Italian Ricotta Cookies

December 1, 2018  ·  Published December 2, 2015

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Italian Ricotta Cookies are soft, moist, cake-like cookies with a sweet and simple glaze. These are so good you can never stop at just one! They’re holiday classic and such a fun recipe to try if you’ve never made them. The dough can be made two days in advance so it’s a great make ahead recipe.

Italian Ricotta Cookies in a gift tin with tissue paper. They are decorated with glaze and Christmas sprinkles.

The Best Ricotta Cookies Recipe!

This is likely to become your go-to ricotta cookie recipe! They’re easy to make and they’re always consistently delicious!

I know I’ve been on a sugar craze here but tis the holidays after all :). I will be adding some savory recipes soon enough but for now I’m just enjoying the baking season. My kitchen has been overflowing with all kinds of desserts lately but there’s definitely no one complaining around here.

This makes a large batch of cookies so you can easily make half the recipe if you don’t need 4 dozen cookies.

This time of year 4 dozen may be about right but come January I think I’ll go with 2 dozen – even though they are incredibly delicious, they are just too hard to resist. Try them and you’ll see what I mean!

Overhead image of ricotta Cookies in rows on a cooling rack.

Ingredients for Ricotta Cookies

This recipe calls for basic ingredients most all of which you already have on hand. You’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lemon
  • Ricotta – use whole milk
  • Vanilla
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Milk

Or Try Them with Almond Extract

These have a nice hint of lemon flavor but you can also use almond extract in place of the lemon zest and juice for delicious alternative. I’d use 1/2 tsp almond extract in the dough and 1/4 tsp in the glaze.

Close up image of ricotta cookies.

How to Make Ricotta Cookies

  • Whisk flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  • In an electric stand mixer cream together butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.
  • Mix in ricotta and vanilla extract then blend in eggs one at a time.
  • Mix in flour mixture.
  • Chill dough 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Scoop chilled dough out 1 Tbsp at a time and shape into 1 Tbsp balls, drop onto lined baking sheets.
  • Bake in preheated oven 12 – 14 minutes until underside of cookies are golden, cool.
  • Spread over glaze and let set.

Italian Ricotta Cookies | Cooking Classy

Can I Freeze These Cookies?

These cookies can be frozen or refrigerated for a longer shelf life but keep in mind the glaze may not look as nice. Mind tend to wrinkle up after a few days.

More Delicious Ricotta Dessert Recipes to Try!

4.91 from 90 votes

Italian Ricotta Cookies

Soft and fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth cookies made with rich ricotta (for moisture and flavor) and finished with a sweet glaze.
Servings: 48
Prep30 minutes
Cook50 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups (495g) all-purpose flour*
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder**
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups (370g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 15 oz ricotta, whole milk or fresh (1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Glaze

  • 1 Tbsp butter (salted or unsalted), melted
  • 3 3/4 cups (460g) powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice***
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 - 6 Tbsp milk

Instructions

  • For the cookies:
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt for 20 seconds, set aside. 
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip together butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy (scrape down sides and bottom of bowl occasionally throughout entire mixing process).
  • Mix in ricotta and vanilla extract then blend in eggs one at a time. Set mixer on low speed and slowly add in flour mixture and mix just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 20 minutes of dough chilling.
  • Scoop chilled dough out 1 Tbsp at a time and shape into balls (if it's too sticky just drop onto sheet using two spoons), drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (I don't recommend using dark non-stick pans for this recipe since the bottoms will already become pretty golden. Dark pans brown more than uncoated pans do).
  • Bake in preheated oven 12 - 14 minutes until underside of cookies are golden. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Once cool dip tops of cookies in glaze and return to wire rack, immediately add sprinkles if using. Allow glaze to set at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in a single layer.
  • For the glaze:
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar, melted butter, lemon juice or almond extract, vanilla and 4 Tbsp milk until smooth, adding in more milk 1 tsp at a time to thin as needed (you don't want it to be very thin, it should be quite a bit thicker than a doughnut glaze).

Notes

  • *Scoop flour directly from container using measuring cup and level top using a butter knife. Don't whisk or sift before measuring and don't spoon into a cup. I thought I better note that because in the recipe I adapted these from it stated 4 cups flour (480g) but it only took me 3 1/2 cups to get to the weight they had listed and then some (495g). The best option is to use a kitchen scale, I highly recommend investing in one if you don't already have one. I always use mine when baking.
  • **Cookies previously listed using 2 tsp baking soda, but a few have had issues with cookies rising so recipe has been improved to use baking powder instead.
  • ***You can also use almond extract in place of lemon juice. Start with 1/4 tsp almond extract then add more to taste (then thin glaze with more milk as needed).
  • Recipe source: adapted from New York Times

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414 Comments

  • Dee

    Giving 3 stars, Not sure if I did something wrong or if they are just not as good as I remember my Mom making. These taste more like a soft shortbread then the ricotta cookies I remember. If not for the frosting they would have no taste at all. I will try them again and see if things change

  • Frank Vespe

    No need to change anything in this recipe!!! The cookies and glaze are perfect! If you follow the recipe and instructions as listed, they will taste fantastic EVERY TIME!!!! I make them year round….

  • Joanne

    Me again!
    I was wondering if you think lemon curd would be good on top of the cookies instead of the glaze? Thank you very much.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Lemon curd would be a bit messy here, maybe you could try sandwiching some between the cookies if it’s thick enough.

  • Joanne

    Hello1
    I actually have a question.
    Can you freeze the raw cookie dough and bake it at a later date?
    Thank you

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I haven’t tried with this dough it might thaw a bit different with the ricotta so I couldn’t say with certainty.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes then if the dough gets too heavy for it mix the remaining flour mixture by hand until incorporated.

  • Sherri

    Dough way to sticky
    Tried twice, weighed ingredients
    Disappointed

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’m sorry they didn’t turn out! I would suggest a different ricotta and if needed you could freeze the dough for a little while if it’s too sticky.

  • Natalie

    Great recipe! I swapped quark for ricotta, omitted the zest in the cookie and opted to put it in the glaze along with fresh, finely chopped rosemary.Yum! Used a red handle (1 1/3 oz) commercial scoop, and tried a couple smaller sizes which also baked up nicely. Cookies plopped rather than plopped and slightly flattened retained better texture. I will definitely be making these again!