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)
Bay Area Bites’ Guide to Making Your Own Cheese 19 January,2018Kate Williams


Kate Williams

Kate Williams grew up outside of Atlanta, where twenty-pound baskets of peaches were an end-of-summer tradition. After spending time in Boston developing recipes for America’s Test Kitchen and pretending to be a New Englander, she moved to sunny Berkeley. Here she works as a personal chef and food writer, covering topics ranging from taco trucks to modernist cookbooks. In addition to KQED’s Bay Area Bites, Kate’s work appears on Serious Eats, Berkeleyside NOSH, The Oxford American, America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks, and Food52.


Kim Laidlaw

Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook author, editor, food writer, producer, project manager, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has over 16 years of experience in book and online publishing, and a lifetime of experience in the kitchen.

Her first cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, was published in 2011; her second cookbook, Baby & Toddler On the Go, was published in April 2013; and her third cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, was published in October 2013.

She was the first blogger on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005, and previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives in Petaluma with her husband and their child, whom she cooks for everyday. Find out more at


Wendy Goodfriend

I am the Senior Interactive Producer for KQED Food. I have designed and produced food-related websites and blogs for KQED including Bay Area Bites; Check, Please! Bay Area;  Taste This; Jacques Pepin’s websites; Weir Cooking in the City and KQED Food. When I am not creating and managing food websites I am taking photos and video of Bay Area Life and designing online navigation systems. My professional education and training includes: clinical psychology, photography, commercial cooking, web design, information architecture and UX. You can find me engaged in social media on Twitter @bayareabites and on Facebook at Bay Area Bites. I can also be found photoblogging at look2remember.

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