Cream cheese is fantastic spread on crackers and bread, or as a base for dips, cheesecake, or frosting. If you're just getting started making cheese at home, cream cheese is a great option for beginners. Making homemade cream cheese also gives you control over the ingredients in the foods your family eats.

Tips for Making Cream Cheese at Home

  • Traditional cream cheese is made from 50% cream and 50% whole milk. You can create richer cream cheese by using all cream. If you're looking to make a lower fat cream cheese, we suggest using all whole milk.
  • Be careful heating your cream or milk. Heating milk too quickly may cause it not to set or taste unpleasant later.
  • If you wish to make larger batches of cream cheese, use one gallon of milk (or a combination of milk and cream), follow option 1 as directed below or follow option 2 and use 1/4 teaspoon of aromatic culture, and 4 drops of liquid rennet.

What You'll Need for Homemade Cream Cheese


  • Large stainless steel pot with lid - it is best to avoid aluminum.
  • Non-aluminum mixing utensil
  • Tight-weave towel or butter muslin
  • Colander
  • Bowl



Option 1:

  • Milk: 2 quarts cow milk (do not use ultra-pasteurized or ultra-high-temperature milk), or a combination of milk and cream
  • Culture/Coagulant: 1 packet cream cheese starter culture. This is a ready-to-use packet that includes both starter culture and rennet. If using this starter, up to 1 gallon of milk can be used

Option 2:


Step One: Culture the Milk

Option 1: Use a Cream Cheese Starter Culture

  1. Heat the milk to 86°F.
  2. Remove the milk from the heat and thoroughly stir in the packet of cream cheese culture mixture. Do not stir longer than 15 seconds.
  3. Cover the pot and leave the mixture to culture for 12 to 18 hours at approximately 72°F.
  4. After 12 to 18 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt (solid if tipped but still relatively soft). You may see some whey separating from the cheese. The whey is a mostly clear liquid.

Option 2: Use a Mesophilic Aromatic Culture + Rennet

  1. Heat the milk to 75°F.
  2. Remove the milk from the heat and allow the mesophilic culture to dissolve on the surface of the milk for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Once the culture is dissolved, thoroughly incorporate the starter culture into the milk.
  3. Mix the 2 drops of rennet with 2 tablespoons of water or dissolve the rennet tablet in 1/4 cup of water. Add the rennet mixture to the milk. Using up-and-down strokes rather than a stirring motion, incorporate the rennet into the milk. Do not over-mix.
  4. Cover the pot and allow the mixture to culture for 14 to 16 hours at 70° to 75°F.
  5. After 14 to 16 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt (solid if tipped but still relatively soft). You may see some whey separating from the cheese. The whey is a mostly clear liquid.

Step Two: Strain the Cheese

  1. Place a piece of butter muslin (doubled) or a tea towel in a colander in a bowl. Gently spoon the cultured milk into the butter muslin. Gather up the corners of the muslin and tie knots to secure.
  2. Hang the butter muslin filled with the cultured milk over a bowl so the whey can drain. An easy way to do this is to tie the butter muslin around a cupboard handle so the bowl to catch the whey can rest on the counter underneath.
  3. Allow the cream cheese to drain for 6 to 12 hours to reach the desired consistency.
  4. Knead salt into the cheese to flavor.
  5. Store in the refrigerator. Use within a week.