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.

96 Comments

  1. love this recipe, found your site a while ago and i had to try these thank you so much they are they perfect chewy texture a burst of lemon flavor. these are amazing!!! thank you so much sally!!!

  2. I’ve made this so many times and it’s always a hit but I wondered if there’s a way to make the icing thicker? The glaze is a tad too watery – do you think using your royal icing would be better? Replacing water with lemon juice? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lily! Add a little extra confectioners’ sugar OR decrease the lemon juice. That will help thicken up this icing!

  3. Hi, Sally! I noticed that you say to add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low. Every time I try to do this (or, heck, even if I add the dry ingredients and then start the mixer) flour flies everywhere. How do you add dry ingredients with the mixer running and keep the dry ingredients from poofing out of the bowl? Thanks!

    1. Donna Walter says:

      Jamie, I had that problem and I use a standard tea towel around the top of the mixer bowl. Hold loosely but tight enough to not interfere with the paddle. Actually, I have been baking professionally for over 40 years, still goof up, but I always stop mixer to add dry ingredients, which I sift together on parchment paper, use the paper to add to the mix, then use the paper for the pans.

  4. Delicious. I leave them in for a bit longer. May be just my oven but 13-14 min gave me pale cookies still tasting of dough. Also I slightly modified the icing: I blended fresh mint with the lemon juice and strained it, then added the sugar. Yum. Tasty and refreshing. Thanks for a great recipe!

  5. Hi Sally! If I’m hoping to gift these cookies next Saturday afternoon and would only have enough time to bake frozen cookie dough (vs make them from scratch Saturday morning), would you recommend I freeze the dough in advance and bake them the day of or would it be okay to bake them from scratch on Friday and keep them in the fridge until Saturday? Thank you!

    1. Hi Tina! Honestly, it may just be easiest to bake them the day before then refrigerate them until you need them the next day.

  6. Catherine Maxey says:

    Great recipe. I used 2 tsp almond extract . I substituted mashed potato for the butter. Cuts calories way down. You don’t taste them. I added 1\2 cup crushed frosted shredded wheat for texture. Baked 10 minutes. Great flavor. Dense texture, not crispy.

  7. These cookies are amazing. They are soft and so tasty. The only thing is I weighed all my ingredients and used a tablespoon to measure out the dough and I was left with much more than 40 cookies. Tbh, not a bad thing

  8. I was drawn in by the lemon and ricotta–two ingredients I love. These are quite sweet for my taste, but cookies almost always are. I added a tiny bit of coarse-grained salt to the tops to try to balance out the sweetness. And even though many reviewers commented on the cakey texture of the cookies, I still found it surprising; I am just not familiar with it.

    I would love help from the group: Any suggestion for smoothing the dough balls when placing on the baking sheet so the cookies come out smooth rather than rough (like mine did)? I did refrigerate the batter overnight. Thanks!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Leah, We are so happy you tried and enjoyed this recipe! Did the cookies spread out at all or did they remain in the ball shape? The tops usually smooth out as they spread a bit. If yours didn’t spread I wonder if the dough was just too cold after refrigerating it overnight. If you do this again try letting the dough sit out at room temperature for even just a few extra minutes before scooping and baking. You can also definitely use your clean fingers to help smooth the tops of the dough balls before going in the oven. I hope this helps!

      1. Thanks Stephanie! The cookies did spread out a bit. They ended up the right shape, I think, just kind of rough. I smoothed a few with my damp fingers, which helped. I had been worried about adding liquid–because I did need to dip my fingers in water to smooth the batter as it was sticky–but I think next time I’ll try this again. Anyways… doesn’t effect the taste at all 🙂

  9. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but mine came out more cake like. I cooked longer but they still remain sticky on the bottoms. I was thinking of repurposing them into a layered trifle or something since I can tin them with my other Christmas cookies. Any suggestions?
    P.S. I did have much success on a few of your other recipes. Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Heather! These cookies should be soft and cakey. They would be perfect in a trifle! Though summery, this Lemon Berry Trifle is perfect year round. Thank you so much for giving these cookies a try.

  10. Hi Sally, is it okay to freeze them after they are glazed? Any downsides other than crinkly glaze? Thanks 🙂

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Steff, The glaze doesn’t thaw particularly well but you can certainly try it. I recommend freezing them in a single layer first (at least an hour) before placing them in your airtight container to freeze for longer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Let us know what you try!

  11. Going to try these tomorrow—have you ever used some almond flour in place of wheat? What if I went 50:50? Do you think it would work?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Theresa, using almond flour would require additional recipe testing in order to give you a confident answer here, so we can’t say for sure. Do let us know if you give it a try!

      1. I used 50% almond flour in place of regular flour, and they were great—reminded me more of a Sicilian dessert, a great addition to our Christmas Cookie Tray! Thank you!!

  12. I made these for my daughter who loves lemon ricotta anything. I followed the directions and it made 80 cookies, not 40! 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie was used. I’m not at all upset, but I usually like to know how many cookies will come out of a batch just in case I need to double it. Glad I didn’t lol.

  13. I wanted to try a couple new cookie recipes this year and decided on this one. Oh my gosh….a new favorite for sure. We love the cakey texture and the tender lemon flavor. Made the glaze and garnished with slivered almonds. They were as pretty as the picture! I will be making these again and again and again for sure.

  14. Tricia Silva says:

    You never disappoint! These were crazy good. Perfect soft and sweet lemony heaven.
    One question for you, would you suggest a way to incorporate berries into /onto the cookies for an extra twist?
    Thank you for making me look like a master baker at home ♥️

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      I’m so happy you loved these cookies, Tricia! Absolutely- we recommend adding 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw). Enjoy!

  15. Lelia Richardson says:

    These were very fun to make! They came out like soft little lemony clouds with a touch of almond! I followed the tip to refrigerate the dough before baking and they did not spread! I made little teaspoon bitesize ones and larger tablespoon ones. I couldn’t stop eating them! Glad to recipe yields so much, I have to share!

  16. Made these cookies today, they were a big hit! Will add them to my Easter baking.

  17. This is truly the BEST cookie recipe I have tried… I made a big batch… (by accident) and they didn’t last even for a week.. everyone loved them. I will def make again! Cookies that have a cake feel are my all time favorite…

  18. Two days seems like an awfully short shelf life. Do they last longer without the glaze?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Due to their light and cakey texture, these cookies will dry out if left at room temperature for more than a couple days. You can always freeze them to enjoy later – see recipe notes for details!

  19. Absolutely love this recipe. Thank you. My first try I wasn’t able to get a consistent shape. This time I placed the dough balls in individual silicone cupcake moulds so they all came out the same shape.

  20. These were fantastic! I’m so happy with how they came out. I baked mine for 13 minutes and found them to be perfectly pillowy and soft when I poked the tops in the oven. I used a small cookie scoop (perhaps too small) and found that I could get 36+ cookies with nearly HALF of the dough remaining, so I stopped there and froze the remaining. My only alteration to this recipe was adding fresh lemon zest to the icing, in addition to that already in the dough – added just the right amount of zing.

    One quick question: Can leftover icing be frozen as well? Thank you for sharing the recipe with us, Sally!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shannon, the glaze doesn’t thaw particularly well but you can certainly try it — thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. You may need to re-whisk it for a bit to bring it back to a useable consistency. We’re so glad you loved these cookies!

  21. Made these cookies a few days ago. Had some ricotta and was looking to use it. The cookies were OK, tasted great, but not sure I would make them again. Just prefer a sweeter cookies. I too used a small cookie scoop and had a lot of cookies and froze some for next time. I did double the frosting/glaze because there were so many cookies.

