How to make homemade fresh mozzarella in 30 minutes

How to Make Fresh Mozzarella Like Giuseppe in 30 minutes

May 6, 2009 · 63 comments

I can’t yet compete with 40 years of experience, but I’d like to think my homemade fresh mozzarella at least comes close to that of Giuseppe’s, the master cheese-maker at Caputo’s in Brooklyn.

Since I was young, one of my favorite things to eat was creamy mozzarella cheese with fruity olive oil and tomatoes from our garden – my parents fed us well. But, my standards rose with age, and after traveling through Italy and living in the old Italian neighborhood of Carroll Gardens, mozzarella must be super creamy and rich to get my stamp of approval.

It’s rare these days to find fresh mozzarella with the texture and flavor that I once took for granted, so I often rely on my own two hands to get the cheese I want. It’s actually quite easy – I use the recipe from  Ricki’s Mozzarella Cheesemaking Kit, which I purchased two seconds after reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal. Vegetable. Miracle.

I’ve made this cheese many times, and small tweaks have transformed it from great melting cheese, to cheese you want to savor all on its own. The quality of the milk makes a huge difference. My top choice is organic, whole, cream-on-top milk from Straus Family Creamery. I’ve also used their raw milk with great results, but I like the flavor of whole milk better. On their website, Straus explains it’s the combination of fog, salty coastal air and special vegetarian diet they feed their cows that give the milk its unique aroma and taste. I can’t attest to their methods, but I can say their milk is one the best I’ve tasted – probably even second best. First place goes to the almost mythical dairy products that come from Valle d’Aosta in Italy.

Another trick to this cheese is the kneading process. Work the cheese as little as possible. Ricki suggests stretching the cheese before you shape it into a ball, but I often leave that step out to produce an ultra-creamy texture similar to mozzarella di bufala. It also improves the texture if you let the curds set for three minutes instead of five. It may take a few turns to get your cheese exactly how you like it, but I’m sure every batch will be tastier than the last. And the best part? It takes a half hour to make.

See the photo under “About Local Lemons”? That’s me making cheese in my tiny Brooklyn kitchen. When I told my neighbor I was making homemade mozzarella, he ran over and take a picture. You’ll find that’s a common response when you tell people you’re making cheese from scratch.

Ingredients for Fresh Mozzarella Like Guiseppe
(Adapted from Ricki’s Cheesemaking Recipe)

1 gallon of organic milk – the cheese will not work if you use ultra-pasteurized milk. It must be pasteurized at low temperatures or raw to make cheese. Cream-topped milk works great, and you can usually find it at your local farmers’ market.
1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid
1/4 tablet of vegetable rennet, crushed and dissolved in 1/4 cup of cold water
cheese salt or sea salt

thermometer that starts at 80F
8 quart stainless steel pot
large glass bowl
stainless steel slotted spoon

Freshmozz2 Warm the milk
Pour milk into a stainless steel pot, and put the burner on low. Stir in citric acid, and slowly heat the milk to 95F. Turn the heat off and pour in the dissolved rennet. Stir continuously for exactly 30 seconds. Let the milk sit completely still for three minutes. At this point, the curds will separate from the whey. Run a sharp knife through the curd horizontally and vertically into one inch cubes. Be sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the pot. It should look like squares of curds with whey floating in between. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the curds into a large glass bowl. Drain as much of the whey as you can from the bowl.

Form the cheese
Put the glass bowl in a microwave on high for one minute. Remove and drain more of the whey, pressing down on the cheese with your hands to remove as possible. Microwave again for 30 seconds, and again drain the whey. Use can use a double-boiler instead of a microwave if you want.

Start kneading the cheese until it comes together like dough. While you’re kneading, add a generous pinch of salt. If the cheese isn’t coming together, microwave again for 30 seconds, and again drain the whey. When you can form a ball, shape the cheese with your hands until the outside is smooth and shiny. Let the cheese sit in a bowl at room temperature until you’re ready to eat. Slice thickly and serve with your highest quality extra virgin olive oil and sun-dried or fresh tomatoes.

This recipe is part of La Fête du Fromage over at Chez Loulou.
Check out her beautiful recipes and a get a taste of south France.

