Looking for the best farmer’s cheese recipe ever? Look no further. This one is creamy, dreamy, and can be used anywhere you would use cottage cheese!
Once you try this recipe for homemade farmer’s cheese, you can guarantee that you will never want to buy a store-bought or packaged variety again (or at least most of the time, right?). In my lifetime, I’ve tried so many different versions of this Eastern European staple but haven’t quite landed on one that’s checked all my boxes…until this one. It’s the perfect combination of creaminess and texture and incorporates into our favorite Slavic recipes so well. You’ll love how it takes virtually no time to get those quintessential curdles!
More cheese, please! Try this homemade cheese if you want a versatile, creamy, slightly firm cheese!
What Exactly is Farmer’s Cheese?
Farmer’s cheese is an unripened cheese and key ingredient in many Eastern European cakes, pastries, and dumplings. Similar to cottage cheese, it boasts a ridiculously creamy texture and versatility. You’ll find it made with everything from sheep, goat, and cow’s milk and prepared with a zillion different methods. In our 3 ingredient version, we use a natural curdling process powered by lemon juice and vinegar and nix the need for hard-to-find ingredients like rennet (a set of enzymes used for cheesemaking). Below, find a rundown of the flavor, texture, and time it takes to make our rustic, simplified version.
- Flavor: The flavor of farmer’s cheese favors American-style cottage cheese. It’s milky with a slight amount of tang and acidity.
- Texture: The texture of farmer’s cheese is also super similar to cottage cheese with the exception that it’s a bit firmer due to its higher fat content and lower moisture content.
- Time: From start to finish, this super speedy recipe for farmer’s cheese only requires 30 minutes to pull together.
What’s a good substitute for farmer’s cheese? We’ve already mentioned that cottage cheese is a good alternative, but Indian paneer and ricotta work too. That said, certain Slavic recipes (like pierogis, blintzes, and vareniki) are simply not as authentic without it.
Making Farmer’s Cheese from Scratch
Preparing this simplified recipe for farmer’s cheese only requires milk, lemon juice, and white vinegar. Below, find a quick rundown of the recipe before you dive in.
- Boil the Milk: In a large pot, bring the milk to boil over medium hit, stirring it every so often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Once it boils, immediately turn off the heat.
- Stir in the Lemon Juice and Vinegar: Using a spatula or slotted spoon, stir in the lemon juice and vinegar. After about 5 minutes, the milk will begin to curdle.
- Strain the Milk: Line a colander or fine-mesh strainer with a cheesecloth and pour the milk through. Pick up the cheesecloth and twist the top like a purse. Next, drain out as much of the whey as you can.
- Press the Cheese: Place the drained cheese on a plate and weigh it down with a heavy pot or pan (a Dutch oven works great). Finally, leave it pressed at room temperature overnight.
- Store the Cheese: Transfer the cheese to an airtight container and use it as you wish.
Top Tips for the Most Authentic Farmer’s Cheese
Here you’ll find our top tips for making the most authentic farmer’s cheese possible.
- Use full-fat whole milk. Whole milk yields the creamiest curds. Refrain from using 2% or 1% or it will turn out watery.
- Use a candy thermometer to check the milk’s temperature. The milk should reach around 205°F before you remove it from heat. To take the guesswork out, use a candy thermometer to check on it periodically.
- Add different spices and herbs to it. If you want a pop of savory flavor, add in some freshly cracked salt and pepper, sautéed onions, and herbs. This goes wonderfully spread on a slice of toasted rye or sourdough!
Tasty Ways to Use Homemade Farmer’s Cheese
While there are a handful of traditional Slavic recipes that call for farmer’s cheese, there are also plenty of off-the-beaten-path ways to tap into its mild flavor. Below, find some inspiration.
