How to Make Cream Cheese from Raw Milk

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Having your own dairy cow means lots of milk for making homemade dairy products! Learn how to make cream cheese from raw milk with these simple steps. It’s delicious!

Homemade cream cheese in a glass container

We have two sweet Jersey dairy cows on our small farm here in Alaska. We milk them twice a day when they’re not dried off for calving. This means a fridge full of tasty and healthy raw milk at our disposal. 

Besides drinking it, I use cow’s milk to make as many of our family’s dairy products as possible. This includes sour cream, homemade ice cream, cottage cheese, homemade yogurt, ricotta, mozzarella, asiago, gouda, and many more hard cheeses. I have come to really love cheese making and working with fresh milk.

One of the dairy products that I often make is real cream cheese. This is a common kitchen staple whether it’s spread on a piece of homemade bread or used in a dessert recipe. And you won’t believe how easy it is to make!

This is a great recipe for how to make cream cheese from raw milk to get the beneficial bacteria. However, if you don’t have access to raw milk, you can also follow these instructions using high-quality, store-bought milk that’s pasteurized.

There are no fancy cheesemaking tools or skills required to make this soft cheese. Once you give it a try, you’ll never want to buy store-bought cream cheese again!

Ingredients for Homemade Cream Cheese

It’s amazing all of the different foods that can be made with milk! This homemade cream cheese recipe is simply made from cream, milk, and a starter culture!

A glass jar, a jar of ilk, and some measuring spoons on a counter
  • Heavy Cream- Fresh cream skimmed from a jar of milk is hard to beat. And thankfully our cows have quite a large cream line so I am able to use a lot of it. There are fancy cream separators available but for now, I simply use a small ladle to skim the cream from the top of our milk to use in recipes like this. This is a great way to use up a lot of cream!
  • Whole Milk- I only use whole, fresh raw milk from our cows. However, if you aren’t able to get your hands on any raw milk, you can follow this recipe using pasteurized milk from the store.
  • Mesophilic Starter Culture- This is the key ingredient that you might not have on hand or know much about. It’s simply a bacteria in a powder that you’ll add to the milk to turn it into cheese. I’ve always had great results with Type B mesophilic culture that I order online. You can also purchase a package of cream cheese starter culture from a health foods store. See my note below on cheese cultures.
  • Fine Salt- This ingredient is optional however, sea salt aids with drainage, adds flavor, and helps the cheese last longer in the fridge.

A note about cultures: When you get into cheesemaking, you’ll learn a lot about cultures! Different cultures turn milk into cheese using different methods. For this recipe, you’ll need a mesophilic starter culture, a common cheese culture. 

However, you probably won’t be able to find this at your grocery store. Many health food stores, however, do sell cheesemaking cultures so you can check there. 

I prefer to order all of my cultures online from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. They have great quality products and everything I need for making cheese at home so I highly recommend you check them out. 

Cheesemaking cultures aren’t very expensive and last a long time because you don’t use very much. I always keep a supply of several cultures in the freezer since I make cheese so often.

An unclose look at the packaging of cream cheese starter culture powder

Tools You Will Need

​If you’re new to cheesemaking, you might not have a collection of cheesemaking supplies yet. That’s OK! You don’t need them! Well, not yet anyways. But, after trying a few basic cheese recipes I promise you’ll be hooked! You can read more about my favorite basic cheesemaking supplies in this post.

The items that you will need to make this cream cheese recipe are probably already in your kitchen!

  • Quart jar- This is the most basic container you’ll need for making cream cheese. Just a regular glass quart canning jar. If you’re not into canning, simply reuse a clean glass jar that you bought food in from the store or even a glass measuring cup.
  • Measuring cups and spoons- I like to use a glass liquid measuring cup so I can easily pour the cream and milk into the jar.
  • Cheesecloth- You can buy 100% cotton, dye-free cheesecloth or butter muslin from your local health food store or online. It’s worth always having some in your kitchen stash for more than just cheesemaking. It comes in handy to strain yogurt, make homemade tea sachets, strain fruit for jelly, strain meat stock, and many other uses. Read this post for my simple cleaning routine to keep your cheese cloth nice and clean for use with food.
  • Large bowl- For catching the liquid whey that will drip from the cheese when it’s in the cheesecloth draining. But don’t dump that whey out! There are so many uses for it, including using it in your baking recipes instead of water.
  • Storage container- Store your homemade cream cheese in any airtight storage container that you choose. I just use a small glass tub with a tight-fitting lid. 

How to Make Cream Cheese from Raw Milk

There are just a few simple steps to make your own cream cheese at home. Remember that this recipe is quick to whip up but takes a long time until it’s ready so plan ahead. 

The cream cheese won’t be ready the day you make it so plan to make it a day or two before you want to enjoy it or need it for a recipe. Once you make it though, it will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 10 days.

When you’re running low on cream cheese, start a new batch right away so it will be ready by the time you need it.

Here’s how to make cream cheese from raw milk or milk from the store:

Measure the cream and whole milk and pour into the jar.

