Rich creamy homemade fresh ricotta cheese is a delight in both sweet and savoury dishes. But this simple Italian cheese is super easy to make at home and only requires 3 ingredients.
Why you should try this recipes
- Homemade cheese making is easy and fun, a bit of kitchen crafting that you can get the kids involved with too.
- Making your own ricotta means you know exactly what’s in there. Nothing artificial and you are in charge of the salt content.
- I use this for my spinach and ricotta dip and it’s delicious!
- It’s great to know you can whip up homemade ricotta for an antipasti platter or for desserts or a homemade lasagne without having to leave the house!
- This is a super quick cheese to make, your homemade ricotta will be ready to eat within an hour!
- The whey – that leftover liquid from cheesemaking is perfect for making scones, pizza dough and even for putting in your bath to soften your skin.
What is ricotta cheese?
Ricotta is a light and fluffy fresh cheese that hails from Italy.
The word ‘ricotta’ translates from Italian as ‘recooked’ and that is what traditional Italian ricotta cheese is.
It is a whey cheese that can be made from sheep, cow, goat, or Italian water buffalo milk. Made from whey leftover from the production of other cheeses. Like other whey cheeses, it is made by coagulating the proteins that remain after the casein has been used to make cheese, notably albumin and globulin.
Ricotta is what is known as a fresh cheese. It’s used as it is, not aged in any way.
This is a versatile light creamy cheese that can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking as well as just being served as a cream cheese with bread or crackers.
Ingredients for homemade ricotta cheese
There are only 2 ingredients in this cheese recipe as the salt is purely optional.
- Whole milk
- Lemon juice
- Salt (optional)
What type of milk do you need?
You don’t want heavily pasturised milk to make ricotta. Like all homemade cheeses this requires creamy milk, the gold top stuff is best.
If you don’t happen to have a lemon lurking in the fruit bowl you can use plain white vinegar instead.
How to make ricotta cheese
Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring the temperature up to 82C. A digital thermometer or jam thermometer is perfect for this.
Add the lemon juice and stir though. You can add salt now too if you wish.
Leave the ricotta milk to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. You will then see that the milk has gone a yellowish colour and lumps have formed.
These lumps are the ricotta cheese and the lequid is whey.
Pour the ricotta into a sieve placed over a bowl or jug and lined with cheesecloth/muslin.
Let the whey drip though for at least 30 minutes and leave the ricotta cheese behind. I like to tie the muslin into a bag and suspend it over a jug to get more liquid out – this is optional.
Your homemade ricotta cheese is now ready to serve.
If you want firmer ricotta, called Ricotta Salata (or Farmer’s Cheese in France) then simply wrap it in the cheesecloth and pop a weight on top to press the cheese down pushing out even more whey. Leave it in the fridge overnight to firm up.
How long does ricotta keep?
Your homemade ricotta will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
How to use homemade ricotta cheese
This really is one of the most versatile cheeses in the entire world.
Make my homemade spinach and ricotta dip
Use your homemade ricotta in any creamy sauce, think rich creamy lasagne and you’ll get the picture.
Spread your ricotta on toast topped with your favourite jam or marmalade. Can’t decide which jam to use? Then get creative and serve toast with three different jams, it’s delicious!
Try my savoury pesto and ricotta crepes recipe.
Serve as a base for smoked salmon instead of the usual cream cheese on either toast or blinis.
Use in a cheesecake recipe or spread on a Victoria sponge cake with a layer of jam.
Stir into a bowl of soup to make it dellightfully rich and creamy.
Simply serve with pasta or pizza with some pesto.
Looking for more super easy homemade cheese recipes to try? Then check these out before you go;
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
How to make homemade ricotta cheese
- muslin/cheesecloth, digital or jam thermometer
- 1 lt milk whole milk not UHT milk
- 1/2 lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt optional
- Heat the milk to 82C and stir in the lemon juice and salt if you are using it
- Cover and set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes or up to 12 hours
- Scoop off the curds (reserve the whey for other uses)
- Put curds in a sieve lined with muslin/cheesecoth and let any whey drip through
- Use immediately or cover and press down with weight and leave in fridge overnight to make ricotta salata which is a firmer version of the same creamy cheese