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. Made these with lemons off my tree. Wonderful! My family snapped them up.

  2. Christel Goetsch says:

    Good morning!  I am the queen of saving recipes and then not actually making them…
    However, this one was the exception, and I am thrilled I followed through and made them!  OMG!  Too delicious.  I gave some of the freshly baked gems to a friend of mine and she was quite impressed, too.  Not a small feat, as she is quite the baker, too!

    I look forward to trying some of your other recipes, as you are now my go-to online baker.  Thanks for your narrowing down my options!

    Happy baking!

    Christel

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

    1. Hi Kelli! These ricotta cookies should satisfy his craving. I’m not the best person to ask about high altitude baking as I have zero experience. Here is a handy chart that readers have found helpful in the past: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  5. 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.

  6. Dominique Jaconetta says:

    I made these last week and they were absolutely delicious!

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

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. Fabulous recipe! These have never been one of my favs but your recipe has changed my mind! Thanks for sharing!

  12. These were absolutely amazing! Like little lemony pillows in your mouth.

  13. 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. Yep, you’re on the right track. It’s a loose batter-type cookie dough. Chilling will help firm it up. 🙂

      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!

  14. Claudia Orsini says:

    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

  15. Hi Sally!
    Wanted to know if I can add blueberries into these?

    1. Absolutely! I recommend 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw).

  16. 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

    1. Hi Judith! I haven’t tried the substitution before, but let me know if you do. Sorry I’m not much help here!

  17. Susan Adams says:

    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.

  18. Amanda Marie says:

    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!!

    1. Perfect solutions for next time, Amanda! Thanks so much for trying the cookies.

    2. I think it must’ve been the humidity. I just made them & by the time I got to the last 2 batches, the batter was so soft. It’s hot here too in Boston! They came out like pancakes. I should’ve put the batter back in the fridge. But the first several batches were perfect 🙂

      1. Update – definitely the humidity. I had some batter left and put it in the freezer. Just baked a fresh batch and they are perfect. It’s not as humid today. What a relief as I love these cookies.

  19. AMAZING texture and flavor!! I switched out the lemons with limes. The texture is more cake-like and is so soft. My coworker called them cake drops!

  20. Hi Sally,
    I made these for work, got around 50 cookies from the batter! Everyone loved them! They came out exactly as you described, fluffy and lemony! I still can’t believe I can make cookies that taste this good, thanks for sharing your gift 🙂

  21. I just came across this recipe and will have to try it. I recently found out that my 50 year old daughters’ favorite cake is lemon. Yes, sigh, you read that right, 50! I asked her how I could not know this and she told me that she didn’t know it herself until she bought a lemon glazed bundt cake at the grocers a few years ago. Now, every time someone asks her what flavor cake she wants she tells them lemon. I’m wondering if, since you say the batter is cake-like, if it can be baked in an appropriate sized cake pan (9×13, 8×11), cut into bars or squares and then glazed? Yes, I can be very lazy. Definitely will have to try this. Darling daughter maaay get some. 😉

    1. Hi Denise, I haven’t tried making these cookies as bars but you can certainly try! If you do, let me know how they turn out! And if you want to re-create her favorite lemon Bundt at home you can try this recipe: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/glazed-lemon-poppy-seed-bundt-cake/

  22. Lily Parigi Feagin says:

    Fabulous in every way!!! Came out amazing! Froze well and still tasted perfect! Everyone in my family loves them- thank goodness, or I would have eaten them all myself!
    Thanks for the great recipe!!!

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

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

  25. 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!

    1. These are my husband’s favorites. The holidays are over. Just wanted to surprise him. I always gravitate to your site. These cookies are delightful. Just enough lemon and so moist! Very easy to make and worth every minute! Thank s

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. Delicious!

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

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