Cream cheese is perfect for beginners. It’s simple and doesn’t require any special tools. This recipe for French cream cheese is cultured for flavor.
There are several different ways to make cream cheese. Quick and easy recipes set the curd with yogurt or lemon juice. However, using 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.
- Beginner-friendly. 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 a simple cheese with rennet or making a French-style cream 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, or 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.
This recipe is perfect for beginners. It doesn’t require any specialized tools. All you need is a few basic cheese making supplies. These are used for most types of cheese and are well worth investing in.
- Rennet (vegetarian or traditional)
- Calcium chloride (only necessary if using homogenized milk)
- Butter muslin (this is a fine-weave cheesecloth that you can find at most kitchen stores. I don’t recommend grocery store or dollar store cheesecloth. Butter muslin can be washed and reused endlessly.)
In addition, this recipe requires:
- Kitchen thermometer
- A large pot (enough for 16 cups of liquid).
- Large strainer
- Non-iodized salt (sea salt or Hymalayan salt is fine).
If you want a bit more help, here’s a video of the steps involved with making cream cheese. It shows what the set curd looks like and how to hang the cheese for draining.
French Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is 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)
- Culture (optional for flavor, see section above for 3 options)
- 1 tsp non-iodized salt (preferably cheese salt)
- Heat milk and cream up to 72 F (22 C). When the milk and cream are warm, gently whisk in calcium chloride. Then mix in the rennet. Use an up and down motion when mixing to ensure that the rennet is fully mixed in. If you want to make cultured French cream cheese, add the culture at the same time as the rennet. See the section above for details.
- Leave the pot of milk to set for 24 hours. It needs to be maintained at roughly 72 F (22 C). It’s fine if your house is warmer than 72 F. This will cause the cheese to set a bit more quickly. However, if it’s cool in your home, try placing the pot near a heater, next to your hot water tank, or above the fridge.
- After 24 hours the milk will have firmly curded. Don’t cut the curds. Just pour the entire pot into a strainer lined with several layers of butter muslin. Tie the corners together and hang the curd to drain for 6-8 hours. This can be done in the fridge or out on the counter. The temperature doesn’t matter.
- Scrap the cream cheese from the butter muslin and place it in a bowl or serving container. Sprinkle on the salt and stir it in with a spoon. Feel free to add additional flavors at this point. See the section above for some flavor combinations.
- This is a soft, spreadable cream cheese, however, it will firm up after being refrigerated. I recommend finishing your cream cheese within 2 weeks or freezing it to maintain freshness.
Keywords: probiotic, easy, flavours, berries, roasted garlic, cinnamon, herb, keto, Boursin, traditional, fermented, gluten-free