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How to Make Mozzarella Cheese

With this easy recipe, you can learn how to make mozzarella cheese at home in about 30 minutes! Includes both microwave and water bath techniques, so that you can make this no matter what.

Ball of mozzarella cheese with basil and olive oil next to cheesecloth.

If you have ever made homemade mozzarella cheese before, you know how delicious it can be.

Just like homemade ricotta, it's an easy cheese that you can make at home in a matter of minutes.

If you are new to making homemade mozzarella cheese, and you feel intimidated, don't be. It's easier than you might think!


Labeled image of items and ingredient required to make mozzarella cheese.


  • Whole milk from cows is the best. However, you can use 2%, 1%. Skim milk likely won't have enough fat content.
  • Don not use UHT pasteurized milk. This is milk that is pasteurized at very high heat, effectively destroying enzymes needed to make the milk coagulate. You will end up with a soupy cottage cheese like mixture.
  • Unfortunately, most organic milks are UHT pasteurized. Check the label on the carton; homogenized, and pasteurized are fine.
  • Raw milk, or farm fresh milk can be used, but if you are pregnant or nursing then check with your doctor first.


Rennet comes in tablet and liquid forms.

Typically, you can use either ¼ of a rennet tablet or ¼ teaspoon of liquid rennet.

If you are using Junket brand rennet tablets you will need to use two tablets for this recipe. For some reason, it's formulated differently than other rennet.

Citric acid

Citric acid is just the same thing that is found in citrus fruits that makes it tart. We use it to help coagulate the milk. You can find it at almost any grocery store in the canning section.

Choose citric acid powder, like Ball brand.


  • You must have an instant read thermometer that can tell you immediately when the milk has reached certain temperatures. An instant read digital thermometer works great here.
  • A slotted spoon, for scooping the large curds.
  • A colander, strainer, or cheese cloth for draining the initial whey off.
  • You will need gloves because you must handle, squeeze and stretch the cheese when it's very hot. Heat safe gloves, like rubber cleaning gloves (unused) work great. I've also been able to wear two pairs of regular nitrile gloves; make sure they are powder free.
  • A large pot, extra bowls, spoons, or cups. Use what you have on hand already in your kitchen.


The directions can be organized, and more easy to follow, if we divide them into phases. We can label them in order, as follows: the first heat, coagulating, the second heat, straining, and stretching.

First Heat

Let's refer to the beginning phase as "The First Heat" because there are separate times that you heat the curds, and they have their own, specific steps.

To do the 'first heat', get your pot ready. You'll need a pot large enough to hold a gallon of milk.

Put the water and citric acid in and stir until it's dissolved. This can just be done on the counter top.

Then, pour all of the milk in and give a gentle stir to mix (photo 1). You'll notice the milk begin to curdle a little bit already from the citric acid.

Take the pot to the stove top, and heat on medium high heat until the milk reaches 90°F. (photo 2).

Four images in a collage numbered 1 to 4 showing how to do the "first heat".

While the milk comes to temperature, stir the rennet and the water together until dissolved, and once it reaches 90°F, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the dissolved rennet (photos 3 and 4).

With the pot off the heat, put the lid on and leave it undisturbed for 10 minutes. Don't remove the lid during this time. Don't stir anything.

The curds should come together and form a more solid mass during this time.

After 10 minutes, remove the lid. Use a long knife or offset spatula and cut a grid shape in the pot, as shown below, reaching all the way to the bottom of the pot.

Coagulated milk to make homemade mozzarella cheese.

If it hasn't formed a congealed looking mass, give it another 10 minutes longer, covered and undisturbed.

Depending on the quality of milk you used, and how high it was heated during the pasteurization process, you may have loose squares or tight, solid squares.

Take note of your brand of milk at this point, because the more formed they are, the better.

Second Heat

Take the pot back to the stove pot. On medium-high heat, heat the curds up to 105-106 degrees using your digital instant read thermometer.

A pot of cheese curds with a thermometer and wooden spoon being heated.

Fold the curds just a little to distribute the heat, and avoid breaking them up too much. They should tighten up as they heat.

Once the curds have reached 105-106 degrees, remove them from the heat again.


Use either a colander, mesh strainer, or cheese cloth folded to three layers thick.

Place the strainer or cheesecloth over a larger bowl, and carefully pour in the curds (photo 5 below).

