How to Make Cottage Cheese

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How to Make Cottage Cheese via Homemade Mommy

This recipe for cottage cheese is fairly simple and only requires one ingredient: raw milk. If you are a raw milk convert like I am, then you can understand why I wouldn’t want to buy grocery store varieties of cottage cheese. You will be surprised at how easy this is to make yourself. My daughter loves cottage cheese and I am happy she will have another great lunch option that is easy to pull together! I hope you are inspired to try it!

Raw Milk Cottage Cheese

This recipe will make about 2 cups of cottage cheese



    • Skim the cream off of the top of the milk as best you can with a turkey baster and store in a mason jar in the fridge for later.
    • Pour the skimmed milk into a glass bowl and cover with a cheesecloth. Leave on the counter for 1-2 days until it reaches a firm jello-like consistency just prior to showing signs of separation into curds and whey. This means you will not see any watery whey sitting on top – just white jello-like milk. Waiting times will vary depending on how fresh your raw milk is.

Cottage Cheese detail 1

    • Skim off any leftover cream (you probably will not be able to get it all with the turkey baster) and use as you would sour cream. (Bonus!)

cottage cheese detail 2

    • Dump the thickened milk into a large pot and turn the heat on to low. Heat on low for 5-10 minutes until you see the milk separate into curds and whey.

cottage cheese detail 4

    • Line a strainer with butter muslin or a dish cloth and set over a large bowl.
    • Pour the curds and whey into the strainer. Allow the curds to drain for about 1-3 hours. You can save the whey for other uses.

cottage cheese detail 5

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  • Remove the curds from the butter muslin and add to a bowl. Crumble up the curds into small chunks. Add salt to taste. Pour on about 1/4 cup of the reserved fresh cream. Stir to combine. Voila – homemade cottage cheese!

Homemade Cottage Cheese via Homemade Mommy

If you can’t get raw milk in your state, you might try this recipe using pasteurized milk.

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I am a very busy real food mama! When I am not taking care of my 6 year old, I take time to share my real food recipes on my blog, Homemade Mommy. I find the time for homemade cooking and green living because eating this way has truly changed my family’s life. Ditching processed food has helped us all to live a vibrantly healthy life! I buy organic, from family farms, local and grass-fed. I am passionate about achieving vibrant health and am happy to share tips, techniques and recipes in my eBook, The Real Food Survival Guide for Busy Moms which is an excellent resource for any busy mom (or dad) who wants to cook real food for their family but is not sure how to take the plunge.

71 Responses to How to Make Cottage Cheese

  1. WLB says:

    How fresh was your raw milk when you made this? Can you use raw milk that has started to sour? How long does it last in the fridge when you make from fresh and how long does it last when you use soured? Thanks :)

    • It would be hard for me to give hard and fast dates for this because it would all depend on your kitchen conditions and the milk you get. My raw milk might be different from yours and my climate as well. I would just use your nose as your guide. I can say this – You want to use milk that has not yet separated into curds and whey.

  2. My kids and I LOVE cottage cheese, and I’ve been meaning to try to make it. I didn’t realize it was so easy! I’m definitely trying this!

  3. Tara Quick says:

    I get raw milk delivered that is only 24 hours old. Does this mean it will take longer to solidify or less time?

  4. Any idea how long the cottage cheese will last?

    • I would say about a week or two but we didn’t make it long enough to see because we ate it all in just a few days. Again – use your nose. The fresh cream will probably sour a bit but that is all just based on your taste preferences.

  5. Megan Hall says:

    Could you leave all the cream on top and make more sour cream while you are waiting for the milk to curdle or do you think that would mess up the process of the cottage cheese?

  6. 4thebetter says:

    Will this work with organic pastuerized, non homogenized milk? I can’t get raw milk.

  7. Diana says:

    I have tons of raw milk in my freezer. Can this be used for cottage cheese? The milkfat separates in the freezer and I’m afraid the texture may be iffy. Your thoughts?

  8. […] have milk souring on my counter for THIS cottage cheese recipe from Homemade […]

  9. alexis says:

    I think I waited too long…mine was already separated before I heated it, and it smells off. Is it salvageable? Thanks!

  10. Rebecca says:

    So I put the raw milk on the counter on Thursday and yesterday it looked the same. It has been quite warm the last couple days. This a.m. I saw that all the whey had separated to the bottom and all the curd had formed a clump on top. Did it sit too long? Can I go ahead and just strained it without heating it?

  11. Sabrina says:

    Did you use cow’s milk or goat’s milk? My goat milk tends to get “goatier” as it gets older.

  12. Jessica says:

    I had the same issue of the curds and whey separating before I got to heating it. It tuned out fine… except for a bitter aftertaste! What do you think that is about? Help?

  13. Jaslyn says:

    Does the cottage cheese taste sour at all? My kids would snub it if it does in the slightest. Thanks!! :o)

  14. Sharon says:

    you can do this a lot faster if you use a little rennet….and you can culture it some with a little buttermilk.

