How to Make Ricotta From Whey

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In this post, we will learn how to make ricotta from whey. After making cheese, we are left with a good amount of whey, making ricotta from it is simple and quick. This homemade ricotta from whey is delicious and very simple to make!


There are many things you can do with the whey that is left after you make cheese at home.

Honestly, I usually do one of two things… I either give it to the animals or I use it when making bread as a replacement for the water in the recipe.

Recently, I found out that before I use it for those things, I can make one more kind of cheese from it — Ricotta.

This recipe is good whether you are using store-bought milk or raw milk, goat milk or cow’s milk… I am using my raw goat’s milk to make most of my homemade cheeses and in this post, I’ll be using the whey from this milk to show you how to make ricotta from whey.

How to Make Ricotta From Whey…

A step-by-step tutorial on how to make ricotta from whey. Making ricotta cheese from left-over whey is simple and quick! It's creamy and delicious.
#ricottafromwhey #homemadericotta #cheesemaking #howtomakericottafromwhey

It takes some serious effort to keep goats (I raise Lamancha goats) alive here in NC. I am not sure if everyone all over the country experiences this but here in NC goats die like flies.

We have very hot and very humid summers. The perfect ground for so many parasites. Not only are they abundant, they are also aggressive and very resistant to medications.

Anyway, this is a topic for another post, but what I am trying to say is that when I do get delicious goat milk from my goats, you can bet that I am going to do the best I can to use it to the fullest.

So I make goat milk soap, and I make feta cheese, and soft cheese, and hard goat cheese, and yogurt, and chevre, and sometimes I can my milk… And now, I have also added homemade ricotta from whey to my list.

I love that I can make it from whey, so it’s always an addition to whatever other cheese I make. And I love that it’s super simple and quick.

Again, in this step-by-step tutorial, I will be using my raw goat milk but you can do the same with whey from cow’s milk, raw or store-bought.

There are a couple of different ways to make ricotta, but you know me… I like the old traditional ways, so we are going to stick to the simple ways of the good ol’ past.

What is Ricotta Cheese…

Ricotta cheese is creamy white, mild, and soft texture cheese.

Traditionally, Italian cheese makers made ricotta from whey left behind after making Mozzarella or Provolone cheese.

Ricotta consists of delicate granules that are moist and is very rich in calcium.

You can use ricotta cheese in pasta, especially filled pasta like lasagna, ravioli, and tortellini.

You can season it and add to salads or sandwiches, and it is so good as a dessert with some honey, fruit, chocolate, or jam.

Tools That We Are Going to Need…

Before I show you how to make ricotta from whey, let’s gather all the tools that we are going to need.

This ricotta cheese is so simple. You probably already have everything that you need on hand. There is no need for fancy cheesemaking equipment or cultures or even rennet.

Here is what we need…

Stainless pot – it’s best if it’s a heavy bottom pot so the whey doesn’t scorch when we heat it.

A slotted spoon – or another stainless spoon for stirring the whey.

A cheese thermometer – or any other kind of thermometer that can read a to 200F.

1/4 cup measuring cup – to measure the vinegar.

A colander – or you can use a strainer or a bowl. We will line it with the cheesecloth before we hang the cloth. If you want to catch the liquid use a bowl. If you don’t want to catch the whey then you can use a strainer or a colander.

Cheesecloth – let me tell you a secret…

You don’t really need a fancy cheesecloth! Your local Walmart sells a pack of five or so flour sack tea towels for something around $5. I am linking to a “proper” cheesecloth in case you are not sure what a cheesecloth is.

The flour sack towels that I get at my local Walmart work better than a cheesecloth in my opinion and they are so cheap! It’s really all you need. 

Also make sure to have a string of some sort (I use yarn) to tie and hang the cheesecloth with.

For a comprehensive list of cheesemaking equipment and ingredients, make sure to visit my cheesemaking equipment post.

Ok, we are ready to go through this ricotta from whey tutorial. You’ll find all the steps below, however, if you want to have a better understanding of the cheesemaking process, please visit my How to Make Cheese at Home post.

Heating the Whey…

Heating the whey to make ricotta cheese.

After making my simple goat milk cheese, I was left with about a gallon of whey.

I didn’t remove the whey from the pot to measure how much I had exactly so I am just estimating that it’s about a gallon… It might have been a little less but that is fine, we don’t have to be super exact here.

I kept the whey in the fridge overnight since it was too late in the day to make another cheese the day before.

You can make ricotta right away after you are done with whatever cheese you’re making but I thought it would come handy to mention that it’s also ok to stick it in the fridge for a day if you need to.

