Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

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I'm showing you how to make homemade mascarpone, or Italian-style cream cheese, which is very similar to regular cream cheese, except pretty much better in every way. It's not quite as tangy, but it is richer and more decadent. Whether you're going to use it in classic desserts like cheesecake or tiramisu, or just as a simple spread for bread, this recipe couldn't be easier, and only requires 2 ingredients.

Prep Time:
5 mins
Cook Time:
5 mins
Additional Time:
8 hrs 50 mins
Total Time:
9 hrs
Servings:
14
Yield:
1 3/4 cups

I'll leave real cheese making to the experts, as their Cheddar, Brie, and blues will almost certainly be better than anything I can make, and believe me, I've tried. But there are a few simple, fresh cheeses that anyone can make at home, and mascarpone is one of the best. It's also one of the easiest, as in just two ingredients, and a few minutes of stirring.

There are lots of methods for making this, but they all involve heating the cream, adding lemon juice, or other form of acid, and then letting the mixture thicken overnight in the fridge. Some versions use lower heat, and shorter cooking times, for a softer mascarpone, but I prefer to push the envelope, since I like a firm, relatively dry cream cheese. Either way, freshly made mascarpone couldn't be easier, and if you like regular cream cheese, you will love this.

Other than the little bit of acidity from the lemon juice, this is unflavored, so if you're going to enjoy it plain, you might want to season it with a pinch of salt. That's pretty much all you need before spreading it on some bread, where it's ready to top with sliced tomatoes, or grilled vegetables. For a more desserty application, mix in a bit of sugar, and vanilla, and spread on a piece of toast before topping with fresh fruit. Those are just a few ideas, but no matter how you enjoy yours, I really do hope you give this easy cheese a try soon.

a jar of mascarpone with an open-faced tomato sandwich on the side
Chef John

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Pour heavy cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring cream to 185 to 190 degrees F (85 to 88 degrees C) over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, maintaining the temperature at 185 to 190 degrees F (85 to 88 degrees C), then turn off the heat. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon.

  3. Whisk well and let cool for 30 minutes.

  4. Transfer into a clean towel-lined strainer. Cover top with plastic wrap, pressing down gently onto the surface of the cream, and let cool to room temperature, 20 to 30 minutes more.

  5. Chill in a refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight.

  6. Remove plastic wrap and store in a sealed container or use immediately.

    Homemade Mascarpone Cheese
    Homemade Mascarpone Cheese. Chef John

Chef's Notes:

Use heavy cream that contains 35 to 40% butterfat.

If not using a thermometer, this should be the lowest of possible simmers, as in barely any tiny bubbles breaking the surface.

This is the thick, dense, firm version of mascarpone, and once chilled has a slightly grainy appearance on a knife, but should be completely smooth on the palate.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

118 Calories
13g Fat
1g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 14
Calories 118
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 8g 39%
Cholesterol 47mg 16%
Sodium 13mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Protein 1g
Potassium 27mg 1%

* 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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