- Farmer’s Cheese Coffee Cake Recipe
- Pierogi with Farmer’s Cheese (Vareniki Recipe)
- Farmer’s Cheese Cake aka Zapenkanka
- Use in place of ricotta in stuffed shells or lasagna
- Add it to your favorite Mediterranean recipe in place of feta cheese
- Use it in Indian dishes and curries instead of paneer
- Spread it on a piece of toast alongside some honey or jam for a quick breakfast on-the-go
Tips for Storage
To keep your cheese fresh for up to 10 days, store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. This will keep it from hardening or soaking up any lingering smells hanging out in your fridge. Some also like to wrap it in a layer of wax paper, followed by a layer of plastic wrap. This method is a bit harder with crumbly cheese, but perfectly acceptable if you prefer it.
Are you supposed to leave the farmer’s cheese pressed at room temperature overnight?
Yes, leave the farmer’s cheese pressed at room temperature. Once all the whey is removed the next day, pop it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge.
Can you use a different kind of milk besides whole milk?
It’s not recommended that you use any other milk besides whole milk. A non-dairy, lower-fat, or lactose-free milk just won’t get as creamy or yield the right texture.
Can you eat the cheese immediately after it’s rested overnight?
Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat the farmer’s cheese after it’s rested overnight. Feel free to use it right away!
How many cups of cheese does this recipe yield?
This recipe yields about 2-3 cups of farmer’s cheese. This varies depending on the type of milk you use and the level of fat content it has.
What are some other names for farmer’s cheese?
Lots of other cultures have their very own rendition of farmer’s cheese. A couple of other kinds include queso blanco (Mexican-style), paneer (Indian-style), and quark (German-style).
Other Tasty Recipes that Use Farmer’s Cheese Recipe
- Farmer’s Cheese Doughnut Holes (Russian Ponchiki) – Crispy fried doughnut holes with farmer’s cheese filling
- Russian Cream Cheese Vatrushka Buns – Soft buns stuffed with sweet cheese and raisins
- Puff Pastry Cheese Turnovers – Sweet cheese mini-turnovers
- Sochniki (Sweet Cheese Cookies) – Shortbread cookies with sweet cheese filling
- 6 qts whole milk
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- In a large pot, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. Make sure to stir it occasionally so it doesn't stick or burn to the bottom.
- As soon as the milk begins to boil, turn off the heat. Using a spatula or slotted spoon, stir in the lemon juice and white vinegar. Within 5 minutes, the milk should begin to curdle.
- Line a colander with a cheesecloth and pour the milk through to strain out the curdles.
- Bundle the cloth around the cheese like a coin purse and bring out as much of the whey as you can.
- Place the wrapped cheese on a plate and weigh it down with a heavy pot or pan. Leave it to press overnight.
- Keep the farmer's cheese stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it in your favorite recipes and baked goods. Enjoy!
Your nutrition facts are not helpful. How many servings? What serving size?
Hi Fred, this recipe makes about 2-3 cups of Farmers cheese, I will make a note in the recipe. Thanks for brining this to my attention.
My husband told me his mother (I never met) used to make Pierogis with Farmers Cheese so we looked high and low to try and find Farmers Cheese with no luck. No one had it. It says in here it's in most stores, Not. Any idea where I might find it? I had a recipe I found years ago for it but he said it just wasn't the same. Help.
Cheryl, I was able to find farmer's cheese at Sam's Club. It was the only store that had it.
Hi Cheryl. It depends where you live. If you have Publix around they usually have friendship dairies farmer cheese. Also I would check Russians/Eastern European stores if you have them in your area.
Hey Cheryl, after you made the cheese it this recipe did you prep it for pierogis? When used for pierogi filling it is traditionally seasoned by adding egg yolks and sugar to the cheese. This might have been the step you missed if you filling didn’t taste right. You should be about to find a ratio of yolks/sugar vs weight of cheese you need to use looking for another recipe online. Sorry I don’t know just off the top of my head.
Good luck! My wife and are are making pierogis for our freezer tomorrow 🙂
Hi there Cheryl. I usually buy mine at sprouts. If you dont have that store around you, I recommend you make your own! We have an awesome and easy recipe for farmers cheese. I will link it for you here. https://momsdish.com/recipe/2…
Hope this helps. Good luck!
