Is cheese ice cream a thing? Absolutely! Combining the creamy goodness of cheese with the refreshing sweetness of ice cream creates a unique and crave-worthy dessert. This cheese based ice cream celebrates both ricotta and in-season strawberries at their peak. 

bowl of chunky strawberry ice cream

Here at Urban Cheesecraft, we love experimenting with cheese in all forms, and to kick off summer, we're spotlighting our homemade ricotta in a delicious strawberry ice cream recipe. In our region (Portland, Oregon), this is perfect for enjoying the brief and much-anticipated Hood strawberry season. You can use any tasty strawberries found in your area though. As an alternative, freeze-dried strawberries work beautifully because their flavor is intensified and they do not add moisture risking ice crystals.

The Allure of Cheese in Desserts
Cheese has long been a beloved ingredient in a variety of desserts, from classic cheesecake to Italian cannoli. The creamy, tangy profile of cheese adds a unique depth of flavor and texture that other ingredients can't match. Ricotta, in particular, brings a fluffy creaminess to ice cream that is perfect if you love cheesecake, cannoli, and other cheese-based desserts. This innovative use of cheese is gaining popularity and delighting taste buds everywhere, from queso ice cream, a cheddar based version popular in the Philippines, to the recent craze of cottage cheese ice cream sweeping social media for its high protein content. We found it to be salty which required more sugar. It is our humble opinion that ricotta ice cream is far superior to cottage cheese ice cream (though we love cottage cheese in many other uses! Stay tuned for a homemade cottage cheese shortcut recipe.).

cheesemaker making ricotta in a stainless steel pot


Why Homemade Ricotta?
Homemade ricotta cheese is incredibly easy to make, one of the easiest cheeses for beginners in fact. Because we use only whole milk it adds a richness to your ice cream that store-bought varieties simply can't match. It's not just about the superior taste; making ricotta at home allows you to control the ingredients (no additives or extra liquid), ensuring a fresh and wholesome product. Grab our easy whole milk ricotta recipe here on Urban Cheesecraft to start.

If you need the basic ingredients our popular Ricotta and Mozzarella Kit for beginners will set you up.

cheesemaker pouring curds and whey into colander

Note - We call it whole milk ricotta because we start with creamy whole milk, versus the whey version that is lovely but very low yield in home cheesemaking - about 1/4 cup max for a gallon of whey!

clear bowl of fresh whole milk ricotta with basil and cherry tomatoes

Benefits of Using Fresh Ricotta

Homemade ricotta is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. It is high in protein, a great source of calcium and essential vitamins. By making it at home, you can avoid preservatives and additives like gums and thickeners often found in store-bought versions. This wholesome approach enhances the overall nutritional value and utter deliciousness of your ice cream. It makes a thicker soft serve if eaten right after churning and easier to scoop after being frozen.

dish of strawberry ice cream being scooped

Recipe: Strawberry Ricotta Ice Cream
2 cups homemade ricotta cheese, well drained
1 cup sweet strawberries, hulled (dice an extra 1/4 cup if you would like mix ins)
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (alcohol-based to help with texture, or sub in 1 tablespoon vodka)
Big pinch of salt

Method 1: Using a Blender and Ice Cream Machine
Prepare the Ricotta: Follow our homemade ricotta recipe. Fresh ricotta ensures your ice cream is creamy and rich.

Blend Ingredients: In a blender, combine all ingredients (minus diced strawberry mix ins if using). Blend until smooth. This step infuses the ice cream with the sweet and tangy flavor of strawberries, blends the ricotta with the cream for a smooth texture and whips some air into the mixture.

Chill if Needed: Not you, the mixture! :) Chilling the blended ice cream mix is only necessary when highspeed blenders warm the mixture. 

Add Mix Ins: Mix the strawberry bits in if you reserved them.

Churn the Ice Cream: Pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually about 20-25 minutes. Churning incorporates lots more air and breaks up any crystals as they form, making the ice cream light and fluffy.

Enjoy or Freeze: This is now amazing soft serve ready to eat. For scooping later, transfer the churned ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until firm. Freezing helps set the ice cream to the perfect scooping consistency.

Serve and Enjoy: Check on your ice cream's texture 30 minutes before you would like to scoop it. If it feels rock hard, allow it to sit at room temp for 20-30 minutes before scooping. This can happen if you reduce the amount of sugars, fat or alcohol, or simply if you froze it for many more hours deep in the freezer.

That's it. Scoop out your homemade strawberry ricotta ice cream and savor the flavors of summer!

double scoop cone of strawberry ricotta ice cream held by a hand in a backyard by a hammock


Method 2: No-Churn Alternative
Different Ingredients than above:
2 cups homemade ricotta cheese, well drained
1 cup sweet strawberries, hulled (dice an extra 1/4 cup if you would like mix ins)
1 cup heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (alcohol-based to help with texture, or sub in 1 tablespoon vodka)
Big pinch of salt

Prepare the Ricotta: Follow our recipe for homemade whole milk ricotta and drain well.

Whip the Cream: In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Whipping the cream adds volume and lightness to the ice cream.

Blend Ingredients: In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients (minus diced strawberries if mixing in). Blend until smooth.

Fold Mixtures Together: Gently fold the strawberry mixture into the whipped cream until well combined. Folding helps maintain the whipped texture of the cream. Finally, fold in the reserved diced strawberries if using. 

Freeze: Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan or an airtight container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze for at least 6 hours, or until firm.

Serve and Enjoy: Scoop out your no-churn strawberry ricotta ice cream and enjoy every delicious bite!

Geeking out on Strawberries
This photo collage is from Claudia's garden, our company founder and head cheesemaker, as she watches the strawberries with anticipation and always celebrates them with a special recipe, usually containing cheese like this ice cream! 

collage of strawberries in a garden showing growth from flower to green fruit to ripe red fruit and to a handful

Isn't it cool to see how they grow from the middle of a cute little white flower?

Benefits of Using Hood Strawberries
(Or other ripe sweet strawberries you can get in your area.)

Hood strawberries have a cult following here in Portland, Oregon. They are known and awaited for their exceptional sweetness and vibrant color. They are only with us for a few fleeting weeks though so we celebrate them when we find them. These berries are perfect for making ice cream because they add a natural sweetness and intense flavor. Using local, fresh ingredients not only supports local farmers but also ensures the best taste with less sugar in your ice cream.

Creative Ice Cream Serving Ideas and Variations
Take your strawberry ricotta ice cream to the next level with these serving ideas:

Chocolate Shell: Whisk 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon powdered sugar into ¼ cup liquid coconut oil (refined will not have coconut flavor) for a chocolate drizzle that will harden as soon as it hits the ice cream.
Nutty Crunch: Sprinkle chopped nuts, like roasted pistachios or almonds, for added texture.
Cheesecake Vibes: Top with crushed graham crackers to add some cheesecake style.
Make it a Sandwich: Make ice cream sandwiches using your favorite cookies – Oreos (without filling) are amazing and graham crackers are tasty and easy but any cookie you love will work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cheese ice cream a thing?
Now you know, yes it most certainly is! Cheese ice cream is a delicious and innovative way to enjoy the creamy texture and rich flavor of cheese in a dessert. It’s gaining popularity for its unique taste and luxurious texture.

Can I use store-bought ricotta?
While you can use store-bought ricotta, homemade ricotta adds a fresher, richer flavor and creaminess to your ice cream. If you do purchase ricotta, make sure it is made with full fat, whole milk and be sure to drain it of any extra liquid. You can line a fine mesh strainer with fine cheesecloth or paper towel and let it drip into a bowl for at least 30 minutes. Otherwise, your ice cream could end up icy with extra whey.

What if I don’t have an ice cream machine?
No problem! The no-churn method provided is a great alternative that yields equally delicious results.

Embrace Summer with Cheese Ice Cream and Fresh Fruit

Now you can tell everyone you know, cheese ice cream is not only a thing, but a must try. We hope this strawberry ricotta ice cream recipe gets your creative wheels turning. While this recipe that uses the creamy texture of homemade ricotta to create an incredible ice cream is a true celebration of local strawberries, it can be used with raspberries earlier in summer and in late summer with blueberries, blackberries, peaches, figs and practically any other fruit you like. Just watch the extra liquid content - you can always mix the fruit in right before serving if you're not sure. 

Whether you opt for the traditional churn method or the convenient no-churn alternative, you'll be treating yourself to a unique and refreshing homemade treat for true cheese lovers. For more cheesy inspirations and to expand your cheesemaking journey, sign up for our Cheesecraft Club below to receive new recipes in your inbox. Enjoy your summer with this creamy, dreamy treat!

Remember, our DIY Cheese Kits for beginners include all supplies you need. We can even teach you to make cheese in an Instant Pot, which is especially useful in warm summer weather. If you would like to purchase any of our books without kits, you can get them from our publisher's site.


Claudia Lucero

I can’t find where to stir in the condensed milk?

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