Easy Homemade Cheese 3 Ways – Soft Cheese, Ricotta, or Cream Cheese

Easy Homemade Cheese:

This cheese couldn’t be easier. All you need is a gallon of whole milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized, a big pot, colander, tea towel or cheese cloth, lemon juice, and milk.

This recipe yields about 1 pound plus of cheese. If you want a smaller batch, this recipe can also be halved. Just buy a half gallon of milk instead.


1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)

¼-½ cup acid such as lemon juice or vinegar

¼ tsp salt

Optional Ingredients:  seasonings like pepper, garlic, chives, and parsley for a savory cheese, or your favorite jam for something sweet.


Cheesecloth or non-fuzzy tea towel


Large heat proof bowl 

Heavy bottom pot (stainless steel, enameled cast iron, or Instant Pot)

Digital food thermometer (optional)


  1. Pour 1 gallon of milk into an Instant Pot or heavy bottomed pot. Heat until the milk is steaming or until a thermometer reads 185 degrees F. If using the Instant Pot, pour the milk in and select the Yogurt setting. When the display reads Yogt, the milk has been sufficiently heated.
  2. Add ¼ cup of your acid and stir. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes. If it doesn’t begin to separate and curdle, then check your temp and heat your milk so that it is a little hotter, or add 2 tbsp more acid at a time stirring to distribute the acid through the milk. Do this until you begin to see the curds separate into greenish looking whey.
  3. Once you see the separation, let the curds sit in the whey for 10 minutes.
  4. Line your colander with the cheesecloth or tea towel and pour the whey into the colander being careful not to burn yourself. There will be lots of whey. Be sure the bowl doesn’t overflow.
  5. Once all the contents of the pot have been poured into the colander, move the colander over to the pot to continue draining until the desired texture has been achieved. If you wish a drier, more crumbly cheese, let it drain longer. If you desire a softer, more spreadable cheese, drain less. 
  6. Add salt and seasonings if desired and mix through the cheese.
  7. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge. Consume within 7-10 days.

Soft Spreadable Cheese: Simply drain drain the whey, salt and either immediately warm, or cool and refrigerate until needed. If your cheese is too dry, simply add a little bit of the whey that you poured off and stir back in until the desired soft texture is reached.

Ricotta: Follow the instructions above but drain a little longer until the cheese is a little drier and the curd is crumbly.

Cream Cheese Variation: If you desire a smoother, cream cheese texture, run your cheese through the food processor until smooth. This can be used as a cream cheese substitute. If your cheese is too dry, and won’t blend to a smooth texture, simply add some of the whey back in until the desired texture is achieved.

This cheese is great spread on crackers with a little of your favorite jam to sweeten it up. 😊

Note: Leftover whey from cheese can be used in baking or to water acid loving plants.

Want to learn more….

Consider Homesteading Family’s Practical Homemade Dairy Course (affiliate link) if you’re interested in creating more homemade dairy products in your kitchen. Carolyn covers basic fresh dairy products that you can make in your kitchen like homemade coffee creamers and butter, and then she moves on to cultured dairy like buttermilk and sour cream, and finally easy and advanced cheeses. It’s definitely an all in one course. My family has benefited as now I can make cheese for my son that he can eat because I can control the cultures that are added. It’s the most comprehensive homemade dairy course out there.