Learn how to strain ricotta cheese to drain off some liquid and thicken the cheese for your favorite recipes! Plus some ideas about what to do with ricotta cheese!
You may have noticed I have quite a few cannoli inspired recipes on Snappy Gourmet. I get a lot of questions on how to strain ricotta cheese. Draining off the liquid can result in a thicker ricotta cheese so your results for some recipes will be better.
What Is Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is a well known Italian whey cheese made from milk whey leftover from producing other cheeses and can be made from sheep, goat, cow, or Italian water buffalo milk whey.
There are different types of ricotta cheese, but for draining purposes today, I’m talking about the widely available ricotta cheese you get in a “tub” container in the refrigerated dairy section at your local grocery store. It can vary brand to brand so find one you like.
What Do You Need To Strain Ricotta Cheese
- Ricotta cheese
- Cheesecloth or strong paper towels
- Strainer or colander
- Bowl (or two…)
- Something heavy to set on top
How To Strain Ricotta Cheese
Place strainer (or colander) over a large bowl so that there is at least an inch or two of space under the strainer above the bowl.
Place a few layers of cheesecloth (or strong paper towels) over the strainer. Spoon ricotta cheese on top of the cheesecloth and fold cheesecloth around cheese to contain.
Place something heavy on top of the cheesecloth covered ricotta (such as a heavy bowl, covered brick, etc.). I used a small bowl and another container of ricotta cheese that was a bit heavy.
Refrigerate cheese for at least 4 hours but better overnight if you can. Remove from refrigerator, squeeze the cheese gently to see if any more liquid will drain out, then drain off liquid in the bowl. Use cheese as desired.
(Full printable recipe card is at bottom of post.)
Lots of different ways to use ricotta cheese. Here are a few quick ideas with no recipes needed…
What To Do With Ricotta Cheese
- Pasta – Mix a little in with your favorite pasta (such as spaghetti), use in basked dishes like lasagna, or use in homemade ravioli.
- Cannoli – Use in cannoli filling to make the popular Italian pastry.
- Sauce – Mix a little ricotta cheese into your favorite pasta sauces.
- Spreads/Dips – Mix in some of your favorite spices and spread on crackers or crostini, or as a dip for vegetables.
- Sandwiches – Use a little on your favorite sandwiches!
Quick Tips for Best Results
- Use a few layers of good quality cheesecloth or strong paper towels when wrapping the ricotta cheese.
- Use a ricotta cheese you like. There are many brands and types, so results and taste can vary.
- Make sure your strainer (or colander) has a lot of holes so that the liquid doesn’t pool at the bottom of the cheese.
- Strain the cheese overnight if you can. Although 4 hours will get some liquid out, the longer you can strain, the more liquid you should get.
Ricotta Cheese FAQ
Are there different types of ricotta cheese?
Yes! There are many types of ricotta cheese. You can even make homemade ricotta cheese. Not all ricotta needs to be drained, but for the purposes of today’s post, I used some of the tubs you get at the grocery store in the dairy section which are often factory-made from cow’s milk. However, brands and types can vary so check the labels. Ricotta impastata, is also quite popular and used for pastries and desserts but can be difficult to find. Ricotta salata, another popular option which can also be difficult to find, is salted, pressed, and dried cheese that can be crumbled over dishes.
Is ricotta cheese pasteurized?
Most ricotta cheese you find at your local grocery store in the U.S. is made with pasteurized milk BUT always check the label and individual brands.
Is ricotta cheese gluten-free?
Yes, ricotta cheese is generally naturally gluten-free, but again, always check labels and individual brands just to be sure.
Can ricotta cheese be frozen?
Technically yes it can be frozen, but it may change the texture quite a bit so may not be great for all recipes.
You know I love all cannoli recipes but here are some of my favorites…
Cannoli Inspired Recipes With Ricotta Cheese You May Enjoy
- Cannoli Cake – One of my most popular recipes, the cannoli frosting is the perfect reason to strain your ricotta.
- Best Cannoli Dip – A thicker ricotta, will result in a thicker dip.
- Chocolate Cannoli Dip – A delicious chocolate version of my Best Cannoli Dip!
- Cannoli Cinnamon Rolls – Fun twist on cinnamon rolls with an easy cannoli frosting.
- Cannoli Poke Cake – Again, a thicker ricotta cheese would be perfect for this cake’s topping.
Want to learn some other “how to’s”? Check out this guide on tips and tricks on How to Bake Cookies and this savory How to Pickle Onions for overnight pickled onions is so easy!
How to Strain Ricotta Cheese
- Place strainer (or colander) over a large bowl so that there is at least an inch or two of space under the strainer above the bowl.
- Place a few layers of cheesecloth (or strong paper towels) over the strainer. Spoon ricotta cheese on top of the cheesecloth and fold cheesecloth around cheese to contain.
- Place something heavy on top of the cheesecloth covered ricotta (such as a heavy bowl, covered brick, etc.).
- Refrigerate cheese for at least 4 hours but better overnight if you can. Remove from refrigerator, squeeze the cheese gently to see if any more liquid will drain out, then drain off liquid in the bowl. Use cheese as desired.
(Nutrition data is provided when available for informational purposes only and calculated using an online nutritional calculator. For the most accurate information please calculate based on specific ingredients and brands you use as well as any changes you made to the recipe. I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietician and any nutritional information provided should only be used as a general guideline and estimate.)
Marcia Wallace says
I have never used ricotta cheese in any recipe. Being Polish we don’t tend to use it. I have wanted to make canolli’s. But haven’t been brave enought to try it. The other day I mistakenly grabbed a container of ricotta for sour cream. So I am gong to brave it and try to make it. I have read to use coffee filters to strain ricotta. Would you know if that works?
Lisa Huff says
Yes! But I would still try to put something heavy on top to help squeeze out the liquid. :)
GAIL FEDORA says
whole recipe for no bake cannoli pie
Lisa Huff says
Not sure what you’re asking? Are you looking for the cannoli pie recipe? Here’s the link to it… https://snappygourmet.com/cannoli-pie/
Janet S says
Love thick ricotta cheese on crostini with a little jam on top.