The first step is to heat the whey to 195F.

Make sure to set the heat to medium and slowly bring it to 195F while stirring it frequently so it doesn’t scorch.

Adding Vinegar to The Hot Whey…

Adding apple cider vinegar.

Once the whey reaches 195F, remove the pot from the heat and add 1/4 cup vinegar.

So whatever amount of whey you are processing, remember 1/4 cup of vinegar per one gallon of whey.

I used my homemade apple cider vinegar (it gave my ricotta a bit of a rosy color), but you can also use distilled white vinegar.

Stir the vinegar into the hot whey and you’ll see it starts to curdle. Let it do its thing for a couple of minutes…

Hanging the Curds…

Lining a strainer with cheesecloth.

Place a colander over the sink or over a bowl if you want to catch the liquid…

Strainer lined with cheesecloth.

Line the colander with cheesecloth…

Adding the why to the cheesecloth.

Then, pour the whey into the colander…

Tying the cheesecloth.

Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and tie them…

Hanging the cheesecloth to drain.

Then hang the cheesecloth on one of your kitchen cabinets with a bowl underneath it to catch the remaining whey.

Depending on the amount of whey you are processing, you might need to leave the bag hanging from one hour to five or six or seven hours.

Really it just depends on the amount of whey and the consistency that you want your cheese to be.

If you like it dry, leave it for longer, if you like it moist, take it down once you see that there is not much whey dripping out of it.

I left this for about an hour. Since it’s just a little bit of cheese it was enough.

Storing Ricotta Cheese…

Removing the ricotta from the cheesecloth.

Open your cheesecloth and use a spoon to scrape the soft ricotta into a bowl.

how to make ricotta from whey. The ricotta cheese is ready!

Like so…

Adding salt to homemade ricotta cheese.

Then the last step is to salt your cheese. Again, the amount of salt depends on your taste, I used about half a teaspoon for this amount of cheese (a little less than a cup of cheese).

Make sure you use cheese salt or kosher salt. You want a non-iodized salt (iodized salt will make your cheese green-blue…).

Ready to eat ricotta cheese from whey.

Give it a good mix and you are done!

This can be used right away or you can store it in the fridge like any other cheese.

I didn’t try to freeze it yet but I am guessing it freezes very well since it’s similar in consistency to another cheese I make and freeze.


I have to admit that the reason I didn’t make ricotta cheese until now is that I don’t like ricotta cheese! Ha!

Well, I figured I’d make it anyway just so I know how to do it and so I can take full advantage of my raw milk and maybe I’ll use it to make lasagna, but I tasted it when it was done and this ricotta is so much tastier than the one from the store!

It’s creamy and salty and I like it a lot!

So I actually ended up eating it on a toast with fresh tomato. It was delicious!

Let me know what you think in the comments below, do you make ricotta at home? If you tried it, did you like the result?

Ricotta From Whey

Ricotta From Whey

Yield: 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Hanging Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Delicious ricotta from whey. This ricotta is delicious and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • A gallon of whey
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (apple cider or distilled white)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cheese salt or kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Heat the whey to 195F over medium heat. Stir constantly to prevent scorching.
  2. Remove from heat, add vinegar, stir and set aside for a few minutes.
  3. Line a colander with cheesecloth, add the whey...
  4. Collect the ends of the cloth, tie them, and hang to drain anywhere from one hour to a few hours depending on how much whey you are processing.
  5. Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth and salt to taste with cheese or kosher salt.

Notes

You can use whey from any kind of milk. Even store-bought milk.

You can also use any kind of vinegar.

Feel free to season your ricotta. You can make it saltier or add black pepper, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, or any other seasonings you can think of.

Stor your ricotta in a container the fridge.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: Tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 60

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26 thoughts on “How to Make Ricotta From Whey”

  1. That looks wonderful. Glad you discovered another way to double use something-up. You mentioned making a lasagna, it’s a bit more work but do try making a Manicotti. It’s ricotta’s crowing glory!

  2. This was an absolutely amazing teaching article! Thank you so much—the pictures, the commentary, the recipe—so Professional and yet so engaging. I just got my first dairy a2a2 mini-moo and I’m so excited to do these things. Blessings to you and yours.

  3. I, too, absolutely loved the homemade ricotta. It seemed so much more flavorful and sweet than the store-bought one!!

    1. I agree! The one from the store has no flavor at all. I use it only in baking and such where the flavor comes from something else. But this homemade one I can eat just spread on a toast. It’s so good!

