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Homemade Ricotta

Ricotta. All you need is about 10 minutes active working time, some milk, cream and acid. The result is unbelievable. Use it in savory or sweet dishes. Spread it on a slice of grilled, rustic bread for an utterly simple and delectable appetizer or top it with berries and drizzle with honey for a spectacularly simple dessert that is perfect for warm nights. To make a savory ricotta, simply eliminate the sugar.
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cheese, dairy
Servings 1 cup
Author The Cowgirl Gourmet thanks Mario Batali for this recipe


  • 1 quart whole milk preferably organic
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest be sure and wash the lemons well and use organic if you can
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar do not add sugar if making a savory ricotta


  1. In a non-reactive 2-quart saucepan, heat the milk and cream until boiling (between 180-200 degrees), stirring frequently so the milk does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Once it comes to a rolling boil, immediately add the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and sugar and allow to cook for another 30 seconds and stir to combine. You may need to lower the heat just a bit to prevent the milk from bubbling over the top and overflowing.
  3. Careful not to let the milk boil over.
  4. Look at those beautiful curds.
  5. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat. Allow it to stand untouched for 20 minutes until the curds form, though you will see them start to form as soon as the acid hits the milk.
  6. In the meantime, line a colander with cheesecloth (I doubled my cheesecloth) and place in a bigger bowl so you catch the whey. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove all of the curds from the whey and place in the cheesecloth-lined colander, allowing to sit so all the whey drains. (The longer it drains, the firmer the ricotta will be, so if you want a soft ricotta, let it drain about 30 minutes. For a firmer cheese, up to 2 hours.)
  7. And be sure and use a colander that sits above where the why will drain. (I used a colander with feet.)
  8. You can form the cheese into a shape, if you like, or simply turn it out onto a plate. Homemade ricotta is best eaten the day it is made, though you can cover with wax paper and it will keep in the refrigerator for several days.