Ricotta cookies are one of the most popular Italian cookies, and for all the good reasons. They have a soft pillowy texture and a delicious lemon note.
There are many ricotta cookies recipes out there, but if you're looking for THE authentic Italian recipe, that's the one!
This ricotta cookie recipe contains no oil or butter, so they're actually healthier than most cookies, yet they taste absolutely delicious.
Ricotta adds a light flavor, an amazing texture, and softness that makes these ricotta cheese cookies impossible to resist, and you won't taste the cheese at all.
Made in one bowl, with just 6 simple ingredients, these are the BEST ricotta cookies you'll ever try.
I promise these cookies are so easy to make, you can actually ask your kids to help you out, my 4-year-old loves making them with me!
WHAT IS ITALIAN RICOTTA?
Ricotta is a very popular Italian fresh and creamy cheese, used for many savory and sweet recipes.
To be super precise, ricotta is not actually a cheese, but a dairy product - just like mozzarella and burrata cheeses.
The Italian word "ricotta" literally means "re-cooked".
To make the real authentic ricotta, the whey is cooked twice to obtain this fresh dairy product and rennet is added into the mix.
You can find ricotta cheese in most grocery stores or in your local Italian deli, alternatively, you can make homemade ricotta at home.
RICOTTA COOKIES INGREDIENTS
You won't believe how easy these lemon ricotta cookies are!
For this easy ricotta cookie recipe, you need the most simple ingredients, in typical Italian fashion.
You'll need just 6 ingredients:
- Flour: I use regular all-plain flour or Italian 00 flour.
- Eggs: go for a medium-sized egg.
- Lemon: Lemon zest adds a beautiful citrusy note to the cookies, you can swap it with orange zest if you like. Opt for unwaxed organic lemons if possible.
- Sugar: use regular granulated sugar for this recipe. You can also use raw cane sugar.
- Baking powder: a little baking powder gives the cookies a nice slightly softer texture.
- Ricotta cheese: ricotta adds moisture and gives these cookies their typical cakey texture.
ICING FOR LEMON RICOTTA COOKIES
The glaze is optional and made by mixing powdered sugar with milk.
You can flavor the icing by adding a drop of vanilla extract or lemon extract.
Fun fact: In Italy, authentic ricotta cookies are not usually glazed and topped with sprinkles, as they often are in the US.
Feel free to leave some of the ricotta Italian cookies without icing for a more authentic taste, and glaze the remaining ones.
Top them with sprinkles or even better, with lemon zest.
HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN RICOTTA COOKIES
This is a quick overview of how to make ricotta cookies with step-step pictures.
For the full recipe, scroll down to the easy-to-print recipe card.
STEP 1 - Mix the ingredients.
In a large bowl whisk together the ricotta, sugar, lemon zest, and egg.
STEP 2 - Mix in flour and baking powder.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Mix all the ingredients until you have a compact and soft dough.
STEP 3 - Rest the dough.
Use your hands to form small balls (around 24 grams/0.8 oz each), you can also use a cookie scoop. Arrange them on a baking tray, then refrigerate them for 15 minutes.
STEP 4 - Bake the cookies and glaze them.
Bake the cookies for 17 minutes.
Cool the cookies on a wire rack, then sprinkle them with powdered sugar, or dip the cookies in the glaze and top with sprinkles or lemon zest.
HOW TO STORE RICOTTA COOKIES
Store the baked ricotta cheese cookies in an airtight container or sealed jar. Keep them in a cool spot in your kitchen or in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
CAN I MAKE THEM AHEAD?
Yes, you can! You can form your lemon ricotta cookies the night before, refrigerate them overnight then bake them in the morning.
You can also freeze them before they are baked.
Place them on a baking sheet for an hour, then transfer them to a ziplock bag and freeze them for up to one month.
To bake them after freezing, let them thaw for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator, then bake them.
You can also freeze them after baking them.
Place them on a baking sheet for an hour, then transfer them to a ziplock bag and freeze them for up to two months.
Yes, you can freeze ricotta cookies! Follow the instructions above. For best results, I recommend freezing them without the glaze and glazing them right before serving them.
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?
Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thepetitecook!
Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!
Italian Ricotta Cookies
- 250 g ricotta cheese, well drained
- 150 g sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 egg
- 250 g all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
For the icing:
- 130 g powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoon milk, plus extra if needed
- 1 tablespoon sprinkles, optional
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, optional
- In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta with the sugar, lemon zest and egg, until you have a creamy, lump-free mixture.
- Gradually sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Mix all the ingredients by hand until you have a compact and soft dough.
- Slightly wet your hands and form small balls (around 24 grams/0.8 oz each), you can also use a cookie scoop. Arrange them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper, then refrigerate them for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 170°C/340°F or with fan option on at 150°C/300°F. Arrange the baking tray onto the middle shelf.
- Transfer the cookie tray into the oven and bake for 17 minutes, or until slightly golden on top. Remove the cookies from the oven and arrange them on a wiring rack.
- Once the cookies are cool, sprinkle them with powdered sugar, or dip the tops of the cookies in glaze and return them to the wire rack. Immediately top with sprinkles or lemon zest and allow the glaze to set at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in a single layer.
For the icing:
- In a small bowl whisk together powdered sugar and milk until smooth, adding in more milk 1 teaspoon at a time to thin as needed ( don't add too much milk, it should be a quite thick glaze).
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
MORE CHRISTMAS ITALIAN COOKIES TO TRY
If you liked this recipe, check out more favorite Italian cookie recipes here:
I just made this recipe, I weighed all my ingredients and came up with about 20% more dough. I portioned and baked according to the directions. the first batch got brown on the bottom very quickly and I pulled early so the bottom would not burn. I reduced the oven temperature to 325 and baked for about 15 minutes they seemed better.I would watch the first tray you bake carefully.
Can gluten free flour be used?
Hi Lucy, I haven't tried it, but I assume a gluten-free flour blend could work!