Lemon Ricotta Cookies

lemon ricotta cookies stacked on a white plate

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!

lemon ricotta cookies stacked on a white plate

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.

container of ricotta with a metal spoon

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.

lemon ricotta cookie dough in a glass bowl

lemon ricotta cookie dough on a baking sheet before baking

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.

drizzling icing onto lemon ricotta cookies

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.

overhead image of lemon ricotta cookies on a white plate

lemon ricotta cookies on a white plate

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 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

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.

165 Comments

  1. Lemon and ricotta is such a delicious and refreshing combo! These cookies look so good and I just can’t wait to try this recipe.

    1. I hope you love these! Happy baking 🙂

  2. Hi Sally!  These look great!  I have a Meyer lemon tree coated in lemons, I will need to add this recipe to my lemon itinerary. 🙂

    1. Christel Goetsch says:

      A lemon tree?!  How lucky are you?  I’m jealous…enjoy!

    2. And Meyer lemons are so yummy! Yes, lucky you!

    3. Debbie! How lucky are you to have a Meyer lemon tree!! These will be delicious with your lemons 🙂 Let me know how you like them!

  3. I have good reason to Love Mondays!!! You always deliver an exceptional recipe and your sense of humor always makes me laugh (Thank You for that!!). Having our kitchen remodeled sulfated this week and I’m thinking that the guys would love these as a snack. Happy Monday to everyone!!!

    1. You are so kind, Wendy! Good luck with your kitchen remodel!

  4. Sold! But not today. It is family day here and since the kiddo and I are at home our activity is the February baking challenge. We are making your cake pops today! The lemon ricotta cookies have been added to the baking list.

    1. So much fun! Enjoy your baking day – I hope you love the cake pops!!

  5. I’ve never tried lemon ricotta cookies before but I think now I have to! Since you mentioned black & white cookies and it looks like a similar “datter” (lol) what do you think of icing the bottoms of these cookies like you do for black & whites? Oooh and then using the black & white icing recipe but lemon extract instead of vanilla? These might have just moved to the top of my list!

    1. Hey Melissa! That would definitely work. These are much smaller than the black and white cookies, so keep that in mind 🙂

  6. Such a sweet, vintage recipe. I have a ricotta cheesecake recipe I use on holidays and it has lemon zest in the batter- it is such a delicious combination! I haven’t tackled homemade ricotta yet (Maybe future baking challenge for you?!??) But Ina Garten (Spirit animal of mine) has a recipe for it that looks super easy. I’m already thinking ahead to Easter dinner- these would be a nice, light dessert option- but I mean… that’s way too long to wait to try these!!

    1. Your cheesecake sounds delicious, Angela! And these would be perfect for Easter 🙂 Let me know if you make them before then!!

  7. Charlotte Moore says:

    I really love lemon. I would be in BIG trouble to have these in the house. No one else cares for lemon. So I will just drool. )-:

    I also love the cakey cookies.

    1. Haha! Too funny 🙂

  8. Catherine Smith says:

    HOORAY for using the whole container of ricotta 🙂 My OCD brain adores you!

    1. Lol!! Happy baking 🙂

  9. shawnna Griffin says:

    hey girl- these cookies look so good! I love everything lemon!

    1. Thank you so much!

  10. Ricotta cookies have always been something I’ve associated as an Italian treat – and they’re so underrated! They’re really like a cross between a cookie, a lemon bar and a piece of cake all at once. Can’t wait to try them for Spring.

    P.S speaking of Italian treats, Sally – have you ever tried making homemade gelato or tiramisu? My 2 favourite Italian sweets 😉

    1. Homemade gelato– no. Tiramisu– yes! Not 100% happy or satisfied with the tiramisu I tried. Still working on a GREAT recipe for it. 

  11. Are these similar to your black and white cookies? Those are my favorites! 🙂

    1. Texture wise, yes! 

  12. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Lemon and Ricotta sounds like such a delicious combo.  These would be so perfect spring baby and wedding showers!

    1. Thank you Patricia!!

  13. Hi Sally,
    First of all, I love ricotta cookies, so I was looking forward to your post about these. And lemon ricotta cookies?! That’s extra special! And after reading your descriptions of these cookies, which is sheer poetry, how can I not try these?! These will definitely be first on my baking to do list!

