The Easiest Way to Make Fresh Mozzarella (and Burrata)

The Easiest Way to Make Fresh Mozzarella (and Burrata)

It’s hard to talk about cheese without mentioning balls—big, white, wet balls. Mozzarella isn’t the easiest cheese to make, but it’s the one people often start with. In the world of cheese appreciators, there are those who enjoy your hard classics: cheddar, muenster, a big lacy Swiss. And then you have the gourmands who prefer something runnier, stinkier: your Stiltons and bries. Mozzarella is the great uniter of cheeses. Almost everyone loves a mozz, and in particular, they love the idea of making it.

The trouble is, mozzarella isn’t an easy cheese to make, despite all the videos of Italian fellers and nonne claiming otherwise. (This is a lie. Italian grandmothers don’t mess around. They know it’s complicated.).

To that end, I suggest you start with an easier cheese, such as ricotta or feta. Most of you will ignore me (I certainly would) and dream of a pizza night in which you haughtily mention that you made the cheese yourself. For that reason, we’re going to make quick mozzarella, which has, like, 43 less steps than a more traditional recipe, but a much shorter shelf-life. You’ll need to eat this within a day or two. I know, suffer. (Want to make burrata? We’ve got an easy way to do that too.)

Easy Mozzarella


1 gallon milk, not ultra-pasteurized (pasteurized, VAT pasteurized, or raw is OK)1 ½ teaspoon citric acid, dissolved in ¼ cup distilled water½ teaspoon rennet dissolved in ¼ cup distilled water1 teaspoon salt2 tablespoon ricotta (if making burrata)

Equipment (Check out our buying guide for equipment recommendations):

6-quart or larger stockpot3-quart saucepanStainless steel colanderCheeseclothMeasuring spoonsThermometerpH strips or pH meterMicrowave-safe bowlMicrowaveHeat-proof gloves

Set up your space


Photo: Amanda Blum

As with all things cheese, cleanliness is next to curdliness. Make sure the pot, the counter, all the utensils you’ll need and use—from the measuring spoons to the thermometer—the faucet and sink are all freshly clean and sanitized with either white vinegar or a sanitizing solution. Keep your spray bottle of vinegar and clean towels nearby.

Boil water in a pot on the stove, and submerge your cheesecloth for at least a minute, and then use sanitized tongs to take it out and stretch over your colander before you begin.

Once you start, you don’t want to wash dishes or anything else in the kitchen, as it can contaminate your cheese from the droplets. If you have ferments going, you’ll want to cover them or relocate them so they don’t contaminate your cheese. We’re looking for a sterile environment.

Heat the milk

We’re going to set up a double boiler, so you’ll want a large sauté pan with a few inches of water under the pot that will hold the milk. The pot should have a thermometer fitted to it. Fill the pot with your milk. (Make sure to shake the milk bottles before you dump it in, so you’re getting all the cream as well.) Set the heat to medium, and stir the milk continuously until it hits a temperature of 55℉.


Photo: Amanda Blum

Once it hits that temperature, stir the milk once more, then add the citric acid and continue stirring for at least a minute. Now we’re going to let the temperature rise to 90℉, stirring as we go. The milk may curdle during this time, and that’s expected and OK. It’s also OK if it does not.

Mozzarella- milk after citric acid

Once the milk hits 90℉, turn off the stove. Remove a small amount of milk from the pot and use the pH strips to test it. It should have a pH in the range of 5-5.3. Don’t proceed until it does. If it doesn’t, continue to stir at the same temperature and re-test in ten minutes.

Add rennet to make curds

Once the temperature hits 90℉ and the milk has a pH in the range of 5-5.3, it’s time for rennet. Stir the milk to create a small cyclone, and pour in the rennet. Now stir for 60 seconds using a figure-eight motion. At the end of 60 seconds, stop the motion of the milk by holding your spoon still in the pot. Cover the pot, and walk away.

