Reports have highlighted the absence of contemporary peer reviewed publications pertaining to Mycobacterium bovis culture from raw milk and cheese. By replicating traditional methods, cheese-making methodology and equipment were devised to produce Cheddar (n = 6) and Caerphilly (n = 3) artificially contaminated with M. bovis (three genotypes) under stringent laboratory-containment guidelines for handling hazardous microbiological material. Middlebrook 7H11, modified for M. bovis isolation, was assessed for capacity to enumerate M. bovis despite changing cheese microflora and prolonged M. bovis exposure to the cheese matrix using maturing cheese test portions (n = 63; up to 16 weeks). Malachite green (MG) containing media isolated M. bovis at significantly (P < 0·05) lower levels than unmodified Middlebrook 7H11 agar despite MG being a common adjunct of Middlebrook 7H11 agar modified for M. bovis growth. Subsequently, a selective MG-free Middlebrook 7H11 agar modified using haemolysed red cells and calf serum was demonstrated as the best performing (P < 0·05) medium for recovery of M. bovis from typical UK cheese types, Cheddar and Caerphilly. Significance and impact of the study: Following increased M. bovis infection of UK cattle, the risk posed to consumers from consumption of unpasteurized milk and dairy products has changed. Furthermore, published methods for the culture and molecular detection of M. bovis in raw milk products are limited. Cheese-making protocols and M. bovis culture media reported here provide tools for further investigation of M. bovis survival during all stages of cheese manufacture and could inform future assessment of the risk to consumers from M. bovis contamination of unpasteurized dairy products.