Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Super soft, moist, and cake-like lemon ricotta cookies! Topped with tangy and sweet lemon glaze. Cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

My friend brought lemon ricotta cookies to our cookie exchange party in December. Never one to turn down a lemon treat, it was the first cookie I picked up. I tasted ricotta cookies once or twice before and they always left me unimpressed. Soft, yes. Cakey, yes. Boring, yes. But I never had any quite like this one. It was light. It was moist. It danced on my tongue like a spritely sugarplum fairy dressed in a yellow tutu. It was like the vanilla part of a black and white cookie, but soaked in sweet lemon.

I suppose you could say that at first bite, rivers parted and the heavens opened as I experienced one of the best cookies to ever hit my tastebuds.

Dramatic? No way!

Super soft, moist, and cake-like lemon ricotta cookies! Topped with tangy and sweet lemon glaze. Cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Long gone are the days I turn up my nose at cakey cookies because lemon ricotta cookies, in all of their fragrant cake-like beauty, have completely stolen my heart. Dense and chewy cookies are great and all, but these little rays of sunshine take the cake. 😉 Add lemon ricotta cookies to your to-do list this week because you NEED to experience this too!

First, these cookies do not taste like cheese. The ricotta lends less of a flavor and more of a texture. Think: creamy, moist, soft, and airy. Pick up some ricotta or make some yourself. I’ve never made homemade ricotta and definitely didn’t trust myself to begin. The higher the fat percentage, the creamier the ricotta will be. I used 2% milk ricotta in this recipe and loved how the cookies turned out.

I wanted to use the entire 15 ounce container of ricotta, so this recipe yields a decent amount of cookies. If it’s too many for you, feel free to halve the recipe or you can bake them all and freeze half of the cookies for another time. Unglazed lemon ricotta cookies freeze and thaw beautifully.

Ricotta for lemon ricotta cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ricotta cheese is really the only “special” ingredient here– the rest are pretty basic like flour, butter, sugar, eggs. Creamed butter + sugar is the base. You’ll add eggs, lemon zest and juice, vanilla, and almond extract. I suppose we can call the almond extract another special ingredient. I *loved* it paired with the creamy cookie texture and light lemon flavor.

Want to try something else? Swap orange or lime for the lemon. Y-U-M.

You’ll have a cake batter / cookie dough hybrid on your hands. At this point it will spread all over your baking sheet, so it’s crucial to chill the batter/dough (datter? bough?) in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before baking.

How to make lemon ricotta cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make lemon ricotta cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Use your Tablespoon to measure out 1 Tablespoon of cookie dough/batter. You can use a cookie scoop, but I found that anything larger than 1 Tablespoon yielded particularly flat ricotta cookies. Or let me reword that… ricotta pancakes. And not like the delicious ricotta pancakes you’ve tasted before. These were ricotta cookie pancakes with gnarly crisp edges and undercooked centers.

I tried reworking the recipe by adding more flour to help prevent excess spreading, but it was useless. Chilling the cookie dough/batter and measuring 1 scant Tablespoon per cookie prevents cookie pancake woes.

Super soft, moist, and cake-like lemon ricotta cookies! Topped with tangy and sweet lemon glaze. Cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Let’s move onto the glaze. Easy stuff here: just confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. For color, toss some zest in there too. You can dunk the cookies into the glaze or spoon it on top. The glaze will set on the cookies after a couple hours so you can easily stack, store, or transport the cookies.

Super soft, moist, and cake-like lemon ricotta cookies! Topped with tangy and sweet lemon glaze. Cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Super soft, moist, and cake-like lemon ricotta cookies! Topped with tangy and sweet lemon glaze. Cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Look at these sparkly lemon gems! They’ve got a little tang, a little sweet, a little tart, and lot of creamy. They’re like miniature lemon cakes and I know you’ll instantly fall in love too. Sugarplum-fairy-in-a-yellow-tutu and all.

Print

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

Super soft, moist, and cake-like lemon ricotta cookies! Topped with tangy and sweet lemon glaze. 


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (310g) 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. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. 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.

105 Comments

  1. Made these and absolutely loved them- great recipe! How would you recommend making them without the lemon flavor (Additional vanilla extract, additional almond extract, milk to substitute for the liquid, etc.)? I LOVE lemon but my family doesn’t 🙁

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the lemon ricotta cookies! I would add an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract or additional 1/2 teaspoon of almond. Leave out the lemon zest and use milk in place of lemon juice.

  2. My husband is Italian, and since moving away from his family he’s been begging me to try making some Italian-inspired baked goods. These look so simple that I may just have to give in. Are there any alterations you’d make for baking these at altitude?

  3. Hi Sally, I made these cookies and they were awesome! So wonderful that my son begged for an orange version. I then made them swapping out the lemon for orange and, I hate to say, was so disappointed. The orange zest and juice added almost zero flavor to the cookies. I ended up adding a bunch of zest to the glaze just to try to add flavor, but it couldn’t make up for the flavorless cookies. Any ideas? Is lemon just a stronger flavor?

    1. Hey Johanna! I definitely prefer the lemon over orange. Lemon is a much stronger flavor than orange, so if you try orange again– maybe some orange extract will help. (I’d use 1 teaspoon in the batter.) So sorry they were flavorless!

      1. Hi!
        I made these with orange because We didn’t have lemons, and I just put in a whole navel orange, juice and zest, and they turned out delicious. I made the glaze, but it didn’t turn out well, had a weird texture. Anyway, I hope this is helpful, and thanks for the recipe.
        Good luck,
        me

    2. Have you tried fiori di sicilia extract? It has a more orange flavor. I used it in this recipe instead of the almond extract and it was so delicious! Keep the lemon juice and zest tho. Just swap the extract.