After 10 minutes, take the cover off and, using your curd cutting knife, test for a clean break. Your knife should cut through the curd cleanly, with the curd keeping its (new) edge and shape after you pull your knife away. If you have a clean break, proceed. If you do not, put the lid back on and wait another ten minutes and re-test.

Once you have a clean break, you’re going to cut the curd into one-inch columns. Cut down and through the curd across the top in one-inch sections, then rotate the pot 90 degrees and repeat, making perpendicular cuts to your first set of lines. You don’t need to make any horizontal cuts.


Photo: Amanda Blum


Photo: Amanda Blum

Reheat and pull the curds

Turn the heat back on, and slowly bring the curds to 105℉. Do this over five minutes, stirring the entire time. Do not stir in a circle; bring the spoon up from the bottom to the top of the milk, lifting the curds, and repeating that motion. During this process, we’re trying expel as much whey as possible.


Photo: Amanda Blum

As you stir, the curds are going to break up into smaller pieces. Once you hit a temperature of 105℉, look at the whey. If it’s relatively clear, you’ve succeeded. If it’s cloudy, something has gone wrong. You can continue, but you might have trouble stretching the cheese. As with all cheese, if something goes wrong, it’s usually not correctable. You just have to start over. (Womp womp.)


Photo: Amanda Blum

At this point, pour the curds into your cheesecloth-lined colander. In this case, you do not need to keep the whey, so it’s OK to do this over the sink. Let the curds drain for 10 minutes.

Microwave and pull the curds


Photo: Amanda Blum

Now place the curds in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke them, uncovered, on high for one minute. This will expel even more whey into the bowl. Carefully pour this off, and using the gloves, fold the curds in on themselves eight times, turning the bowl 90 degrees before each fold. There’s no science to this, we’re just seeing how the curds melt together. They might be melty already, or not. Either is fine.

Mozzarella, after the first nuke

Now, microwave the bowl of curds for another thirty seconds. You’ll be repeating the process, and the curds will get even meltier. Try giving the curds a pull—just pinch a small piece and pull it away. Does it come away on its own, or is it stringy? We’re looking for a long shiny string.

Mozzarella- Shiny Happy Cheese

Mozzarella- Shiny Happy Cheese

Now it’s time for one last 30-second nuke. Then pull it out of the microwave, dump the whey, and sprinkle the salt over the top of the curds.

Stretch the curds

Using your gloved paws, you’re going to pinch off a cup’s worth of curd, about a handful, and between your two hands, stretch the cheese by pulling it apart, and then putting it back together. You’re looking for glossy or shiny strings, with no grittiness. When you put it back together, you’re folding it in on itself, so there’s a side without any folds, perfectly smooth, with the gathered portion on the other side. You’ll do this 10-15 times. As you’re doing that last fold, make sure that the side of the ball with the folds is in the palm of your hand with the flat side facing out. Squeeze the folded end, which will force the smooth end of the mozzarella to balloon slightly and stretch taut, then pinch it off and place it into a bowl of room-temperature water.


Photo: Amanda Blum

Repeat with the rest of the curd. After an hour, transfer the bowl, covered, to the fridge. The mozz should be eaten within twenty four hours.


Photo: Amanda Blum

Bonus round: Burrata

Burrata is the luscious cousin of mozzarella cheese. It’s fresh mozz, with a pocket of ricotta or cream in the middle. When you cut it open, the middle oozes out in a way that I dare call sexy.

If you want to give it a go, have your ricotta or cream on standby (I recommend ricotta for your first go). As you’re stretching the curds, instead of forming a ball, you’ll make a purse. As you’re folding, use your thumb to make a cavern for the ricotta, instead of rejoining the curds into a ball. Add the ricotta to the void, then close the end around it, and proceed as described above. Like the plain mozz, this burrata should be eaten in a couple of days. I don’t think that will be a problem, however.

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