DIY Food

How to Make Ricotta

September  2, 2011


There's a reason cheeses like ricotta get dubbed "farmer's cheese" -- little more than fresh milk and years of know-how goes into making them.

Inspired by Jennifer Perillo's uber-precise recipe for Creamy Homemade Ricotta, in the video below Amanda takes a swifty and dirty stab at this "re-cooked" Italian staple, with a method that uses only lemon juice (see below for Jennifer's perfect recipe, which relies on buttermilk).

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Creamy Homemade Ricotta by Jennifer Perillo

Makes 2 cups


  • Add the ingredients to a 4-quart pot. Bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.

  • Once the curds begin to separate from the whey (you'll see little specks of white bob to the surface), stir gently and set heat to the lowest setting (see NOTE). Cook for 2 more minutes, then remove pot from heat and set on an unlit back burner for at least 30 minutes, and up to one hour. (this will help the curds further develop).

  • Gently ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer (this helps produce a fluffier, creamier curd, than pouring it into the strainer). When all the curds have been spooned into the bowl, pull the cheesecloth up the sides to loosely cover the ricotta in the strainer. Let sit for 10 minutes to drain (this will yield a very moist ricotta. If using for a cake recipe, you may want to let it drain longer for a drier consistency).

  • Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

  • NOTE: After making one to two pots of ricotta for a year, I've learned it likes to be left alone to produce the highest yield, so resist the temptation to stir it frequently once the curds begin to separate from the whey. One stir is enough, and if you're curious, you can dip the spoon in the pot once or twice to see how the curds are developing.


Baked Ricotta and Goat Cheese with Cherry Tomatoes

This week's video was once again shot and edited by our videographer Elena Parker (who now produces our bi-weekly Dinner & a Movie column as well!).


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Alex Txn
    Alex Txn
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  • Wini Moranville
    Wini Moranville
  • Niknud
  • petitbleu
Amanda Hesser

Written by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.


Alex T. September 10, 2014
I wonder if we can make this ricotta low fat?
Cranberry_Lips September 6, 2011
My dad would make ricotta for us when we were little. He always used a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (not many lemons laying around in the Carpathian Mountains). That's how I make it today and it tastes just as sweet as store-bought ricotta cheese.
Wini M. September 6, 2011
Oh, good. Now I know what to do with the Chocolate-Balsamic Vinegar I got seduced into buying over the weekend. (The product sounded gimmicky...but it's so good). I'm thinking grilled peaches, ricotta, a drizzle of the chocolate-balsamic. Mmmmm..... Thanks!
Niknud September 6, 2011
Made this over the weekend. Will never ever ever use store-bought ricotta again! Mixed it up with some parmesan and chopped basil and s&p and made delicious lasagna with Marcella Hazen's tomato sauce. Heavenly!
petitbleu September 5, 2011
MyGardenersTable: You can also use whey to aid fermentation (think sauerkraut). See Sandor Katz's book, Wild Fermentation, for really great ways to use extra whey.
Kitchen B. September 5, 2011
My first attempt at ricotta 2 months ago was disaster personified - no curds to show for it so I turned the milky cheesey liquid into the base for a rye loaf. Which didn't rise and so was binned. The next morning I awoke to see well-proven the bin. I was gutted!

Then I tried using powdered whole milk to make some white cheese curds - that worked a treat but could not be called 'ricotta'. I am so looking forward to trying this, when I have a house (and kitchen), till then......I'll hold on to the thought of great cheese curds!
erinbdm September 3, 2011
Just wanted to add that I've been making this recipe with plain yogurt in place of the buttermilk. I live in Mexico and can't get buttermilk. I always substitute plain yogurt for buttermilk, and it works extremely well in baking. The first time I tried making this ricotta, it occurred to me after I'd dumped the yogurt in, that it might not work. Fortunately for me, it worked beautifully, and has every time since. Thanks so much for the recipe!!
BoulderGalinTokyo March 12, 2012
Just my worry, thank you for sharing!
Nadia H. September 3, 2011
I made ricotta once following the recipe in the NYT cookbook using 1 gallon of milk and it was really as easy and quick as the video shows. The only issue I have is what to do with all that whey? I couldn't get myself to just dump it so I froze it for bread-baking but it was enough for 10 loaves of bread. Now that my whey supply spoiled in a 3-day power outage after the hurricane, I am ready for more whey, so I can make ricotta again!
Helen's A. September 2, 2011
I just made some last week. Made mozzerella,too. Talk about heavenly lasagna!