Mozzarella (acid-set "quick" method)

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There are two main methods of making mozzarella: the easiest and fastest way is a simple acid-set mozzarella using citric acid; the second, more time-consuming method uses cultures and coagulant. Which way is better? Well, that depends on whether speed or flavor is your priority. Cultured mozzarella is more flavorful, but takes several hours longer to make. Below is the acid-set, "quick" method of making mozzarella.

For best results, please read recipe entirely before beginning.

Makes about 1 lb of Mozzarella | Time: Approximately 1 Hour 40 minutes 


  • 1 gallon milk, whole or 2%, not ultra-pasteurized
  • 1 cup non-chlorinated water
  • 1½ teaspoon citric acid
  • 1/8 teaspoon calcium chloride
  • 1/8 rennet tablet or 1/8 tsp liquid double-strength coagulant or 1/4 teaspoon liquid single-strength coagulant
  • 1-2 teaspoons non-iodized (kosher) salt
  • Ice (enough to chill a couple quarts of water)

Equipment *Note that all equipment should be clean and sanitized before use.*

  • 6 quart or larger pot (Double boiler method is preferred. Use stainless steel if possible)
  • A medium or large pot for hot water (for stretching stage)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Thermometer (be sure it is calibrated/accurate)
  • 8" knife or long spatula for cutting the curds
  • Slotted spoon
  • Colander/strainer
  • Fine-weave cheese cloth or several layers of regular cheese cloth (optional but recommended)
  • Large bowl for chill bath
  • Clean rubber gloves (should be relatively thick rubber, such as the kind used for washing dishes, since their purpose is to protect your hands from very hot water)


1. Make Citric Acid solution and Calcium Chloride solution: a) Measure out 1/2 cup non-chlorinated water in a clean container. Stir in 1½ tsp citric acid until dissolved. b) Measure out ¼ cup of non-chlorinated water in a separate container. Stir in 1/8 tsp calcium chloride.

2. Warm the Milk: Pour the milk into the pot. Stir in the citric acid solution. Set the pot over medium-high heat and warm to 90°F, stirring gently.

3. Make Coagulant Solution: Measure out ¼ cup of non-chlorinated water in a clean container. Add 1/8 rennet tablet or 1/8 tsp liquid double-strength coagulant or 1/4 teaspoon liquid single-strength coagulant, mix well.

4. Add the Calcium Chloride and Coagulant solutions: Remove the pot from heat and add the diluted calcium chloride solution. Stir for 30 seconds. Then gently stir in the coagulant solution. Count to 30. Stop stirring, cover the pot, and let it sit undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.

5. Cut the Curds: After 5-10 minutes, the milk should have set, and it should look and feel like medium-firm custard. Test the set using the “clean break” method (make a few-inch slice vertically in the curd; turn your knife/cutter horizontal and slide it under your cut and lift. You are looking for a set similar to a medium-firm custard. If the curd doesn't lift cleanly with fairly distinct edges, it is too soft). If it is still too soft, re-cover the pot and let it sit for another few minutes. Once the milk has set, cut it into uniform curds: make several parallel cuts vertically through the curds and then several parallel cuts horizontally, about ¼-½” wide, creating a grid-like pattern. Make sure your knife reaches all the way to the bottom of the pot. Then, following the lines of the cuts you have already made, angle your cutter/knife at a 45° angle from the left side as far as you can go and then from the right side as far as you can go. Be sure to reach all of the edges of your pot. The overall goal is to cut your curd into generally similar-sized chunks (this helps with whey expulsion).

6. Rest: Allow the cut curd to “rest” undisturbed in the whey for 5-10 minutes. Curds will “heal” and expel whey during the resting period

7. Cook the Curds: Very slowly raise the temperature to 105⁰F over a period of 30 minutes. Caution: Do not cook too fast or over cook. Very gently, especially at first, periodically stir the curd during the cook process. Stir slowly and gently as the curds warm, but try not to break them up too much. The curds will eventually clump together and separate more completely from the yellow whey.

8. Remove the Curds from Heat and Stir: Remove the pot from the heat and continue stirring gently for another 5 minutes.

9. Prepare the Hot Water: In another pot, warm about 2-3 quarts of tap water to 155-165°F.

10. Separate the Curds from the Whey: Ladle the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Cheesecloth is optional but helpful. Lightly press to form a solid mass of cheese for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, cut into 3 to 4 equal parts.

11. Prep a large bowl with ice and 1 to 2 quarts water (tap water is fine).

12. Heat the curd in hot water: If possible with your equipment, nestle the strainer into the pot so the curds are submerged in the hot water (alternatively, just put the curd directly into the pot of hot water). Let the curd sit for about three to five minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove one of the pieces. Wearing rubber gloves, fold the curd over itself and gently knead it under the water for a minute or so. Pull out of the water and check the curd's internal temperature. If it has not reached 135°F, let the curds sit in the water until it does. Once the curds have reached 135°F, lift them from the water and stretch as directed below.

13. Stretch and Shape the Mozzarella: Sprinkle the non-iodized (kosher) salt over the cheese and work it in with your fingers to incorporate. Using both hands, stretch and fold the curds repeatedly. It will start to tighten, become firm, and take on a glossy sheen. When this happens, you are ready to shape the mozzarella. Make one large ball, two smaller balls, or several bite-sized bocconcini. Try not to over-work the mozzarella, as it could become dry and over-firm. Place formed balls into a large bowl of ice water to cool thoroughly.

14. Storing the Mozzarella: The mozzarella can be used immediately or kept refrigerated for a week. To refrigerate, place the mozzarella in a small container. Mix 1-2 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of cool water with 1/8 tsp added calcium chloride or 1 cup of cooled whey and pour this over the mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate.