How to make fresh ricotta

”I love this recipe because it’s so simple and fun to make, as well as being incredibly tasty. You can eat the ricotta in so many ways: as a cheese course with toasted sourdough and chutney, alongside a simple tomato gazpacho with fresh basil, or as a dip with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar, finished with fresh basil and rosemary, as I’ve done here.” – Tom Aikens

Find out how easy it is to make fresh ricotta with Tom’s easy step-by-step guide.

How to make fresh ricotta

Tom’s story

Chef and restaurateur Tom Aikens has worked with a stellar cast of chefs, including David Cavalier, Pierre Koffmann and Joël Robuchon. At the age of only 26, Tom became the youngest British chef to hold two Michelin stars, at London’s Pied à Terre, but the style of his restaurants has changed radically over the years… At the moment he has three Tom’s Kitchen sites – Chelsea and Canary Wharf in London and the third one in Birmingham – all with a relaxed, informal vibe

You will need:

  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 600ml double cream
  • ½ tbsp Maldon sea salt flakes, plus extra to serve
  • 2½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar

To serve

  • 2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar of Modena (we used Belazu)
  • Fresh basil and rosemary
  • Toasted sourdough (or soda bread)

You’ll also need…

  • Large piece muslin cloth

Tom’s tips for success

  • For a thinner ricotta, spoon out of the muslin into a bowl and mix with a little of the reserved whey.
  • Serve with pickled mushrooms, walnuts and fresh tarragon instead of the basil and rosemary.
  • Use leftover whey to brine a whole chicken. Put the chicken in a plastic bag, add the whey, seal and chill for 6-12 hours. Remove from the bag and leave uncovered overnight in the fridge (this will dry out the skin; keep at the bottom of the fridge, well clear of other foods). Roast as usual for juicy meat and crisp skin.

Make ahead

The strained ricotta will keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Serves 6-8. Hands-on time 20 min, plus cooling and overnight draining

1. Pour a little water into a deep, heavy-based pan, swirl around, then discard (this helps prevent the milk from sticking to the base when heated, so it’s easier to clean). Pour the milk and cream into the pan, add the salt and bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring from time to time to prevent the milk from scalding on the base of the pan.

2. Mix together the lemon juice and cider vinegar. Once the milk and cream mixture is simmering, add the lemon/vinegar mixture to the pan and stir well. Remove from the heat immediately and leave to cool to room temperature (about 2 hours). The mixture will begin to split into curds and whey.

3. Line a colander with a double layer of muslin so it overhangs on all sides, then set over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the lined colander.


Fold the overhanging muslin over the top to cover, then enclose with cling film and leave to drain overnight in the fridge. The next day, the ricotta should be thick and creamy. Reserve the whey (see Tom’s and the food team’s tips for what to do with it).

4. Spoon into a serving dish and make a well in the centre using a spoon.

5. Drizzle in oil and balsamic, then scatter with herbs, sea salt and black pepper. Serve with toasted sourdough (or see Tom’s tips).

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