  15. Lindsay says:

    Hi! I tried to follow your instructions – my milk was a few days old so the cream had already floated to the top of the milk. I used a gallon, because that’s what I had. The milk has been sitting for three days and it’s not yet gotten “gelatinous” looking yet….. should I let it keep going? Our apartment is quite cool, despite the heat outside, so maybe this is the reason? There is also a good amount of cream at the top that I didn’t get initially – maybe this is blocking the process? Many thanks!

    • Lindsey G. says:

      When you tip the milk away from the side of the vessel it is in – does it look somewhat ‘firm’ or still wet? If it is still wet then leave it but keep checking every 6 hours or so…it is probably because the milk was so fresh and your apartment was cool. This will be trial and error on timing until you know your conditions.
      If it separates into curds and whey then your cheese curds will be more ‘rubbery’ but you can still eat it.
      As for the cream on top – just scrape it off and you will have sour cream. You can also make butter with this cream.
      Good luck and if it doesn’t work this time try again. I have had a batch or two separate before I caught it! It happens!

      • Lindsay says:

        Thanks! It’s still watery – I think it’s because our apt. is so cool. I will let it keep going and see how it does! Many thanks for the tips!

  16. Shawnie says:

    Hi! I love this recipe – I’ve noticed it is put under “Condiments and Fermented Veggies” – does this mean that this recipe uses all its milk sugars? I ask because I am allergic to them.

    Thanks :)

    • Lindsey G. says:

      Hi Shawnie. No–it isn’t fermented like kefir in that way. But it is soured milk so that is why I put it in the fermented section as well as the breakfast section. Are you allergic to raw milk as well?

  17. anna says:

    i tried and failed. i wasted raw precious expensive milk. :( it was very runny and just not much of cottage cheese

    • Lindsey G. says:

      How long did you wait for it to get jelly-like? My last batch took 3 days to get to this point. I almost threw it in the pot and then I waited a few hours and sure enough it solidified to that jelly-like state and then I threw it in the pot. You have to get a feel for this like anything else. I have messed up a few batches myself. Don’t beat yourself up – just Try again!

      • kimmie says:

        I tried and failed as well. Wasted PRECIOUS, EXPENSIVE raw milk. Mine sat on the counter for two and a half days. It was a total failure. I’m no rookie at this sort of thing, it just did not work. Very disappointed.

  18. Christeena Dinehart says:

    So I did this with just over a half gallon RAW milk – not sure how old it was – I’m sure it wasn’t fresh – perhaps three weeks old. I got almost an entire half gallon of yellowish whey out of it and perhaps a cup of curds! Is this normal when using old milk?

    • Lindsey G. says:

      Yes that is normal I would assume. And it really doesn’t have to do with overall freshness. Remember – cows are all different so results with raw milk would then also be inconsistent. I have made this before and gotten 2 cups curds and then sometimes get less.

  19. Rachel says:

    For those who have had trouble with the clabbering step–it totally depends on how fresh your milk is and how warm your house is. I’ve had very fresh batches of milk take longer to clabber, as many as 4-5 days. I think it also takes a bit longer if you use more (i.e. a gallon instead of half a gallon). Good luck everyone–I’m off to try this recipe!

  20. kathleen says:

    It has even worked in South Africa, and very well at that. I also got a lot of whey, but I use it in baking my bread. I have also pressed the curd hard and then put it into a brine – it makes a good feta type cheese. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Veronica* says:

      Hi, I work at a small Christian farm school. We have our own cows. We would like to teach our children how to make cheese – we going to try this cottage cheese but you mention you pressed it and made feta. Please share how you made the brine.
      Kathlee where are you in SA.

  21. […] have always wanted to learn how to make cottage cheese!  Have you ever tried it?  Did you have good results?  Tell us in the […]

  22. Sherylyn says:

    I just started getting raw milk and tried this recipe as my mother had told me you can make cottage cheese out of raw milk, just by letting it sit out for a day or two. I am astounded that it worked EXACTLY like it did in your instructions, looks beautiful and separated better than I ever achieved with pasteurized milk and bacterial culture/ rennet cheese making process. Wowwee! I can’t wait to try it, though other members of my household are a pretty nervous about eating milk that sat on the counter for two days lol…it’s definitely a mind shift.

  23. shakti says:

    Please do not be offrnded everybody for prrsonal request
    This FETA cheese, now I will have that too and wondered about pasteurised milk. You would not believe ut but only pasteurised milk available to us in Ireland (of all places) now. Have you any thoughts on that.
    I eat cottage for dinner (salad concocted) and am liable to crumble feta on hot pasta.

  24. […] brands sell cottage cheese that contains additives and preservatives. So why not learn to make homemade cottage cheese. I’m going to give it a […]

  25. […] things and this month I learned how to make an all-purpose gluten-free flour, a paleo trail mix, how to make cottage cheese, how to make an alcohol-free hand sanitizer, how to detox my home, and natural treatments for […]

  26. […] I just found a source for raw milk, I’m totally making this family favorite cottage cheese recipe from Homemade […]

  27. Becky Seling says:

    Is this considered low fat cottage cheese since you skim off the fat? Thank you!

  28. lisa says:

    Can this recipe be dobe with raw goat milk?

  29. Malcolm E Reding says:

    I live in Ecuador where raw mik, both cow and goat can be delivered to your home or business. I know most Ecuadorians boil the milk before using it. How will this affect the process?

  30. Aidan says:

    Why is heating required? I saw a tutorial for cottage cheese that let the curds and whey separate on the counter then drain… No heating required. What is the difference?

    • Lindsey G. says:

      I am heating on very low to gently draw out the whey. I have let it go to the point you describe as well and it is a much sour flavor and also is more rubbery in consistency. The gentle heating really allows it to be much creamier and sweeter in flavor.

  31. Aidan says:

    I see. So, again, skimming off the cream beforehand is to make the cottage cheese less sour.. And then you add some of the sweet cream back in. Thank you for the recipe and for answering my questions. I am looking forward to trying this.

  32. Mary says:

    I have my cottage cheese draining now although I think i may have “bonnyclabber” as the one post says. BUT we well see cant wait to give it a try tomorrow with breakfast!

  33. Kristy R. says:

    Hello! I love your site! This may sound dumb but, will leaving the milk out of the frig for 1-2 day make it go bad? Have you ever got sick from leaving it out so long? I have read this is also how you make milk kefir. But, I have been afraid to try it due to my milk turning rotten. Can this happen? What are your experiences? Thank you from a newbie! :)

    • Lindsey G. says:

      Raw milk doesn’t go ‘bad’ – it just changes. It never goes ‘putrid’ like store bought pasteurized milk. It goes sour and then you can do many things with it like make cottage cheese and also culture it in the case of kefir.

  34. […] is also a fermented food. Homemade sour cream, creme fraiche, cream cheese, yogurt cheese, and cottage cheese are foods your kid is probably already eating but the ones you buy from the grocery store are not […]

  35. Traci says:

    We just got some raw milk cottage cheese made by the guy who delivers our raw milk. It tastes good, but it’s on the dry side, very crumbly, not really creamy at all. More like something I’d use in a recipe. Any idea why? I’ve read that homemade raw milk cottage cheese is creamier than store-bought….maybe he’s still learning how to make it. :)

  36. lynn says:

    I saw you have homemade cottage cheese which look so good. Only problem is I’m vegan and have been for 10 years. I can say I sure miss cottage cheese, is their anyway of making it with Rice, almond or coconut milk?
    Thank you

  37. susanna faygenbaum says:

    would this produce the same whey you can use for fermentation, like from straining yogurt?

  38. Diane m says:

    I tried this. My raw milk is unpasteurized, about 1 week old and I had already skimmed most of the cream (I use it in my coffee!) It sat for almost 36 hours, my house is very warm, then I heated it on a low heat for less than 10 mins and it separated. Then I put cheese cloth, tripled, in a strainer and left if for about an hour or so and and have beautiful, delicious cottage cheese! I did get the bonus of a small amount of sour cream which also smells great, didn’t taste it yet. I have one giant potato left from my garden so I am having that tomorrow! Thanks so much.

  39. Mirla says:

    May i ask, if i dont heat the formed curd after letting the raw milk sit after 36 hrs, and i just strain and separated the whey from the formed milk curd, isnt this cottage cheese yet? You said this is just plain farmers cheese, because its less creamy. Am not concerned about the texture and taste, but the composition , is the protein content, nutrient content same as cottage cheese?

  40. AnnieOakley says:

    The cow was milked on Saturday morning, the milk was put in the fridge till I picked it up @ 3pm and then I let it set out. I skimmed the cream off about midnight and made butter (I’m a night person) and the rest of the milk continued to sit out till I noticed it had jelled on Wednesday afternoon. Earlier it had not jelled but now (Wednesday) it is very sour. I mean so sour that the little bit of cream left on the top that I had to scoop off was so rank that I couldn’t stand the smell of it so I threw it out. The jell that I poured in the pot bubbled when I stirred it. I thought it wouldn’t go bad but it seems to have done just that. What’s going on?

  41. […] Dairy–cottage cheese, mild harder raw cheese, cream, custards […]

  42. Emma says:

    Hi I just tried this recipe and it took 6 days for the milk to clabber. I was just about to chuck it out and realised it was not off and had done its thing. I found it very difficult to get the cream off so not sure how sour it will be.

    • I can’t get all the cream off either – I just mix it in. It tastes just fine! Great work being patient. Everyone’s kitchen temperature is different so my timing is just a starting point guide!

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