Chef John's Homemade Ricotta Cheese

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If I came over to your place and you served me homemade ricotta cheese, I'd think you were pretty cool. And while that's a good reason to do this, there are even better reasons--like, it's super fun to do, ridiculously easy, and you'll end up with something far superior to what you buy in the store. Serve on toast with honey, cayenne, and sea salt or with tomatoes, basil, freshly ground black pepper, olive oil, and sea salt--or however you like.

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Prep Time:
5 mins
Cook Time:
5 mins
Additional Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
2 cups

This is the ricotta cheese I teased in the recently posted Pancake Lasagna for One recipe. You don't need homemade cheese to make a decent lasagna, but if you do make your own, there's a pretty good chance your days of using the store-bought stuff will be over.

Youcan even produce ricotta with a variety of textures. With a shorter draining period, you'll get a wetter, creamier ricotta, which would be perfect for using as a spread. A longer draining time will give you a drier, firmer cheese, perfect for stuffing ravioli or layering into a lasagna.

Obviously, your homemade ricotta is only going to be as good as the milk and cream you make it with. Hopefully you have access to a high-quality product, preferably from grass-fed cows. No matter what brand you end up buying, be sure it's "pasteurized" and not "ultra-pasteurized." Since that's heated to a higher temperature, it will affect the curdling process. Good luck in your search. I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Chef John's Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Chef John's Homemade Ricotta Cheese. Chef John

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk

  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

Directions

  1. Line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set over a deep bowl or pot.

  2. Combine milk, cream, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally in a "figure eight" motion, until it reaches a temperature of 195 degrees F (90 degrees C). If you don't have a thermometer, this will be right before it starts to simmer. You'll see steam rising from the surface, and tiny bubbles forming around the edges of the pan.

  3. Turn off the heat, pour in the vinegar, and stir slowly in a "figure eight" motion for 3 or 4 seconds.

  4. Let the mixture sit, untouched, for 6 minutes.

  5. Carefully ladle into the cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer so that the dripping whey drains into the pot or bowl. Let the ricotta drain into the pot for between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on how soft or firm you want your cheese. The longer it drains, the firmer the texture will be once chilled.

  6. Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and lift the drained ricotta out of the strainer and place in a bowl. Let cool on the counter to room temperature, then wrap and chill thoroughly.

  7. Remove cheesecloth and serve. Ricotta usually needs an additional pinch of salt when serving.

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Chef's Notes:

If you have a really fine mesh strainer, you may not need the cheesecloth, but if you don't use it, you won't get the cheesecloth texture on your cheese.

Do not use "ultra-pasteurized" milk. You can use 3/4 teaspoon fine salt instead of kosher.

This homemade ricotta cheese works great in my Pancake Lasagna for One (or More) recipe.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

166 Calories
13g Fat
8g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 166
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 8g 38%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 473mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 197mg 15%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 248mg 5%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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