture isn't so important. I've you've got anything to richen it with though, you might do that. Let me know!
 
I am so glad this recipe came up. I am running out of $ and cheese recipes--any kind--are great!
 
I also blogged about making homemade ricotta. Loved the feeling of making cheese from scratch. Am enjoying your posts.
 
I enjoyed your comments about the magic... we definitely have become disconnected or out of touch to a certain regard in terms of the actual creation of the "ingredients" that we just grab and use. I've so enjoyed making these things from scratch on my food journey. I feel like I understand and, actually, appreciate the ingredients that much more. Looking forward to this year of Cheesepalooza challenges and appreciating the cheese that I love that much more. :)
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna