Around the World in 80 Plates: Ricotta, Italy 9/80

Ricotta is, without a doubt, the easiest cheese in the world to make.

Some recipes call for cream, lemon or vinegar but this has only two ingredients: milk and buttermilk.

Brace yourself for the simplest, most impressive homemade cheese recipe of your life.

Since there are only two ingredients, it’s important to get the buttermilk right. Avoid cultured buttermilk for this recipe – in my experience, it won’t work. Your cheese won’t curdle and you’ll end up with basically the same thing you started with: milk and buttermilk, just warm and mixed together. Natural, or traditional, buttermilk is the way to go.

I find my natural buttermilk in the refrigerated Polish section of the shop. I’ve tried other buttermilks, but this is the one that works for me.

Contrary to other ricotta recipes, this recipe is really as easy as heating up milk and straining out the curds. No complicated steps and you can go from milk to cheese in under an hour, so this is a perfect first cheese to make if you’re a newbie.

Make as much or as little as you want, just keep the buttermilk to milk ratio at 1:4 (so 250g buttermilk to 1 litre milk).

Adding the buttermilk to the milk and slowly heating it will make the milk curdle. Don’t be put off by looks or the word ‘curdle’ – this is exactly what you want to happen.

After the milk has curdled, scoop out the curds and let them strain in a cheesecloth over a colander. After 15 minutes to 1 hour (depending on how dry you want them), the ricotta will be ready to use.

Use up the rest of the buttermilk with my recipe for Irish Soda Bread.

This cheese is delicious in lasagne, ravioli, calzone and even, I’m told, cannoli. It’s very versatile and can be used for sweet or savoury dishes.


Makes: about 200 grams ricotta



1 litre whole milk
250ml buttermilk

You’ll also need a thermometer, colander, large bowl and cheesecloth


  1. Combine the milk and buttermilk
  2. Heat to 80ºC, stirring regularly
  3. When milk starts to curdle (or at 80ºC), remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes
  4. Scoop out the cheese curds and put in the cheesecloth-lined colander sitting over a large bowl
  5. Let curds cool and drain for at least 15 minutes but up to 1 hour depending on how dry you want your cheese
  6. Use straight away or store in the fridge

Note that this recipe uses UK measurements, temperatures and ingredients. It can certainly be made outside the UK but ingredients may differ slightly, go by different names or need to be substituted altogether.

If you change this recipe to make it work outside the UK or if you have your own, please share in the comments!

Check out more recipes in my Around the World in 80 Plates series.

Fancy more posts about Italy? Look no further.

Inspired to cook some international dishes? I’ve got your recipe needs covered.

Feeling hungry? Don’t look at these posts.

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