Introduction: Dead Easy Cream Cheese

Picture of Dead Easy Cream Cheese

This is the very first effort in my foray into cheesemaking!

Aside from the fact I was attempting to make ricotta, it turned out pretty damn well.

It's a perfect spreadable texture. Look how it held the texture from the tea towel it was wrapped in! It's so creamy and the salt & vinegar give it so much tastiness. Also leaving it out at room temperature for a day gives it an extra little background flavour of cheesy funk that sounds gross in words but is delicious in your mouth.

Home Made Cream Cheese

Yield: 450g+
Time: 2 days, 20 minutes of actual work
Cost: $

- medium, heavy bottomed pot
- thermometer
- measuring cup
- fine mesh seive
- cheesecloth / clean tea towel
- clean string or twine
- wooden spoon
- tall jar or pot

- 1 1/2 litres of heavy cream
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- Splash of balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp salt

Heat cream + salt  in a clean, heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium heat until it reaches 180F on a thermometer. Stir it gently so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

If you don't have a thermometer, you want it to be just near boiling, bubbling slightly, with steam coming off the top. It will be hot to the touch, but try not to bring it to a full boil.

Once it reaches 180F, pull it off the heat and let it cool 5-10 minutes. Add in your vinegar. Taste it with a spoon, if its not tangy enough, add more vinegar. If it’s not salty enough, add more salt!

Step 1: Let It Sit

Picture of Let It Sit

Leave in the pot with a tea towel over top over night, or at least 8 hours.

You'll notice that the cream begins to separate. You’ll have a thick layer of cream “curd” on top and a yellowy water underneath, that’s the whey.

Step 2: Hang It

Picture of Hang It

Line a bowl with 4x layer of cheese cloth or a very clean tea towel. Pour in cream. Neatly tie the edges of the cloth together to make a sturdy pouch, and knot it well.

Tie it to the handle of a wooden spoon and hang it in a tall jar. Make sure to leave at least a couple of inches for the whey to drip into, without it building up and soaking the pouch. Or if your jar isn't tall enough, just drain off the whey into a separate container.

Leave it in the fridge overnight.

Step 3: Unbundled!

Picture of Unbundled!

In the morning, give your pouch a squeeze (tee hee). If its nice and firm and not much more whey is going to be coming out of it, you can unbundle it! You should have a nice, spreadable cream cheese inside.

Philly’s got nothing on this bad boy!

Save the whey. You can use it in the place of buttermilk in recipes, to soak chicken in for tenderness, or add it to soups for extra nutrients.

Step 4: Yum.

Picture of Yum.

Enjoy the fruits of your labour.


AngelaR1 (author)2015-02-15

Hint for those wanting their cheese to last - dampen a paper towel with any type of vinegar - Make sure to ring out excess. Wrap your cheese ball in that and then put in a container/ziploc bag/etc. Mold hates vinegar, it keeps my cheese much longer :) Change the papertowel when it dries out.

karalalala (author)AngelaR12015-02-15

That is awesome advice, thank you. I will do that!

AdamJ79 (author)2016-09-25

Hey um I did exactly as told and waited overnight and it hasn't separated into whey and curds... I just re-heated and added the juice of 2 limes since I'm out of vinegar, what do i do if the curds keep not forming?

karalalala (author)AdamJ792016-09-26

Hi Adam! Good thinking with the lime juice.That much acid should have done the trick just fine. a lot of people from north America were having this problem because their cream had a lot of stabilisers added in-- so that it whips better. thinks like guar gum, etc. I have a feeling that's probably what happened to yours. but! you've made some pretty nice soured cream. has it thickened up at all? if so you could pour it through a cheesecloth and have a thicker soir cream type product. or keep it in the fridge and use it as buttermilk in pancakes or scones, should keep for another couple of weeks in this acidic state. Let me know how it goes!

pacifier007 (author)2016-07-22

According to FDA, milk goes bad while sitting out in 1 hour. You're saying we should leave it at the counter for 8 hours! Won't it develop bacteria and go bad?

