Get ready to learn how to make creamy and fresh goat cheese at home. This detailed guide is full of tips and tricks, a list of tools, how-tos (and several don’t dos!) to help you successfully make homemade goat cheese using just 4 ingredients!
This creamy DIY goat cheese recipe is 100% worth the effort, and perfect for spreading on crispy crackers, fresh blueberry bagels and bread, or for crumbling over salads and more!
This post is your chance to learn from my mistakes: Don't buy a goat cheese making kit when it's easier and cheaper to buy the ingredients and make your own goat cheese yourself.
But what ingredients? And which tools? I've got you covered.
My Goat Cheese Struggle
The first time I made my own goat cheese it was a Disaster. Capital-D. I bought a goat cheese making kit from a now-defunct flash sale site, and it had been gathering dust in my pantry for almost 4 years.
When I finally decided to make it, literally everything about the simple instructions (just 4 ingredients!!!!) felt impossible.
This was before I went to pastry school and long before I started developing recipes of my own. But it still irks me to think of how poorly designed this goat cheese kit recipe was!
The gallon of goat milk was too big for my pot, the towel the kit came with was too small. I don't know how the recipe expected me to use my only two human hands to simultaneously tie a towel into a bag to strain the cheese while pouring it, and the little container the kit came with held a mere 6 ounces of finished cheese — while I had made approximately 25 ounces.
And there, folks, is the reason I did not give up on making my own goat cheese.
I wanted ounces and ounces of homemade, fresh, creamy goats milk cheese.
Logs of goat cheese at the supermarket are usually 4 or 8 oz, and can be expensive for the amount of cheese you get, which comes in that annoying plastic packaging that makes using every last bit a challenge.
So I took another look at the recipe trying to figure out just where I'd gone wrong.
My issues, it turned out, were entirely proportional. As in, related to the ridiculous proportions the recipe the kit came with had me use. There was no need to start with a gallon of goats milk.
Not to mention, the comically small towel and container the kit provided me with were in no way up to the task of producing the accompanying recipe.
Also, the "cheese salt" the kit came with? Just regular kosher salt. The citric acid? You can buy it at most grocery stores or online.
The goat cheese making kit actually made everything so much harder than it needed to be.
My point is this: There is NO NEED to buy a goat cheese making kit when it's easier and cheaper to buy the ingredients and tools yourself.
So for this recipe, we're going to use a bigger dish towel, and we're going to use a colander-over-a-bucket system for straining, and — most crucially — we have cut the original recipe in half. It works beautifully.
And now, you too, will be able to transform a half-gallon of goat milk (~$10) into a completely reasonable 12-13 oz of homemade goat cheese.
Here are the four ingredients you need when making goat cheese from goat milk. See recipe card (at the end) for quantities.
- Goat Milk - This purple carton Meyenberg brand is the goat cheese I've most reliably been able to find in my grocery store. Even though most cheesemaking recipes recommend against using an ultra-pasteurized milk, it has reliably worked for me when making goat cheese from goat milk.
- Water - For dissolving the citric acid before adding it to the goat milk.
- Citric Acid - The key ingredient that will encourage the goat milk to separate into curds and whey. Usually found with the canning supplies, though it can also sometimes be found near the instant pudding/jello mixes, spice aisle, or baking aisle. You can also order it online.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. If you're using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half to start. You can always add more if you think it needs it.
- Flavorings (optional) - Any flavorings you'd like to add! Herbs, honey, garlic, jam, nuts, etc. You can mix them into the goat cheese or turn this into a goat cheese log recipe by rolling the goat cheese in them.
Here is the equipment I use when making goats milk cheese. You don't need to have all of these exact things, as long as you have equipment that will serve similar functions!
- A 3-6 quart pot - You need a pot made from a non-reactive metal (basically not copper or aluminum) that can hold at least ½ gallon of liquid deep enough for your thermometer to work. I usually use a 3-quart cast iron enamel dutch oven, but a stainless steel sauce pot is fine too.
- Thermometer - A clip-on candy thermometer like this one works well, but I usually end up using a more reliable Thermapen instant read thermometer to double check, just in case the candy thermometer is moving a bit slow.
- Large flour-sack style dish towel - One of those thin, linen dish towels (like the kitchen towels you don't care about). Do not use a terrycloth or textured towel.