    1. I hope you love them, Marilu! Let me know after you make them!

  14. Bella Chauhan says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! We made these today and they are like little lemony pillows of love! Swapping a cup of ap flour with almond flour solved the spreading problem. Also cut back to 1 cup of sugar and still sweet!
    Loved these cookies! Wish I could post a pic here.

    1. I am so happy you enjoyed these, Bella!

  15. I made a lemon, ricotta, and almond flour cake yesterday that is INCREDIBLE. The almond flour helps keep it moist, too, and gives it a subtle, natural almond flavor (perfect for someone like me who really shies away from almond extract). Great minds think alike, it seems!

    1. That sounds absolutely amazing!

  16. Sally, these sound like they could be the springtime/Easter version of the Black and White! Made with 2 colors of pastel glaze or frosting

    1. Yes! Love the pastel glaze idea 🙂 Let me know if you try it!

  17. Your killing me with all these amazing recipes Sally!!! these cookies look insane good….and that lemon glaze on top…..heaven

  18. Can the recipe be halved 🙂 I am making for two people only, 40 cookies is a lot!

  19. I love cakey cookies, like madeleines or any a bit spongy. These look amazing!
    www.slackergirlfitness.com

  20. Laura | Tutti Dolci says:

    Such dreamy cookies – love the brightness from the lemon and the incredible texture from the ricotta!

  21. hi sally please can i have one of your best vanilla cupcake recipe
    THANKS

    1. These are my favorite: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/08/29/simply-perfect-vanilla-cupcakes/
      Enjoy!

  22. Definitely gonna try it this week, it looks so good… and my wife loves lemon, and I love to surprise her, so everyone wins x)

  23. Cassis Boeno | Cozinha Legal says:

    This combination of flavors is wonderful!

  24. Hi Sally. Just bought the ricotta today and can’t wait to try these. Separate topic – have you ever considered developing a St. Louis gooey butter cake recipe?  Checked your website and couldn’t find. This would be a great one!

    1. Hey Angela! I haven’t, but I should at some point. My sister lives in St. Louis!

  25. Lisa @Happylifeblogspot says:

    I brought Christmas cookies into work and ever since a co worker has been asking me to make an Italian lemon cookie with frosting. I think I’ve found my recipe! They look delish! He’ll be beyond happy! Thank you so much 

    1. Fantastic! I hope he (and you!) loves them 🙂

  26. I just finished baking these and I got 64 cookies! They only needed about 11 minutes in the oven for me. They are perfect little lemon pillows – more like tiny cakes than cookies. Can’t wait to try them with the glaze once they all cool down! I’m having my small group over tonight and I know they will gobble them up! Thanks for such an easy and yummy recipe!

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

    1. So jealous of your lemon tree!! Glad you put some to good use 🙂

  28. If I want to half the recipe, how should I half the almond extract amount.  I don’t have an 1/8 tsp measure . . . would you recommend eyeballing it?  Would just putting in the full amount of 1/4 tsp be overpowering to the recipe?  I love almond, so I don’t want to leave it out all together.

    1. Hi Ace! I would just eyeball it. Though 1/4 teaspoon in half of the recipe wouldn’t be too much at all. Especially if you love its flavor.

  29. 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

    1. Hi Christel! Thank you so much for reporting back about the lemon ricotta cookies!!

  30. I have to confess upfront, I only decided to make these, because I had ricotta left over from a 2# container I bought for lasagna. Well, talk about dismay when I realized I only had 9 ounces of ricotta left. I made up the difference by adding 3 oz cream cheese and 3 oz of sour cream (thanks go to the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Hotline for that suggestion). I chilled the dough for 3 hours, and the dough was still pretty sticky, but manageable. For the first batch I used a #100 cookie scoop, but the cookies just seemed too small, so I switched to a #70 scoop, and the cookies baked in 12 minutes, and puffed up nicely. I took the glazed cookies to a party, and people went crazy over them. One friend said they tasted like cheese danish. I can’t say that there is a very strong lemon flavor at all even with the glaze, and I did use fresh lemon juice and zest. One other thing I want to mention is this recipe made about 80 cookies, which is great, because they are so good. Someone else also commented that the texture reminded her of black-and-white cookies. Thanks, Sally, for a great recipe.

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