Cream cheese on a bagel | Homemade Cream Cheese

How To Make Homemade Cream Cheese

Homemade cream cheese is an easy and delicious cheese recipe to make. The best part is, that it’s a really easy cheese to make. This is one of my favorite cheeses to make because I can make so many things with it and it’s so simple. 


Homemade cream cheese is rich in flavor (even better than the store-bought kind) and has a wonderful texture. Even the members of the family that aren’t big on cheese love it when we have fresh homemade cream cheese in the fridge to enjoy. 


This post may contain affiliate links, read our privacy policy for more information.


How To Make Cream Cheese


Homemade cream cheese is a wonderful way to use up the fresh dairy you have in the fridge if you have your own milk goats or cows. Or even just whole milk. The process for making home cream cheese is very easy and straightforward, it does take some time during the culturing and draining stages so keep that in mind when you start this cheese. 


What are The Ingredients Of Cream Cheese


Quality milk and cream are the first ingredients you will need when making your own cream cheese. Just like with any cheese it’s important to start with raw or whole milk that isn’t ultra-pasteurized. If you can find raw milk from a good local source that is your best bet when it comes to making your own cheese. If you can’t find raw milk, go with whole milk. Cream cheese will also have active cultures and rennet in it that turn the milk into cheese, and salt.


How To Use Cream Cheese


Cream cheese is a versatile type of cheese that can be used in a wide range of dishes. From dips to icing, sweet to savory, and everything in between. And of course the age-old favorite cheesecake. Here are some tasty recipes to try with your homemade cream cheese:


How To Store Cream Cheese


Store your finished homemade cream cheese in an air-tight glass or plastic container. The cream cheese will stay good in the refrigerator for 10 days. So once you make homemade cream cheese you’ll need to use it pretty quickly.


Easy Cream Cheese Recipe


You may have wondered how to make cream cheese before, you are lucky cream cheese is a very easy recipe to make that is perfect for beginners. Cream cheese is a soft cheese so it doesn’t require a mold or weights to make. This cheese does require time to culture, so it isn’t a super quick process but it’s still easy.


Real Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe


What you need to make homemade cream cheese:

1 Gallon Milk (raw is best, but if you don’t have access to it use whole milk not ultra-pasteurized)
1 Pint Heavy Cream (ultra-pasteurized is fine)
1/8-1/4Tsp Calcium Chloride (if you are using raw milk you won’t need this)
1 Packet C21 Buttermilk Culture (or a 1/4 of a cup cultured buttermilk)
4-8 Drops Single Strength Liquid Rennet animal or vegetable
1 tsp Cheese Salt
Herbs/Spices (Optional)


Directions To Make Cream Cheese


Step 1: Heat, Acidify & Coagulate Milk:


Pour the milk into your pot and slowly heat it to 86°F (the culture works best when added to 86F  degree) milk. It’s OK to allow the temperature to drop to room temperature over time.

  • Add 1/4 tsp calcium chloride solution and stir into the milk.
  • Add 1 packet of buttermilk culture (or 1/8 tsp of our MM100 culture, or 1/4 cultured buttermilk). If you’re using the powdered culture allow this to rehydrate on the surface before stirring it into the milk (keeps it from clumping). If you are using cultured buttermilk just pour it straight in and stir it to spread it through the milk.
  • Add 4 drops of single-strength rennet to the cultured milk.


Step 2: Ripen Milk:


Cover the pot and set it aside for ripening. Let the milk sit undisturbed (I like to keep it on the back of the stove or on the countertop so it’s out of the way and won’t get jostled while it sits) for 12-24 hours while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd.


It is ok if the temperature drops to a temperature of 68-72°F. The thermal mass of this milk should keep it warm for a while though.


Notes: This is the stage where the natural flavor of your homemade cream cheese is developed from the complex strains of lactic bacteria as they convert the milk sugars (lactose) to lactic acid.


These cultures will produce a buttery flavored compound (Diacetyl) which is a natural byproduct of fermentation. Also, a small number of tiny gas holes (CO2) will be formed causing a lighter texture in the final cheese.


Ripening may take 12-24 hours depending on the milk quality and room temperature.


The final ripening can be determined visually because when the proper amount of acid has been produced, you will notice first small droplets of whey forming on the surface, then these will collect as small pools, and then finally a thin layer of whey will cover the entire surface.


You may also see the curd mass pull slightly away from the sides of the pot. If you have a pH meter, the proper ripe state will measure about 5.1-4.9 pH or a titratable acidity of .5% but there is no need to get that technical here. Too long a ripening may result in an over-acid cheese.


Some acid production will continue during the draining stage so expect a bit more acid flavor while the whey drains off. Too short a time may result in a weak curd that may be hard to drain and may even run off through the cloth.


Make sure the curd holds a good clean break when cut before transferring it to the cloth for draining.


Step 3: Transfer Curd into a Colander:


Once the final ripening of your homemade cream cheese has been reached, the curd mass should now be firm enough to be transferred with a slotted spoon to the sanitized draining cloth.


Sanitize a colander (you will need either 1 large or 2 medium-sized since this will be a lot of curds to be drained). Line the colander with a double layer of butter muslin.


Make sure you have a container to collect the whey in. This can be used for cooking, drinking, etc. but not for making ricotta due to its high acid.


Transfer the curd to the cloth for draining (be careful since this is quite fragile at this point and may break). Allow this to drain for 1-2 hours to release much of the whey.


Step 4: Drain Curds


Gather all 4 corners of the butter muslin cloth and tie them off with a string. Hang this in an area that is around 68-74°F to drain into a pot or sink for another 10-20 hours.


During the draining time, you should open the cloth every 3-4 hours and scrape the curd from the cloth- mixing the curds to encourage better whey drainage. This isn’t absolutely necessary but it may take longer to properly drain. 


At the last mixing of the curds 1 tsp. salt can be added for flavor and to encourage the final whey release.


The final draining time will depend on your preference for cream cheese texture. The longer it drains, the drier and stiffer (less spreadable) the final homemade cream cheese. 


If you find your cream cheese with too much moisture, then simply drain it a bit longer next time. Remember that warmer draining temperatures will drain moisture more quickly. Also, the rate of draining will depend on different milk qualities. Higher fat milk will drain more slowly.


Step 4 Finishing Homemade Cream Cheese:


When the homemade cream cheese has reached its final consistency, you can then use a spoon to blend it well in a bowl for a more homogenous cheese. If you plan on adding anything to your homemade cream cheese this would be the time to add any herbs, spices, etc., and to adjust the salt to your taste. 


Farmhouse Kitchen Cooking




Tips For How To Make Cream Cheese


  • Make sure you store your rennet in a nice cool dark place. 
  • If you have trouble getting your homemade cream cheese to form curd make sure your rennet isn’t too old. 
  • If you are using whole milk instead of raw milk to make homemade cream cheese make sure you are using calcium chloride.
  • Always sanitize your utensils, pots, and working surfaces before starting a batch of homemade cream cheese.


Have a question about how to make homemade cream cheese? Drop it below, and we will do our best to answer it!



Before you go, check these out!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top