- Large Cambro food storage bucket: I use a 6 liter bucket, but you'll need one that holds at least 3 liters and has a wide enough mouth to fit the colander without the colander touching the bottom. A large mixing bowl will also work.
- Large colander with side handles: The colander should be big enough to hold a half-gallon of goat milk and comfortably sit inside the bucket, without touching the bottom. A large wire mesh strainer would also work here.
Are you ready to learn how to make cheese from goats milk? Let's get to it!
The colder the goat milk is at the start, the longer it will take to reach temperature. Let it sit out for 30 minutes before starting to speed up the process!
Start by pouring the goat milk into the pot over medium heat. Make sure the bottom of the thermometer is submerged in the goat milk.
Next, mix together your water and citric acid (stirring to dissolve the citric acid), pour it into the pot with the goat milk, and stir to combine.
Keep stirring until the goat milk reaches 185°F. As you stir, the temperature will fluctuate as the hotter liquid from the bottom is introduced to the cooler liquid from the top, so keep an eye on the thermometer.
Depending on the type of pot you're using or what kinds of burners you have, this could take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.
As the goat milk heats up, curds will begin form — stirring frequently helps break them up so that they don't solidify before you're ready.
When you hit 185°F, stop stirring, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. It may or may not not look noticeably different after this, but you should be able to see some yellow-y slivers of whey breaking up the curds.
You are now ready to strain the curds (the part you want to eat!) from the whey (the liquid you should save to use when making bread!).
Straining Goat Cheese
While the pot is sitting off heat, set up your straining station.
- Flour sack dish towel
- Chip clips or large binder clips (optional)
The colander goes inside the bucket, the towel goes inside the colander. Tuck the ends of the towels through the handles of your colander to hold them in place while the cheese drains.
I usually use some chip bag clips or large binder clips to secure the towel in place through the handles.
You don't necessarily need to do this, but it can help hold it in place.
Pour the goat cheese into the towel inside the colander. Go slowly so you can adjust the towel if you need to or in case an edge falls in.
Then, pull the towel through the handles and either knot the edges or use the chip clips to hold it in place as best you can.
Basically, just do your best to gather and tighten the top of the towel to create a bag shape so that the excess whey is pressed out.
After about an hour, scrape down the sides of the towel and gather the edges together.
After about an hour, scrape down the sides of the towel and gather the edges together.
Twist the ends of the towel together so the cheese is gathered in a ball. Squeeze gently to press out extra whey.
You can either thread the twisted end of the towel through the colander handle and let it continue straining that way, or you can figure out how to tie the ends of the towel around the handle a spoon and let it hang to continue straining. (I have yet to figure out how to do this, so good luck to you!)
The longer you let the mixture strain, the firmer your goat cheese will be.
- For a nice, spreadable cheese, strain for 2-4 hours.
- For a firmer goats milk cheese that's easier to crumble, strain for 4-6 hours, or even up to 8. Squeeze the towel periodically to press out even more whey.
When the cheese is done straining, open the dish towel and scrape the cheese down into the middle.
Tip it out of the towel into a bowl and add salt and any other flavors you want. That's it, that's how to make cheese from goats milk!
Bonus: Goat Cheese Log Recipe
If you want to roll your homemade goat cheese into a log, you'll need to strain it for at least 6 hours. The more liquid you remove from the cheese, the firmer it will be and the easier it is to roll into a log.
To roll the goat cheese into a log, dollop it onto a cutting board and use clean hands to gently push and roll it until it forms a log. Don't press too hard, it will smear.
Goat Cheese Log Tips:
- If rolling it on a cutting board doesn't work, dollop the goat cheese onto a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap and use that to help shape it into a log with less mess.
- Try chilling the goat cheese for 30 minutes before rolling it to give it a chance to firm up.
Wrap the goat cheese log in plastic wrap and twist the ends together tightly to store in the fridge.
To slice goat cheese like a pro, freeze it for 5-10 minutes and use unflavored dental floss for clean cuts.
I'm partial to adding in a bit of honey to my goat cheese — I don't measure, I just add, mix, taste, and repeat until I'm satisfied.
You can mix herbs, fruit, jam, nuts, seeds, or even balsamic vinegar right into the goat cheese.
- To get a swirly ribbon of honey, jam, or balsamic, put a layer of cheese down, then drizzle your preferred sauce on top, then another layer of cheese to fully cover the sauce. You can layer it inside a container, or use your hands to gently roll the cheese into a log, keeping the sticky sauce or flavor on the inside as much as possible.
- If you're using dried herbs or seeds, you can mix them into the cheese before rolling, but for a fancy finishing touch, sprinkle some on a clean cutting board and roll your shaped log through it to create a pretty crust.
- If you add any seeds to your goat cheese (like everything bagel seasoning), they will absorb moisture and are best added no more than 24 hours before serving.
Storage and Freezing
Store homemade goat cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface of the cheese inside the container to prevent air from drying it out.
You can even freeze goat cheese! Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap inside a plastic bag or store it in a freezer safe container with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed against the surface.
It will stay good in the freezer for about 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
As always, mold is a sure sign that your goat cheese has gone bad. If it's moldy, don't eat it!
BONUS: Using Whey to Make Bread
Save the whey when you strain the goat cheese curds! You can use whey instead of water (as a 1:1 replacement, no conversions needed) in any bread recipe to make that bread flavor really pop.
It's hard to describe just what it does as a flavor, but it's like bread flavor, only... breadier. Bread squared.
Trust me — nothing is better than eating a slice of your own homemade whey bread, spread with goat cheese and topped with some sun-dried tomatoes, capers, bacon, or whatever other toppings you like.
Yes, goat cheese is a dairy product.
Yes, goat cheese contains lactose.
Vinegar or lemon can also be used in place of citric acid to encourage the curds and whey to separate when making cheese from goats milk. This is not one of those recipes.
No, you can't. Goat cheese requires goat milk.
Goat cheese has a fairly mild flavor and creamy texture. It's very similar to cream cheese, only it's a bit saltier and tangier.
How to Make Fresh Homemade Goat Cheese (Chèvre)
- Heavy bottomed, non-reactive pot
- dried herbs
- sesame seeds
- ground nuts
- fruit jam
- Combine citric acid and water in a measuring cup and stir to dissolve. Pour goat milk into large, non-reactive pot, with candy thermometer attached, over medium heat. Add water and citric acid mixture. Stir to combine.
- Continue stirring every few minutes until the mixture hits 185°F. This can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on your pot and burners.
- Meanwhile, set up your cheese-straining system. Line a large colander with a clean flour-sack dish cloth, and tuck the edges of the cloth through the handles of the colander. Put the colander inside of a 6 liter Cambro bucket. Optional: Use chip bag or binder clips to hold the towel in place.
- When the milk mixture reaches 185°F degrees, remove it from the heat, and let it stand for 15 minutes. It will begin to separate into curds and whey.
- Pour the goat milk into the towel-lined colander. If you have a smaller colander, you may need to pour in batches.
- Gather the towel tight through each handle of the colander to create as much of a taught, bag-like shape as you can, with the towel suspended inside the colander. Use the clips to hold the towel in place.
- After about an hour, scrape the goat cheese into the center of the towel in the colander. Gather the ends of the towel together and twist to form a bag with the goat cheese in it. Squeeze gently to express excess whey. Clip the bag to the side of the colander and let it continue straining. Periodically squeeze the bag to press out excess whey.
- For a creamy, spreadable goat cheese, let the mixture strain for 3-4 hours. For a firmer, more crumbly goat cheese that can be formed into a log, let the mixture strain for 5-6 hours, or even up to 8 hours.
- When the cheese has strained to your desired consistency, untwist the towel and scrape down the sides. Then transfer the cheese to a bowl.
- Add the salt to the cheese and mix to combine. Adjust salt to taste. If you’re making plain goat cheese, you’re done! Transfer the mixture to an air-tight container and refrigerate. If you’re adding flavors, mix them in now, then transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate.
Goat Cheese Log Recipe
- Dollop the goat cheese onto a clean cutting board and gently push and roll it into a log shape. Don't apply too much pressure; use quick, decisive motions. If if is too sticky or messy to do this immediately, refrigerate the goat cheese for 30-60 minutes before rolling, or roll it using plastic wrap or wax paper.
- Kept refrigerated, goat cheese will stay good for up to 3 weeks. Press plastic wrap against the surface of the cheese to keep it fresh.
- Goat cheese can be frozen in a log, wrapped in plastic inside a plastic bag, or in a container with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed against the surface for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
- Goat cheese + homemade bagels is a winning combo.