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Vegan ricotta cheese is easy, delicious and versatile, and can be made in less than an hour with soy milk and vinegar. It's a great alternative to classic ricotta. It has a creamy, soft texture and a neutral flavour that is perfect for making both sweet and savoury dishes.
We've been making this vegan soy ricotta without nuts and without blender for a few years now. Along with our vegan stracchino cheese, it's our favorite plant-based, dairy-free cheese because it's really easy to make, cheap, and goes well with everything.
We love it with spinach or chard inside a warm focaccia, or crumbled on pasta or in pasta bakes, but also simply eat it together with vegetables and salads. It is perfect for ravioli, lasagna, cannelloni, cakes, cannoli, and pies.
Over time we've received a lot of questions from our readers, especially about what kind of soy milk to use to make the perfect vegan ricotta cheese.
So we rolled up our sleeves and decided to try making ricotta with all the types of soy milk we could find in the supermarkets in our area.
The result was amazing, and testing so many types of milk, over 20 different brands, gave us the opportunity to find guidelines to understand which soy milk is the best to make ricotta. We share the key results with you in this article.
Ingredients & substitutions
- Soy milk: we've tried over 20 different brands of soy milk and we were able to make ricotta cheese with all of them, even those that contain sugar, flavourings, and additives like calcium or gellan gum.
But if you need to make a savoury dish or want to eat the ricotta on its own, choose unsweetened, unflavoured soy milk. If instead you have to make a sweet dish, like a cake or a pie, then any soy milk is fine.
- Vinegar or lemon juice: this is used to curdle the soy milk and turn it into ricotta cheese. I prefer classic white wine vinegar. Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is also fine.
We have done many tests, the optimal amount of vinegar is 20g for every 500g (or 2.5 tbsp for ¼ of a gallon) of soy milk, while that of lemon is about 30g - 40g for every 500g (or 4 tbsp for ¼ of a gallon) of soy milk.
- Cloth for filtering liquids: also called cheese cloth, but a clean kitchen cloth that does not smell of detergent is fine.
- Strainer: any strainer will do.
- Large bowl: it must be able to hold all the soy milk you want to curdle. To be on the safe side, I recommend using a heat-resistant wooden, ceramic, or glass bowl, or non-reactive metal.
- Ricotta cheese mold: optional, this ricotta tastes great without it. It's just to give it the classic ricotta cheese shape and convince your more skeptical friends and relatives to eat it. You can find it online.
How to make vegan ricotta
Making vegan ricotta from store-bought soy milk is actually very easy and it only takes about 45 minutes with a bit of practice!
First, bring the soy milk to a boil then immediately transfer it to a bowl and quickly add the vinegar. Stir with a spoon for 1 minute and you will see the milk begin to curdle. Now wait for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, place a strainer over a large bowl/pot, then cover it with a piece of cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel, but one that doesn't taste like detergent.
After the 10 minutes, pour the curdled soy milk into the strainer, wrap it in the cheese cloth, put a weight on top and let it drain for at least 1 hour.
I put a bowl full of water over the milk to drain to add a little weight and get a nice firm ricotta within 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Once the milk has been drained the ricotta is ready to be used for both sweet (such as cannoli or pies) and savoury (such as lasagna, ravioli, cannelloni) dishes.
If you like to eat it as it is, add a pinch of sea salt or chopped aromatic herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
For best visual results, use a ricotta cheese mold that you can purchase online. The ricotta will have the same shape as the one you find in cheese stores and it will be easier to convince skeptical friends and relatives to taste it.
Put the ricotta in the mold, press it well, then store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you're ready to eat it, discard the excess drained water and flip the mold upside down onto a plate to get the ricotta out.
- Shake the milk package well. Soy tends to settle to the bottom of the package/bottle, and that part there is exactly what we need to make the ricotta.
- Boil the milk: the hotter the milk, the easier the ricotta will curdle. So bring it to a boil and try to add the vinegar or lemon juice shortly after.
- Don't let the milk burn: soy milk tends to stick to the bottom of the pot as you bring it to a boil, and it can burn, giving a bad, burnt taste to the ricotta. To prevent it from sticking, use a double-bottomed pot to heat it, and stir it often.
- Metal or Non-Metal? I have tried making it in a metal bowl, with a metal spoon, and to me, the ricotta turned out fine. It's best however to use a different material (or a non-reactive metal bowl) to prevent the acidity in the lemon juice or in the vinegar to corrode the metal.
