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How to Make Homemade Cream Cheese from Scratch

5 from 1 vote

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This homemade cream cheese recipe is so easy to make! Here’s step by step directions on how to make fabulous, flavorful cream cheese from scratch.

bowl of cream cheese and bagel on wooden cutting board

Cream cheese is another one of those dairy products that we use a lot of at my house.

You can use it plain to spread on sourdough toast or English muffins.

You can flavor it sweet or savory to spread on crackers.

Or, you can use it for dips or frosting for things like my Pumpkin Poundcake or my Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls.

Or even for pin wheel roll ups or cheesecakes.

And especially for one of our favorite deserts, Cherry Cream Cheese Pie.

See, I told you. We use it a lot. 🙂

Homemade cream cheese from raw, grass-fed milk is nutrient dense, a good source of vitamins D and K2, calcium, and omega-3 fats.

And it’s just down-right tasty! 

As an added bonus, it freezes well. What more could you ask for?

OK, y’all, let’s step into the kitchen and make homemade cream cheese!

cream cheese in bowl with spoon

Homemade Cream Cheese

Ingredients & Equipment

Instructions for Making Homemade Cream Cheese

Culturing the Milk

Put the milk and cream into the pot. Cover the pot and heat the milk to 86°.

Remove the pot from the heat.

Sprinkle the cream cheese starter culture over the top and allow to rehydrate for a minute or so.

Then stir the culture into the mixture with an up and down motion to make sure it is disbursed through out. Don’t stir longer than 30 seconds.

Cover the pot and let it sit in a warmish (70° – 75°) spot to culture for 12 to 18 hours.

During culturing, the milk “curdles”. Which just means that the curds begin to solidify.

After the culturing time, the cheese should look like yogurt. Thick with some whey separating out.

Whey is a mostly clear liquid that can be anywhere from a light yellow to a dark green.

cultured milk in pot
Yogurt-y looking with whey

Straining Your Cream Cheese

Now you need to put some butter muslin in a colander or strainer over a large bowl or over the sink. I usually double up my muslin.

Don’t try to use what they sell as cheesecloth now a days. That won’t do the job because the holes are too big. That stuff wouldn’t strain out a cat…

butter muslin in colander
Butter muslin in the colander over the sink

Ladle or pour the cheese and whey into the butter muslin lined colander.

cultured milk in butter muslin lined colander
ready to strain

Pick up the corners of the muslin and carefully tie them in knots.

Now use the tied ends to hang the cheese so it can drain.

cream cheese in butter muslin hanging from cupboard door
notice the highly technical aspects of hanging cheese 🙂

Let the cream cheese drain for 6 to 9 hours. The longer it drains, the drier it gets. So if you like a drier texture, let it go the full 9 hours.

Once it’s to the consistency that you like in your cream cheese, put it into a bowl and add salt to taste. Start with just a pinch.

You can blend it in with a spoon or knead it in with your hands. 

It you are using fresh herbs like basil or chives, mix them in now. For a whole recipe, start with a teaspoon and add more from there.

I like to separate it into different bowls and flavor it in different ways.

Store, covered, in the fridge for a week. I like to store mine in canning jars.

I’m sure that takes you all by surprise…lol.

I also freeze it in the canning jars. Just make sure you have about 2 inches of headspace so the jar doesn’t crack in the freezer.

I like to mix some pureed fruit into it to spread on stuff. I also like to add minced roasted garlic and chives.

It’s a pretty amazingly versatile cheese. What’s your favorite way to use cream cheese?

Frequently Asked Questions About Making Cream Cheese

How long does homemade cream cheese last?

Homemade cream cheese lasts about 7 to 10 days tightly covered in the fridge.

Can I freeze homemade cream cheese?

You absolutely can! Frozen cream cheese will last about 3 to 5 months. Store it in an airtight container, zip top freezer baggies, or (may favorite), canning jars.
If you use a canning jar, make sure to leave about 2-inches of room at the top for the cheese to expand without cracking the jar.
Thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter top.
After freezing, the cream cheese will be a little dryer and crumblier than before. You can add just a splash of milk and beat it to make it smooth again.

How should I use homemade cream cheese?

Any way you would store bought! You can use this in any recipe that calls for cream cheese. Just be aware that it might be more or less dry than store bought, so you made need to adjust any liquid in the recipe.

More cheese and cultured dairy recipes you might enjoy:

cream cheese in bowl on wooden table

Homemade Cream Cheese

This homemade cream cheese recipe is so easy to make! Here's step by step directions on how to make fabulous, flavorful cream cheese from scratch.
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 10 mins
Culturing Time + Draining Time 18 hrs
Total Time 18 hrs 10 mins
Course Cheese
Cuisine International
Servings 16 ounces
Calories 473 kcal

Equipment

  • butter muslin
  • large non-reactive pot
  • colander

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk not ultra-high pasturized
  • 2 quarts heavy cream
  • 1 package cream cheese starter culture
  • pinch sea salt
  • fresh herbs optional

Instructions
 

  • Put the milk and cream into the pot. Cover the pot and heat the milk to 86°. Then remove from heat.
  • Sprinkle the cream cheese starter culture over the top and allow to rehydrate for a minute or so.
  • Stir the culture into the mixture with an up and down motion to make sure it is disbursed through out. Don’t stir longer than 30 seconds.
  • Cover the pot and let it sit in a warmish (70° – 75°) spot to culture for 12 to 18 hours.
  • After culturing, ladle or pour the cheese and whey into the butter muslin lined colander.
  • Pick up the corners of the muslin and carefully tie them in knots, then hang drain.
  • Let the cream cheese drain for 6 to 9 hours. The longer it drains, the drier it gets.
  • Once it’s to the consistency that you like in your cream cheese, put it into a bowl and add salt to taste.
  • It you are using fresh herbs like basil, mix them in now. For a whole recipe, start with a teaspoon and add more from there.
  • Store, covered, in the fridge for a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ozCalories: 473kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 7gFat: 46gSaturated Fat: 29gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 148mgSodium: 77mgPotassium: 290mgSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1931IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 224mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cream cheese
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on April 18th, 2022

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