Super Easy Homemade Cream Cheese

4.90 from 253 votes
Jump to RecipeJump to Video

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

How to make delicious, soft homemade Cream Cheese using a super-simple method and 3 ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen

If I’d know how simple it was to make DIY cream cheese, I would have been making it months (if not years!) ago. Somehow I’ve managed to go through DIY’s for DIY Homemade Ricotta Cheese and DIY: Homemade Herb Butter ( Compound butter) without trying this simple cream cheese method, which is actually a bit of in-between method of both of them.

Super Easy soft cream cheese

In fact, I’m still being surprised at just how many ingredients you can make/get from a single dairy product. Cream cheese, cheese, butter, buttermilk, whey and more.

Smooth and creamy soft cheese only requires three ingredients, that you probably already have; Whole Milk, Lemon Juice and Salt. It can also be customised in any way you’d like – with herbs, pepper, sweet chilli, etc or used for a variety of sweet or savoury purposes.

Super Easy soft cream cheese

You are able to experiment with the milk used as well: Combining milk and cream in equal parts instead of just using milk, or even using heavy cream alone. Obviously the more cream you use, the richer and ‘creamier’ your final product. However, it would also up the fat levels.

I thought I’d keep things super simple for the first time trying homemade cream cheese and I loved it so much that I didn’t feel the need to complicate or change the recipe in any way.

I have seen recipes for cream cheese using liquid rennet, a cheese culture/starter and more potentially confusing and unobtainable ingredients and that is definitely not ‘my jam’. This is a recipe anyone can do and then can go crazy experimenting with, if desired.

Super Easy soft cream cheese

Why make your own cream cheese?

I know that’s probably a question that some of you are asking, and I actually have the perfect answer. Because homemade cream cheese is SO much better – and I’m not just saying that.

I’m not just talking about taste and texture either. Now, obviously I haven’t tried EVERY cream cheese out there – but last time I was at the store I decided to have a look at the ingredients list of some of the biggest brands of cream cheese here in the UK.

What I found was ‘E’ ingredients, gums and thickeners including the controversial carrageenan! Homemade cream cheese simply uses lemon juice, milk and salt and is still wonderfully smooth and creamy.

How to Make Cream Cheese:

As I said above, the method for making cream cheese is actually very similar to making ricotta; Heat your milk, add a coagulant, leave to curdle, drain and blend!

Okay, there’s a little more to it than that, but you get the gist.

What’s needed:

Milk and lemon

  • full-fat milk – it’s important to use full-fat milk because of its fat content.
  • lemon
  • salt
  • optional add-ons – dried herbs, garlic powder, dried chillies

Note* You could alternatively use half whole milk and half heavy cream OR completely use whole cream for soft cheese that is richer/creamier (but with a higher fat content)

You will also need a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve

Cheese cloth and sieve

The Steps:

Begin by pouring the milk in a saucepan. Heat the milk and bring it to boil over medium-high heat.

warming up milk

As soon as it boils, add the lemon juice and then turn off the heat.

Cream Cheese Steps

Set aside for a few minutes while the milk curdles. You’ll notice curds forming and a yellow-ish liquid being left behind.

Curdled milk

Within a few minutes, all of your curds should have formed. Pour the curdled milk through a cheesecloth and a sieve to strain all the liquid whey.

Making cream cheese

Alternatively, you can use a slotted spoon to scoop out all the curdles, while leaving the liquid whey in the pot.

Note* This leftover whey can then be used in a variety of ways. I’ve talked about this more in my DIY How To Make Paneer At Home post.

Whey

Rinse the curdled milk with cold water by pouring the water over the sieve. This will help to get rid of any extra whey, clinging to the curds.

Since curdled milk with water

Squeeze the curdled milk as much as possible to drain any last drop of the liquid whey.

Squeeze curdled milk

Put the strained milk into a food processor/blender and add the salt.

Homemade cheese and blender

Within 1-2 minutes (this may vary, depending on how powerful your machine is) you’ll have a light and fluffy cream cheese.

If you want to add any additional herbs/flavourings, then do that now too. Be warned though as certain additional ingredients will affect the shelf-life of the cheese. I like dried herbs and garlic powder as natural flavourings that don’t affect the shelf life too much.

Store the cream cheese in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. You can freeze cream cheese, but the texture upon thawing is more crumbly and is best used when you’re cooking it into something like a dip or sauce.

Super Easy soft cream cheese

How to eat it?

Once your cheese is ready, then it can be used the same way you would with the store-bought version:

  • Spread over a bagel, toast or sandwich
  • Added to pasta and other sauces for a delicious creamy twist.
  • Blended into a delicious cream cheese frosting (like for this gluten-free banana bread or a carrot cake) or for a cheesecake
  • It’s delicious when added to soups and dips, too – like this Moutabal Aubergine Dip
  • Spread in pastries, like this Ricotta & Spinach pie 
  • As a filling or topping for french toast and pancakes (served along with a berry compote)

And a bazillion (the technical term, of course) other ways.

The Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe:

Simple Creamy Homemade Cream Cheese

4.90 from 253 votes
By: Samira
How to make delicious, soft homemade Cream Cheese using a super-simple method and 3 ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 cup

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 8 cups full-fat milk (whole milk) - best raw or pasteurized, but not UHT
  • 5 Tbsp lemon juice or 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste

Optional Flavoring Add-ons

  • pinch of dried herbs garlic powder, dried chillies, etc

Instructions 

  • Begin by pouring the milk in a saucepan. Heat the milk and bring it to boil over medium-high heat.
  • As soon as it boils, add the lemon juice and then turn off the heat.
  • Set aside for a few minutes while the milk curdles. You'll notice curds forming and a yellow-ish liquid being left behind.
  • Within a few minutes, all of your curds should have formed. Pour the curdled milk through a cheesecloth and a sieve to strain all the liquid whey. Alternatively, you can use a slotted spoon to scoop out all the curdles, while leaving the liquid whey* in the pot.
  • Rinse the curds with cold water. This will help to get rid of any extra whey, clinging to the curds.
  • Squeeze the curdled milk as much as possible to drain any last drop of the liquid whey.
  • Put the strained milk into a food processor/blender and add the salt. Within 1-2 minutes ( this may vary depending on how powerful your machine is) you'll have a light and fluffy cream cheese.
  • If you want to add any additional herbs/flavourings then do that now too. Be warned though as certain additional ingredients will affect the shelf-life of the cheese. I like dried herbs and garlic powder as natural flavourings that don't affect the shelf life too much. 

    Store the cream cheese in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. You can freeze cream cheese, but the texture upon thawing is more crumbly and is best used where you're cooking it into something like a dip or sauce. 

Video

Notes

  • The leftover whey can then be used in a variety of ways. I've talked about this more in my DIY How To Make Paneer At Home post.
  • Instead of just whole milk, you could use a 1:1 ration of whole milk and heavy cream or even JUST heavy cream for creamier cheese. However, this will also affect the fat content.
Course: DIYs
Cuisine: European
Shelf life: 1 Week

Nutrition

Serving: 1Tbsp, Calories: 76kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 12mg, Sodium: 125mg, Potassium: 170mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 199IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 140mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Other DIY recipes You May Be Interested In:

If it’s DIY’s you’re looking for, then it’s DIY’s you’ve found. I’ve practically got them coming out of my ears. Here is a list of other dairy-based DIYs you may like though.

Vegan Options:

If you’re dairy-free or vegan (or just curious), then you might like these DIYs instead.

Leave a comment

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

Recipe Rating




278 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is very fast and delicious. All I added to mine was some salt. It’s quick and easy, and very creamy. The only downfall is that it’s not very cheap. 8 cups of milk to make 1 cup of cream cheese. But, in a pinch and milk expiring in a day, this was so fun. I will be using this recipe again.

  2. Hello I made this using 1 to 1 whole milk and heavy cream. However my curds never formed,it stayed creamy. Any ideas?( I used 5 tbls fresh squeezed lemon juice)

    1. Hi Stacey,
      What type of milk did you use? Was it ultra-pasteurized milk? It’s best to use raw or pasteurized milk, but not UHT – Ultra High Temperature processed milk won’t curdle.

  3. 4 stars
    You CANNOT use ultra pasteurized milk. This should be in huge capitalized letters at the top of the recipe as well as in the listed ingredients and in the instructions. Using ultra pasteurized milk guarantees a complete fail. Otherwise the recipe is fine.

  4. Could you use this to make cream cheese frosting for carrot cake? I normally use Philadelphia. Side note – I’m so thrilled I just found your blog. I live in Kenya where any cheese + paneer is available but SO expensive. When I get home I’m trying Chèvre, ricotta and paneer – THANK YOU x

    1. Hi Mara,
      Yes, you can use this recipe to make cream cheese frosting. Hope you enjoy this and other recipes from my blog 🙂

    1. Hi James,
      Yes, their methods are very similar. The only difference is you will have to rinse the curds of the cream cheese with cold water, drain and then blend it. The ricotta you will just strain and drain.

  5. 5 stars
    As you said in your recipe, this cream cheese recipe is very simple, even for me a novice in the homemade matters. I used Lactaid brand whole milk. I am extremely thankful I found your recipe. The encouraging way you explain all the process gave me hope I could enjoy again cream cheese and any recipe that asks for this ingredient.

  6. Hi! Can’t wait to try this easy looking recipe. I moved to a country where I can’t find lemons, do I use the same amount if I’m using vinegar instead of the lemons?

      1. Hi,
        Just wondering if this is supposed to be 8oz milk instead of 8 cups? Or maybe there isn’t enough lemon juice for curdling heavy cream?
        I heated 32oz heavy cream to boil and used the juice from 1 lemon, and nothing ever happened.
        Then I poured white vinegar into it too see if that would make it curdle, nope!
        Don’t know what I’m doing wrong?

      2. Hi Amy,
        The recipe calls for 8 cups of milk. Was it fresh or pasteurized milk? Please note the UHT won’t curdle.

      3. If you use greek yoghurt instead of milk and or cream you don’t have to boil it or use lemons. Simply put the yoghurt in the the muslin to strain out the buttermilk. I do this for about 24 hours. Add salt and any flavourings after straining.
        It’s very easy, lovely and tastes similar to a well known brand but it has no additives.

      4. Thank you for your comment, Jan. This sounds a lot like strained yogurt which is also delicious 🙂

      1. I tried making cream heese at home twice and it worked out and it even tasted just like the store bought version, thanks to you.
        However,I tried making it for a third time and after two days I kept it in the freezer wrapped in a cling film.
        I checked it today morning and it’s turned off white.
        Is it still safe to use?If not, what’s my mistake?

      2. Hi there,
        Yes, it should still be safe to use. Still, please use your best judgment – if it smells off and tastes off, please don’t eat it.