Fresh homemade ricotta cheese made with just 3 ingredients, milk, lemon juice and salt.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

With just 3 ingredients, you can make this creamy homemade fresh ricotta cheese. It's easy, economical and tastes great!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Keyword How to make ricotta cheese, making fresh ricotta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 300kcal
Author Maria Vannelli RD


  • 8 cups whole milk 2 liters
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons  lemon juice or white vinegar freshly squeezed


  • Line a colander with a large piece of lightly dampened cheesecloth that has been folded over itself at least 3-4 times. Place the colander over a bowl. Make sure to use non-reactive materials. (Alternatively, you can use a recycled ricotta basket placed on a bowl).
  • In a large heavy based saucepan, over medium heat, heat the milk.
  • Add the salt and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Make sure the milk does not scorch.
  • If you have a thermometer, heat to 185 F. If you do not have a thermometer, you need to reach a stage where there is a lot of steam, little bubbles close to the edge of the pot and the formation of a slight film. It should take about 20 minutes to get to this stage.
  • Lower the heat to low.
  • Add the lemon juice (or vinegar).
  • Slowly agitate the mixture for 2 minutes. You will notice the curds (the ricotta) separating from the whey (yellowish liquid).
  • Remove from heat.
  • Cover pot and let stand for about 20 minutes.
  • Carefully “ladle” your ricotta into the cheesecloth lined colander or your basket. The consistency of the final product will depend on the amount of time you leave the ricotta to drain. For a creamy ricotta, let it sit for 3-5 minutes; for a dryer ricotta, it can sit up to 20 minutes.
  • Use immediately. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.



  • The lemon juice can be replaced with an equal amount of white vinegar.
  • Reduce the draining time for a creamier consistency.
  • Homemade ricotta cannot be made with ultra-pasteurized, no organic milk.
  • Use fresh ricotta immediately or can be refrigerated, covered for up to 3 days.
Can I use Meyer lemons to make homemade ricotta? No, since this variety of lemons does not have the same level as acidity as regular lemons.
What is whey? Whey is the liquid that is formed following the addition of the lemon juice and after straining the curds.
What can I make with whey? The leftover whey is great to use when making bread, pizza, pasta or even in soups.
Can this ricotta be frozen? Yes.
Yield is about 2 cups or 200 grams.
Inactive time: 20 minutes
1 serving = 1/2 cup
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used. 


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 500mg | Potassium: 655mg | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 790IU | Vitamin C: 4.4mg | Calcium: 551mg | Iron: 0.1mg