(4 or) 5-Minute Microwave Ricotta

24 Sep

Light and fluffy homemade cheese. Yum!

If I had to retrace my steps, I could never tell you how I found this article and accompanying recipe on how to make ricotta cheese in the microwave. Once I did, however, I couldn’t wait to try this at home. I won’t bore you with the details about how the following is not *really* ricotta (which is authentically made from the by-products of actual cheese making) but I will tell you that from my first taste test, I was hooked.

This blog is about my take on recipes I find and ways that I tweak them. Being an average cook, it’s also about sharing what happens in MY kitchen while I’m experimenting. The title of the original blog suggests you could be eating the fruits of your labor within 5 minutes. My experience wasn’t like that and it got a little messy in the process. So, here goes…

On my first attempt I followed the directions (below) exactly. Pretty simple, right? Pour milk into measuring cup, add vinegar and salt. Stick in the microwave for four minutes. Right off the bat the mixture smelled reminiscent of store bough ricotta so I knew I couldn’t be that far off.

The next part is where its gets messy. Straight out of the microwave the curds (milk solids) were already separating from the whey.

Curds and whey - fresh out of the microwave

Stirring as the original directions indicated, in my experience, slowed the whole process down and just mixed everything back together. This left me with two options:

  1. Wait it out while the curds separated *again* in the measuring cup and scoop them out with a slotted spoon
  2. Dump the whole thing in the colander lined with flour sack cloth and wait out draining process that way

If you know me at all, you’re already guessing that I opted for the colander route. In the future I might try scooping the curds out with a fine mesh strainer. Regardless, I can’t see how the draining process will ever be 5 minutes. 

Starting the draining process in a colander lined with a flour sack dish towel

 Eventually I just twisted the flour sack over a wooden spoon which I propped up over a deep strainer and stuck the whole thing in the fridge for a few hours.

Hanging the bundle to finish draining

Be warned, though, that 2 cups of milk will result in a scant 1/3 cup of finished cheese. I ended up double the recipe and pouring 4 cups of milk into my 8-cup Pampered Chef batter bowl (shown in the pictures). I repeated this process 3 times, adding each subsequent batch to the same colander as the first.

The good news is that if you’re not in a hurry, the results are totally worth it. My homemade ricotta was all natural, fresh-tasting, light and fluffy. I smeared it on crackers, I slathered it on bread, I added it to wraps and I ate it straight out of the container. I also froze some to avoid eating the rest of it in one sitting lest I make myself sick because I’m lactose intolerant. Sadly for me, because Lactaid® milk is ultra-pasteurized, it is unsuitable for this recipe.


  • 2 cups whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Line a colander with either cheese cloth, a flour sack dish towel or paper coffee filters
  2. Combine all ingredients into a large measuring cup
  3. Microwave for four minutes on high
  4. Let drain until you achieve the consistency you like. The longer it drains, the firmer the cheese will be.

Kat’s other tips – gleaned from reading dozens of recipes and hundreds of comments:

  • Terry cloth dish towels are not optimal for draining. They didn’t have cheese cloth at the store I was at, so I purchased flour sack dish towels. The surface is smoother so the curds are more easily scraped off. After patiently waiting for the curds to drain, I don’t want to leave any behind stuck in terry cloth fibers. Nor do I want any fibers gracing my cheese.
  • Avoid the urge to squeeze the curds dry. From what I read this makes them squeaky and not stick together in a cheese-like fashion.
  • Using whole milk is highly recommended. I haven’t tried it with 2% or skim milk but have read comments where it has worked for others.
  • If you collect the whey, it can be used in other recipes or *specifically* to make pancakes. I’m not a pancake kind of girl so if you’re interested in this, Google it.

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