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!

4.92 from 82 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 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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372 Comments

  • Susan

    I made half of a recipe of these wonderful cookies tonight. They are delicious, moist, fluffy, lemony little mounds. They came out perfectly. I have always wanted to try a lemon ricotta cookie recipe and I’m glad I settled on this one.

    I read most of the comments and there’s a few people who had problems. If your cookies came out flat, it’s probably because you haven’t replaced your baking powder since the Clinton administration. If they came out doughy, make sure they’re a little browned on the bottom and if they’re not put them back in the oven. If they taste bland, you probably just don’t like Italian cookies.
    I will definitely make these again.

  • Dianna

    I have a question. You have 2 ** next to the Ricotta cheese, but it doesn’t say anything about it, It just addresses the baking soda ingredient. Did I miss something? These really some great snd I don’t want to make a mistake. Thank you so much.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry for that confusion. That was an error on my part. Nothing special on the ricotta, though I do recommend using a decently strained one such as Galbani.

  • James

    just made these cookies
    they are sooo good!
    I made half the cookie dough but spaced and made the full version of the icing
    will the icing freeze or how long will it last in the fridge?
    do you have any other recommendations for the icing?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I think it should refrigerate or freeze fine, I would press plastic wrap over top before covering so it doesn’t dry. It should keep in the fridge maybe 1 week.

  • Mel V

    Can I freeze the cookie dough? These taste amazing. I ♥️ them!! Biscotti di Natale alla ricotta Italiana

  • Diane Boucher

    Just a note that your imperial measurements do not scale when adjusting on the site here.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Yes unfortunately they’re isn’t a way around this the way the recipe card has been set up.

  • Grace

    I NEVER leave comments but I felt so overwhelmingly compelled to do so due to how hard these cookies SLAP. These are a crowd pleaser, a begged to be made again, adored treat. Make these cookies, I implore you to do so. You will only be sorry when they are gone. Thank you for this recipe. I have made these cookies 9,000 times to the approval of my loved ones.

  • Sarah Lang

    Can I use cottage cheese to take place of some of the ricotta? I don’t have enough ricotta in the house at the moment, but we do have cottage cheese.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      A previous comment below mentions using cottage cheese with success by mashing it up.