Bay Area Bites' Guide to Making Your Own Cheese

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In honor of National Cheese Lover's Day (Jan. 20), we wanted to revisit some of our favorite cheese recipes. It may sound complicated, but making your own cheese isn't that tricky and is definitely worth it. The end result will be fresher than anything you get at the store.

Start with an easy ricotta and work your way up to the difficult (but delicious) mozzarella. Or, if all of that sounds too complicated, we've also included a simpler recipe for queso dip so you can get your cheese fix by the chip.

DIY Ricotta: Learn How Easy It Is

Homemade ricotta doesn’t take much more time than an hour and doesn’t require any special ingredients or equipment. This is the perfect gateway cheese.

Ricotta cheese
Ricotta cheese (Kate Williams)

If You Can Make Ricotta, You Can Make Paneer


The first steps are exactly like making ricotta cheese. You’ll combine milk, buttermilk, and salt in a heavy pot, and heat it until the curds begin to separate from the whey. Then it’s time to get your hands (a little) dirty.

Homemade paneer, seared in olive oil
Homemade paneer, seared in olive oil (Kate Williams)

Homemade Feta Cheese

You’ll need to order a few supplies from a cheesemaking supply store, but you can use them again and again. To make feta, start with cow, sheep, or goat's milk — and be prepared to wait five days for your fresh, creamy cheese.

Homemade Feta Cheese
Homemade Feta Cheese (Kate Williams)

Make the Holy Grail of DIY Fresh Cheese: Mozzarella

Mozzarella really comes down to the milk. More than any other fresh cheese, it's highly dependent on how and when milk was procured, pasteurized, and opened. It may take some practice, and multiple batches, before you create perfect mozzarella.

Homemade fresh mozzarella with olive oil and freshly ground pepper
Homemade fresh mozzarella with olive oil and freshly ground pepper (Kate Williams)

Tex-Mex Chile Con Queso Dip

Take this decadent snack one step up the ladder, and make it with real cheese, plus some buttery sautéed onions and jalapenos.

Tex-Mex Chile Con Queso Dip
Tex-Mex Chile Con Queso Dip (Wendy Goodfriend)