  4. I love your recipes.  I made these lemon ricotta cookies gluten free and the sugar plum fairy in the yellow tutu danced in my mouth.  I couldnt even tell they are gluten free.  

  5. Great cookies… I made small mods – used 250 gm of AP and 60 gm of fesh milled WW and 310 gm sugar. Refrigerated for 2 hrs. Cookies had a terrific raise. Kept them small in size as suggested. Great flavor and texture. Might try adding a sugar-bourbon glaze for a kick! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Made these today and they are great!  Little lemon pillows of happiness!  Can’t wait to share with coworkers tomorrow. Thanks Sally!

  7. My second time making these cookies!  They are so good.  My friends at work love when I bake them.  Thanks for sharing!!  

  8. Absolutely delicious! I made these today and absolutely love them, easy recipe and even my husband who is not a sweet tooth whatsoever has been indulging in them! Thank you Sally and Happy Mother’s Day!

  9. Hi
    These are the first cookies that I have made from this blog and they are just delicious! Light, airy and just lemony enough. My family does not like super sweet so I did not use the glaze. One note, the amount of sugar in grams does not seem to be correct, 1 and 2/3 cup of sugar weighed 235g on my kitchen scale.

    Am planning on trying more cookies as these were a big hit! Thanks!

  10. Really enjoyed these. I do have to say, I’m still on team chewy cookies, but these little guys are wonderful and easy summer treats. The first batch was too soft for my liking, so I left the second batch in for 3 more minutes and really let the edges brown, giving them a slight crunch to contrast the soft center. I reduced the sugar to 250g (1 1/4 cups), which was plenty, and added a bit more zest to really accentuate the lemony flavor. They were devoured at a dinner party. Will certainly make again. Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

  11. Hi Sally!
    I made Giada’s version last year for my friends engagement party and I’m planning on making your version for mine this weekend! I wanted to obviously make ahead and looked at your tip! For storing glazed ones, do you recommend storing them in between parchment at room temp or will the parchment rip off the glaze?

    Also been reading you and watching your videos for sometime and I thought refrigerating dough with baking powder doesn’t allow it to react correctly that it should be baked asap? Should that be added right before baking/after taking out of fridge?

    thanks!
    Lindsay

    1. Hi Lindsay! Thank you for wanting to try my recipe! Storing between parchment isn’t ideal because of the glaze. I don’t recommend refrigerating cookie dough made with baking powder for days on end. 2-3 days is fine, but the 1 hour is ideal. The baking soda acts as a crutch.

      1. Got it! Thank you! Making again for a bridal shower, and I love how many they make so I can keep a dozen or two 🙂

  12. Hi Sally! I’m planning on making these within the next couple days as I picked up a container of ricotta for lasagna, I was just curious if you have an approximate for how many cups the ricotta is? My container is 1 kg which is significantly more than the recipe requires.
    Also, on a side note.. I’m not sure if it’s something wrong with my phone/email or related to the new site design.. but for some reason when you reply to my comments I’m no longer receiving an email that you replied. I have to manually search through the comments to find my comment and see your reply. It’s not in my junk mail either so it’s not that.

    1. Hi Stephanie! Use about 1 and 3/4 cups of ricotta. 🙂
      We were having issues with the comment reply email notifications, but we are re-activating it this week. So sorry about the trouble. You will begin receiving the replies to new comments you leave!

  13. Hi Sally! I’m so excited to try this recipe! Quick question- how crucial is the optional almond extract? I LOVE almond extract but I’m making this for some friends who have a tree nut allergy. Is it a noticeable difference if I don’t use the almond extract?

    1. Hi Madeline! The almond extract provides a lovely added flavor, but the lemon ricotta cookies are still delicious even without it. Plenty of lemon in there!

  14. Sally!!!! Please help … I just made this and my cookie batter is not a typical batter. The dough is almost like a thick and creamy cake batter. It’s loose, so I can not form it into pre-formed balls or anything like that. I am able to easily fold it with my spatula. I have put it into the refrigerator… can you please confirm if I’m on the right track here? Or shall I add some flour to ‘firm up’ the batter?
    I double checked all my measurements. I don’t think I’ve made mistakes … thank you!!

      1. You’re the best – thank you for your quick response. I intend to bake it up in the next couple of days …. Merry Christmas to you and hope you have a lovely time with your loved ones!

  15. Made a batch the other day and they are so easy to make and freeze well.
    My all time favorite cookies. I added Bailey’s in my batch instead of Vanilla extract, just for a change

  16. hi sally is it possible to use orange zest and juice instead of lemon? Can you think of any other flavors combos that work? this cookie sounds great but we are not a big fan of lemon in desserts!

  17. Is it possible to use farmers cheese instead of ricotta ? it seems to have the same consistency and I have it already in stock. I use it instead of cottage cheese because it haslower sodium.
    Judith

  18. These cookies turned out great. I used my homemade ricotta cheese, and am surprised you don’t use homemade in this recipe, it’s far superior that store bought. Love the recipe, thanks.

  19. I would love to send these to my nieces bridal shower. I could send them next day air. What would be the best way to pack them???? Appreciate any tips. Thanks

  20. Hi Sally. I’ve made this amazing recipe several times but today is a flop! The cookies have not risen and I’ve baked four batches with smaller and smaller spoonfuls each time. I wonder if the Atlanta humidity today could be affecting them, even with A/C. I’ve iced the 12 best looking cookies and I’m sure they will taste fine. I might chop up the failures and fold them into a lemon ice cream or something. I’ll definitely try again when it’s cooler and buy fresh baking powder. It’s ME not YOUR recipe!!

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