The Best Party Trick Ever: How to Make Thirty Minute Mozzarella

The following is a guest post from Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules. Welcome, Andrew!

A couple of years ago at a Fourth of July party, I pulled off one of my best party tricks ever.

Showing up with a gallon of milk in hand, I asked my friends if I could borrow their kitchen. Spying the other items in my bag — a bunch of fresh basil and cherry tomatoes — they knew I had something good in store. They eagerly let me take over.

Half an hour later, I emerged victorious from the kitchen with a platter of fresh caprese, made with still-warm mozzarella.

I’ve been using this “30-minute Mozzarella” recipe, from Ricki Carroll’s book, Home Cheese Making, for a few years now.  I’ll admit, it comes out slightly different each time (the type of milk, how quickly you heat it, and how much you stretch it will affect both the flavor and texture), but it’s always been a big hit.

Homemade Mozzarella Tips & Tricks

1. This is a great recipe to make with kids. They’ll be completely mesmerized watching the milk curdle and turn into cheese — and it happens quickly enough to hold their attention. The last few steps can get pretty hot, so please do be careful when making this with children.

2. Do not use “Ultra-Pasteurized” milk for this recipe — it won’t curdle properly.  If it says just “Pasteurized” on the container, you’re probably fine.  Of course, you can also use raw milk instead, if that’s your thing (I’m not going to get into the pros and cons of raw vs. pasteurized milk — just remember that Ultra-Pasteurized is a dealbreaker.)

3. Depending on the fat percentage of your milk, you’ll get a very different cheese at the end.  Whole milk produces a very rich, soft mozzarella, whereas 1% will make a harder, more string-cheese-like cheese. Fat free can get a bit too rubbery, so I don’t recommend it. I usually use 2%, which is what’s shown in the pictures here.

I’ve also made this recipe with goat’s milk, and it should work fine with sheep’s milk as well.

4. This recipe is a “shortcut” to mozzarella, since it uses a microwave to speed things along.  If you don’t have a microwave, you can use a pot of very hot water and float a bowl in it instead. The goal is to get the curds hot so that they melt together and become stretchy like taffy.  Also, the curds will get quite hot — it’s really helpful to have a pair of clean kitchen gloves to protect your hands.

Thanks go to my friend Sarah, who eagerly offered to model for the photos in exchange for some fresh mozzarella.

All photos by Andrew Wilder

Recipe: Thirty Minute Mozzarella

You can probably find citric acid at a good grocery store, but rennet is harder to come by.  You can order it online at several retailers; I’ve purchased it from New England Cheesemaking Supply and Grape and Granary.

You can also just get one of Ricki’s Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit, which have everything you need, including a dairy thermometer.

I prefer to use liquid vegetarian rennet, which New England Cheesemaking Supply sells at double-strength, so I use 1/8 tsp. for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon Milk, not ultra-pasteurized
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Citric Acid powder, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
  • 1/4 tsp. Liquid Rennet or 1/2 tablet Rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup room-temperature water
  • 1 tsp. Cheese (Flake) Salt or Kosher Salt

Instructions

1. Pour the milk in to a large pot.  On medium-low, heat slowly to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stir slowly and continuously to keep from scalding.

2. Once the milk reaches 55 degrees, pour in the citric acid mixture and stir well. Keep heating.

3.  When the milk hits 88 degrees, add the rennet mixture and stir well.  Right around this time the milk will start to thicken, and you’ll see little white flecks stick to your spoon as it starts curdling.

4. Once the milk is in the 90-degree range, it should be noticeably curdled.  Stir very gently at this point, if at all — you want to encourage the curds to knit together.

5. Between 95 and 105 degrees, the curds will be quite thick. Turn off the heat once they start separating from the sides of the pot, and there’s a very clear distinction between the curds (white clumps) and whey (yellow liquid).

6. Let the curds rest for 5 minutes.

7. With a perforated or slotted spoon, ladle the curds into a bowl.  The curds will continue expelling whey once they’re in the bowl, which is fine.  Once you have pulled most of the curds out of the pot (some little bits will probably still be floating about), pour any excess whey back in the pot.

8. Using a microwave, heat the curds for 60 seconds.  Drain off any excess whey, then fold the curds over once, then once again.  This is to distribute the heat evenly.

9. Microwave again for about 30-40 seconds, depending on the strength of your microwave.  Pour off the whey.

10. Sprinkle the salt onto the cheese, and then fold the curds over twice again.  Put them back into the microwave for another 30-40 seconds.  Pour of any excess whey.

11. At this point, the cheese should be very hot, and look like melted mozzarella!

12.  Stretch the cheese, and then fold it back on itself. If it tears when you try to stretch it, the cheese is not hot enough; just repeat the microwaving process. Stretch it again once or twice. If you want a more string-cheese like cheese, do it a few more times.

13. You can then twist or braid the cheese, or tear off pieces and roll them into small balls.  If you’re going to refrigerate the cheese for later, drop it in a bowl of ice water to get the temperature down quickly. Otherwise, just dig in while it’s still warm!

