How to Make Cottage Cheese

When I began the stockpile challenge, one of the first things I noticed I was running low on was cheese.  A reader, Mary, passed on instructions for farmer’s cheese.  I combined Mary’s instructions with some instructions off the net and made a delicious light and fluffy cottage cheese.

The thing that shocked me the most was that I made this creamy deliciousness with only 3 simple ingredients:

organic milk

white vinegar


To compare, I looked up 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, Postassium Sorbate, Calcium Chloride, Enzymes


This is the easiest thing that I’ve ever made!


2-1/2 cups of 2% milk

1/4 cup of white vinegar

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


1.)  In a large saucepan bring the milk almost to a boil.   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.)  Using a mesh strainer, separate the curds and the whey  (hints of Little Miss Muffit!).  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.  I think if I’d left it to cool longer or placed it in the fridge overnight before draining that I might have ended up with more curds and less whey.  

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


 Seriously – this was so incredibly easy that I was shocked. I will never buy cottage cheese again!

NOTE:  A reader mentioned that her cottage cheese had a very sour taste.  She discovered that you can rinse the curds under running water to get rid of this taste.  Thank you, Anna!  :)

About the author:

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at

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68 Comments  to  How to Make Cottage Cheese

  1. Tess says:

    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.


  2. That’s great! Different from our cottage cheese recipe ,but great for sure :)

  3. Houndjog says:

    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”!

  4. Marie says:

    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

    • Daisy says:

      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!


  5. Sheila says:

    Wouldn’t whole milk be better?

    • Daisy says:

      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. :)


  6. Teresa says:

    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.

  7. Barb says:

    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.

    • Daisy says:

      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

  8. Barb says:

    I appreciate that. Thank you very much!

  9. Barb says:

    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.


    • Daisy says:

      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. :)


  10. Barb says:

    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!

  11. Viv says:

    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!

  12. Anna says:

    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?

    • Daisy Luther says:

      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.


      • Anna says:

        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 :)

        • Anna says:

          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 ;)

        • Daisy Luther says:

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


  13. Bella says:

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

    • Daisy Luther says:

      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!


      • jacqui says:

        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

        • Daisy Luther says:

          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!


      • Erika Occhino says:

        You can use lactose free milk.

    • sue says:

      There is a lactose free milk made by Lactaid.

  14. Gini Smith says:

    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?

    • Daisy Luther says:

      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. :)


  15. Susan says:

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

  16. Linda Rayworth says:

    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

  17. Brea says:

    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.

  18. Brea says:

    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.

  19. Lana says:

    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.

    • Wanita says:

      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.

  20. Jeanne says:

    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?

  21. magginolia says:

    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.

  22. Terry says:

    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.

  23. Vivek says:

    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.

  24. Johann says:

    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.

  25. Heidi says:

    Another use for the whey is in cultured vegetables – see info on kefir.

  26. Fran says:

    Can you use tainted or sour milk to make cottage cheese?

  27. Michael says:

    Will this work with raw milk?

  28. Ashley says:

    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.

    • Daisy Luther says:

      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. :)


  29. Judy says:

    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?

  30. Elsie says:

    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?


    • Daisy Luther says:

      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. :)


  31. dayna says:

    it was yummy

  32. Aloy says:

    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.

  33. Christina says:

    How long does home made cottage cheese last for?

  34. Stephanie says:

    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

    • Daisy Luther says:

      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. :)

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