This Homemade Veggie Cream Cheese (Completely from Scratch!) is super easy to make and only requires a couple special ingredients. It’s perfect for any special occasion!
Did you know there are people in the world that don’t slather cream cheese copiously on their bagels?? It’s crazy but trust me, they’re out there, I know some of them. I’m not judging or anything, but for me, a bagel isn’t complete without a smear of cream cheese. Even if said bagel comes in the form of a sandwich, I’ll gladly skip that slice of cheddar for a nice even layer of tangy cream cheese.
Now, I want to be clear, I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat a bagel without it (I have and would again), because even a bagel on its own is carb perfection in my eyes. However, if given the choice, I’ll skip right over the butter and jam or peanut butter, and head straight to the whipped cream cheese without forming a single thought in my head, it’s sort of like a reflex.
Just like my sentiments on bagels, I’m equally as picky about cream cheese, especially when it comes to veggie cream cheese.
For one, I like it to be packed full of vegetables. There’s nothing I hate more than opening a package of veggie cream cheese to only spy a few flecks of green onion or carrot haphazardly thrown in.
Two, it needs to be seriously flavorful; I’m talking, loads of garlic, onion, salt – the works. It’s not too often I come across a cream cheese that meets all these requirements, so I’ve been eager to make my own homemade version where I can pick and choose the ingredients.
Unlike making homemade ricotta which is about as easy as you can get, making homemade cream cheese requires you to plan ahead, and unfortunately requires a few items that probably aren’t just lingering in your pantry or fridge – unless you’re a professional cheese maker. Luckily, I’m always up for a challenge.
I searched high and low for the perfect recipe, and while they are very similar, I finally settled on slightly adapting this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen because hers was super simple and straightforward. The only things I changed were the amount of milk I used, the type of rennent I used and the amount of time I let the whey drip from the curds.
So for starters, you need, a rennet of some kind, I used a vegetable rennet for no other reason than it was easier to find, but you could also use an animal rennet if that’s what you happen to come across. The process is pretty simple, but somehow I managed to screw up the first batch, so instead of a long wordy post on how to make it, here are a few bulleted tips.
- Use fresh milk! The first time I used milk that wasn’t quite expired, but definitely not at its peak, which may have contributed to the first batch tasting a bit more sour than I would have liked.
- Do not cheat and try to use paper towels instead of cheese cloth. When I make ricotta, I use paper towels, because I’m lazy, but it doesn’t work here, trust me, I found out the hard way.
- It’s ok if your milk isn’t at 75 degrees exactly when you add the rennet, just make sure it’s within a few degrees above it, but not below.
- If your house is cooler, it will need to sit out a bit longer. I ended up letting mine sit out for 14 hours.
Of course once you make the cream cheese, you don’t HAVE to turn it into veggie cream cheese (although it’s really the best). Add some sliced almonds and honey for a sweet version. Or maybe add some dill, chives, garlic and basil for an herbed version. You could even add maple syrup and bacon for a really untraditional cream cheese – the possibilities are endless!
So! In conclusion, for me, while I absolutely couldn’t get enough of it, this is a special occasion type of recipe. I love the idea of having something made completely from scratch, but it is actually a bit more expensive to make it yourself and requires quite a bit of time. I think it would make perfect sense if you’re hosting a brunch and want to impress your guests, or even if you’re having a few friends over at breakfast for bagels and cream cheese, but I probably wouldn’t break out the cheese cloth every single time I craved a bagel with cream cheese.
Happy Friday guys!
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp. buttermilk
- 2 drops liquid vegetable rennet (Mine was double strength, so I used two, if you buy one that is normal strength, use two drops)
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- 1½ Tbsp. minced red pepper
- 1½ Tbsp. minced green pepper
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
- 1½ Tbsp. minced green onion
- 3 Tbsp. minced carrot
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- 2 small garlic cloves, grated
- Add milk, water, buttermilk and ½ teaspoon salt to a large dutch oven or pot. Stir to combine. Turn the heat on low and slowly bring the temperature up to 75 degrees. If you go over, it's fine, just make sure you stay under 80. I like to transfer it to bowl, because a pot tends to store heat.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of water with rennet drops. Add to milk mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place that's about 75-80 degrees, let it sit for 12 hours. The top should look like loose yogurt, if it's not that consistency, let it sit another hour. If you keep your house around 70 like I do, just put it in the warmest spot in the house, and let it sit for 14 hours.
- Once the mixture has set out, place a cheesecloth in a strainer set over a large bowl. Pour the mixture slowly into the cheese cloth. Gather the ends up and tie them together. Tie the cheese cloth up somewhere it can hang, please see photo above. Let the mixture drip for 12 hours. If it still hasn't set, let it drip another hour or until all of the liquid is gone.
- Transfer the cream cheese to a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachement and add the remaining ingredients. Mix low until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Store in an airtight container.