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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

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 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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 about the importance of room temperature ingredients
  5. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  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. Same with the spreading. I measured the ingredients by weight, chilled the dough overnight, used only 1 tablespoon of dough and I still got flat pancakes. They taste okay, but they’re not what I was hoping for.

    2. I had the same issue but a coworker told me to check the flour I used because if it contained malted barley flour it may have contributed to the problem. Sure enough, the flour I used contained malted barley flour. I bought new flour and I made another batch the week after and they were perfect.

  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!

    1. Hi Ann, we haven’t tested gluten free flour in these cookies but let us know if you do!

  6. I love all things lemon, and these sound just yummy! But I’ve never been a fan of soft cookies. Is it possible to modify the recipe for crispy/crunchy cookies? If so, how?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Robynne, These cookies are made to be soft and it would require additional recipe testing to make them crispy. However, you may enjoy these lemon ginger cookies which have a crispier edge (and you can bake them an extra minute to make them crispier). You can also leave out the ground ginger, allspice, and crystallized ginger for plain lemon cookies.

  7. This recipe sounds so yummy, I’m a diabetic, do you ever post the nutritional valves of your cookies/baked goods.

    1. Hi Linda, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076

    2. Hi, if you are diabetic I would cut the sugar and skip the glaze they will be delicious with the lemon flavor

  8. Can you clarify about the size cookie scoop to use? The one linked in the “Special Tools” section went to an OXO medium-sized scoop that holds 1.5 tablespoons. I also googled size #30 cookie scoop, and those said they are 2.4 tablespoons. Which one should I use for this?

    1. Hi Amy, We make these cookies about 1 TBS. The 1.5 TBS linked in special tools will definitely work!

  9. Great flavor but soggy cookie
    I made these for Easter and was looking for something that combined ricotta cheese and lemon. I added a little lemon extract to the batter to give it a little more lemon zip. I also added lemon zest to the icing as it shows zest in the pictures although it is not listed in the recipe. But 1/4 cup of lemon juice to 1-1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar was way too much liquid. The icing never set and then the cookies were made too soggy. I even added an extra 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar. I make another cookie with an icing and it uses 2 T of cream for 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar. That would have been a better radio of liquid to sugar.

  10. Followed the recipe to a T and chilled overnight for 2 days, but unfortunately there was still more spread than I would like with these. They still smell (and taste) amazing so I wouldn’t ditch this recipe outright, but would love some technical recommendations to make them look prettier. Near the end I was making my “balls” (in quotes, because regardless of refrigeration the batter is very loose) smaller and smaller, which helped a bit. Curious as to how these would fare in a tiny ramekin instead.

  11. I definitely struggled with the spreading even though I followed your instructions down to the letter. My first batch were definitely more pancakes than cookies. Freezing the dough seemed to help (with my first batch I had refrigerated them for a day). I feel like your separate article for how to prevent dough spreading should be linked in the actual recipe, versus in the comments. It seems critical to getting these cookies to turn out right and could easily be missed in the comments.

  12. I have made these several times and have noticed a few things about the spreading. For one thing, I find that cookies spread much more on a silicone baking sheet than they do on parchment. Also it helped me alot to put them in the fridge for about 15 minutes after I scooped them, before baking them. And smaller scoops spread much less than larger ones. These are such delicious cookies!

  13. This recipe turned out perfectly. I was a little worried after reading reviews that said the cookies spread too much but they held their shape beautifully. I followed the recipe exactly but I used my nonna’s fresh homemade ricotta instead of store bought, and artificial almond extract to accommodate a nut allergy. I had planned to make the glaze but the cookies are so good on their own I decided to skip it!

  14. These cookies did spread a bit even though I put them in the refrigerator overnight & the dough was super cold. The dough was still so soft. I read readers comments which stated the cookies seem like flat little pancakes, but I thought they rather tasted light & puffy like a whoopie pie cookie. Therefore what I did was I made the lemon icing thicker and I sandwiched two of these cookies over the icing and made little lemon whoopie pies!! They were perfect for this and tasted so good.

  15. PLEASE HELP! Just made the batter and was going to chill it and cook day after tomorrow. Just noticed that I accidentally put the 1/4 lemon juice for the glaze into the batter. Am wondering if this is going to be too much liquid and will make them spread out too much. Any tips for salvaging this delicious batter

    1. Hi Kathy, we’d start by increasing the chill time to more than an hour to see if that helps and if they spread too much during bake time, you can try gently shaping them with a spoon. You can try increasing the flour as well, but without increasing the rest of the ingredients proportionally, the taste and texture of the cookies will be different.

  16. I really wanted to love these. I’m not sure if I did something wrong. I did not use a packed tablespoon of lemon zest and maybe that was the reason they were more like bland sugar cookies. The glaze really helped punch them up. I did super love the texture and how moist they were!

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