Homemade Cottage Cheese

MMMMM…take a bite of homemade cottage cheese, and you’ll think you’re eating a cloud. It’s light. It’s fluffy. It’s the kind of thing I like to fold into pancake batter for breakfast, or to serve with blueberries for dessert. You won’t believe how easy it is to make this ambrosia, or how self-reliant you’ll feel after you’ve made it:

Now, before I get to the recipe, let me explain that this version of cottage cheese is nothing like the heavy, watery, tartly-acidic cottage cheese that American supermarkets sell. In fact, according to food-writer David Lebovitz, it’s the equivalent of the cottage cheese that Parisian shops offer. David lives in Paris, so I’ll take him at his word.

Homemade Cottage Cheese
Based on a recipe by David Lebovitz
Ingredients for about 2 cups (Want more? Double or even quadruple the ingredients)
1 quart whole milk
4 drops organic vegetable rennet*
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp heavy cream

Special equipment – a non-reactive, heavy bottomed pot with a lid (I used my 2-quart Le Creuset pot); a thermometer; a piece of butter-muslin* or cheese-cloth for draining the curds; a slotted spoon; a tea towel

*You can buy, as I did, both the liquid rennet and the butter-muslim here. Neither item is expensive.

Heat the milk to 85 degrees over a very low flame. (Keep an eye on both pot and thermometer — the milk will reach the proper temperature in only a minute or two.) Remove from heat.

Add 4 drops of liquid rennet. Stir with the slotted spoon for 2 minutes.

Drape the tea towel over the pot, then put the cover on. Let sit at room temperature for 4 hours. If your kitchen is cold — say, below 72 degrees — wrap a big bath towel around the pot as insulation.

After 4 hours the mixture will resemble a soft custard. Using a knife, cut the mixture criss-cross into one-inch squares.

Set the pot once again over very low heat, sprinkle on the salt, and gently stir for 2 minutes, or until the curds separate from the whey. Do not overheat, or your curds will be tough.

Line a colander with the butter-muslin or cheese-cloth, then set the colander into a large bowl. Pour in the curds, and gently stir to help drain the whey. Empty the bowl once or twice so the curds are not sitting in the drained whey.

Fold the butter-muslin over the cheese, and set the colander (still in the bowl) in the refrigerator. Let chill for an hour or more, stirring once or twice to encourage further draining.

Pour the curds into a bowl, add the heavy cream, and stir with a fork, breaking up the curds as you work. Taste; add more salt if you like.

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Related Posts:
Homemade Mozzarella in 30 Minutes
Homemade Ricotta is Easy!
No-Cook, Homemade Cream Cheese


  1. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, My mom used to make cottage cheese, so thank you for a walk down a delightful memory lane!

  2. Looks much more do-able than other cottage cheese recipes I've seen, which involve high temp cooking, vinegar, and ice baths. I'll have to try this one.

  3. Louise – So glad this gave you a pleasant memory. I think the path to Eden is paved with cottage cheese:)

    Adele – Yes, there are lots of very involved cottage cheese recipes out there. That's why I like David Lebovitz's no-fuss version.

  4. Can you use regular whole milk from the grocery? The only commerical milk available to me is Ultra High Pasteurized, and I don't think that works. I've been buying fresh milk from a neighbor. Just found your blog and am loving it! A kindred spirit!

  5. Debbi – nice to meet you. This recipe will work with regular pasteurized or homogenized milk, as well as raw milk. It will not, unfortunately, work with ultra-pasteurized milk.

    Glad you are enjoying this place. Stick around, okay?

  6. I just found this blog while searching for a solution to my cottage cheese problems! I've tried making cottage cheese twice now. Both times I used a recipe that was fairly simple, but called for using buttermilk instead of rennet. The cheese never did set, but rather turned into watery solution with little curds (almost invisible they were so little) floating on top. Do you know why this would be true? I'm wondering if maybe it's due to the high humidity where I live, or possibly buttermilk doesn't work as well as rennet?

  7. April – nice to meet you. In my understanding, it isn't possible to make cottage cheese without rennet. Maybe try the recipe up top? This version has never failed me.

    Also, you can always add buttermilk during the final mixing. It will give the cheese a nice, tart flavor.

  8. Hollie M says:

    Thanks so much for this easy recipe. I have tried several cheeses without much luck. This is my first success!!

  9. Hollie M – You're welcome. Glad this recipe worked out for you. Now…go forth and attempt homemade mozzarella! The recipe is linked above.

  10. Hi Kevin, I received my organic vegetable rennet and butter muslin in the mail today from New England Cheese Making. I can't wait to make my first batch of real cottage cheese. Just need to get the whole milk and heavy cream now. We drink skim so we don't have whole milk on hand. I'll let you know how it turns out. If this is a success, it's on to mozzarella for me as well!

  11. Marilyn – Great! Get ready for a bowl of creamy awesomeness!

  12. Christie says:

    Can I substitute 1/4 tablet of rennet for the liquid rennet or what is the ratio? I don’t mind doubling or tripling the recepie! Thanks !! …making this this weekend ( if I can get this answer ); thanks !

  13. Christie – This cottage cheese is so delicious that I don’t blame you for wanting to increase the proportions. I can tell you that one rennet tablet is equal to one teaspoon liquid rennet. There is probably room for a slight bit of error in measurements — so go ahead and experiment. And please let me know how it turns out for you!

  14. Thank you so much for the wonderful recipes! I can hardly wait to make my own cottage cheese. Have LOTS of mulberries right now……and am always happy to find ways to eat them! ha ha

  15. Alice Mae – Mmmmmm! I haven’t had mulberries since I was a kid in the Pacific Northwest. A mulberry tree grew on an empty lot near my parent’s house. I can only imagine how scrumptious the berries would be on homemade cottage cheese.

  16. Alice Mae, where do you live that you have mulberries already? I”m afraid we’re not going to get any this year because of the wacked out weather. 🙁


  17. Carrie d. says:

    just got my rennet yesterday, this is on my todo list for this weekend. Can’e wait.


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