Ricotta Worth Making At Home

Confession: I’ve made ricotta at home before and found the experience underwhelming. True, the process couldn’t be easier, but after dumping a gallon of milk into a pot, adding some lemon juice, turning up the heat, waiting for everything to separate, and straining out the solid stuff in a colander, I wound up with the tiniest bit of lumpy homemade cheese. “Eh,” I said as I ate the fruits of my labor with a spoon. “I’d rather just buy it from the store.”

Then I read Molly Wizenberg’s new book Delancey and found myself totally intrigued by her ricotta recipe. Yes, there’s almost a gallon of whole milk but, instead of lemon juice, you use buttermilk for the acid and then you also use cream. Most impressive of all: the recipe promises to yield ONE POUND of ricotta. That final bit seemed too good to be true so I knew that I had to make it this past weekend.

Here’s all you need to do it:


These are all from the grocery store; if you can get straight-from-the-farm milk, buttermilk, and cream, even better.

Watch how easy. Into a Dutch oven*? Pour 6 1/2 cups of the milk (and make sure to use whole milk or there’s no point!), 2 cups buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. (* I think the Dutch oven’s important because its width allows you to yield more ricotta.)


Weird sidebar. I don’t know why, but there were these little orange solid bits when I added all of these things together. I have NO idea what they were but I took them out with a spoon. You can kind of see them in the above picture.

No worry, let’s crank up the heat and stir every so often. Oh and you’ll want to monitor the temperature; you’re watching for 180.


Not there yet. But when you do get there, you stop stirring and watch the curds and whey gradually separate.




Meanwhile, have a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth situated over a bowl.


When it doesn’t look like any more separation is possible, turn the heat off and allow the pot to sit for 30 minutes. Then ladle that ricotta into the colander without pressing down.


Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve made ricotta. And a lot of it!

I was so happy with how much ricotta this recipe yielded. At this stage, it’s rather loose and good for using in a dessert or on top of pizza. Me? I decided to drain it overnight to firm it up a bit.


Here it is turned out into a bowl:


Can you believe how easy that was to make at home? Why would you ever buy ricotta at the store after making that? You wouldn’t.

So thanks, Molly, for a ricotta recipe I won’t be able to live without. It’s the bee’s knees.

Recipe: Ricotta Worth Making at Home

Summary: From Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey.


  • 6 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. In a Dutch oven (or another heavy pot with a capacity of 5 quarts), combine the milk, cream, and buttermilk. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Every so often, check the temp: you’re shooting for 180 F. When you get there, stop stirring.
  2. At this point–as the pictures show–the curds and whey will separate. When it looks like they’ve separated as much as they can, take the pot off the heat and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth and ladle the ricotta into it. Don’t press down or Molly will come yell at you. When all of the whey has drained away, you have ricotta that’s ready for pizza: “soft and creamy, but not soupy.” Otherwise, let it keep draining as much as you want. I took it to the extreme with my super thick ricotta that I drained overnight. The choice is yours. So, for that matter, is the ricotta. Lucky you.

Preparation time: 45 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

20 thoughts on “Ricotta Worth Making At Home”

  1. Brenda Johnson

    The orange stuff was bits of butter that the manufacturer puts in there to replicate the look of “real” buttermilk, which commercially-available cultured buttermilk certainly is not.

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  2. I use a ricotta recipe from Bon Appetit a few years back. It calls for the same amounts of whole milk and cream, then you add 3 T white vinegar (I use champagne vinegar) and salt, and let it sit in the pot for 2 hours before draining. I get a pound every time. I’m glad you found a recipe that finally worked for you!

  3. This is exactly how you make paneer, except just milk, yogurt, and press after draining. It’s amazing with farm fresh whole cow or goat milk!

  4. One tip that surprised me from a fleeting cheese-making hobby is that supermarket organic milk isn’t actually very good for cheese-making! Because there’s less turnover they need to be more shelf-stable, so they are pasteurized at a higher temperature. This destroys some of the best cheesy proteins. It’s better to get a local brand that is just barely pasteurized, even if it’s not organic. But like you said, supposedly the straight-from-the-farm stuff is the best of all!

  5. Made my own butter recently…that too is so easy to do and tastes so good!
    I will use store bought butter for baking etc, but we’ll keep making our own to use on bread.

  6. I’m surprised you succeeded with ultra pasteurized milk. I like the technique, though. Love the idea of putting the cheese on bruschetta with roasted peppers.

  7. Stacey Snacks

    I like that you drained it overnight to make it thicker….did you put it in the fridge at this point? Thanks.

  8. I’m very surprised that the ultra-pasteurized worked for cheese-making (I’ve done it before for ricotta and didn’t work at all)! The proteins are usually too denatured to curdle properly for cheese.

  9. Coco a.k.a. Opera Girl

    Ooh my. This looks amazing! I’m lucky enough to get some good local organic milk (not the hyperpasturized stuff), and it’d be a crime not to try this out.

  10. Stephen Greenhalgh

    Err, are you serious? 100 million+ people in India do this daily and our ‘gourmet’ posts about it!

  11. Stephen Greenhalgh

    Err, are you serious? 100 million+ people in India do this daily and our ‘gourmet’ posts about it!

  12. You should get your milk n cream at trader joes since you shop there anyway. Their milk is organic and just pasturized (not ultra). The cream too. A little cheaper too I think. Its one of the things tj’s is good for

  13. Delicous. I thought it would taste too much like cottage cheese due to the buttermilk but it does not, ive also made riccota with vinegar and many commercial riccotas contain vinegar. My husband loves this one better then previous ones ive made. I used farm fresh milk I got from a local dairy, store bought cream and buttermilk. Mybhusband likes cottage cheese so he didnt mind the slight tang and for me it wasnt too tangy. Many cottage cheese recipes are made with buttermilk and milk or call butter milk or soured raw milk which is traditional. This has just enough buttermilk to make the cheese curdle. It doesnt call for much cream so its more curdly in texture, but yeilds a little less. This might be my riccota recipe for now on.

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