If using a colander, use a slotted spoon to ladle the curds out of the liquid and into the straining cloth or colander.

(This is because strainers have larger holes, and you don't want to lose some curds through them, so carefully ladling them is a better option when working with colanders and strainers).

Straining homemade mozzarella cheese from whey using cheese cloth.

Gather the cheese cloth and pull it away from the whey (photo 6), or lift the colander/strainer off of the bowl of whey.

You can discard the whey (the pale, thin liquid left behind from the curds), or see this resource for ways to use leftover whey.


Now it's time to stretch the cheese, and this is the fun part.

You can do this in a microwave by transferring the curds from the cheesecloth/strainer/colander to a smaller bowl, or you can bring a pot of water to a very low simmer then remove from the heat.

The process is the same whether you choose the microwave or hot water method.

The goal is to heat the curds to 135 degrees, slowly stretching and folding them, and squeezing off the last bit of whey as you go.

Put your gloves on now.


This is also the point at which you salt the mozzarella.

Have a small pinch bowl of fine salt nearby, so that you can easily grab some and sprinkle it over.

Keep in mind that you'll be wearing your gloves, so just get enough for the mozzarella cheese.

Back to stretching.


If using the microwave method, I like to do 20 second bursts at 50% power.

The reason for this, is that full power is just too hot; it overheats the curds and turns things into a soupy mess that ruins everything.

Remember, you can always do another few seconds, but you can't undo if you overheated them.

Microwave the strained curds on 50% power for 15-20 second "bursts" at a time.

With gloves on, fold the curds over themselves (photo 7), squeezing them together and pouring off any excess whey as you go.

Use a slight kneading motion.

Repeat microwave "bursts" and folding until internal temperature register 135°F.

Stretching process of homemade mozzarella cheese.

Sprinkle a little salt over the curds as you go, repeating the squeezing, stretching, and folding (photos 8-10).

Don't over work the curds, or over stretch them unless you want a dryer mozzarella.

Less working will give a looser moister mozzarella. Some stretching is needed to acquire the mozzarella texture.

Tuck the cheese into a ball, or multiple smaller balls, pinching at the bottom and allow to cool and harden. (If desired, drop the ball(s) into an ice bath to fast-set).

Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to one week.

Eat fresh, in salads, pizzas, cheese plates.

Enjoy homemade mozzarella cheese however you normally like to eat mozzarella!

Do I have to use rennet?

Mozzarella is a fresh cheese (as opposed to aged), and needs rennet to coagulate the milk into cheese.

Is it cheaper to make your own mozzarella?

Price varies depending on the cost of the milk that you purchase, but on average, homemade mozzarella cheese costs half the price as store bought. Using the whey further contributes to savings.

What kind of milk can you make mozzarella out of?

Whole, 2%, 1% and skim cow's milk. UHT (Ultra High Temperature pasteurized) milk will fail because the enzymes that coagulate have been destroyed by high temperatures; this often includes most organic milks. Pasteurized and raw milks are also fine.

Sliced mozzarella cheese on a plate.

If you tried this homemade mozzarella cheese, please leave a comment and let us know how it went.

Related recipes are below.

📖 Recipe

Ball of mozzarella cheese with basil and olive oil next to cheesecloth.

Homemade Mozzarella Cheese

How to make homemade mozzarella cheese with simple, easy to follow, step by step instructions and photos.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, cheese, ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade mozzarella cheese, how to make mozzarella cheese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 147kcal
Author: Erin
Cost: $3


