Homemade Ricotta

Creamy Homemade Ricotta that requires only 3 simple ingredients

I always like learning how to make something from scratch.  It’s really interesting understanding how something comes together and I’ve found it surprising how few ingredients most homemade items require.  It’s a stark contrast to the ingredients listed on most packages.

Homemade Ricotta | A Happy Food Dance

I use ricotta in quite a few items… like this and this and this.  And I’ve always heard that fresh ricotta is so much more delicious than store bought, but I always thought it would be difficult to make.  I was wrong.  It requires three simple ingredients, plus a dash of salt – and it’s really not time consuming, most of the time spent the ricotta is draining and doesn’t need your attention.

You start by mixing your milk and cream together with a little bit of salt and setting that over a stove until it just begins to boil.  Then you mix in your lemon juice, letting that set just a minute, then strain with cheese cloth over a colander.  Seriously – that’s it!

Homemade Ricotta | A Happy Food Dance

I let mine sit between 90 to 120 minutes.  The longer it strains the less water content your ricotta will have, which makes for a thicker end result.

The only thing I was surprised at was the small amount of ricotta that was produced.  For three cups of milk and a cup of cream, I was usually left with only a cup of ricotta.  If you’re making a pasta dish, I would definitely double the recipe.  I did feel like I was throwing so much of the drained liquid (the whey) out.  I’m not sure how or what to use whey for, if anyone has any suggestions or recipes, I would love to hear them.

For appetizers or dishes where the ricotta is the star, I will probably make my own.  I don’t think I’ll do it when making a big pasta dish like these shells because you most likely won’t be able to tell the difference and I hate feeling like I’ve wasting milk and cream.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta that requires only 3 simple ingredients

It was still really interesting to learn the process and it did make for a ricotta that was thick, creamy and so very, very smooth.

Homemade Ricotta
Serves: about 1 cup
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. In a large non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat, combined together the milk, heavy cream and salt.
  2. Heat the milk, stirring occasionally to keep the milk from scorching on the bottom, until it just begins to boil.
  3. Immediately remove from the heat and add the fresh lemon juice. Give one or two stirs and let sit for 60 seconds.
  4. Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and set over a large bowl.
  5. Pour the mixture into the colander and let the curds (solids) strain from the whey (liquids).
  6. Depending on the desired thickness, let the mixture strain from 60 to 120 minutes. At 60 minutes you will have a soft, spreadable ricotta. At 120 minutes you will have a more firm, thicker ricotta.
  7. Discard the whey and eat the ricotta right away or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
This recipe was slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen


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  1. says

    Wow! That ricotta looks sooooo creamy! I’m glad to hear it was easy to make too! Did you use a nonreactive stainless steel sauce pan? I’ve hear it makes a difference, but since I don’t own one yet I have never had a chance to try it out.

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