5 Ingredients or Fewer

Creamy Homemade Ricotta

April 22, 2011
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 2 cups
Author Notes

My friend Maggy, of Three Many Cooks, recently dubbed me the Queen of Ricotta. She's definitely onto something. Since first blogging the recipe a year and a half ago, it has been made in kitchens from coast to coast, and as far away as New Zealand.

I put up a pot at least once a week, and find many uses for it daily, from a simple bruschetta, drizzled with truffle honey, a dollop in steel cut oats and even a smear on pizza, speckled with bits of smoky bacon and roasted onions.

Rather than leave my mark with just one recipe for one meal, I'd like to know I'm part of my friends' and family's everyday eating habits when I can no longer cook for them myself. - Jennifer Perillo —Jennifer Perillo

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Jennifer Perillo. Known to friends as "Queen of Ricotta". Her Majesty of Dairy writes about life and food at http://www.injennieskitchen.com/
WHAT: Milky and luscious homemade ricotta
HOW: Buttermilk, whole milk and heavy cream. A pinch of salt. Wait. Strain.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This recipe makes the entire kitchen seem conquerable. With just one stir of the pot, and a few minutes of wait time you have actually made cheese! After the initial swell of pride fades, you're left with a good amount of one of the most versatile of refrigerator staples -- spread it on toast for breakfast, stir it into pasta at lunch, or enjoy it as its original Community Pick recipe-tester theediblecomplex does, spoonful by spoonful.

What You'll Need
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  5. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • SophieL
  • Courtney C
    Courtney C
  • Cathy Barzo
    Cathy Barzo
  • Cathy Reidy
    Cathy Reidy
  • Oui, c'est bon
    Oui, c'est bon
Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and FoodNetwork.com. She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).