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Local Lemons
August 27, 2009 at 11:00 pm
friday food links « heartful mouthful
January 28, 2011 at 8:02 am
Home made mozzarella/halloumi… or hazzoumi as I like to call it. « hedvig's permaculture adventures
February 20, 2012 at 5:55 am

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara May 7, 2009 at 5:53 am

I totally want to try this. I saw that there was a mozzarella class being offered at a local grocery store, but now I don’t even have to take the class!


Allison Lemons May 7, 2009 at 8:30 am

Thanks Sara. It’s really so much easier than people think, and so tasty!


Loulou May 7, 2009 at 11:57 pm

It sounds so easy!
Thanks for contributing to La Fête du Fromage. I think you will inspire others to give this a try.


rachel May 8, 2009 at 1:39 am

Now this is a REAL little labour of love.
Lovely lovely.
Now. I am thinking about Mozzarella, tomatoes and
olive oil for lunch.
Glad we found each other.


Julie May 9, 2009 at 11:30 am

Miam miam, I will definitely try this. Love mozzarella. Thanks!


GrilledShane May 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm

This is the second post I have read about making cheese and it really doesn’t seem all that difficult. Plus, it is cheese! Maybe I will try it one week and then feature that cheese on one of my grilled cheese sandwiches. Great post! :)


Chelsea May 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I’m definitely trying this one soon! I’ve made fresh ricotta which is even easier than this one. Thanks for sharing!


Jessica@FoodMayhem May 12, 2009 at 11:01 am

We have been talking about making fresh mozzarella for so long…we need to get on it! Thanks for inspiring!


Nathalie (Spacedlaw) May 15, 2009 at 10:38 am

I HAVE to try this…


Johnetta April 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm

IMHO you’ve got the right asnrwe!


Delairen May 15, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Cheese-making has been on my mind a lot recently – I’ve been seriously considering making some. This looks so easy and yummeh, I’m definitely going to now.


RobinSue May 19, 2009 at 9:19 am

I would love to do this some time. I am a little intimidated so I would love to watch someone do it first. Your directions are great- I just need to DO IT!!! Maybe this summer.


AndreaQ May 20, 2009 at 7:44 pm

I’ve been seeing so many make your own dairy recipes lately (yogurt, ricotta and now your mozzarella) and now I’m dying to try it myself! I bet it’s awesome!


Barbara Stalesen July 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm

With 5 quarts of milk daily, produced by two goats, I’m drowning in milk.
Have tried the mozzarella recipe many times, but it won’t get elastic. I also make ricotta from the whey. (Sigh) guess I’ll try again, right now


Claudia August 13, 2009 at 4:51 pm

It has been a week now since I made this cheese and I have not stopped bragging about it. I think it will take a few more tries to master the texture, but the cheese tasted great even on my first try. Best of all: it’s so much easier than it sounds! I used raw milk and the double boiler instead of the microwave with great results. Also, I cut the recipe I half because I only bouht a half gallon of milk, and it yeilded just enough cheese to slice and toss with a few tomatoes from our Full Belly Farms CSA box, making a delicious and satisfying salad.


john October 19, 2009 at 4:12 pm

i have had lots of trouble the curds will not separate from the whey it stays liquid don’t know what i am doing wrong help please i followed the instructions by the letter i used 2% milk no good then whole milk no good then organic with some success but not good enough


Allison Arevalo October 19, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Hi John! I’m sorry, that’s so frustrating. Make sure the milk you are using is not ultra-pasteurized (most grocery-store milk is.) It has to be raw milk, or pasteurized at low temperatures for the cheese to work. Try shopping at a place that carries local milk – I’m pretty sure whole foods has it as well. Good luck!


Sarah January 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Hi Allison,
Have you tried to make mozzarella without a microwave? Or is this the trick to making it so quickly? We don’t have one (a microwave) and I’d love to try to make my own mozzarella! Any tips?