karalalala (author)pacifier0072016-07-23

The addition of acid! Makes it an unfriendly environment for bacteria. so instead of heat, it's using acid

karalalala (author)pacifier0072016-07-23

Hi! It's true the FDA does say that, you're right. In yoghurt and cheese making you are heating the milk to the point you kill off any harmful bacteria and then introducing the good cheese making bacteria you want. This doesn't have that step, so there is a risk of creating a sanctuary for bacteria. Especially if you haven't properly sterilised your equipment (10% bleach solution should do). I suppose this recipe is a bit Use At Your Own Risk. I feel it's safe, the FDA probably would disagree hence their very strict guidelines with dairy and cheese making. I wouldn't feed it to babies or the elderly maybe. Good question! I'm going to research this more! Thanks

suomy.nona.14 (author)2015-07-08

you are eating partially cured bioplastic, thats gotta be good for the liver

Wow, Suomy, you do realize this cheese recipe does not contain the polyvinyl alcohol or borax that are part of your plastic recipe, don't you? Way to be negative. I'm glad the author took it in stride.

BradM14 (author)suomy.nona.142015-08-27

You do realize that many people have no choice in the type of milk available to them right? I HAVE to buy pastureized.

karalalala (author)BradM142015-08-28

Me too, it works with pasteurised. Give it a go!

karalalala (author)suomy.nona.142015-07-08

That is cool! Now I can make a home made tupperware container to store my cream cheese! Thanks!

lu7 made it! (author)2016-05-22

It's the second time I've followed that recipe successfully. The first time, I made a killer cheesecake with it and the second time, I made bagels to eat with.

ArneS6 (author)2016-04-18

Very late to this party, but as I have just recently realized the amount of things that can be home made, it has changed the money saving game. I would like to know if this would work for a baked cheese cake?

karalalala (author)ArneS62016-04-23

Yeah! I would say it should work!

CobyUnger made it! (author)2016-03-17

I have been living in India for about a year now, and you have no idea how much I've missed cream cheese. This Instructable was a real game changer for me. I now bake bagels and serve them with Lox ( and cream cheese every weekend. Thank you!

karalalala (author)CobyUnger2016-03-19

Aw that is amazing! Is cream very expensive in India?

CobyUnger (author)karalalala2016-03-19

There is something that resembles cream cheese for quite cheap, but it's not what I was craving. If you can find proper cream cheese here, it is quite expensive.

MonicaB4 made it! (author)2015-07-22

This recipe turned out incredibly! All of the steps looked exactly like the tutorial pictures. When I tasted the warm cream/vinegar concoction I was very skeptical because it had such a strong taste. The final product is creamy... smooth... delicious cream cheese. The best I've ever had. Goodbye Philly CC forever.

MonicaB4 (author)MonicaB42015-07-22

p.s. I used pasteurized whipping cream with ultra-pasteurized half/half (all I could find at the store). Still turned out great.

MonicaB4 (author)2015-07-22

NiceGuyWinning (author)2015-02-13

I've made this dozens of times now. Rather than a cheese cloth I find that an old inside out pillow case does the trick very nicely. It makes so much that I often divide it up and share it with my girlfriend and her mom - they LOVE it.

Latest batch I made with 1/3 cup of white balsalmic peach vinegar and it's just wonderful.

jader8er (author)NiceGuyWinning2015-05-15

Hi there! I tried this method last night and I got to the step where you put it in the cheesecloth but It didn't separate! The cream just went right thru the cheesecloth, help??

karalalala (author)jader8er2015-05-15

hi jader! did you have a pretty decent thick looking curd? it should be like thick, cuttable curd on top and watery whey in the bottom. folks in north america have some trouble getting it to separate due to high temp processing, stabilisers and homgenization. So that might be your problem. if you got decent curdage then maybe you need to double or triple up on your cheese cloth! either way I think you just made some pretty nice buttermilk. pancakes!!!

Oh, man! Peach vinegar. Damn that sounds like a mighty fine cheese spread my friend! I'm glad you make it so often!

karalalala (author)2014-04-14

It works perfectly well with pasteurized cream. The problem with a lot of cream is that it is full of gums and stabilizers to make it whip better and have that super thick consistency people want. It can also have white colour added to it. Just have a peek at the ingredient list in your carton as a few people have had this problem as well. Odds are that will be it!

cricard (author)2014-04-13

It really is a must to have unpasteurized cream for this to work properly. Here in the US, you probably will NOT be able to find it in a grocery store. Check farmer's markets or food co-ops.

