How to Make Homemade Cottage Cheese

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By the author of Be Ready for Anything and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

Cottage cheese is one of those things that has far more ingredients than it should when you buy it at the store. Homemade cottage cheese is creamy, fluffy, and delicious, and it’s made with only 3 simple ingredients:

organic milk

white vinegar

salt

To compare, here are the ingredients of a common brand of cottage cheese sold at the grocery store:

Cultured Fat Free Milk, Buttermilk, Nonfat Dry Milk, Cream, Salt, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavoring, Guar Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Xanthan Gum, Carob Bean Gum, Titanium, Dioxide(artificial color), Maltodextrin, Cultured dextrose, Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Chloride, Enzymes

If you want to purchase organic cottage cheese, the ingredients will be better but the price will go up dramatically. But make it at home and the price is far lower.  If your milk has just expired, but not turned totally funky, cottage cheese is a good way to use it up.

This recipe is for pasteurized milk from the store. If you are making cottage cheese with raw milk, go here to learn how – the process is different.

Ingredients:


2-1/2 cups of 2% or whole milk

1/4 cup of white vinegar

dash of salt (optional – it’s just for flavor)

Tools:

Large heavy bottomed pot

Instant read thermometer

Flour sack towel  (I use these in the kitchen constantly!)

Directions:


1.)  In a large saucepan bring the milk almost to a boil.   You want it to be a minimum of 185 degrees on an instant read thermometer like this one. (It’s a small investment, but an important one for making homemade organic dairy products.)  As soon as bubbles begin to rise to the top, remove the saucepan from the heat.

2.)  Immediately stir in the white vinegar and the salt (if using).  You will see the milk begin to curdle immediately.

3.)  Allow the mixture to cool completely – about 1 hour at room temperature.

4.)  Line a strainer with a flour sack towel, set it in a large bowl, and separate the curds and the whey  (hints of Little Miss Muffet!) by pouring your curdled milk into the strainer.  Keep the whey for other uses (discussed below).

The result will be a delicious, light and fluffy cottage cheese.  I ended up with just short of 1 cup of cottage cheese and just over a cup and a half of whey.   If your cottage cheese has a bitter taste, rinse the cheese under running water in the lined strainer and let it drain for another hour afterwards.

Cottage cheese from storebought milk

Some uses for whey:

  • Substitute for water or milk in baking
  • Use in place of part or all of the water when cooking rice or pasta
  • Use it for smoothies
  • Use it in oatmeal or other porridge
  • Feed it to livestock for some yummy probiotics – dogs and chickens love it
  • Make ricotta cheese
  • Use it for lacto-fermentation

Have you made cottage cheese?

Do you make your own cottage cheese? Does your recipe differ from this one? Let us know in the comments.​

 

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Great job! I wanted to add that you can add seasonings like fresh cracked pepper, rosemary or basil to the cheese during the mixing process. The seasonings make the cheese irresistibly good.

    Tess

  • Try making this recipe with “goats milk”. You see, goats will stop making milk when they have cancer whereas a milk cow will continue to produce milk and will put those cancerous cells into it. Thank goodness for “milk pooling”!

  • My mom used to make this it was delicious- but she would combine the vinegar and the whole milk together – stir continuously – it will begin to curdle remove from the heat drain using a cheese cloth – it tastes delis warm

    • Marie – so, she heated it all together instead of combining it after the milk was heated? Hmm….good to know – I will try that next time and see if there’s a difference in texture!

      Daisy

    • Sheila – I suspect it would have better results because of the higher fat content. I only had 2% on hand and am in the midst of a Stockpile Challenge. In the future I definitely plan to try it with whole milk. 🙂

      Daisy

  • I suspect this would usually have been made with milk that had the cream skimmed off to make butter with. My MIL was just talking about doing this, I will give her this recipe to try.

  • As you referenced the Stockpile Challenge, is there any way that this could be made with powdered milk? I’m concerned that my original city-girl roots are showing here, but perhaps there is another ingredient that could be added to allow me to make this cottage cheese with my stored goods. Although I am considering acquiring a goat or cow to join our family, I am resisting the idea until I also have a way to grow and harvest the food necessary to feed them.
    Thank you for any suggestions.

    • I’m doing some food prep this afternoon – I’ll give it a shot with reconstituted powdered milk and see what happens! 🙂 Check back later for results!

