Cream cheese is one of the easiest cheeses you can make.
There are several different ways to make homemade cream cheese. Milk can be curded and set with yogurt or lemon juice. However, setting the curd with rennet is the best way to get really thick cream cheese.
Here are a few reasons why I love making cream cheese.
- It’s affordable! It is about half the cost of store-bought cream cheese, and much cheaper than fancy homestyle cream cheese.
- The flavor is amazing. I recommend French-style cream cheese and preculturing for the richest flavor, however, even simple rennet-set cream cheese is sweet, creamy, and delicious.
- A really simple recipe. Since it is a fresh cheese, it doesn’t require as much precision around sanitation and heating. And there’s no need to cut the curd or press the cheese. It’s a really easy recipe!
French-Style Cream Cheese
This recipe has two options: making simple cream cheese with rennet or making a French-style cheese by adding a bit of culture.
The added culture means that French cream cheese is full of flavor and deliciously probiotic. It doesn’t take any extra effort. Simply add the culture when you add the rennet!
Since homemade cream cheese is set at 72F (22C), you need to use a mesophilic (room temperature) culture. Here are three different options that you can simply add with the rennet:
- Mesophilic cheese culture: Use 1 packet, enough for 2 gallons of milk.
- Milk kefir: Add a 1/4 cup of kefir cultured milk (not the grains).
- Cultured buttermilk: Add 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk. Just be sure to use buttermilk that has a good quality culture. The culture is usually better from organic or small dairies than from massed produced buttermilk.
Flavored Cream Cheese
Who doesn’t love flavored cream cheese? It’s a delicious way to spruce up a bagel.
Homemade cream cheese is soft, creamy, and spreadable. Which makes it perfect for mixing in additional flavors. Here are a few popular options. Each of these flavors is designed to be mixed into 1 batch of cream cheese (approximately 4 cups).
- Berry Whipped Cheese: Mix 1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh berries into a batch of cream cheese. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are ideal.
- Cinnamon Honey: Mix in 2 tsp cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 cup of honey. Perfect as a dip for apples or spreading on carrot cake.
- Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper: Oven roast 2 red peppers and 4 cloves of garlic. Peel and deseed the red pepper. Grind the red pepper and garlic into the cream cheese using a food processor.
- Herbs: Finely dice 1/2 cup of fresh basil, 1/2 cup of chives, and 2 Tbsp of fresh parsley and stir into the cream cheese.
- Boursin-style: Here’s a recipe to make your own Boursin-style cream cheese.
Homemade Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is so simple that it’s perfect for beginners. Try making a French-style cultured cream cheese or flavor it with berries, herbs, or garlic. See the sections above for more information.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups 1x
- Category: Cheese
- Method: Cultured
- Cuisine: French
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 4 cups milk (any percentage)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2 drops of food-grade calcium chloride (mixed with 2 Tbsp chlorine-free water)
- 3 drops of liquid rennet or 1/4 tablet (mixed with 2 Tbsp of chlorine-free water)
- Mesophilic culture (optional, see section above for options)
- 1 tsp non-iodized salt (preferably cheese salt)
- Heat milk and cream up to 72 F.
- Gently whisk in calcium chloride for 1 minute. Then mix in the rennet, being sure to use an up and down motion so that it is fully mixed in. If you want to make cultured French-style cream cheese, add the mesophilic culture with the rennet. See the section above for more details.
- Leave the pot of milk to set for 24 hours. It needs to be maintained at roughly 72 F. See the notes for different ways of maintaining the temperature.
- After 24 hours the milk will have firmly curded. Without cutting the curds, pour the entire pot of curded cream into a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Tie the corners together and hang the curd to drain for 6-8 hours.
- Remove curds from the cheesecloth and place them in a bowl with the salt. Stir with a spoon to combine. Add any additional flavors at this point. See the section above for flavor options.
- The cream cheese will be quite soft, however, it will firm up after being refrigerated. Homemade cream cheese tastes best if used within 2 weeks.
Keywords: probiotic, easy, flavours, berries, roasted garlic, cinnamon, herb, keto, Boursin, traditional, fermented, gluten-free