Measure the mesophilic culture or cream cheese starter culture and sprinkle on top of the cream/milk. Allow the culture to sit on top of the cream/milk for a few minutes so it can rehydrate then stir it in completely.

A teaspoon adding a powdered culture to a jar of cream

Cover the jar with a piece of thin fabric held on with a rubber band (not an airtight lid) and set aside on the counter where it will be undisturbed. Allow the jar to sit for 12 to 24 hours or until the mixture thickens like yogurt or sour cream. The time it takes will depend on the temperature in your home. Some cream cheese will be done within 12 hours but here in our home, it takes closer to 24.

3 jars covered full of cream

Once your cream cheese in the jar has thickened, lay a piece of cheesecloth in a bowl. Spoon the cream cheese into the cheesecloth and sprinkle with just a little salt. This will help with draining.

Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and hang from a wooden spoon over a bowl or from a cabinet knob or your microwave handle. 

Cheesecloth tied around a wooden spoon and hanging over a bowl

Let the cream cheese hang and drain for a few hours. I like to untie it, flip the cream cheese over, salt the other side, and tie it back up to drain for a few more hours.

Cheesecloth hanging from a microwave door

Check the cream cheese and allow it to drain longer if you prefer until it reaches the consistency you like.

Cream cheese in cheesecloth after being drained

Spoon the cream cheese into a storage container and sprinkle with a little bit more salt, if desired, and stir in completely.

Storage of Homemade Cream Cheese

Store your homemade cream cheese in an airtight container in the fridge. I avoid using plastic with any of our food so I use a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.

Enjoy your cream cheese within 10 days after making it, if it lasts that long!

If you find that you didn’t drain it enough and a little whey collects in the bottom of your container, simply strain it off or stir it in.

Collect the leftover whey and use it in baking recipes in place of water. It’s also a healthy addition to your other farm animals’ food.

You can also freeze your homemade cream cheese! However, it will change the creamy texture slightly. There will be a little separation of the cream after freezing and the cream cheese won’t be as smooth. It won’t be ideal to use as a spread on bread or bagels.

But, it will still be excellent to use in cooking and baking! You’ll never notice the difference so try it with some of the ideas in the next section of uses for cream cheese. 

It’s a great idea to make extra cream cheese and freeze it for later. Then you can thaw some to toss into your favorite recipe for an extra treat!

how to make cream cheese from raw milk, a glass container of cream cheese

Uses for Cream Cheese

There are just about an endless amount of different ways to use cream cheese, it’s not just a spread! Here are some ideas for using your homemade cream cheese in the kitchen:

  • Of course, who doesn’t love to enjoy cream cheese spread on a bagel or a warm piece of toast? It’s also delicious on crackers.
  • Plop a dollop of cream cheese into pasta sauce while cooking to make it nice and creamy. I love to do this just to take my homemade pasta sauce up a notch and give it a different flavor and look. So tasty.
  • I mix cream cheese with our Alaskan smoked salmon to make a delicious dip or sandwich spread in just a few minutes. Read this post for all the details on one of our favorite ways to use our smoked salmon.
  • There are countless desserts that use cream cheese. Everything from cheesecake to whipped toppings to cream cheese frosting.
  • Add to soups or stews to thicken them and add flavor.
  • Mix in your favorite herbs and spices to make a delicious dip for crackers and vegetables.
  • Add to mashed potatoes to add creaminess and a delicious flavor. My family loves this!
  • Mix with honey to make a yummy fruit dip.
  • Add to mac n’ cheese, quiche, pancakes, or another favorite dish.

If you love fresh cream cheese you’ll absolutely love this recipe for how to make cream cheese from raw milk or milk from the store. Homemade, fresh cheese is always better and this is the perfect example! Enjoy making your own easy homemade cream cheese and enjoying it in whatever way your family wants!

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How to Make Cream Cheese from Raw Milk

Try making your own cream cheese at home! It's simple and so delicious! Although quick to whip up, this recipe requires time to set so plan to make it a day or two ahead of when you need it.
Print Recipe
Homemade cream cheese in a glass container
Prep Time:10 minutes
Sitting and draining:1 day
Total Time:1 day 10 minutes


  • Glass quart jar
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Cheesecloth
  • Large bowl


  • 2 cups Heavy cream
  • 2 cups Whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp Mesophilic culture


  • Measure cream and milk into a quart jar.
  • Measure starter culture and sprinkle on top of milk/cream. Allow to sit for a few minutes to rehydrate. Stir in well.
  • Cover the jar with a thin piece of fabric and a rubberband, not an airtight lid. Allow to sit on the counter for 12-24 hours or until it reaches a thick consistency.
  • Lay cheesecloth in a large bowl and spoon cream cheese from the jar into the cheesecloth. Sprinkle with a little salt.
  • Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and hang over the bowl to drain for about 4 hours. Flip the cream cheese over, sprinkle with a little more salt, and allow to drain for about 4 more hours or longer, depending on the consistency you prefer.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days or freeze for later.


I have made this recipe using all whole milk or all cream instead of both and it still turned out great.
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Lisa Harlow

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