      ~ Daisy

    • I’ve done cottage cheese with powdered milk and it’s just fine. In fact, I recommend always having plenty of powdered milk because just about any recipe that needs milk also works with powdered milk.

  • Good morning Daisy,

    Not meaning to be a pest, but I was wondering if you had the opportunity to try out the powdered milk in your cottage cheese recipe. I’m willing to try it myself, but don’t really have a clue what I would be doing. Would you suggest simply mixing up the powder to make the exact quantity of milk and then proceeding as usual?

    If you don’t have time to try it, I completely understand, but maybe you could just offer that opinion.

    Thanks,
    Barb

    • Hi Barb! Not a pest at all! I apologize for taking so long to get to this experiment.

      I tried the same recipe today with some reconstituted dry milk powder. It worked, but resulted in a bit less cottage cheese and a bit more whey than with fresh milk. This time I only got about 3/4 cup of cottage cheese and the rest was whey liquid. I suspect it is related to the fat level in the powdered milk. Mine is skim milk powder. If you had a full fat milk powder I think you might have better results. 🙂

      Daisy

      • Most powdered milk is only a skim milk. They sell the rest of the contents. If you buy it from a food storage site it would be whole milk.

  • Thanks Daisy, I look forward to giving that a try. I’m so pleased to find out that cottage cheese will no longer need to be on my grocery list. Fabulous!

  • Wow! I just started buying lots of cottage cheese because I love baking a salsa egg bake for breakfast, but it’s costly and I am not always able to afford the organic kind. I will definitely try this recipe. Thanks, Daisy!

  • Just discovered your blog and I love it. What vinegar (%) did you use? I used 10% as this was the only flavourless thing I had but the cottage cheese turned out terribly sour 🙁 Lovely texture though. Any ideas what I can do with it not to throw it away? A bake maybe?

    • Hi Anna. Welcome 🙂

      My white vinegar is 5%. Two thoughts: Maybe try using half the recommended amount of vinegar, or try lemon juice in place of vinegar next time. I would suggest that you make a pasta dish with the cottage cheese that you have – use it like you would ricotta.

      Daisy

      • Hey Daisy, I googled a bit and found out some recipes recommending that you rinse the curd under cold water which I have just done and the sour taste is gone 🙂

        • Although the texture isn’t perfect npw (too tiny lumps)…well definitely I’m going to keep experimenting on a daily basis because we eat lots of cottage cheese but we have to cut both the costs and salt consumption 😉

        • Hi, Anna – thank you for letting me know that! 🙂 I’m going to edit the article to add this information!

          Daisy

  • Hi Daisy! I love this recipe, but I am lactose intolerant. Can I make this with almond or soy milk? Thanks!!

    • Hi, Bella! I’m not sure if you can or not. I have only tried it with cow’s milk. If I were you, I’d try it with a smaller amount than recommended in the recipe, maybe half it? That way if it doesn’t work you haven’t wasted as much.

      Best of luck, and please share the results here! I think it will help other in your situation. 🙂

      Thank you for reading!

      Daisy

      • I tried the cheese it was really great – any idea how I can 1.make the curds bigger? 2. make smooth cheese
        Thanks so much
        Jacqui

        • Jacqui ~ I’m still working on making the curds bigger – I have no idea! 🙂 Perhaps a longer time before you drain it? ANd I never thought about making it smooth – you might be able to just zip it in your food processor, then drain it. I’m glad that your cottage cheese turned out well!

          Daisy

  • Hi Daisy,

    I don’t have access to raw milk, so can I use regular 2% milk instead? Also, after you rinse it with cold water, should you add a bit of fresh cream to make it moist, or will it be moist anyway?

    • Gini ~

      I don’t have access to raw milk either and just used organic milk from the grocery store. I did not need to rinse my cottage cheese, so I’m not sure whether or not you would need to moisten it or not. 🙂

      Daisy

  • I’m trying this with raw goat’s milk and using rennet instead of vinegar. So, I’ll post the results.

  • I have been making this for some months now – recipe from a different source but almost identical except for leaving the curds and whey to go cold before straining. However, I have only used pasteurised mild and wondered if anyone had tried UHT milk? If not, I’ll maybe give it a go this weekend and let you know the outcome. Thanks

      • Oh yes it will … if a brick or bottle of UHT milk isn’t consumed in the few days which follow its opening, it will most certainly sour. I know from experience (bleh!)!

