Monday, April 22, 2013

Easy and Delicious Homemade Cottage Cheese (without Rennet)

Making homemade cottage cheese is so much easier than you might think.  If you are like me, you may not have tried to make your own because you either didn't know that you could, or because you'd heard that you must have an ingredient called "rennet". 

I've not searched for rennet in my local store but it's not an item that I've ever stumbled upon.  It just sounds like an ingredient that would need to be special ordered!

I was so excited to find a recipe that doesn't call for rennet at  It only calls for vinegar, milk, salt, and half-n-half (I just substituted milk for the half-n-half with amazing results).  If you like cottage cheese, you have got to try this recipe.  It's super easy and incredibly delicious!  Thanks macheesmo!

To make your cottage cheese you will need two ingredients to begin ~
1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 gallon of milk (that is 8 cups).  I used whole milk but
I think you could use skim, 1%, or 2% as well

1) Heat 1/2 gallon of milk on medium heat, stir slowly and constantly until the milk is approximately 120 degrees F.  Macheesmo didn't have a thermometer, and I didn't  either. He said to heat until the milk felt warm. I just heated the milk until it felt as warm as I like my showers.

2) Place a colander inside of a larger bowl to catch the whey that will soon be separated from the curds.

3) Line the colander with a tea towel, cheesecloth or similar clean cloth.  I used a clean baby blanket, the receiving type. 

4) Once the the milk has reached 120 degrees, remove from heat. Pour and gently stir in the 1/2 cup of vinegar. 

Immediately, the milk will start to curdle.  Very cool! 

Your concoction will look like this.

5) Put a lid on the pan and let sit for 30 minutes to cool down and firm up.
6) Pour mixture (gently) through cloth lined colander.

7) Remember to remove bowl with whey and rinse the curds in cold water.  I used my (clean) fingers to separate and rinse the curds. The rinsing helps remove the vinegar and cools your cheese down even more.

8) Gather cloth and gently squeeze out excess liquid. 

10) Mix 1/2 cup of milk or cream with 1/8th tsp salt (more or less to taste)
Add curds to the milk (or half n half) and salt mixture.

11) Gently stir mixture.  If it seems dry, you can add more milk or half-n-half.  Recipe made approximately 2 cups.

12) Cover and refrigerate.  This photograph was taken for informational purposes only.  Afterward, we basically ate the whole thing.

For a good resource on making your own dairy
products ~

Homemade Living: Home Dairy with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Cheese, Yogurt, Butter & More

13) Save your whey to use in bread, shakes, soup, etc.  There are plenty of great ideas online on how to use this nutritional liquid.  I made bread with mine.  It was very tasty!


  1. Mine turned out kind of rubbery and very bland - wonder what I did wrong?

    1. Oh dear! I don't know but I'll do a little research as to why that might happen. Rubbery and bland is NOT good.

    2. B-A,

      The only reason that I could find for causing rubbery cottage cheese is overheating it. Perhaps you got it a little hotter than you realized or left it on the burner even though you turned the heat off? If not, I honestly don't know. I'm definitely not an expert on cheesemaking. As far as the blandness, maybe you could use a little more salt or not rinse it quite so well. I didn't rinse mine as well as the instructions said and I enjoy the slightly tangy taste from the residual vinegar.

      I do hope you'll let us know if you try to make it again. I got great results with mine.

      Best wishes!

    3. I made this and it came out great! The cheese I made tastes like a cross between cottage cheese and ricotta, leaning a little more towards ricotta in both texture and flavor, to me anyways!

      THIS IS SO MUCH CHEAPER THAN buying cottage/ricotta at the store!!!

      I used a gallon of whole milk, 1 cup apple cider vinegar and it made about 4 cups of cheese.

      There was a lot of whey left so I made cabbage soup with it since cabbage soup broth needs vinegar in it. I just omitted the sauerkraut and used a spiral ham bone, cabbage, bay leaves, onions. It came out wonderful, too!!! Tha whey seems to make a great broth for savory stews! My oldest cat is 15 yrs old and very finicky, yet she ate the broth and some meat! She seemed to like the mild vinegar flavor, too. This is a cat who believes edible food only comes in small cans!