Editor’s note: Don’t toss that whey! You can use it in pancakes or crepes.

What do you say, are you up for a ‘cheesy’ party trick?

About Andrew

Andrew Wilder is a "healthy foodie" who believes that healthy eating doesn't have to suck. He writes the blog Eating Rules, and you can get his free Guide to the Nutrition Facts Panel on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter at @eatingrules.

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Comments

  1. I saw someone had asked about making this non-Dairy. Would a lactose free milk work? It is basically milk but with very low lactose. I am just recently lactose intolerant and am missed cheese sooooo much. I would love to make my own if I could.

  2. Followed this to a ” T” using goat (fresh, raw )milk. with two thermometers , checking and re checking steps and it didn’t work at all. ..not even a little bit! Has the consistency of farmers cheese only more gained and really sour. My experience with goat milk is it doesn’t cuddle the same as cow due to the cassien proteins. ..your thoughts? Advice?

    • did you use tap water that has chlorine in it? You have to use bottle water. I used it twice before I was told not to, I used bottle water and it came out great.

      • Also if your using Junket rennet tablets you need to use 1 and a half to 2 tablets. That is what worked for me. Bottle water and 2 Tables of Junket. Now using the liquid much better.

    • Michael Andersen says:

      Did you heat to 105 Fahrenheit or Celsius? The temperatures listed are in Celsius. If you used Fahrenheit it will be too cold.

    • Shaman Ramkasoon says:

      Hi do you know where I can buy rennet for making the cheese?

  3. I have raw goats milk but hesitant to make this because of the comment above…. what advice can you give for that situation?

    Also, I do not own a microwave – what would you suggest as an alternative?

    Thank you!

  4. I found Junket rennet tablets with the instant pudding mixes and Ball citric acid with the canning supplies at the grocery store. My health food store sells Organic Valley grass fed non-homogenized whole milk. I now have fresh mozzarella . Thank you.

  5. David Oyler says:

    We are horribly struggling! We went through 2 gallons of milk today, one generic, store-bought, the other local, and had pretty much the same results. As others have mentioned, it was ricotta-like and the curd didn’t stick together at all. The second batch, we let it hang out around 100 degrees for about 15 minutes and it seemed better, but still like a thick ricotta cheese and microwaving it only mildly helped. I tried to stretch it and it just broke apart. We’re going to wrap it up in cheesecloth and try tomorrow I suppose

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  7. What power setting when you microwave? Full? Like the other person, also curious how to finish if you don’t use a microwave.

  8. What does the salt do? I’m on a sodium restricted diet, and was wondering what happens if someone cuts the salt in half, or leaves it out entirely. Would be fun to make with my son if I could make it without the salt.

  9. Can someone tell me how to print this? Or is there a way to make it printer friendly?
    Thanks.

    • Copy & paste the text (and pictures) into a Word Document.
      Just left click (holding down) your cursor over the desired text/photo area, and ‘drag’ the cursor over the area to capture everything. Once the desired area is highlighted, right click your cursor, and select ‘copy’ from the drop down menu. To ‘paste’, simply right click on the blank document, and select ‘paste’ from the drop down menu.

    • Clara Kiser says:

      Hi, I pulled down File Menu, clicked on Print Preview, You can adjust the orientation and zoom percentage from that screen. Also, select exactly which pages you want to print. Click print icon.

    • Marcia Murray says:

      to copy: Click the Control button on the lower left corner and the the p (for print) the article will print as you tell it in color or black and white ( as I do) says 19 pages and I only wanted redipe so watch for the bottom of page and on your printer click the stop button and not waste paper. Takes 5 sheets.

  10. It’s nice you want to be followed, but where are the share buttons for those sites ??

  11. Crystal says:

    Can I use powdered or evaporated milk to do this?

  12. What if you don’t have a microwave? We tossed our old one out and refuse to buy a new one, saving us a lot of counter room.

  13. Michele Jaye Solomon says:

    Can this be done without adding salt?

    • I just made it with less salt than recipe called for ( bc someone mentioned recipe was too salty). I probably would increase to the recipe amount next time. You don’t NEED the salt – the cheese is complete by the time you add it. It does bring out the flavor!
      I would taste some at that point in the recipe to see if you want to add it or not.

    • I made mozzarella growing up. I haven’t lately. But the way I did it was put the finished cheese in a cold brine water for 5-10 minutes.

  14. Can this be done with soy milk?

    • speedwell says:

      No, the protein in milk that causes this cheese to stretch (casein) is not present in soy milk. You can make other kinds of cheeses with coagulated soy milk (essentially tofu, since the process to get tofu curds and whey is almost identical), but not mozzarella.