I did get the recipe to work with even the ultra-pasteurized cream from the grocery store, however, the cream does NOT appear to separate at all, and the draining process can take several days to get the cream cheese to the proper consistency. Also, the 'whey' that drains out still appears white like the cream, and can actually be drained a second time to produce more cream cheese. The cream cheese formed from pasteurized cream is delicious, but it has less substance to it than that made from the unpasteurized cream, and almost melts like butter when placed on a warm bagel.

Grapes Laface (author)2013-02-24

I know I'm late to this conversation, but I just saw this on the Best of 2012 and was super intrigued. Sounds like mascarpone!

...which is PERFECT! Because there are so many delicious mascarpone cake recipes. Just add gelatin so it holds up as a cream filling, and then use in stuff like:

UGHH thanks so much for this recipe!! will try soon.

vincent7520 (author)2013-02-17

Living in France I don't need to make my own cheese. Having heavy cholesterol makes life miserable here.
But this recipe reminds me of the "fromage blanc" my mother used to make from milk that turned sour on the refrigerator shelf. She didn't have to use any vinegar to have the milk separate. It was a real treat : especially in summer with strawberries !…
Then again milk was not this watery white liquid they sell now. Each (glass) bottle was topped by a thick layer of cream … which was delicious too : another treat, another story !…
Thanks for sharing.

kafkaian (author)2013-01-14

I've been making cheese out of full-cream milk for some years now and this is what I've noticed. When following recipes that require a rolling boil on the milk, the curds and whey separate out instantly on application of the vinegar or lemon juice. So rather than two days, I make this cheese in a few hours from boiling to cooling as cheese in the fridge. However, when I go for a lower temperature, the result is a less clear separation and a softer cheese where I have to use a finer cheese cloth. I prefer the texture of the latter, but still like the harder former.

shazni (author)2012-10-02

does this taste like Philadelphia cream cheese? i want to use it in recipes that ask for cream cheese as Philadelphia c.cheese is so expensive here.

couponqueen1611 (author)2012-09-08

Okay, I just taste tested my first batch. It wasn't as smooth as I expected. Is that normal or is there something I can do to came it smoother? Also, has anyone used this in recipes? Does it do well to cooking? I'm interested in baking a cheese cake. yum

dscopel (author)2012-09-06

I was psyched to give this a shot but when I added the vinegar nothing happened! It tasted cheesy but never separated. No curds. No whey. I let it sit overnight, added more vinegar, reheated it and even did a cheesy dance with my kids. But all we got was vinegar cream soup. Where could I have gone astray with this??? It seems like a no brainer.

karalalala (author)dscopel2012-09-07

Hm! At the very least that much of an acid should have curdled the cream. That is weird... Check your cream carton, sometimes heavy cream comes with a list of 3-6 stabilizers and gums to let it whip faster, smoother and make it feel creamy and keep forever. I'm wondering if that's your problem. My cream just had one ingredient on it: cream. Sorry you wasted a bunch of expensive cream, I should have made a little note about that! It could be possible that its heavily homogenized, but I'm pretty sure the cream I used was, and it worked out great... hm.

If you haven't thrown it away you can use it to to marinate meat (chicken livers, mmm) or if its not too vinegary, use it to make a bechamel for mac and cheese or something. Man! That's such a bummer. Let me know if you have the kind of cream with locust bean gum and all that garbage in it, that's gotta be the reason.

dscopel (author)karalalala2012-09-08

I had the same realization about the stabilizers after I posted but the cartons were long gone by that point. That must be it though. It tasted good and I did pour it over some brownies, which was great. But I didn't have the time to turn it into something else like a chowder. So most of it went down the drain :( The mac and cheese idea is great and can't believe that I didn't think about it.

I did it again yesterday with a half gallon of whole milk and it turned out really well. However, I will be searching for some pure cream today because the whole milk version just doesn't look or tasted as creamy as the cream version looks like it will.

Thanks again for posting it!

karalalala (author)dscopel2012-09-08

CHOWDER! Man.. that would have been good. I haven't had chowder in ages.. maybe I'll make some chowder today.. hmm.