      Thanks for a wonderful recipe! I plan to make this cheese often, if only to get more whey for soup! :-)

    4. make sure to add sour cream or Coconut milk and a little apple cider vinegar to make your cottage cheese have flavor.

  2. In step 10 you say to "Add curds to the milk and salt mixture" and i couldn't find the amounts for the 'milk and salt' mixture. Maybe that's why BA's mixture was bland and rubbery.

    How much milk and salt do you add to the curds?

    1. Sorry! I didn't realize this was omitted! I did change it for future readers to include in step 10 - 1/2 cup of milk or half-n-half PLUS 1/8th teaspoon of salt (0r to taste). Hope this helps! Thanks for proofreading for me ;)

  3. If you have never come across rennet I suggest you get out more.

    Most any supermarket will have rennet in a small brown bottle on the baking ingredients aisle

    1. Thanks Anonymous! It's nice to know that you can easily find rennet in most supermarkets. But for those homebodies like me that should "get out more", it's still good to have an alternative to be able to make cottage cheese without rennet ;)

      Thanks for your helpful information. Have a great day!

    2. Um, where I live, you can't find rennet in grocery stores. (and I get out plenty :P I live in Ontario, and shop both the Canadian AND American sides of the border. No Rennet-believe me, I've looked.)

      Here, you have to order rennet. And then wait a week. And sometimes, dangit, I want cheese NOW.

      So this is the method I use to make cottage cheese most of the time too.
      Thank you for being kind enough to share your method, Poppy! I'm sure that many people will be happy to try it!

    3. Thank you Corrabelle! I'm glad to hear that you use and like this method too! Have a great week!

    4. Don't think I've ever seen rennet in small brown bottles........maybe Anonymous is seeing yeast? I have to order it too!

    5. I live in a very small town in NE Arkansas and rennet is readily available at our Walmart. It's in the section where you can find ice cream makers.

    6. I've never seen it in my local markets, I have to go to the health food store to get it and I live in a BIG city...and work at a BIG box store... :)

  4. Hi Poppy, thanks for this easy cottage cheese recipe- mine has turned out perfect. I've just used my first batch of cottage cheese to make a low-fat cheese cake, in place of the ricotta which I would normally use. It's baking in the oven as I type!

    Sue Ronco.

    1. Sue,

      I'm so happy to hear that this recipe was a success for you! I really love it (a little too much perhaps) and will have to try it in other recipes (such as cheesecake). That is if I can keep from eating the whole batch first ;)

      Have a great day!

    2. Could you share your recipe of the low-fat cheese cake?
      Thank you

  5. Mine came out great! I used 1 gallon of whole milk from Market Basket grocery store (store brand) and apple cider vinegar. The cheese looks and tastes (to me) like a cross between cottage cheese and ricotta cheese, leaning a bit more towards ricotta. The whey made wonderful cabbage soup! Even my elderly cat enjoyed the soup's broth and she NEVER wants to eat people food.
    Thank you so much for this recipe!

  6. fantastic!! i just made a double batch with raw milk from a friends farm and it was perfect :) rich and creamy!! i did need to add a little more salt and that was it :) will never buy cottage cheese again!! the whey i am going to make ricotta with!

  7. Joe here,

    Another name for rennet is Junket and is sold as tablets, either in a small box or a tube. Don't know if that's a brand name or just took it from a dessert by that name. Same thing.

    Much/most of the "flavor" in cottage cheese comes from the culture as in "cultured" cottage cheese. You may be able to find some "real" cottage cheese in the store--one brand is Daisey and all it has is cultured skim milk, cream, salt, and vitamin a palmitate. And it's Kosher meaning it has no animal rennet--also known as "chymosin." You can then "culture your own milk with some of the liquid from that one container of commercial cc into some slightly warmed milk and let it stand for a day--covered, then do the vinegar and salt bit and all the other steps. The "culturing" step or process is no different than what is done to make yogurt or cheese and is what distinguishes one from another--cheddar vs gouda vs rochefort vs gruerre. Each is based on the unique native fungal colonies in a given region. Just like wine. Each produces their own unique flavor.

    BTW, did you know that back in the "olden" days, bakeries were often located right next to brewery taverns? Same reason--same yeast (fungus).


