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.

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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. 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.

143 Comments

  1. I just came home from Costco where they were sampling Blood Orange Ricotta Cheese. It tasted good, but kind of bizarre. I’m thinking it would be great in these cookies, or any other baked goods using ricotta. The poor demonstrator could only imagine in on french bread. 🙁

  2. i must have made them too large, because they taste more like cakey bread with the center doughy . they were approximately 1” + balls. trying to cook them longer so the inside will not be doughy.

  3. Can I refrigerate after glazing or how??

    1. Hi, Rose! Freeze baked, unglazed cookies for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before glazing and serving.

      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. Cathy with the Shelties says:

      They came out great! Only one caveat. If you are as baking-impaired as I am,you may wsnt to strip to your skivvies, dump the sugar and butter in a gallon bucket, and stand in the bathtub when you turn your mixer (mine is handheld) to top speed. I had sugary butter cubes and buttery sugar granules EVERYWHERE. My Shelties were licking it off each other’s fur. It was on top of my slippers, on my glasses, and… well let’s just say it was entertaining. Fortunately the cookies were worth it.

  4. They are delicious! Sweet, tangy, moist. Very lemony.

  5. I made these cookie for Christmas
    They were a big hit at Christmas party
    I’m glad I saved some at home
    Because, when I went to get one ,all of them were gone
    Your recipe is winner
    Thank you

  6. I made these today and they were delicious! Very light with the perfect amount of tang from the lemon 🙂

  7. It took me the better part of the day to make these but so worth it! I followed the recipe exactly as written and they are heavenly! Okay, not ‘exactly’ as written. I don’t have a fancy mixer, or a paddle attachment so I used my cheap hand mixer with a whisk attachment. The sugar/butter mixture was very crumbly and I was worried at first (it spewed sugar everywhere on the ‘low’ setting, even in a big mixing bowl, so I didn’t go any higher than that setting. I used a spatula to smooth it before continuing adding the remaining ingredients and they came out delicious. Two lemons provided exactly the right amount of zest and juice. Very tedious and time consuming (and a lot of dishes) but sooo good!

  8. Just made these as something different for Easter! They were so light and delicious with a perfect touch of lemon and a sponge-cake like texture. I refrigerated for 1 day and there was a little spread, but still great cookies. Easy to make and a crowd pleaser!

  9. Absolutely delicious! We are a chocolate loving household, but these cookies are a big big favorite. They remind me of mini glazed donuts. Another perfect recipe from SBA that will be in my recipe box for years to come. Thanks Sally!

  10. Delicious!

  11. If you want larger cookies with less spread, cut the sugar back. You were going in the right direction when you added flour to change the ratio of sugar to flour, but adding more is rarely the answer. 335 grams is already a huge amount of sugar for any standard cookie. I cut mine to 250 and the cookies were still a great texture. And they tasted perfect. Anything more would have been cloyingly sweet.

  12. Karen E Schwagly says:

    I would love to make these and mail them to my mom for Mothers Day. Will they taste good after spending about 3 day in the mail.

    P.S
    I have read your article about shipping cookies and found it very helpful.

  13. Hi Sally, how do you recommend I freeze the dough? Should I roll it into balls?

    1. Hi Danielle, For this recipe I freeze the dough/batter in the bowl at the end of step 2 for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

      1. Gotcha. I tried to ball then freeze so it’d thaw more evenly but I gotta say the recipe was pretty loose! If it’s still loose post-thaw, should I add a little more flour?

      2. Replying with my results – these cookies came out PERFECTLY! Definitely more cakey (light and airy almost like a pancake) & SO lemony and delicious. I froze my dough in little balls and thawed a few hours before baking. The dough was cold when I baked and they spread to look exactly like the pictures. The glaze is also so simple and tasty! I would absolutely make these again.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

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