Homemade Ricotta Cheese

This recipe is a perfect science experiment for teaching kids how cheese is made (the curds get separated from the whey). It’s also a fantastic way to use up milk that’s close to its best before date. Serve with whole grain crackers or bread as well as a ½ cup of veggies or fruit per child.

12 child-size portions
Preparation Time
20 minutes
Cooking Time
Common Allergens
Equipment List
Cheese cloth
Large (heavy-bottomed) pot
Large spoon
Lemon juicer
Large bowl
Thermometer (optional)
12 cups (3L)
whole milk
lemons, juiced
1/2 tsp
1 tsp
zest from lemons (optional)
1 tsp
fresh herbs (e.g. dill, rosemary, parsley)


1. Line a strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth. Place over large bowl so you can save the whey (great for smoothies, baking and soups!).

2. Put milk in large pot over medium-high heat and cook, stirring regularly and watching closely to keep from scorching, until milk bubbles up sides of pot and temperature reaches 165⁰F (74⁰C). If you don’t have a thermometer, just heat for 8-10 minutes until small bubbles are forming. Don’t let it boil fully.

3. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir gently to combine and watch for the white curds to separate from the yellowish whey. If it doesn’t start separating, add an additional 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or white vinegar and stir gently.

4. Once separated, gently pour through the cheesecloth (staff task!), allowing the whey to drain into the bowl. You may need to stir and scrape it gently from the cloth to allow all the whey to get through. Add the salt, stirring gently to avoid breaking the curds.

5. Let sit for 10 minutes to drain until it reaches desired consistency. Scoop it out of the cheesecloth into a serving bowl and add optional ingredients if using. Serve on crackers or bread with fruit on the side (or could be a topping for pasta!)


Recipe: Nicole Fetterly, RD

Photo: John Ong (Flickr)

Note:  Childcare facilities with 8 or more children should check with their Licensing Officer about what is needed to serve food.

Ricotta cheese on a cracker with spinach.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese