Lemon Ricotta Cookies

These lemon ricotta cookies are like little bites of tangy and moist lemon cake. Topped with a sweet lemon glaze, they’re fresh, light, and hopelessly irresistible. It’s a good thing that this recipe makes a big batch because they disappear fast!

lemon ricotta cookies stacked on a white plate

Soft but chewy cookies, like chocolate chip cookies, hold a place in most people’s hearts. But there’s a whole world of fluffy cookies that border between cookie and cake. We love these soft cakey sugar cookies, madeleines, and apricot cream cheese cookies for that very reason: their unbeatable cakelike texture.


Tell Me About these Lemon Ricotta Cookies

  • Texture: Thanks to 15 ounces of ricotta cheese, these lemon ricotta cookies have a unique melt-in-your-mouth texture that dances between creamy, moist, soft, and airy.
  • Flavor: You’ll enjoy the perfect blend of a little tang, a little sweet, and a little tart. We usually make these with lemon, but readers often enjoy the cookies with orange zest and juice instead.
  • Ease: Using ricotta plus a handful of basic baking ingredients, it’s fairly simple to make a big batch.
  • Time: Prep time is over 1 hour, which includes chilling the cookie dough before shaping and baking. That’s an imperative step– this dough needs time in the refrigerator to thicken properly before shaping and baking.

overhead image of lemon ricotta cookies on a white plate

Recipe Testing: What Works & What Doesn’t

Lemon ricotta cookies are easy to make, but here are a few tips we learned when testing the recipe:

  1. Avoid over-spreading: The dough mixture is a cake batter/cookie dough hybrid and that’s why it’s crucial to chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before baking. If you don’t, the dough will spread all over your baking sheet. 
  2. Cookie size makes a difference: Carefully measure out 1 Tablespoon of cookie dough per cookie. You can use a small cookie scoop, but anything larger than 1 Tablespoon yields particularly flat cookies. Or let us reword that…ricotta pancakes. And not like the delicious ricotta pancakes you may have tasted before– ricotta cookie pancakes with crisp edges and undercooked centers.
  3. Extra flour doesn’t work. We even tried reworking the recipe by adding more flour to help prevent excess spreading, but it was useless. Chilling the cookie dough and measuring 1 Tablespoon per cookie were the only things that work in the dough’s favor. 
  4. Use a glaze that sets. To add a little something special, drizzle or spoon lemon glaze on top of each cookie. We love this lemon glaze because it eventually sets, making these ricotta cookies easy to store and transport.

lemon ricotta cookie dough in a glass bowl

lemon ricotta cookie dough on a baking sheet before baking

Some Key Ingredients in Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Ricotta cheese, lemons, and almond extract are really the only special ingredients here – the rest are pretty basic like flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. 

  • Ricotta Cheese: When baked in a cookie, ricotta is less about flavor and more about texture. Think: creamy, moist, soft, and airy. Some people have tried their hand at making fresh homemade ricotta cheese for this recipe, but we haven’t tested it yet. Store-bought ricotta works wonderfully here. Keep in mind that the higher the fat percentage, the creamier the ricotta will be. We often use ricotta made with 2% milk in this recipe. Ricotta is sold in many different container sizes, but 15 ounce is pretty common. We use an entire 15 ounce container in the dough, which helps yield a big batch of cookies. A 16-ounce container will work too if that’s all you have– the extra ounce won’t make a difference in the cookie. 
  • Lemon Zest & Juice: We love the light lemon flavor of these creamy cookies, especially paired with the almond extract. If you’re out of lemons, swap it for an orange or lime instead.
  • Almond Extract: We add a touch of almond extract for extra flavor, but it’s completely optional. For a little crunch and textural difference, we top each with a sliced almond. (Also optional.)

container of ricotta with a metal spoon

drizzling icing onto lemon ricotta cookies

lemon ricotta cookies on a white plate

Quick Video for Lemon Ricotta Cookies


Other Easy Lemon Recipes

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lemon ricotta cookies stacked on a white plate

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Yield: 40 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These super soft, moist, and cake-like lemon ricotta cookies are topped with tangy and sweet lemon glaze. The glaze eventually sets, making these cookies easy to store and transport.


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (335g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 15 ounces (425g) ricotta cheese, at room temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) lemon zest
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons (37ml) fresh lemon juice

Glaze

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice
  • optional: sliced almonds for garnish

Instructions

  1. Make the cookies: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the ricotta cheese, vanilla extract, almond extract (if using), lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the dry ingredients. On low speed, beat everything just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Dough will be very creamy, sticky, and thick. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour and up to 2-3 days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  4. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator. Measure cookies to be 1 Tablespoon of dough each– just use a Tablespoon measuring spoon and your finger to release it onto the sheet. Place 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until a cookie springs back when lightly poked with your finger. (That’s how I test them!)
  5. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
  6. Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or more lemon juice to thin, if desired. Spoon over cookies. Top with a sliced almond, if desired. If applied lightly, the glaze will set within a couple hours.
  7. Glazed cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (see step 2), but you can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Unglazed and baked cookies freeze well for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before glazing and serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Stand Mixer Glass Bowl | Cookie Scoop #30 | Silpat Baking Mat | Cookie Sheet | Cooling Rack
  3. Ricotta Cheese: I tested and enjoyed this recipe using 2% milk ricotta cheese. You can use any fat percentage. Keep in mind that whole milk ricotta is the creamiest. If your container is 16 ounces, no worries– just use it all. The 1 extra ounce won’t make a difference.
  4. Room Temperature Ingredients: All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. It really makes a difference!
  5. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

103 Comments

  1. Beautiful, airy cookies with minutes of actual cooking time (not counting the hour in the fridge). I used about 250 g of sugar instead of 335 g suggested and they are perfectly sweet even without the glaze. Could not wait till they cool down to glaze!

  2. Delicious, soft and fluffy! I ate a few before putting them in my freezer to save for an upcoming girls night. Great use for leftover ricotta – they have a wonderfully delicate lemon flavour that I love!

    Can’t wait to defrost them and glaze them.

    Thanks for another stellar recipe!

  3. I just took a test batch out of oven and they taste sooooo good. Light and airy with a ton of flavor. My only issue was spreading even though I made them right from the fridge.

  4. Not sure where I went wrong but despite chilling in the fridge for several hours and using exactly 1tbsp per scoop they did flatten and are more like little pancakes. But, dang, they are so delicious and a great use for some homegrown Meyer lemons I was given!

    1. same thing happened to me. I’d love to know why. I had my dough in the fridge for a couple days. I haven’t finished yet but just checked on them and totally a flat looking mess 🙁

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Denise! Our post on how to prevent cookies from spreading should be a helpful resource for next time – happy baking 🙂

  5. If I could give these 10 stars, I would! They are so good. Of all the cookies (6 types) I made (all Sally’s recipes), these were everyone’s favorites!

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