  • I made cottage cheese using whole milk and 1 cup apple cider vinegar. It came out great.

    I heated the milk to 130 degrees, turned off the heat and moved the pot over to a cold burner, then let it sit, covered, for 30 minutes, per the recipe I was following.

    After 30 minutes I scooped out the cheese curds into a metal colander that was lined heavily with cheesecloth. (but a tea towel would work just as well.) …Also, the colander was placed inside a large metal mixing bowl in my sink before I began the scooping!…

    Then I slowly poured the whey liquid into the colander in order to catch every bit of curd left in the pot. Then I lightly rinsed the cheese curds with cold water to get rid of most of the vinegar flavor, added salt and …it turned out fantastic! First time I ever made cottage cheese but sure won’t be my last time!

    I used the whey for ham and cabbage soup. It didn’t need any sauerkraut because there was enough sourness to the broth. The whey was much better to use than water.

  • Oh, I forgot to say that I used 1 GALLON OF WHOLE MILK and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. It made 4 cups of cottage/ricotta style cheese. Flavor-wise, it leaned more towards ricotta.

  • I am making my own cottage cheese already over 33 years. Every time it comes differently (more or less chunky) but always very delicious
    It is 1.5 gallons of regular red milk and 32 oz container of plain low fat yogurt mixed together in one big pot. Leave it in room temperature in a kitchen for 1-2, sometimes even 3 days untouched, covered with lid, until all mixture will look like a yogurt. Usually it takes less time in the summer and it is longer on a cold days.Then put the pot on a small fire and mix it from time to time until you see curdles start to separate from liquid. Turn fire off. Let it cool and then drain it by using cheese cloth. You will ended up with about 3 to 4 lbs of delicious home made cottage cheese. It can stay in refrigerator about 2 weeks. And it is budget friendly!
    Enjoy it.

    • What did you mean by red milk? I’m a little late getting on this site but plan on making some cottage cheese for Perogies. Home made cheese makes them so much better. My grandmother made cottage cheese all the time but I was too small to be paying attention and she is gone now.

  • Lana, your cottage cheese sounds like a truly cultured type, which is probably very healthy, because it uses the beneficial bacteria in the yogurt to produce the cottage cheese. How hot does it need to get when you cook it? I’m wondering if the heat kills the good bacteria. When I make yogurt, I try not to heat it past 120 degrees.

    Also, I’m trying a sour cream recipe that’s similar to your cottage cheese method. It uses 1/4 cup of yogurt to mix with 1 cup of cream. Let it set for 24+ hours, and it become sour cream. Yum!

    We have a dairy cow now finally, so I’m looking for all kinds of ways to use the milk. Does anyone have experience with freezing these soft cheeses?

  • just found this recipe and am going to try it later this week when I get more milk. I already make my own yogurt and this will add another goodie to my list of things to make without lots of unpronounceable and unnecessary ingredients.
    thanks for putting this recipe up.

  • This was my first attempt at making cottage cheese and it came out great. Then I tried to use the leftover whey to make ricotta but was left with only a spoonful of curds after the process. Any ideas why? I read somewhere that leftover whey from simple cheeses like cottage cheese made with vinegar instead of rennet won’t produce ricotta. Is that the reason you think? We retired to Panama over two years where cottage cheese is hard to find, so I’ve given up eating it until now. So nice that I can once again enjoy this high protein, yummy product produced in my own kitchen.

  • Hi guys,

    I have done everything as per this recipe,now i am in step 3, how long do i have to let this mixture to cool (at room temperature)?, its been already an hour but i see very little change i.e. milk is just beginning to curdle

    P.S. I have used Lime juice ( 2 spoons) instead of vinegar.

  • So what’s the difference between Cottage Cheese and Ricotta cheese?
    I need cottage cheese to make Icing for a carrot cake, but I’m in Korea where it’s impossible to find Cottage cheese.

    The recipes you all give here is EXACTLY the same as for making Ricotta cheese. I used in Lasagna. I am afraid it won’t really work for my carrot cake icing, because it’s just not creamy enough.

    What do you think? Would adding some kind of yoghurt make it even creamier? It’s incredibly hard to find any kind of full cream or heavy cream products here.