- Add a weight on top to speed up draining: in order to get a fairly compact soy ricotta cheese that is suitable for both sweet and savoury dishes, I recommend putting a weight on top of the milk while it drains . This way you will have a perfect ricotta in just over an hour. I usually use a bowl full of water to add weight.
Which is the best milk for vegan ricotta?
The good news is that most soy milks on the market will work. There are so many these days that you can choose one based on your budget, your taste, and the recipe you need to make.
But based on the results from our test with over 20 different types and brands of soy milks I want to share with you some key takeaways.
- All the soy milks we tested worked well to make ricotta - we tried 21 in this test. It doesn't matter if there's sugar, vitamins, calcium, flavourings, or other additives. If you follow our recipe, you'll probably be able to make ricotta with most soy milks out there.
- A soy milk with a neutral taste, so without sugar and without flavouring, will give you a ricotta with a mild, neutral flavour that is more suitable for cooking both sweet and savoury dishes.
- In general, the higher the percentage of soy written in the ingredients list of the milk, the higher the yield of ricotta that you can get from that milk (although this is not always the case).
- So, in conclusion, while all the soy milks we tested worked well to make ricotta cheese, when it comes to eating the ricotta, in our opinion, milks without sugar and without flavours produce a better, more versatile ricotta cheese.
Questions & answers
If you follow our directions you shouldn't taste the vinegar, or rather, we and our family don't. If you are very sensitive to vinegar you can try lemon juice and see if it bothers you. If you still feel a sour taste then read the next question.
As I mentioned above, if you follow our directions to the letter you shouldn't be able to taste the vinegar. If you do still taste it though, then I recommend rinsing the ricotta under cold running water as soon as you put it in the strainer. Then once it's washed you can put it in to drain.
I've tried this step and it works well, but I never do it when I make my ricotta because I can't taste the vinegar.
I have not been able to make vegan ricotta with any other type of commercial plant-milk. We have only been able to make vegan ricotta with soy milk. We tried rice, oat, coconut, and almond milk but none of them worked.
However, you could try making it with homemade almond milk. To do this, you need to blend 200g of peeled almonds with 1000g of water in a high speed blender. Then you can try curdling it.
Curdling is an ancient technique used to make cheese and tofu. In this recipe, curdling happens when an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) gets in touch with the proteins in the soy milk.
The change in PH will make the proteins in the milk to clump together, resulting in delicious vegan preparations like ricotta and tofu.
Store vegan ricotta cheese in the same cheese mold you made it with, or in a bowl, covered with a plate, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you see that it changes color slightly and it gets a bit off white, don't worry that's normal and it will still be good.
This soy ricotta can be used in many ways just like traditional cow or sheep ricotta.
If you want to eat it alone on bread or in a focaccia with vegetables or spinach, I suggest adding a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
For sweet preparations take a look at our recipe for Sicilian cannoli or our vegan ricotta and chocolate pie.
For savoury preparations you can use it in pasta bakes, ravioli, crumbled on pasta, you name it. It really is an easy, delicious and versatile recipe.
Vegan Ricotta Cheese
- Cheese cloth or a clean kitchen cloth
- Ricotta cheese mold (optional)
- 1 Liter (¼ gallon) soy milk I recommend one without sugar to have a neutral taste
- 40 g (2.5 tbsp) white vinegar or lemon juice but 60g per 1L (or 4tbsp for ¼ gallon) of milk
- Bring the soy milk to a boil then immediately transfer it to a non-metal bowl and quickly add the vinegar. Stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute and you will see the milk begin to curdle. Now wait for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, place a strainer over a large bowl/pot, then cover it with a piece of cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel, but one that doesn't taste like detergent.
- After the 10 minutes, pour the curdled soy milk into the strainer, wrap it in the cheese cloth, put a weight on top and let it drain for about 30 min to 1 hour.I put a bowl full of water over the milk to drain to add a little weight and get a nice firm ricotta within an hour.
- Once the milk has been drained the ricotta is ready to be used for both sweet (such as cannoli or pies) and savoury (such as lasagna, ravioli, cannelloni) dishes. If you like to eat it as it is, add a pinch of sea salt or chopped aromatic herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- For best visual results, use a ricotta cheese mold (fuscella) that you can purchase online. The ricotta will have the same shape as the one you find in cheese stores and it will be easier to convince skeptical friends and relatives to taste it.Put the ricotta in the mold, press it well, then store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you're ready to eat it, discard the excess drained water and flip the mold upside down onto a plate to get the ricotta out.
Let us know in the comments below if you try this recipe at home. Or take a picture and tag us on Instagram @italiaplantbased.