Allison Arevalo January 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Hi Sara,
I have done it without a microwave, but it’s a little trickier. Use a double boiler to heat the cheese back up – about 3 minutes. Drain the whey, and repeat.


river rambler January 21, 2010 at 9:21 am

Thanks for the great recipe, I have fresh jersy milk running out my ears, the cottage cheese is great that I make and even developed a form of ricota from the whey. Now maybe I will be able to keep up with the milk and even have more dairy to share with friends and family. thanks again from Tennessee


Allison Arevalo January 21, 2010 at 10:14 am

Oh wow, that sounds great! I’m sure this cheese would be amazing with your milk. Thanks for the comment!


Jimmy April 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm

River Rambler, you wouldn’t happen to be near Knoxville by chance, would you? I need to find a good source for local milk around here…


neomi February 6, 2010 at 8:17 pm

I’ve tried this recipe twice and feel like a complete failure. I get the correct curds but not the final stretchy texture. I would say that my cheese is more like a rubber ball? The only thing that I’m doing differently is using liquid rennet (veg.) I’ve been mollified a bit by reading online that Mozz. is actually one of the harder cheeses to master but still feel sad that I can’t do it!


Allison Arevalo March 16, 2010 at 10:15 am

Hi there! It is definitely hard to master, but getting the curds right is a big step. How long are you stretching it? Are you using a microwave or double boiler? If you’re using a microwave, try a shorter time – maybe your microwave is too hot. Stretch it the least amount possible, and go from there. Try making smaller balls also instead of one big one.


lenny April 3, 2010 at 4:15 pm

i just made a couple batches of mozzarella with this recipe and it’s absolutely delicious. love your blog.. keep up the beautiful photos and wonderful writing.



Dave Thomas May 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I tried this for the first time today. With the recommended quantities of citric acid and rennet(halved for 1/2 gallon milk), the curds did not form properly. Began stirring in the citric acid at 85 degrees then the rennet at 95 and let sit. Very little curd action. So, I reheated and added more of both. Curds formed nicely then. Seemed to go well after that, but the texture was dry and crumbly. Any suggestions? Thanks, Dave


Lorie and Deb December 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

We tried following to the letter and got the dryed crumbly texture of Dave Thomas’s post.
Would love to get this right and also does anyone have a Buratta recipe?


Tamara January 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I’ve tried making homemade mozzarella twice. First time we made the mistake of buying Walmart Ultra pasteurized and nothing came together. The cheese was horrible!
Today we made our next batch with fresh unhomogenized however pasteurized milk from a local dairy.
Today it came together, somewhat. The only thing that saved the day it seemed was my idea to keep putting it in the microwave and zapping it for about 15 seconds every so often. It was so hot I could barely touch it but it did end up making a somewhat tasty mozzarella with a texture that was a bit dense and tough. What did I do wrong? Help!!! I already WOW my family with my artisan loafs of bread so I cannot stand that I cannot seem to make a decent batch of mozzarella!!


Noah March 31, 2011 at 7:23 am

HELP! Suggestions wanted!!

I’ve made 4 batches, and 3 times I get the “dryed crumbly texture” that never stretches. I don’t think I did anything different in the one batch that succeeded.

Any suggestions?


Precious April 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I’m imperssed! You’ve managed the almost impossible.


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AspireForBetter May 10, 2011 at 11:53 am

Interesting comments. However, there is no discussion or indication of the texture of the cheese! I’m from Brooklyn, NY of yesteryear when mozzarella was creamy – the real deal. Today most are “chewing gum” consistency or just plain dry, moistureless and flavorless. Is there anyone out here who can address these issues? I mean, the acceptable standards of today’s mozzarella are at best mediocre, at worst, well, just a four letter word having nothing to do with “good!”


Patricia August 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I tried this recipe today. I was so disappointed that I could not get the milk to form curds at all. I followed the recipe exactly and used cream-topped organic milk – but only small pebble-sized curds formed. I tried heating the milk a little more and adding additional rennet, but that didn’t help. The recipe said to let the milk reach 95 degrees, then turn off heat, add rennet and stir continuously for 30 seconds. Then let the milk rest for 3 minutes. I found that after stirring in the rennet, it took 3 minutes for the milk to quit moving and become still – so I let it rest for 3 minutes after that. Also, the recipe did not specify whether to stir the milk while it was warming to 95 degrees, other than stirring in the citric acid. I did stir the milk a few times as it was warming up. Could this be why no curds formed? Need help!