    1. Joe, thanks so much for the really great information! I learn so much from my readers each day! I will definitely use the "culturing" step!

  8. thats really good thing i like it.

  9. POPPY, I can't wait to try your recipe!

    JOE, adding the culture sounds like it would enhance the nutrition too, as with yogurt. Is that right? Wonderful idea! And it would add extra flavor too.

    Here's a RECIPE the turns yummy cottage cheese into a fantastic dip for vegies or chips.

    To 2 cups of cottage cheese, add:
    1/2 tsp onion powder
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp caraway seeds
    3 T fresh or 1 T dried chives
    2 green onions, with tops, sliced thin
    Dash cayenne pepper
    1/8 tsp black pepper
    Refrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors blend.

    1. That sounds amazing, Anonymous! Thanks for the healthy dip recipe!

  10. I just tried this recipe with a batch of failed yogurt milk, and it tastes almost exactly like Ricotta Cheese--same texture, too, since I was probably a little over-zealous squeezing out the excess whey. I just love it!

  11. Hi Poppy

    I found your page while looking for a cottage cheese recipe for my son's school food technology project. Nice and easy and I had everything in the house, no surprises there, glad I didn't have to go hunting for rennet.

    From my 2 litres (8 cups) + half a cup of milk I got around 320 grams of cheese (11 1/4 ounces) and about 6 cups of whey.

    I'm very happy with the end result but I was hoping for a bit more cheese. No cheaper than buying cottage cheese but fun to make. I wonder if the milk wasn't quite warm enough when I added the vinegar as they whey is still quite milky looking, not the watery yellow colour in your photo. I just used my finger to test the temperature, quite warm but not hot to the touch.
    Anyway, I will try again though and let you know.


  12. Your best bet for locating rennet, is to ask your local store manager. Most will be willing to order it for you, if it's not readily available. In my little town, it's located near the ice cream making supplies.

  13. I was so happy to see this recipe as I love cottage cheese, and cannot use rennet. This is pretty much the same way I make paneer, only we use either lemon, or lime juice and the cheese is much sweeter than using vinegar. I had no idea that all I had to do was add milk back to my strained and rinsed curds.

  14. Hi Poppy!

    Thank you for sharing this simple recipe with photos as reference. It has been very helpful to my son who had to make cottage cheese for a school assignment and it turned out great!

    Now he is doubly excited. Not only did he do well on his assignment, but is looking forward to making one of his favorite foods at home.

    Thank you again,

    Thank you again!

  15. I live in Southern Calif, and I cannot find Rennet anywhere here either. Using Vinegar will make it so much easier to make my own low salt cottage cheese. Thank You for the recipe.

  16. This was cool to make. Do you have any suggestions for making the curds a bit bigger/lumpier??

    1. Hi Fred,

      Glad you enjoyed it! My thought would be to handle the curds as gently as possible. Other than that, I don't know. Suggestions anyone?

  17. Hi Poppy,
    Unfortunatly it didn't work wel for me.
    Does the milk need to be fresh? I used UHT milk, maybe this was the problem.
    Nevertheless, I've got some curd, fine though, and from that I made "cream cheese" with spicies.
    Taste good, too. :)

    1. You can't use UHT milk for a lot of cheese making recipes because some bacteria needed was killed during the heating process...I do use it for my yogurt though to eliminate the first heating stage... :)

  18. I had 3c of milk starting to sour, so I adjusted the portions and used a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature was correct. Mine turned out fabulous! What a flavor. I'm off to make something with the whey.

  19. I had 3c of milk starting to sour, so I adjusted the portions and used a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature was correct. Mine turned out fabulous! What a flavor. I'm off to make something with the whey now.

  20. I made the cottage cheese recipe on March 29th, and then I made the cheese dip from it. I had to change the recipe of the dip some because I didn't have all the ingredients, but everyone liked it even my husband and youngest daughter who both dislike cottage cheese. I can't find cottage cheese here in Uruguay, South America,so it is so nice to be able to make it! Thanks for sharing this recipe! :-)

  21. Beautiful sharing simply loving the method will definitely try ... Thankyou sooo much

  22. Beautiful sharing ... Step by step work with pictures is really helpful. Will definitely try at home. Thankyou so much


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