DIY Ricotta Cheese Recipe

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DIY Ricotta Cheese Recipe

Learn to make this versatile ricotta cheese, capable for use in dishes that are sweet and savory.

By Ricki Carroll and Sarah Carroll
August 2018

Say Cheese!(Storey Publishing, 2018) by Ricki Carroll and Sarah Carroll is a guide to cheese making packed with step-by-step photos, fun facts, and instructions for teaching kids the magic of kitchen chemistry and lifelong cooking skills.  Kids learn about cheese history, about animals that make cheese possible, and uncover the science behind cheese making through recipes from around the world including ricotta, feta, and cream cheese.

You can purchase this book from the Grit store: Say Cheese!

Soft, white, and delicious, it is often used in lasagna and stuffed-pasta dishes such as manicotti, but it can also be sweetened for desserts. Ricotta comes from southern Italy, where it was traditionally made from the whey left over after cheese making. The leftover whey was “recooked” to produce a delicious ricotta, which explains the name.

Makes approximately 1-1/2 pounds


  • 1 teaspoon citric acid mixed into 1 cup cool, unchlorinated water
  • 1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)


  • 5- to 6-quart pot
  • Measuring spoons and cup
  • Dairy thermometer
  • Slotted spoon
  • Colander
  • Butter muslin
  • Bowl for draining
  • 1/2-gallon glass storage container


1. Pour the citric acid solution and milk into the pot at the same time to mix them. (Or pour the citric acid in first and add the milk second.)

2. Heat the milk over medium heat to 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius). Stir the top gently if you see a skin forming. At 185 degrees Fahrenheit watch for small curds as the milk starts separating.

3. Continue heating the milk until it reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit (90.5 degrees Celsius) or until you see a clear separation of curds and whey. When it’s ready, the whey will turn clear with a yellowish hue and lose its milky color. Remove the pot from the heat, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

4. Line a colander with butter muslin and set over a bowl. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the curds gently into the colander. Drain for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. For a fresh, light ricotta, drain only until the whey stops dripping. For a thicker ricotta, drain for several hours.

5. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Cheese maker’s notes:

This recipe uses citric acid to coagulate whole milk, which gives a much higher yield than low-fat or skim. The finished ricotta can be enjoyed right away, or you can salt and age it to make ricotta salata.

Make fun, floaty ricotta-stuffed pepper-salami boats

More from Say Cheese!: 

From Say Cheese A Kid’s Guide to Cheese Makingby Ricki Carroll and Sarah Carroll (Storey Publishing, 2018) Copyright Ricki Carroll and Sarah Carroll, photography copyright by John Polak. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the Storey Publishing.

Cheese Recipes

Best-selling author Ricki Carroll — known around the world as the Cheese Queen — and her daughter, Sarah Carroll, bring easy cheese making right into your kitchen with this fun guide for kids and families. Step-by-step photos guide kids ages 8–12 through the cheese making process, then teach them how to make 12 classic favorites, including mozzarella, feta, ricotta, and cream cheese. A hearty helping of kitchen chemistry and math along with bits of international cheese making history add to the education. A bonus log sheet lets young cheese makers keep notes just like the pros, while punch-out labels and colorful flags will embellish homemade cheeses and global cheese platters. Order from the Grit Store or by calling 800-803-7096.