sunny September 11, 2011 at 6:33 am

I made this last night and followed the recipe exactly. When I took the milk off the heat, I waited and waited, but no curds! After comparing this recipe to a second recipe, I decided to disolve an extra teaspoon of citric acid in just a bit of water. I did the same with another quarter tablet of rennet. After stirring for 30 seconds, I immediatley began to see curds! I wonder if the recipe is one of those that needs adjustment for atmosphere? The product that I ended up with was a bit dry when we ate it with our tomatoes and basil. However, the portion of the cheese that I used in my lasgna melted wonderfully. It wasa just beautiful. Everybody ohhed and ahhed when I pulled out that first piece and saw that white stretchy goodness follow the lasagna from the pan to the plate. Next time, I think the cheese will be even better.


jamie October 14, 2011 at 11:45 am

how much liquid rennet do you use? also can lemon juice be used as citric acid?


jamie October 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

how much liquid rennet would you use? can lemon juice be used instead of citric acid?


Mark Slater March 26, 2013 at 12:13 am

Lemon juice can be used but it imparts a lemon flavor on the cheese… which isn’t tasty on mozz.


Cindy Brown January 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I like you grew up in NY and I am spoiled rotten because we got to eat real FRESH Mozzarella. I have stopped ordering it in restaurants that says its fresh. It never is. Once you put it in the fridge its ruined! I cannot wait to try your recipe!!!!!!


Joanne Haworth February 10, 2012 at 10:19 am

I going to the store now, I have wanted to do this for years. Thank-you so much.


Warren Montney March 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Looking at another recipe I found out you can use the left over whey to make an additional 6 ox of ricotta cheese as well


Barry May 6, 2012 at 11:11 am

Just tried this after a failed attempt yesterday (I overheated all of the milk). Didn’t come out as well as I had hoped this time but I think I know why. I noticed, while heating the milk, one area was 85 and another suddenly hit 101. I am going to attempt it again but will stir the milk to get a more even heat distribution. If I am reading the directions correctly, the no-stir applies post 30 second rennet stir, yes?


marci August 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm

where do you buy vegetable rennet? what exactly is it?


Jackie August 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

I have a question- does this need to be refrigerated at any point?


Mark Slater March 26, 2013 at 12:14 am

Refrigerating fresh Mozz will stiffen it and make it less creamy.


Cody September 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Hey everyone, I just made this cheese, it worked great! Just as a heads up, I used Tuscan 2% milk from Walmart, and I used 3 Junket Rennet tablets, crushed up and dissolved in water. Very easy, took about 30 minutes. Thanks!


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Ron December 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

Can this be shredded to use on a pizza?


Mark Slater March 25, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Fresh Mozz is wonderful in pasta or lasagna, but it’s often too watery to melt well for pizza. It has a tendancy to make the sauce watery and the crust soggy. It also doesn’t really shred if you’ve made a good batch because it’s too creamy. If you’d like to firm up mozz for shredding you must do something that is fresh mozz’s worst enemy. Refrigerate it. If you refrigerate it for a few days it’ll firm up to the consistancy of the block cheese or shredded cheese that you buy at the supermarket. Then you can shred it. Experiment with how long you refrigerate it to find the moisture level you’re happiest with. Supermarket stuff is low-moisture.


Mark Slater March 25, 2013 at 11:04 pm

If you are not able to form curds you likely have 1 of 2 problems. 1. You have used a form of milk that is ultra-pasteurized. 2. You have used a form of citric acid that is not sufficient to curdle the milk. There are different types of citric acid powder, and some types require more than 2 tsp to do the same job that others take 1 to do. Also, the author of this article suggests that the rennet needs only to set for 3 minutes. The manufacturer of Junket rennet tablets suggests 2 hours… so don’t be upset if it takes a little longer than 3 minutes for you, be patient. It really depends on the ingredients you’re using, so if a manufacturer has instructions try to use theirs. It’s better because those instructions are specific to their product. In nearly every article you find online about how to make fresh mozz the author spends more time pining about the dairy products of New York and Italy, and bosting of their knowledge of what “real cheese” is, then they do explaining the ingredients and actual process of making the cheese.


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