Homemade Pepper Jack Cheese


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Pepper Jack cheese is a delightful kick in the mouth. This pepper jack cheese recipe is spicy from the addition of fiery jalapeños and habeñeros, with that classic sharp cheesy taste to round it out. Not for the faint of heart, this pepper jack cheese is best made using a water-bath setup or a double boiler.

1 hour

170 minutes

10 servings


Mesophilic Direct-Set Starter Culture

Cheese Mesophilic Direct-Set Starter Culture

Mesophilic Direct-Set Starter Culture


From cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack to Feta, Chevre, and more, you'll enjoy the flavor and variety of homemade cheeses made using this starter culture.

Liquid Animal Rennet

Cheese Liquid Animal Rennet

Liquid Animal Rennet


High quality single strength animal rennet. This non-GMO animal rennet is preferred for aged cheese as it creates a more desirable flavor and aroma during the aging process. Each bottle contains enough rennet to set (12) 2-gallon batches of cheese.

Cheese Salt

Cheese Cheese Salt

Cheese Salt


An easy-to-dissolve, iodine-free salt perfect for cheesemaking.

Digital Thermometer

Cheese, Kefir, Kombucha, Sourdough, Tempeh & Soy, Vegetables, Yogurt Digital Thermometer

Digital Thermometer


Temperature is extremely important when it comes to baking.  Eliminate any guesswork with this instant-read digital thermometer so you can keep track of your dough temperature, ambient temperature!  

*Requires 2 AAA batteries, not included

Butter Muslin

Cheese, Kefir, Kombucha, Sourdough, Tempeh & Soy, Vegetables, Yogurt Butter Muslin

Butter Muslin


Butter Muslin is a tightly woven cloth, similar to cheesecloth, used for draining, pressing, and straining soft cheeses, yogurt or milk kefir. Butter muslin cloth also works as a breathable jar cover for all sorts of fermenting applications.

What is Pepper Jack Cheese?

Pepper jack cheese is a variant on the classic monterey jack cheese. Pepper jack is a semi-soft cheese with a punch of heat from the peppers in the cheese. There's nothing subtle about the flavor packed in this pepper jack cheese recipe. The consistency is perfect for easy slicing and pepperjack cheese really cranks up the taste of more subtle flavorings like crackers or deli meats.



  • 2 gallons whole milk (do not use UHT/UP milk)
  • 1 packet direct-set mesophilic culture
  • 4-5 jalapeños, seeded, diced
  • 3-4 habeñeros, seeded, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet, diluted 1/2 cup unchlorinated, room-temperature water
  • 1 tsp. cheese salt


  1. In a water-bath setup or a double boiler, gently and slowly heat milk to 88°F.
  2. Add starter by sprinkling it over the milk and allowing it to rehydrate for 1 full minute. After 1 minute, stir in starter using your cheese spoon in slow, steady up-and-down motions.
  3. Cover milk and allow to ripen at 90°F for 30 minutes, undisturbed.
  4. Add diced peppers and stir well. This is the step that sets pepper jack cheese apart from regular monterey jack cheese.
  5. Immediately add diluted rennet to the milk by pouring it through the cheese spoon and into the milk. Stir the milk in steady up-and-down motions for 1 full minute.
  6. Cover milk and maintain at 90°F for 30 minutes or until the curds give a clean break.
  7. Use a curd knife to cut the curd into 1/4-inch cubes; let them rest, undisturbed, for approximately 40 minutes.
  8. Gradually heat the curds to 100°F, only increasing the temperature by 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Stir lightly but consistently during this time to keep the curds from matting. Maintain the curd temperature at 100°F for 30 minutes, continuing to stir gently.
  9. Let the curds set for 5 minutes out of the heat, covered and undisturbed.
  10. Carefully begin to pour off the whey to the level of the curds. Let the curds sit in just enough whey to cover for another 30 minutes, stirring ever 5 minutes during this time, maintaining the temperature at 100°F throughout.
  11. Line a clean colander with damp cheesecloth and suspend it over a sink or large bowl. Ladle warm curds into the colander. Add salt and mix in lightly by hand.

cheese part way through the pepper jack cheese recipe


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  1. Line a 2-pound cheese press with clean, damp butter muslin and gently fill it with the curds. Fold over the butter muslin and place follower into the press. Press at 3 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.
  2. Take the cheese out of the press, unwrap and flip it, rewrap it and place it back into the press at 10 pounds of pressure for 12 hours.
  3. Take the cheese out of the press and place it on a clean cheese mat on a clean counter at room temperature to air-dry for a few days, turning it over periodically until it is dry to the touch.


  1. Wax the cheese, or rub it in butter and wrap it in butter muslin.
  2. Age the cheese at 55ºF for approximately 1-4 months, depending upon how sharp you like your cheese. Turn the cheese about once a week. It is ready to eat at 4 months, but will only get sharper as it ages.

Do you love cheese? Download your FREE copy of our Cheesemaking Guide and Recipe today!


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