  • colander, strainer, or cheese cloth
  • instant read or digital thermometer


  • 1 gallon whole milk can use 2%, 1% or skim; avoid ultra pasteurized
  • ½ cup water divided in half
  • 1 ½ teaspoon citric acid powder
  • 2 junket brand rennet tablets Or ¼ tablet of non-Junket tablet brands, or ¼ teaspoon liquid rennet.
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • in a large pot, combine citric acid with ¼ cup water and stir until dissolved.
  • Add gallon of milk, stir, heat to 90°F using an instant read thermometer; remove pot from heat.
  • Stir rennet into water until dissolved.
  • When the milk and citric acid have reached 90°F degrees (use an instant read thermometer) remove from heat, stir in dissolved rennet until combined, and place a lid on it for 10 minutes. Do not touch or move or remove lid during this time.
  • After the milk has become coagulated, cut a criss-cross-like pattern/grid pattern through the pot, using a knife or an offset spatula, reaching all the way to the bottom of the pan.
  • Return the pan to the burner, and heat to 105-106°F degrees, only barely stirring to disperse heat, and not break up curds. Use an instant read thermometer to determine when the mixture has reached 105°-106°F degrees.
  • Using a large slotted spoon, or hand held strainer, transfer the curds to a fine mesh strainer or colander to drain. Or pour them over three layers of cheese cloth over a large bowl to catch liquid whey.
  • Gather the strained curds into a smaller, microwave safe bowl and microwave for 15-20 seconds at 50% power, kneading, folding, stretching, and pouring off excess whey in between burst until internal temperature of curds reach 135°F with an instant thermometer.
  • Once cheese becomes smooth and shiny, tuck it into a little ball, pinching it neatly underneath itself.
  • Drop it into an ice bath for 5 minutes (optional).


Double check that you are not attempting this with ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk. Pasteurized, and homogenized are both fine.
Hot Water Stretching Method:
At the point where you would microwave, instead heat a pot of water to almost boiling, remove from heat. Press and drain out as much liquid/whey as possible and submerge the tightened ball into the hot water (gloves on!). Stretch, fold, knead a few times. Salt with fine salt, checking that the curds have reached 135°F internally, and tuck into a nice ball. If desired, drop in an ice bath to immediately "set" the cheese, but this is not necessary.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 249mg | Potassium: 319mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 383IU | Calcium: 267mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @TheFrozenBiscuit or tag #thefrozenbiscuit!
Recipe Rating

Melissa Huber

Tuesday 17th of August 2021

This time I used powdered milk! I used carnation non fat powdered milk. I only made half gallon(cut recipe in half) and it worked perfectly. I mixed the milk according to directions on can for a total of 1/2 gallon. I added 1 cup of heavy cream ( not UHT)to mixed milk and citric acid. Followed the rest of the instructions except I cut the citric acid, water and junket amount in half since I only made a half the recipe WORKED GREAT! JIC We get some long term power outage I am now ready to make cheese lol


Thursday 11th of August 2022

What do I store it in? The 5k recipes I looked at never stated what to store it in....


Sunday 22nd of August 2021

This seriously blows my mind, I am amazed that you used powdered milk. I'd like to try this! I'm guessing the dehydrated milk wouldn't work alone without the non-UHT pasteurized cream though... I find this interesting!


Friday 16th of July 2021

Worked beautifully! I used 2 tablets of junket and waited 20 minutes instead of 10 before cutting the curd and I had thick smooth curd pieces and a great yield over a pound of cheese! I make 6 buratta pouches for my homemade pizza! I was afraid to try this recipe because of not seeing any reviews! But then I noticed on other websites there were hardly any "reviews" either for their recipes just "comments" like "Oh that looks good!" Or "One day I may try that!" ...which is making me suspicious that these website owners may be paying for comments that aren't real! Anyway for the record i used junket when I first started making cheese then graduated into the other cultures, spent more $$ buying this and that! And made many different types of cheeses ...which can be a pia!! I was dreading having to buy more stuff then remembered JUNKET! I always had great predictable results with it ( the cheese snobs look down on it!) But I'll say this I have NEVER had a failed mozzarella using junket!!! I remembered something my dad always said "Keep it simple stupid!" Lol ( Go peek on the cheese board discussions and look at the complaints about mozzarella failure using EXOTIC cultures if you don't believe me!) THANK YOU for posting this! Easy! Beautiful buratta if I could post a pic I would! Dont not use UHT milk!! Check the A2 milks! They tend to have more choices in lightly pasteurized and non homogenized milk! Some brands I can find in PA at whole foods and fresh thyme market: Snowville, Homestead creamery, kalona super natural and 1 kind of Alexandre- be careful w/them they only have 2 types that aren't UHT FYI If you don't know what A2 milk is its worth the read! Its what we are supposed to drink, what our ancestors drank, and what mothers milk IS! Years ago they started cross breeding cows to get quantity over quality thats how we have A1/A2 blends now! The taste is great!! Good luck cheese makers!!


Thursday 29th of July 2021

Thank you so much for your insightful comment! So much of what you said is very interesting. I'm really glad to know that your cheese came out good, and I love the sentiment of keep it simple... haha so true! Thank you Missy :)