Homemade Ricotta

under 60mins

Ingredients for servings

  • 2 liters whole milk, not ultra-pasteurized see note

  • kosher salt, optional see note

  • 40 ml distilled white vinegar or fresh lemon juice see note


  • Fill a pot with the milk. Stir in salt, if using. Heat over medium heat until milk registers 85°C on an instant-read thermometer.

  • Add vinegar or lemon juice and stir briefly to incorporate. Curds should begin forming almost immediately; stop stirring as soon as they’ve formed throughout the pot.

  • Without stirring, continue to hold curdled-milk mixture at 85°C for 20 minutes. It’s okay if the temperature fluctuates down to 79°C or up to 88°C, but try to keep it in that zone for the full 20 minutes.

  • Line a fine-mesh strainer with paper towels or cheesecloth. Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds to strainer and let stand until excess liquid has drained away.

  • Exactly how long to let it drain depends on whether you want a moister final product or a drier one. Do not try to pour all the milky liquid through the strainer, as this will clog it and prevent the liquid from flowing through.

  • Drained ricotta can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days, though it is best when freshly made.


Heating the milk to between 79°C and 85°C will produce a light and tender curd, without requiring a large dose of acid.

Using the minimum acid necessary for a decent yield, and absolutely no more than that, ensures the ricotta tastes milky and sweet, not sour.

Holding the curds at a high temperature for about 20 minutes allows a more true ricotta flavor to develop.

This recipe can be scaled up or down as desired. You can use pasteurized milk, homogenized milk, and/or cream-line milk, but do not use ultra-pasteurized milk, as it will not work.

Distilled white vinegar creates the most neutral flavor, while lemon juice adds just a touch of lemony flavor; that can be good in some applications (like, say, if you’re dolloping the ricotta onto pancakes*, but may not be desirable in others.

I prefer not to add salt, since the ricotta can always be seasoned later, but feel free to add a pinch if you like.

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