  22. This recipe popped up on my Facebook after I JUST finished making a batch of homemade ricotta with milk I was trying to get rid of. I followed the recipe to a T (aside from me using homemade ricotta with whole milk) and the cookies have turned out perfectly! They are light, airy and super delicious! The amount of lemon is spot-on, too…I’m pregnant so I’m a big fan of lemon in everything these days! I used a TBSP to scoop them after I refrigerated for an hour and I got around 42 cookies. The amount of icing was perfect for the amount of cookies I ended up with. I can’t wait to share them!

  23. Omg I thought it was me! I too had cookie batter flying out of the mixer – I lowered the speed right away! But isn’t that part of baking – flour puffs, flying batter, Icing drops? I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    Going to make these for Mother’s Day for my sisters – this was practice! I also used a small cookie scoop and got a lot of cookies. They are a hit! Thx sally!

  24. These look amazing and I’ll be trying them this week. Has anyone attempted to add blueberries to them? I imagine it would work, my only concern might be if the bursting blueberries could throw off the moisture.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Blueberries would be great! We recommend 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw).

  25. I recently tried a lemon ricotta cookie at work and loved it so I decided to make these for my daughter-in-law’s baby shower (My first grandchild! it’s a boy!). The first batch were flat as a pancake and I was SO careful to follow all of the directions! I used an airbake pan on that first batch and decided to switch to just a regular cookie sheet for the next batch and they came out SO much better. I was relieved to see they had some rise to them! I actually would prefer a stronger lemon flavor so I’m hoping when I glaze them that will kick the lemon flavor up a notch. I do have a question: After they’re glazed and it “sets/dries” can they be stacked together for transport without it ruining anything?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tracey, we’re so glad these worked well for you, and congratulations on your first grandchild! Yes, the glaze should set within a few hours and at that point can be stacked for transporting. If you’d like, you can put a piece of parchment paper between layers for extra assurance.

  26. Carolyn ginestro says:

    I was anxious to try your recipe because it yields a smaller amount of cookies. I prepared the batch exactly how you listed it and placed in refrigerator for 2 days. When I scooped it up to make the cookies it was very loose but I baked them anyway on parchment paper. They all flattened out and ran together! What a mess!! You did say not to add extra flour and I didn’t. I’ll stick to my other recipe which was very successful even though it makes a huge amount!

  27. Delicious, thank you!

  28. These are very pillowy and soft, and not very sweet (Nice for my friend who doesn’t like sweet desserts).
    The amount of glaze was more than twice what was needed for the cookies. I fully coated each one twice and still ended up with a ton of glaze, so I would definitely cut the glaze in half if I were to make these again

    1. Very tasty, fluffy cookies! I added a little less sugar (around a cup and a half) and they were perfect! I used a tablespoon, albeit roughly, and ended up with 54 cookies. I refrigerated the dough overnight, which worked pretty well since the cookies didn’t spread much. Also there was some glaze leftover (but that’s probably since I didn’t add a ton to the cookies). Overall great recipe!

    2. These were beautifully sweet, and they’re meant to be cakey and soft in the first place. Great recipe!

  29. Good morning Sally,
    I want to know what 425 grams of ricotta cheese is in cups as most containers of ricotta that I’m seeing come in 500 grams not 425 grams?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jessica, 15 oz. is just a bit less than 2 cups — 1.875 cups to be exact.

      1. Good morning Lexi,
        If I end up putting in two cups of ricotta cheese will that tamper/wreck the recipe or would I be better off using only 1 3/4 cups of Ricotta Cheese?

  30. Unfortunately this one didn’t work for me. Some of the cookies worked out, but others spread so badly that I had to throw them out, in spite of having chilled for several hours and measuring with a tablespoon. Melissa Clark has a similar recipe in NYT with very different proportions (15 oz ricotta with 2 sticks butter, 4c flour, 2c sugar) – will probably try that next time I have extra ricotta on hand.

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