Puffy, pretty, and oh-so-sweet, these lemon ricotta cookies will quickly become a new favorite for you and your loved ones. This recipe in particular makes a huge batch, so customize them for the holidays and give them away to all the wonderful people in your life!
Mention “ricotta cookies” to anyone and you’ll get one of two responses…either these cookies are one of their holiday staples, or the person in question won’t ever have heard of Italian ricotta cookies at all. It never seems like there’s an in-between!
For those of you who love ricotta cookies, this recipe will make your day. It’s customizable for any occasion, simple, and very fast – less than a half hour from start to finish! If you were never able to perfect Grandma’s recipe, you could switch to this one…we won’t tell.
And for those of you who have never heard of lemon ricotta cookies, no worries! These soft and chewy little treats are a lot like sugar cookies with a twist of vanilla and/or lemon. While they’re made with ricotta cheese, they don’t taste strange or “cheesy” or anything like that. We promise!
Ricotta Cookies: Ingredients & Supplies
If you’ve baked cookies before, a lot of this will be familiar to you. (And you probably have a lot of it in your pantry!) However, if you’ve never baked ricotta cookies specifically, a few items may seem a little strange. We’ll explain it all!
For the cookies:
- Flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar form your standard dry baking ingredients.
- Butter, vanilla extract, and eggs form your standard wet baking ingredients.
- Lemon zest may seem out of place if you’ve never made ricotta cookies before. However, you want a slight tangy flavor in these cookies, and the zest provides it.
- And, of course, you’ll need fresh ricotta cheese – but remember that these cakey cookies aren’t “cheesy” at all. You’ll see!
- For sprinkles, we recommend our Rainbow Nonpareils. However, there are loads of ways to customize these cookies for various occasions. Head down to our “Variations” section for inspiration!
For the glaze:
- Vanilla extract or almond extract form the base of the glaze. If you use clear extract, you’ll also get a beautiful white glaze!
- Powdered sugar sweetens the glaze.
- Butter and milk or whipping cream creates the right consistency you’ll want
- Mixing bowls, whisk, stand mixer: Standard baking supplies for making your dough! These are probably familiar to you.
- Baking sheets and parchment paper or silicone mat: Another set of standard baking supplies.
- Plastic wrap: You’ll want to cover your dough and chill it during this recipe, so you’ll need this.
How to make cookies with ricotta
The first step in cookie baking is to get all the supplies and ingredients prepped and ready. Line the baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. And set out all the ingredients, I like to be sure the eggs and butter are room temperature.
Next add the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk them together.
Now it’s time to cream the base ingredients, butter, sugar and lemon zest.
Mix in the ricotta cheese and vanilla extract.
Then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg and scraping down the bowl.
Next you will gradually add the flour mixture.
And then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and into the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
Baking and Decorating the Ricotta Cookies
Pull the bowl of cookie dough from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
Scoop the dough using a small cookie dough scoop, shape the dough into balls and place in the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Let them cool completely.
Now mix the glaze until smooth. Frost the cookies and add the Rainbow Nonpareils. (check out the other variations of these cookies below)
Ricotta Cookies: Variations
Here’s everyone’s favorite section of a Sweets and Treats post: decoration inspiration!
Christmas Ricotta Cookies:
Ricotta cookies are a major part of the winter holidays for many families. We recommend using our Christmas Nonpareils to decorate your cookies. You can then pack them in some of our Red Chevron goodie bags to give away to your loved ones…or just bring the whole tray to a party if you’re having a cookie exchange!
Patriotic Ricotta Cookies:
Bring these out next summer decorated with our Fire Cracker Sugar Crystals or Patriotic Stars Sprinkles for a perfect post-BBQ treat. If there are any leftover afterward, bag them up in Navy Blue Chevron goodie bags!
Thanksgiving/Fall Ricotta Cookies:
Start a new Thanksgiving tradition! Grab a set of Fall Crispies or Fall Nonpareils, as well as Orange Rugby Stripe goodie bags.
Girls’ Birthday Ricotta Cookies:
Light Pink Nonpareils or Chocolate Cherry Jimmies will create adorable lemon ricotta cookies for a feminine birthday party. Tuck them into Pink Chevron goodie bags after.
Boys’ Birthday Ricotta Cookies:
On the flip side, Blue Nonpareils or Fish Food Nonpareils are the finishing touch on the best cookies ever for a party geared towards younger boys. Use Navy Blue Dot goodie bags with these!
Italian Ricotta Cookies: FAQs
We’ve gathered up a few questions we’ve gotten about this recipe right here!
How many cookies does this recipe produce?
A lot. Like, a lot a lot. Between 55 and 60 cookies! That’s what makes this recipe particularly great for the holidays or for cookie exchanges. (Or if you just want to chow down on a lot of cookies…we won’t judge.)
How long does it take to make this ricotta cookie recipe?
All together, about 20 minutes – 10 for prep and 10 for baking. It’s very quick!
I’ve seen this recipe with baking soda instead of baking powder. Is there a difference?
Long story short, yes – we recommend the baking powder hands down. Your cookies may not rise and “puff” without it.
How did you like this ricotta cookie recipe?
Ricotta cookies may sound strange if they’re not a part of your usual dessert menu, but we’re sure they’ll become your new favorite after this recipe. As always, please comment down below with your thoughts on these ricotta cookies! We’d love to hear from you.
Other cookies here on Sweets and Treats…
Listen…it’s literally never a bad time for cookies, right? If you’re in agreement, here are a few other recipes you might enjoy:
These Ricotta Cookies are the ultimate cookie to bake year round! Add rainbow sprinkles and you have a hit on your hands! Add Christmas sprinkles during the holidays!
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ¾ cups (15 oz) fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla or almond extract **see notes
- 3 tablespoons milk or heavy whipping cream, more if needed to desired consistency
- Rainbow Nonpareils or red and green for the holidays
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt
- In bowl of stand mixer or large bowl, beat butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy
- Mix in ricotta and vanilla extract until well combined
- Add eggs one and a time, beating after each
- Gradually add flour mixture and mix well
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours
- Remove from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mat
- Scoop dough using a small cookie dough scoop, shape into balls and place on prepared baking sheet
- Bake for 9-11 minutes or until cookie are golden brown
- Cool on wire rack
- In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients until smooth
- Spread on cookies or dip the tops
- Immediately add sprinkles