How many pounds does this make?
I need 3 lbs
Hi Jewels- it yields about 2-3 cups of cheese, so you would definitely need to double or triple this recipe at least.
I liked how easy this recipe is but it doesn’t yield a lot of tvorog. I got about a pound and a half.
Hi Gene, So glad to hear this recipe was a success! Enjoy!
Thank you!! I'm almost done making my own cheese because of you. 🙂
Hi Taylor- I'm so glad you are giving this recipe a try! Enjoy it. Is there something you plan to make out of the farmers cheese?
Natalya, can sheep milk be used to make farmers cheese?
Hi Diane, I have not tried using sheep milk. You would need to use a high fat content milk. If you give it a try, I am very interested in the result. Good luck!
This is great, and I will be making it next week. It's something I've always wanted to try. I will ask my Czech friend for recipes!
Hi Jenny! I would love to hear how this recipe turned out after you make it. Make sure you also tag us @Momsdish on Facebook and Instagram. Enjoy!
for those looking to scale up or down...
half gallon of milk - 1/4 cup of Lemon Juice - 2 teaspoons of White Vinegar..
that should do ya..
also, I flipped my colander over and placed my cheesecloth in the base in my sink which held it nicely to drain.. I then put a glass pie plate over top of that inverted and on top of that I put a large mason jar half filled with water... the pie plate helps distribute the downward force evenly and the colander base has a ring as it's stand and that keeps the cheesecloth in and of course, the holes in the bottom of the colander (top now since it's upside down) allow for the whey to drain from the block being pressed.. actually makes a nice little cheese wheel shape!
can't wait to taste it in the morning!
Hey Brian, love all the tips! Thanks for taking the time to share, I know it will be useful for many.
very nice just put the plate on a larger plate and raise one end of the smaller plate so liquid drains away from the cheese cloth
Thank you for the tip, Joseph!
Can you make this recipe half or 1/4 I only need a little cheese for some pancakes?
Hi JL- yes, I think you could halve the recipe without any issues.
Do you use fresh squeezed lemon juice or store bought?
Hi Vicky, either can work. Since its a larger quantity, using store bought lemon juice may be faster!
Thank you for this recipe!! It’s becoming impossible to find dry farmers cheese for our annual family pierogi party here in Florida so I’m attempting to make our own. I’m starting with a “practice batch” using your recipe 😊
I followed your directions exactly and it turned out perfect. My only question is: do you allow it to cool in the colander/cheesecloth before squeezing it out? I tried to squeeze it right away and it was a bit hot to handle. Also, 1 1/2 gallons of milk yielded 1 1/2 pounds of cheese…delightfully more than I expected 🙂
You're welcome, Jackie! Yes, you can let it cool for a bit before straining it so that it's easier to handle.
Hi Natalya! I used Costco brand milk, since they didn't have the organic kind. Recipe is so easy to make. It was a total success!!!
I made сырники already.
Recipe us going in the trusted recipe collection
Thank you for the feedback, Lena. I'm glad this recipe was a winner for you!
Natalya! What kind of milk do you use?
Hi, Lena. I use whole milk!
How many gallons of milk do you need for this recipe. I am in US
Please let me know I want to .ake it asap
Hi Lena - 6 quarts is about 1.5 gallons. Hope this helps! Let me know how it turns out. Thanks!
So glad to have found this recipe. Farmer cheese is so hard to come by here in northern Vermont. Sometimes we can get it around Christmas, but not other times of the year. And our family absolutely loves pierogi and definitely want to eat it year round. Unfortunately I became lactose intolerant recently and thus have not eaten pierogi the past years. I am anxious to try making our own farmers cheese with lactose free whole milk. (i.e. Lactaid) Do you know if it will work?
Vermont Creamery makes quark
Hi Cecillia - Pierogi is such a comfort, I'm sorry you haven't been able to enjoy it! I've never actually`tried making farmer's cheese with Lactaid. Let me know if you try it and how it turns out. I'm very curious. Thank you for the kind words and fingers crossed you enjoy them soon!