129 Reviews

James H. October 16, 2022
I’m curious been looking on the internet on why none of the recipes out there do a 100% cream version. This is the first recipe that I’ve seen using buttermilk which will be interesting. But does anyone understand the science of why they don’t use 100% cream? Thanks
Linda March 14, 2022
This is my go to recipe for Ricotta. I cook over med-high heat and take it off the heat after the pillow cloud forms and the rolling simmer begins and leave it off the heat for 30 minutes. It works like a charm. Thank you for this recipe.
SophieL February 12, 2019
Delicious and so easy. When I don't have buttermilk, I make the lemon juice version, which is just as delicious and easy. The texture of the buttermilk version is slightly creamier; the lemon juice version is slightly firmer. I love both!
Kitchenista January 13, 2019
I live in an area where fresh ricotta is not available. The packaged kind seems tasteless and grainy to me, so I use cottage cheese as a substitute. Has anyone tried this homemade ricotta in ravioli filling?
Jennifer B. April 17, 2020
Since I found this recipe, it’s all I use in ravioli!! I strain it really well in the cheesecloth. I also add fresh grated Romano cheese, minced parsley, salt, and pepper to the ricotta for a ravioli filling. We love it!
Courtney C. January 27, 2018
I loved making this. It was kind of a revelation actually in how easy it is to make something by hand so simply. I made traditional ricotta afterward using the whey and vinegar and more milk. Honestly though, I think I like this better than the traditional ricotta. It’s sweeter and creamier and more satisfying to me. We’ll see how my preferences change with more practice. Thanks!
Cathy B. June 4, 2016
Recipe says to put on unlit back burner -- are you referring to a gas stove with a pilot light on? What if you are using an electric stove - do you do something a little different?
Renée R. February 27, 2016
I've made this at least 15 to 20 times. I love everything about it. It is sublime. I've also made it with lemon juice. This is far superior. The texture of the curds is much softer using the buttermilk and I love the flavor it imparts. Yes, we all know this is not authentic Italian ricotta, but who cares? It is absolutely delicious and vastly superior to anything you can buy. I drain longer for use in recipes and only drain for a short time when I want to spread on toast, etc. I always double the recipe. It never goes to waste. I only had a problem with it one time. I wasn't watching closely enough and stirred it too vigorously after it had reached a boil. Hardly any curds developed. I've never made that mistake again. Here's one of my favorite ways to eat it: Spread on thick toast with a dollop of homemade mango preserves (I live in Florida and have a huge mango tree, hence the mango preserves). Thank you for this truly wonderful recipe.
Linda F. June 19, 2015
Absolutely the best homemade ricotta recipe. I had been using one without buttermilk but adding lemon juice. Now I add a wedge or two of freshly squeezed lemon juice during my last stir before letting it sit for 30 min. I love the light flavor it adds. It also helps with the curdling process. It makes 2 cups + of the most delicious cheese!,,
Cathy R. February 21, 2015
This recipe was a disaster for me. It yielded 2T cheese and a lot of dirty dishes.
Cathy R
jayaymeye July 8, 2015
Wondering if you used organic milk/cream. Unfortunately, the way they pasteurize organic dairy makes it impossible to make ricotta from it. Unless it's from a farmer you know...
Oui, C. September 13, 2014
Grazie,molto gentile
Oui, C. September 12, 2014
I was going to buy The New Mediterranean Diet cookbook, but I discovered I already have it and there is no ricotta cheese recipe in there. I'll stick to this recipe. It works for me. Italians are great at improvising. It beats the supermarket.
Nancy H. September 13, 2014
sususkitchen, there's no ricotta recipe in the New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for the same reason that there's no recipe for parmigiano reggiano or pecorino. Ricotta, in the Mediterranean (and especially in Italy and Greece) is not something you make in your kitchen. It's something you buy from a cheese maker or a shop. Mediterranean kitchens use loads of genuine ricotta, but they don't often use this recipe for curdled milk. As I said, delicious it may be, ricotta it ain't!
Elaine C. September 8, 2014
Indeed, the "ricotta" means cooked again, and the original is made from whey. Here, from the New England Cheesemaking Supply, is an explanation about why the home cook with no access to whey may make ricotta with whole milk. You'll find instructions both for whey and whole-milk choices. http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/217-Ricotta.html
Nancy H. January 13, 2019
Thanks, Elaine. That is the word from an authoritative source.
Nancy H. September 7, 2014
I hate to disillusion you all, including our stalwart leaders at Food52, but THIS IS NOT RICOTTA!!! It is curdled milk and it might be super nice but it is NOT RICOTTA. Ricotta is an Italian word that means re-cooked and it describes what happens when the whey that is leftover from cheese making is re-heated, (ri-cotta). The residual proteins clump together and make, voila, ricotta. (I get extremely grumpy about this because I love Italian food and food products and we Americans have an awful habit of trying to short-change the great traditions and ricotta is one of them.) Anyone who has ever tasted freshly made sheep's milk ricotta in Tuscany or Sicily or Puglia will quickly tell you there is a difference. And it is enormous!
Kristy M. September 7, 2014
Thanks for telling it like it is! We all need to be aware of food and it's basic history!
dymnyno September 7, 2014
I tried explaining this once to Jennifer Perillo but she is such an expert she ignored me.
cucina D. September 7, 2014
This is very true... My famiglia in Lazio makes real "ricotta", the recipe I use is made from organic milk only, no heavy cream or buttermilk and its a nice version of homemade ricotta for me to make here at home in the states. I too try to stick to the authentic and real ingredients from my famiglia and the people of Italia who work hard to keep a high level of product & technique :)
catalinalacruz September 7, 2014
Mexico's version of ricotta cheese is known as requeson, and it, too, is made from whey.
enthous September 7, 2014
Has anyone tried using reconstituted powdered buttermilk? I keep it on hand all the time for baking. The container says "cultured".
skenny89 August 25, 2014
Perfect Recipe, I always use this one when I make the famous ricotta gnocchi on this site
Oui, C. June 26, 2014
Well, being Michelin de faux, I give this 5 spoons! I found this last Saturday and I'm on my 4th small "batch". Try a little layer of lemon curd in a shot glass, ricotta, strawberries or blueberries, repeat......................
GourMel May 19, 2014
Please help! I tried this for the second time and again got hardly any ricotta and big pot of milk/cream. I followed the directions and after coming away with less than a tablespoon of ricotta, I reheated and started from scratch, letting it boil well after it "tented" and puffed up (a good 20 minutes or so longer) and still ended up with maybe 1/8 cup. I'm using Trader Joes whole milk and heavy whipping cream. Can someone please tell me what I'm doing wrong?
Judith R. May 19, 2014
What sort of buttermilk are you using? Does it say "cultured"? And is that milk from TJ's ultra pasteurized? Or just pasteurized. You don't want to use ultra pasteurized milk or cream.
GourMel May 19, 2014
It's just pasteurized (not ultra) and for the buttermilk I mixed ¾ cup milk with ¾ tbs lemon juice and let it sit for 30 min before starting.
Judith R. May 20, 2014
Melanie, there's your problem. There isn't enough acid in the "substitute" buttermilk you are using. Either go get real buttermilk, or use fresh, plain yogurt. Or do a web search for a recipe that uses just lemon juice or vinegar to coagulate the curds. Your substitute will work for baking, but not for this. Plus buttermilk or yogurt adds a layer of flavor you don't get when you make ricotta with just an acid like lemon or vinegar. Hope this helps.
GourMel May 20, 2014
Ah ok! I had read that you can use a 1 cup : 1 tbs ratio since I don't usually have buttermilk on hand but I'll pick some up and try again. Thank you so much for your help!
Judith R. May 20, 2014
If you don't use the whole quart of buttermilk right away, you can freeze it in half-cup portions to use in baked goods. I don't think the buttermilk, once frozen will do a good job on a subsequent batch of ricotta, though. Remember good, fresh plain yogurt works fine, too. Good luck!
GourMel May 21, 2014
Not sure if supermarket yogurt qualifies as "fresh" so I'll probably give the buttermilk a try. Thanks for the tip about freezing and all of your help!
natjanewoo May 7, 2014
I have made this ricotta over a dozen times now, and every time it is perfect. A question: Would it be alright to use a lid, in order to speed up that first initial heating? We are making lots of it, and on our electric stovetop it takes an hour or more for the curds to bob to the surface. Thank you so much.
Judith R. March 9, 2014
Just made this again, and since I didn't have any buttermilk, I used 3/4 cup of plain yogurt. Worked fine, and plain organic yogurt doesn't have all the additives that most commercial buttermilk products have, even the organic ones.
cucina D. May 19, 2014
I like this idea! thanks for sharing as I do not like buttermilk for the fat content and preservatives either. Great idea.
sbw57 February 18, 2014
After hesitating on making this I finally did & I don't know what I was dreading. It came out just fine even though the milk burned a little on the bottom. Can't wait to use it in lasagna.