  • Do you know how many calories Arron a serving of this cottage cheese? I buy the low fat cottage cheese at the store which is about 90 calories per half cup serving. I was just wondering how it would compare.

    • Ashley – I’d base it the calories in the amount of milk you used. It will be fewer calories than in the equivalent amount of milk because you’ll be pouring off the whey.

      If you want low fat cottage cheese, simply use low fat milk to make it. 🙂

      Daisy

  • Hi
    I have been searching for goat milk cottage cheese. I noticed one person used goat milk. Are there any alterations to your recipe or the recipe using yogurt that you might suggest?
    Thanks

  • Hi Daisy,

    I just tried this recipe after a friend recommended it to me. We’re both using raw milk. I (and I’m sure that she) followed all the directions verbatim, and our cottage cheese has ended up more like ricotta cheese–not at all like cottage cheese. Could you help us out?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Elsie – I haven’t tried doing this with raw milk. When I made it previously, it was with pasteurized milk. Let me give it a shot tomorrow and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

      Daisy

  • Is this type of cottage cheese the same as the European style farmer’s cheese which is quite acidic? If not what do you add to make it so.

  • Could I make this with non dairy milk such as coconut? My son has a cow’s milk protein allergy and would love for him to be able to try some cottage cheese

    • I’m not sure whether it will curdle like it’s supposed to. I’d try a very small batch so you don’t waste much if it doesn’t work. 🙂

  • I was reading through the comments and waiting to see the simplest cottage cheese making recipe, but haven’t seen it yet. I guess this would only work with raw milk though. When I was growing up and we had a surplus of milk, it would ferment itself in a couple of days and that’s when you heat it up and turn it into cottage cheese. So there is nothing added at all. Just plain milk.
    But I am interested in trying this kind of cottage cheese as well.

  • Can you make a huge batch keeping ratios the same? I eat two containers a week, just made this, AND LOVE IT. If I could use 2 gallons of milk, to make batch easier it would be really great.

    • I’m not sure if the lactose is necessary or not. I would try doing a small batch to test it out.

    • I have never added rennet to my cottage cheese before. I’m sure you could but it’s sort of pricey, so I don’t think it’s necessary. 🙂

  • Hi,
    I just made it and came out very good. Just one thing, I wish the curds were little bit bigger, more like stores versions. Is it possible?
    Thank you.

  • HI Daisy,
    I made my first batch of cottage cheese using your instructions with whole milk and white wine vinegar. Something must have gone wrong because the curds are very dry, I mixed in heavy cream and it has helped but the curds are still dry. I want to continue making this recipe but also want my family to enjoy it. Do you have any hints? Thank you.

  • It’s tasty, but this is absolutely not cottage cheese.
    Cottage cheese made from curd. You need to leave the farm fresh milk on room temperature for few days (summer usually 1 day enough, winter need more time) and it’s become curd. You need around 5 litres milk for 1 kilo cottage cheese( depending on the milk fat). So when your milk is become to curd you need to transfer it to a clean linen ( if you make it from 5 liter use 2-3 linens) and hang it. When all the whey is dropped out your cottage cheese is finished.

    • It is cottage cheese made from pasteurized milk, because many of us don’t have access to raw milk (illegal in many areas). The process you mentioned works well for making cottage cheese with raw milk. You can probably use raw milk in the process she has, but making it your way is easier.

  • How does this compare to store-bought cottage cheese? I tried some that my grandmother made years ago but didn’t like the texture. I can’t remember how it tasted, just that the texture was all wrong lol. I would like to make my own but if it can’t be made very similar to store-bought I’m afraid we wouldn’t like it. Which is odd because I make my own of most things. I’m just very lucky about texture.

    • It’s a bit different than storebought. The curds are smaller and not as “smooth” for lack of a better word. 🙂

  • Hi Daisy! I have whole milk that has already seperated. Can I still use it for making cottage.cheese? Thanks

  • Thanks for republishing this.
    With prices going so high, I m sure many can benefit from this very useful repurposing recipe.

  • Just last week I made something very similar. Only difference is that instead of vinegar, I used lemon juice. I called it Ricotta cheese and used it to make the best lasagna ever.

  • Hi, I just tried this for the 1st time, and the results are mixed. It tastes really strongly of vinegar, and the milk at the bottom of the pan scorched, which gave the whole batch a slightly burned taste. Any advice would be appreciated.

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