I'm really glad you tried it again and it worked out! That makes me happy.

couponqueen1611 (author)2012-09-08

I started a batch yesterday and have it in the refrigerator straining right now....can't wait. Has anyone tried any recipes using this cream cheese? Does it seem to act like cream cheese when cooked? I'm interested in making a cheese cake...

beer20 (author)2012-08-23

Great instructable, I've also read somewhere you can do this with whole milk. When you add the vinegar, stir and you will see the clumps start to form. Try adding dry herbs or spices into the mixture as well, before you pour it into the cheesecloth. Again, thanks so much for this. Now all I have to try to do is cold process soap...:-)

karalalala (author)beer202012-08-23

Going to have to try it with whole milk next I think. My hypothesis is that it will come out great, you'll just get less cheese, due to the higher water content and lower fat content. I'll report back!

Pilgrimm (author)karalalala2012-09-06

Many thanks for this wonderful, simple to follow 'ible!
FYI...If you have ever seen a video of hard cheese being made, the milk is heated in a huge stainless steel tank, which resembles a table. The heater is underneath. The milk fills up this "table/tank" to a height of about 8 to 12 inches. After the milk comes to the correct temperature, and the salt is added, rennet is added, and stirred in manually. (Check Wiki for rennet... comes from a cow's stomach...blecchh...) The mixture (not yet cheese) begins to solidify almost immediately! The next day, the mixture (which now consists of curd and whey) is scooped into molds (mostly of a wheel shape), and then put into a press, to press out the remaining whey. After some time has gone by, they remove the baby cheese from the mold, and coat it with wax, and then put it onto shelves to age. The different qualities of the raw milk, and the rennet, and the amount of salt, etc., makes the differences in regional cheeses.
I believe it was an episode of NOVA which was devoted to a nun from a Connecticut convent who has studied cheese-making.... it was a fascinating program. Check the PBS archives, you may find it. You might also find something helpful on YouTube...
Now I'm going to try to put some home-made cream cheese on my table for lots less green stamps than I pay those "Philly" people. Good luck, and thanks once more!

ejcliz (author)2012-08-23

you can also use the whey as fertilizer for plants.

karalalala (author)ejcliz2012-08-23

I actually tried this, last year.. on my house plants. Don't ever put whey on your house plants.... I'm so stupid. First, it stinks, then it gets a weird mold, and then your beautiful african violets die a horrible, moldy, stanken death..

Awesome for outside plants though!

ellenjoelle (author)karalalala2012-08-31

that's a bit hilarious. rip african violets. ^_^

Thetis (author)2012-08-24

Cheese, even cream cheese is usually made using milk, not cream. Ricotta is actually a by product of whole milk cheese making, and is made from whey.

What you have made is some kind of clotted cream. No wonder it's nice!

karalalala (author)Thetis2012-08-24

I know you can make clotted cream by heating it gently for a few hours and skimming off the top, wrinkly layer of cream and then spreading it over everything within arms reach and cackling at the awesome fatty goodness. Perhaps my next instructable... Technically I think Ive made a really thick sour cream type product. But it looks, and tastes, exactly like cream cheese. Try it, Thetis! Let me know what you think.

Thetis (author)karalalala2012-08-28

I'm sure it's lovely. I've dabbled with home made cheese before. However, given the price of cream in the UK, and the danger to my already expanding waist line from the huge blob of this stuff I'd end up with, I'm afraid I am unlikely to try this one any time soon! But full marks for adding yet another thing to the long list of things I have to resist these days.

snoopindaweb (author)2012-08-26

=////=======> now that's a Gotta' do..! There's a lucky Fella' in Your life no doubt..! G-G

suayres (author)2012-08-24

Okay, it looks and sounds wonderful, BUT. As my hub had a nearly fatal heart attack a couple years ago, we steer clear of full-fat cream cheese, and generally go for neufchâtel at most. So, is there a less fat-laden version of this which I could attempt? Thanks so much!

karalalala (author)suayres2012-08-24

Oh no. Thats too bad. I'm not sure about a less fatty version, as fat is pretty much the only thing this cream cheese is made of. I think a few people, myself included, may be playing around with this recipe using milk.. but I know it wont come out the same. Neufchatel is lovely though, go with that!

acaig (author)2012-08-24

Fantastic guide I am watering at the mouth here
I have a question for you clever people would using lactose free milk work? (invade there is more than 1 type I use lactofree and they remove the lactose by adding a bacteria that eats it)
If nobodys sure I will have a go and let you know how it goes incase it helps anyone on a Fodmap or lactose free diet

About This Instructable




Bio: Professional maker and eater of food. Donuts.. Cheese.. Chocolate.. Beer.. these are a few of my favourite things! @karakabangpow
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