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Easy Soft Cheeses To Make At Home

Mar 29th, 2024

If you’re looking to upgrade your culinary skills resume to include homemade cheesemaking, then congrats! You’ve come to the right place. 

With a repertoire of breadmaking skills, kombucha brewing skills and, now, cheesemaking skills, your dinner parties will be the envy of all your peers. And it’s really not as hard as it sounds!
Here’s all you need to know to get started with homemade cheesemaking, plus a few great recipes to set you on the right track.

Soft vs. hard cheese

The fundamental distinction between soft and hard cheeses lies in their moisture content and texture. Soft cheeses, as the name implies, boast a higher moisture content (approximately 40%-70%) compared to hard cheeses (under 40%). This difference in moisture directly impacts the cheese's texture, with soft cheeses having a spreadable or crumbly consistency while hard cheeses develop a firmer, more sliceable texture.

The production process is another factor that differentiates the two kinds of cheese. Soft cheeses often use simple methods of acidification (through the addition of lemon juice or vinegar) or the action of specific bacteria cultures to coagulate the milk. Alternately, hard cheeses typically involve the use of rennet, an enzyme that separates the milk solids (curds) from the liquid whey, followed by longer aging periods to allow for further moisture reduction and flavor development.

It’s not impossible to make your own hard cheese at home, but you’ll just need more time, equipment and experience to get it just right! Soft cheese, on the other hand, can be made in anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Neat, huh?

Essential cheese making ingredients

While specific ingredients may vary depending on the cheese variety, several fundamental elements form the base of all soft cheese making:

  • Milk: Obviously. Opt for high-quality, pasteurized milk — whole milk is recommended for its higher fat content, which contributes to a richer flavor and creamier texture. Raw milk, while appealing for its natural flavor, requires additional safety precautions and is not advised for beginners. Your generic whole milk from the grocery store will do just fine. 
  • Acid: Lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt or buttermilk can be used to acidify the milk, causing the curds to separate from the whey. If you use vinegar, though, you’ll have to rinse the cheese with cold water to remove the smell and taste before you can press or store the cheese. 
  • Rennet: A few recipes will require rennet enzymes to help curdle and stabilize the milk. You can buy rennet in tablet form or in liquid form from online and in-store retailers — a little can go a long way!
  • Salt: While optional, adding salt enhances the cheese’s flavor and acts as a natural preservative, so it’s worthwhile including this ingredient in your process!
  • Cultures (optional): Specific bacterial cultures acquired from cheesemaking suppliers can be used to introduce specific flavors and textures to certain cheeses. 
  • Flavorings (also optional): adding fresh herbs, fruits, spices and spreads can turn your plain cheese into artisanal cheese in no time! 

6 soft cheeses you can make at home

Ready to embark on your cheese mongering journey? Here are a few popular soft cheese varieties you can whip up at home, each with unique flavor and texture characteristics and relatively simple production methods.


This versatile Italian cheese is known for its delicate flavor and light, fluffy texture. To make ricotta, heat whole milk and cream to a simmer then add a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice. The curds will separate and, after straining and draining the cheese, you'll be left with fresh ricotta, perfect for spreading on toast, incorporating into pasta dishes or using as a dessert filling. 

Here’s a recipe for making ricotta at home!


This tangy French cheese, also known as goat cheese, offers a unique flavor profile. To make chèvre, heat up goat's milk and add lemon juice and vinegar to induce curdling. After the curds have been drained, the soft, crumbly cheese can be flavored, molded and left to age for a few days or up to several weeks, depending on the desired intensity of flavor.

Here’s how you can make chèvre at home!


This rich and creamy Italian cheese forms the base of many desserts, such as tiramisu, cannoli and panna cotta, to name a few. 

Mascarpone is made by adding a small amount of acid to heated heavy cream. The mixture thickens and curdles, and the resulting cheese is smooth, spreadable and beautifully rich for how easy it is to make!

Here’s how you can make mascarpone cheese at home!

Cream cheese

Cream cheese is made in much the same way as most other cheeses — heat up full-fat milk, add some acid like lemon juice or vinegar, allow it to curdle and strain the whey out. 

After you’re left with the cooled, strained curds, transfer them to a blender and process them until the mixture looks creamy and smooth. This is when you can add extra flavorings, too, like salt, herbs, fruits and spices. 

Here’s how you can make cream cheese at home.


This Middle Eastern cheese, originating in the Levant region, is known for its thick, spreadable texture and tangy flavor. It’s really tasty when paired with spicy foods or when used as part of a mezze platter. You can’t go wrong with it! 

Labneh is made by straining yogurt, typically full-fat yogurt like Greek yogurt, to remove excess whey, leaving behind a thick, silky spread that can be seasoned with herbs and spices for additional flavor variations. Since the yogurt has already been cultured, you won’t need to heat anything up or curdle any milk — it’s already been done!

Here’s a recipe for making Labneh at home!

Mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella cheese is probably the trickiest cheese to make on this list — but it is still very easy!

While most other cheeses go through a heating, curdling, and straining process, mozzarella adds a stretching step between curdling and straining., giving the cheese its stringy quality. It also requires a little more exactness when it comes to heating and curdling, but, like we said, it’s still totally doable.

Mozzarella curds go through various stages of heating, separating, straining, heating again and stretching to form the soft, rubbery cheese we all know and love. Use your fresh mozzarella to impress people at your dinner party and become your friend group’s official coolest person — or just keep it all for yourself, it’s up to you!

Here’s a recipe for homemade mozzarella!

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Happy cheese making!

Featured photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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