Make Whey and Cream Cheese

how to make homemade whey and cream cheese from yogurt at home Make Whey and Cream Cheese

I’ve talked a lot about fermented foods and drinks lately, from my favorite water kefir, to homemade sauerkraut. Lately, I’ve been enjoying trying things like fermented condiments, salsas and more.

Most of these recipes (coming soon!) use whey to speed the lactofermentation process and for a long time, I avoided these recipes because I simply didn’t have and didn’t know how to get whey.

A friend and lacto-fermenting veteran shared an easy way to make whey, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t started doing this sooner! The best part is, you can make whey at home in any kitchen with ingredients available at any grocery store.

Make Whey and Cream Cheese
Prep time
Total time
How to make whey for fermenting vegetables and other foods and get probiotic cream cheese!
Recipe type: Fermented
Serves: 4+
  • One 32-ounce container of full fat organic PLAIN yogurt
  • Cheesecloth or thin dish towel
  • medium-size bowl
  • string or rubber bands
  1. Pour the yogurt into cheesecloth or thin towel. You can pour the whole container, or just use half if you don’t need much whey. Make sure the towel is thin, as it will absorb too much of the whey if it is a very absorbent towel.
  2. Pull the ends of the towel up and secure with string or a rubber band.
  3. Tie the towel with yogurt in it to a cabinet handle above the bowl.
  4. Leave it alone overnight to drip.
  5. In the morning, if the dripping has stopped, pour the liquid in the bowl (this is the whey… yay!) into a glass jar and store in the fridge for up to six months.
  6. The “yogurt” left in the towel is actually cream cheese now. Put in its own container and use as you would store bought cream cheese.
  7. Use the whey for homemade salsas, sauerkraut, fermented veggies or pickles and more. (all recipes to come soon…. just waiting on the garden to start producing!)

Have you make whey before? If so, what is your favorite recipe using it? Share below!

Reader Comments

  1. Rebekah says

    I make a homemade yogurt, a gallon at a time, and always strain a quart or two. I just line a sieve with a coffee filter, put it over a bowl, and pour the yogurt in; let it drain for as long as you want, the longer the thicker. My husband loves strained yogurt (it’s like Greek yogurt, really creamy) and I also love having the whey.

  2. Anonymous says

    Thanks for posting this! I may have to give this shot. I will soon make awesome foods like this as I have the time to make fermented foods.

  3. Anonymous says

    Question – what happens if you make this with Greek yogurt? That was the only organic yogurt I could find when I went to get some for this recipe. I have fermented my lemonade for 2 days now, and am now wondering if using Greek yogurt would affect how this works/doesn’t work. What say you? Thanks!!

      • Anonymous says

        Thanks! I am drinking it right now. It turned out great! Just a bit tart, the way I like it. I used half lemons and limes. Yum! I also followed Laura’s suggestion that she linked above, and did the extra draining. I got about half a cup from half a carton of Greek yogurt. We’ll see how this helps over the next couple of days. 

  4. Melisleflef says

    My dad is Turkish and claims the Turks invented yoghurt! He makes his own every week and strains it in a cheesecloth to make ‘Greek’ yoghurt. But he pours away the whey! He dies make his own pickles but I think he uses vinegar. Must tell him to start using the way instead of wasting it.

  5. Kristinfriesen says

    Is it ok to leave this out on the counter overnight, or does it need to be refrigerated? Seems like dairy left out all night will have gone bad by morning…?

    • says

      I’ve never had any trouble with it. It just sours more since it is a living fermented food rather than rotting, but you can just leave it out long enough to drain and then put it in right away.

    • says

      It does, but even pasteurized yogurt contains the live bacteria needed to lactoferment. Raw milk yogurt (or when) would produce a faster ferment and a wider variety of probiotics.

  6. Kelly Killeen says

    I see the whey lasts for about 6 months. About how long does the cream cheese last? Or would it be about the same date that’s on the package of yogurt?

  7. Jazzy Ann Smith says

    wowwwwww ! I didn’t know u can make cream cheese out of this! I have homemade yogurt just waiting to do this !