  4. Is one cup of Ricotta from 1 gallon on goat whey a normal amount for you? After making Chevre or strained yogurt I can’t ever seem to get more than an amount the size of a walnut out of the whey.

    1. Yes, It’s what I usually get, more or less. I am trying to think of a reason that you don’t get as much but nothing comes to mind yet…

        1. I didn’t think that it will be a factor that’s why I didn’t say anything about it in the post, but I guess that the only way to know will be to try to use whey from different kinds of cheese. I am going to try next time that I make yogurt. We’ll see.

  5. Good day, I just recently began making Greek yogurt and now feta cheese. Now I can use the whey for riccota cheese and not just for smoothies. I’m looking forward to making my first batch of riccota cheese. Thank you for posting this blog! Mr. Royce Faina

  6. Tried this out today… it didn’t work at all! I heated the whey — fresh from this morning — to 195 on medium heat, stirred constantly. Then took off heat, added the white vinegar, stirred. Nothin’. Left it for a while. Nothin’. Poured it thru cheesecloth-ed colander anyway, in case I wasn’t understanding something… and nothin’. Just liquid that drained right into the pot below. Need troubleshooting tips please!

    1. Sounds like you did everything right… You should see the milk coagulates right when you add the vinegar, it shouldn’t take much time.
      Check that your thermometer is reading the temperature right. Check that your vinegar is good and not too old. And I am curious as to what kind of whey did you use? From cow’s milk? Goat? What kind of cheese you made with the milk that produced the whey you used?

      1. I am new at this but was wondering about a thought that crossed my mind. Would there be any difference in the results of the ricotta, or in C Smith’s case, a lack of, between using whole milk or pasteurized?

        Also thank you for a wonderful, easy to follow tutorial. Am looking forward to trying this the next time I make mozzarella.
        Am sure my daughter will thank you for this as well, she cant get enough cheese!

        1. I’ve tried to ask around and find more information but no one seems to have the answer… The only thing to do is just try different kinds of milk. maybe from different animals or whole milk and then pasteurized… I’ll keep trying to find the reason, meanwhile, I hope it will work for you! Let me know. It’s a really tasty cheese.

    2. I didn’t get a thing either. I refrigerated the whey since it was late, boiled it the next morning, added vinegar and got 1/4 tsp? Nothing happened! I used store whole milk to make yogurt.

      1. So, first, you made yogurt and after you made yogurt you used the whey to make ricotta? Did you have enough whey? I never have a lot of whey when making yogurt… How do you make yogurt? Or maybe I didn’t understand this right…

  7. I have been successful making greek yogurt from store bought milk. I typically use 2L (1/2 gal) and tried 1% milk to 3.25% regular or lactose free milk. I mention all these varieties of milk because of the resulting whey. The 1% milk produced a clear colored whey with a faint deposit of what I think is milk solids along the bottom of the 2 cup container. The 3,25% milk produces a transparent, much brighter yellow colored whey with about 1/3 milk deposit on the bottom of the 2 cup container. My question, is it the deposit that eventually becomes ricotta? Can the remain whey be used and if so, in what?

    1. I think that it is the remaining milk that becomes the ricotta. You can definitely use the remaining whey after making the ricotta. I mostly use it to make bread instead of using water. But there are many other ways to use it. Basically, it can replace water in any recipe.

  8. Ok, what am I missing. You mention milk but there is no milk in the ingredients list for the recipe.
    When, where and how much milk is added?I’m obviously a novice :/

    1. You use milk to make whatever cheese you want, let’s say feta for example. When you hang your feta to drain you get whey. This ricotta cheese is made from the whey that is left over after you make cheese from milk. I hope this makes sense… It’s a way to produce one more kind of cheese from the whey before you get rid of it (or use it to make bread or whatever).
      So you don’t use milk to make this ricotta but you use the whey that is left over after you made cheese from milk.

  9. Can you make ricotta if the cheese you make used vinegar to develop the curd. Is their enough milk solids left to reheat, add additional vinegar and make ricotta?

    1. Mmmm… I am really not sure. I’ve never tried. Most of the cheeses that I make don’t use vinegar as the coagulant… The only way to know is to give it a try.

    2. Susan E Hawthorne

      No, the whey has to be from rennet made cheese. If you use vinegar to make the cheese, you’ve already got all the solids that way.

      1. Susan E Hawthorne

        The microwave is handy for making this. Since it heats evenly, you don’t have to worry about scalding. The first time you have to cook in small increments so that you don’t overshoot the temp. But, eventually you figure out the right time for your microwave. You then just mix, heat and drain.

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