  15. I did use the advice that one person gave, which was if using the rennet tablets, to use 1 1/2 but my cheese came out great! The only thing I had to do different was microwave it a few extra times and fold it more than twice. Once I started folding it more, the consistency really came together. But definitely great taste. Hopefully next time, it will take around 30 minutes, cuz since it was my first time, it took almost two hours. Honestly, at first, I thought I’d end up wasting a gallon a milk. But I didn’t and it was a GREAT recipe! Thanks!

    • just wondering- why did it take two hours? We drink skim milk, so i had to run out for 2%, but I looked at the time when I started and it took 25 minutes from the time I walked in the door. Did you have trouble with something?

  16. Don’t be discouraged or give up folks. Mozzarella is one if the harder cheeses to learn to make if you have no cheese experience. I teach cheese making in Michigan, and I always start with this, because, everyone wants to make it. Easier to teach it than have them bitch it and give up.
    You do NOT need to use salt our can cut it way back but you will give up some flavor. I recommend using at least a little and adding other stuff to flavor it.
    I do not think this, recipe can be . Used with soy milk, and do not think you will get desirable results with powdered milk. That would be more costly as well. For those of you attempting to make it from goat milk, you need a little more rennet. Junket tablets really not the best, but not everyone keeps liquid rennet in their fridge. So double up. Also goat milk will have a softer Curd. Even if it’s granular, strain it in cheese cloth and continue with the recipe. Older milk needs less citric acid than does very fresh, as the, milk acidifies slowly as it ages.
    Please feel free to email me at woodspryte.farm@gmail.com if you need more help.
    Happy cheese making
    Tiffany
    WoodSpryte Farm

  17. Just buy the curd already made

  18. Just made this for the 1st time. Did not realize my thermometer didn’t register the lower temps- so I did without one. 1st step- added citric acid when the milk lost its chill, then added the rennet just when the needle started to move.
    Other than that ( and reducing the salt a little), followed instructions and VOILA! Awesome fresh cheese for our fresh pizzas for dinner tonight.! Thanks for posting this!!!

  19. I tried this and the first time was not successful. You MUST get all the whey out after the straining and the first microwaving or it will incorporate the whey back in. Came out great the second time!! And the mozzacotta (as my husband called the first failed attempt) was pretty tasty too!

  20. Chris H says:

    Second batch, semi fail. Used skim, but my end result was super rubbery cheese. Was it; nuked to many times, wrong temp adding something, skim milk, or what? Sad to have a batch that I probably won’t eat. Please help.

  21. Kristie says:

    Hoegger supply company has everything you need for making cheese. Rennet, citric acid, etc.

  22. If your cheese comes out like ricotta, keep heating it and kneading it. Most ALL milk at the grocery store is now ultra pasteurized to some degree (meaning held at a higher temp for a longer time than regular pasteurization). It may take 8-10 heating and kneading steps! Raw milk is quick, but grocery store milk takes forever. I’ve had great luck with goat milk and it’s my favorite mozzarella. If it doesn’t look stretchy and solid, just keep heating and kneading.

  23. Don’t refrigerate mozzarella!

  24. Michelle Davis says:

    Could you make this recipe without a microwave?

  25. I made this with my 8year old granddaughter. We had fun, but was very disappointed as it only made approximately 1/2 cup of cheese. Is this all that comes out of a gallon of whole milk or did we do something wrong.?

    • I just made it the first time, and at first I only got a little cheese, but then I added in more citric acid and junket and poured the whey back into the mixture and let it sit warm a few more minutes and I got a lot more out…probably about 1 pound.

  26. I tried this and I got it on my first shot! Although, I haven’t eaten it yet so I’m not too sure about how it’s going to taste. It doesn’t make a whole lot, maybe a small grocery store ball of cheese. I think the pictures over exaggerate how much it makes haha.

  27. 1st attempt followed directions exactly, using exact ingredients plus the 2 rennet tabs and distilled (bottled) water mentioned in one of the comments. Added at 55 C and 88 C, just like it said, but the milk only sort of curdled and the curds never came together. I now have milk soup with small white flecks in it, that looks kind of yellowish with foam on top. Any suggestions?

  28. I never use a microwave & don;t have one. How else can this cheese be heated up to achieve the proper temperature? In the oven? Back in the pot?

  29. I guess nobody read everything on this page. It says if you do not own a microwave you can use a pot of very hot water and float a bowl in it… the microwave is the shortcut…

  30. Definitely going to give this a go. The only concern is sourcing the correct milk.
    Easiest milk for me to get is a homogenised and pastuerised, any idea how that will go?

  31. I found this recipe didn’t work at all! I ordered the rennet and citric acid online, I used 2% milk, I used the exact amount of milk called for and had a thermometer and I heated using celcius as that only made sense. I read comments from other people. I couldn’t have gone wrong.

    The recipe was a total waste of time and money.

  32. Can someone tell me if I follow this recipe, how much mozzerella cheese will I get? Some I can use now and some to save? But how much?

  33. This is quite different. But same like preparing paneer like by adding citric or vinegar to boiling milk. Anyways thanks for the recipe. Very interesting.

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