  8. Jazzy Ann Smith says

    How many hours is that if I do it right now? and can I half it, if I have only have 2 pints of yogurt?

  9. Ryan Jore says

    Just tried this for the first time…what do you do with all the leftover cream cheese? I can only eat so much of it plain…

  10. Nollaig Lynch says

    I am very excited…I am trying my first whey production tonight. As we speak my whole organic natural yoghurt is drip dripping over a bowl. I am trying with a 500g carton and hope to make the half cup of whey to make fermented salsa…this will be my first time to make this also!!! My Q. is the same as Kelly’s below…how long will the cream cheese last? How should the cream cheese be stored – in a sealed glass container? And lastly, how can it be turned into sour cream – as someone mentioned below?
    Thank you Wellness Mama for your time. I am a newbie and just loving your web
    site xx

  11. Kara Downing says

    Does anyone know if you can successfully make whey with yogurt made from organic goat’s milk? I’m finding that it slips right through the cheese cloth!

  12. Danielle Honan says

    ive made this a few times and for some reason my whey keeps molding… i am using a really good organic plain yogurt and after a week it molds. Any suggestions?

  13. Lesue Tindell says

    I see the whey lasts for about 6 months. About how long does the cream cheese last? Or would it be about the same date that’s on the package of yogurt? I see this question below but no answer. I’ve made the whey a few times now and love the lemonade made with it! Just wondering how long the cream cheese will be good for?

  14. Kay says

    This didn’t work for me at all! :( I tried cheesecloth and then I tried butter muslin for a finer cloth and both times all the yogurt just went right through the cloth. I am using raw milk yogurt from a co-op is that a problem? Thanks.

  15. Doski says

    I tried this technique yesterday as I needed some fresh whey culture to ferment some mango chutney. I let it go about eight or nine hours using cheese cloth and then refrigerated what was left over night. I started with about 1.5 cups of fresh, jersey-cow, full-fat yogurt from a local farm; I only needed a 1/4 cup of whey but got about three times that so I have some saved for the next ferment.

    What was left is really like cream cheese. It’s not quite as thick as store-bought but I actually like it better. I mixed some with raw honey and then stirred in some left-over mango chunks and almonds for my breakfast and it is absolutely delicious.

    I’m sold on this technique. Now I’ll always have fresh soft probiotic cream cheese and never run out of starter culture for my vegetable and fruit ferments.

  16. jhyana says

    We make our whey from raw milk. Simply leave a glass jar of raw milk on the counter, at room temperature, for a day or two until the solid separates from the liquid. Then proceed with the drip drying process. The solids are cream cheese, the liquid is the whey!

  17. Uni says

    Curious since all I have in my fridge is some old buttermilk. Is it possible to make whey and cream cheese with buttermilk?

  18. Amy says

    My significant other LOVES cream cheese, but I try to limit how much we buy because, well, have you read the label. Yikes! Finally, I can make some that I feel good about feeding him. And bonus, we get a nice whey to make fermented foods. Thanks Katie!

  19. Sherry says

    To make straining easier I use an old white pillowcase that is only washed with dish liquid, that or a cut up white tshirt. I started using these when I didn’t like the cheesecloth. I just dampen them a little first.

  20. Han says


    i’ve made whey months ago, and i haven’t finished using it.I stored it in a glass jar in the fridge. Today, i looked at the lid, and there is a lot of blue,white mold growing. I wonder why, it scared me so much. it is only on the lid.Should I continue on using the whey? I smelled it and it doesn/t seem to have a big yogourt smell, as i used to get when the last time i opened it though.Should I continue to use it? I dont understand why though. Should i discard the lid or wash it?
    i dont know what to do. Please HELP!

  21. Cornel says

    Hi, have you tried making kefir yogurt with the milk kefir plant? This is the only yogurt I eat now as you make it with organic milk, so there are no preservatives, additives, colorants, etc in it and contains all the probiotics you talk about. I also drain it with a cloth to get the whey on the one side and cottage cheese on the other side :)

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