Hi, I'm wondering if there's a brand of whole milk that might work best? I know you say whole milk.
Hi Val - Thanks for the note. I typically go for organic milk like Horizon Organics or Organic Valley (typically whatever is being sold at Costco is what I have on hand). I find that the taste is richer than most standard milks. Hope this helps!
Coming from a Mennonite background, I am used to make farmer cheese out of old milk, without any need to add lemon, vinegar, kephir, yoghurt pr renet. Just let the milk get old (about 2 days out of the fridge will do it), and bring close to the boiling point. Let cool off and rinse.
Hi Cornelius, thank you for that tip!! That is another great option!
Can I use this the same day that I make it?
Hey Caroline, yes for sure. Enjoy
Do you leave the cheese pressed out of refrigerator over nite
Hi Jessica, you can leave it on the counter. Once the whey is drained, you would refrigerate after.
This looks so exciting! I have been making yogurt and buttermilk, and this looks comparatively easy! Thank you!
Let me know how it goes, I'd love to hear your feedback!
I am never sure if I have the milk hot enough or not. I know you don’t want it to look like boiling water, but I’m never sure if it’s hot enough. Have you ever put in a candy thermometer and taken the temp when the milk is hot enough? It would be really helpful to get a rough temp of when to put in the lemon and vinegar. Thanks for the recipe
Hey dear, the milk should reach 205F. Enjoy the recipe!
I wonder if apple cider vinegar could be used instead of white?
Hey Anna, I personally wouldn't like the flavor of that but I think it can be. You can also use lemon.
I can't get the instructions, only ads, could you please help me with the recipe? Thanks
Hey, Kathy, did you click the jump to recipe button?
When my 38 year old daughter was a toddler, (before microwaves times), she would only drink her milk warm. So every day i managed to get the milk over boil and i had to take my whole stove top apart to clean up the MESS. As i was standing next to the stove just now, making your recepie, waiting for the milk to boil, it happened again. 🙄
Btw. I used 1% milk and it started to curdle immediately, no problem. Now i have to go and take my stove top apart.
I'm going to use my farmer cheese to make my childhood favorite, Hungarian "túro gomboc" cheese dumpling, which is NOTHING like the Italian cheese balls.
Judit, en is imadom a turos gombocot. Not sure if you speak hungarian. I love turos gombos as well!!
Haha, brought back some memories! I'm glad your farmers cheese worked out! Let me know how your dumplings turn out.
I plan to make your donuts with farmers cheese. Approximately how many pounds would this farmers cheese recipe make?
It makes about 1/2 a pound of farmers cheese. There are many factors that go into it, it would depend on the cheese and how much liquids you sqeeze out.
Thank you for this recipe. My family makes pierogi every year and farmers cheese is very hard to find and very expensive in my area. I followed the directions and it turned out just like I hoped. I do have one question, though. From the photo, it looks like you wrapped your cheese and cling wrap before weighting it down. What does weighing down do (I guess I’ll know by tomorrow), and wouldn’t any moisture left in the cheese still be there because it’s trapped by plastic?
Hey, the wrap is only between the pot and the cheesecloth. Sorry for the confusion. But I am so happy you found this recipe! 🙂
My brother-in-law, the chef in charge of the cheese filling for our annual
Pierogi day, said this was the best cheese EVER! The filling was a great consistency and tasted SOOOO good. I’m so glad I found this recipe and thank you again.
That is so good to hear, I'm so glad your family enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for your feedback.
When the cheese is left to be pressed, it is refrigerated right?
Hey Sarah, you can leave it on the counter. Once the whey is drained, you would refrigerate after.
So excited to find this recipe. I’m going to make pierogi!
I hope you love it, circle back and let me know!
Thank you for sharing the recipe, my spouse lives puff pastry and this farmers cheese will make a wonderful filling.
Sonya, I hope you love the recipe, it's great for all kinds of baked goods. I have tons of recipes with farmers cheese as the filling 🙂 I hope you give some of them a try!