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.

A Little Extra That Makes All the Difference. Just Three or Four Ingredients. Great for Meal Prep. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free.
Two ways to make fresh Homemade Ricotta ♥ KitchenParade.com, just milk, lemon and salt. Easy and delicious! Many tips, including skinny and creamy versions. Just Three or Four Ingredients. Great for Meal Prep. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free.

The Homemade Pantry ♥ KitchenParade.com, a special collection of recipes for ingredients and dishes we could easily buy but choose to make from scratch at home because they taste better, cost less, have fewer or higher-quality ingredients or are simply more convenient.
This recipe fits into a special collection
of recipes I call The Homemade Pantry
stuff we could easily buy
but for one reason or another
(better taste, lower cost, more convenience, fewer ingredients)
choose to make from scratch
at home in our own kitchens.


Why Make What We Can Easily Buy?

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.

Cost makes a difference though not always.

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.

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

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 personalized "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.

How to Use Fresh Homemade Ricotta


Two ways to make fresh Homemade Ricotta ♥ KitchenParade.com, just milk, lemon and salt. Easy and delicious! Many tips, including skinny and creamy versions. Then make open-face sandwiches!

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 these recipes:



Homemade Ricotta ♥ KitchenParade.com, here schmeared on homemade bread with a tomatillo-herb spread.

There's no recipe, per se, but I tend to make Homemade Ricotta when we've made a chopped herb blend, some times with a little chopped tomatillo, a little chopped green pepper, held together with a little olive oil. And then we make open-face sandwiches, the Homemade Ricotta spread on a small cracker or bread slice, topped with that herb blend. Oh. So. Wonderful.

LOL. I've just noticed that everything in that photo above is made from scratch, the bread is Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe toasted like Fried Bread and schmeared with Creamy Ricotta and that tomatillo-herb spread.

But here's what I'll say, too. Homemade Ricotta never goes to waste. The batches are intentionally small and it just kind of uses itself up ...



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 by bringing to a gentle simmer on low heat, stirring often at first, then continuously to prevent scorching.

Stir in the 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 on low heat, gently stirring occasionally, just enough to redistribute the heat. Once a simmer is reached, 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.

STRAIN With a slotted spoon, lift the 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 the salt if using, then 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.

HOW TO STRAIN THE RICOTTA No cheesecloth? For straining, I’ve had good luck using a layer of good paper towels lining a colander but paper is more delicate. It's increasingly hard to find cheesecloth even in good grocery stores now, but there are lots of cheesecloth options available online. I bought a yogurt strainer years back and it's useful for straining not only yogurt but also nut milks and even Homemade Buttermilk. Yes, that's your next Homemade Pantry project! My Disclosure Promise
WHAT TO DO WITH THE WHEY “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. So taste the whey before you use it!
ALANNA’s TIPS Keep the heat low and stick close to the stove when the milks are coming to a simmer. 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. 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! Rinse the cheesecloth well right away, then run through the wash within a day or so. Otherwise? S-T-I-N-K-Y.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
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 1/3 & PointsPlus 1/3 & SmartPoints 1/5 & Freestyle 1/5
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 & SmartPoints 2/9 & Freestyle 2/9
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.

Did You Know You Can Easily Make ...

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Homemade Finnish Mustard Homemade Buttermilk Homemade Basil Pesto
~ more Homemade Pantry recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ ricotta recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe 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. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. 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!

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  2. 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!

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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!

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  5. I am so glad this recipe came up. I am running out of $ and cheese recipes--any kind--are great!

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  6. I also blogged about making homemade ricotta. Loved the feeling of making cheese from scratch. Am enjoying your posts.

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  7. 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