Soft and cake-like Lemon Ricotta Cookies made with a quick lemon infused sugar. These fragrantly bright Italian cookies are dipped in a lemon glaze for a delightful all around citrus scent.
They’re incredibly easy to make and you can top them with sprinkles of your choice to suit just about any holiday or other special occasion.
These cookies made with ricotta are extremely popular in Italian households. Especially around the holidays with each family having their own unique way of decorating these lemon flavoured cookies.
They’re inspired by Canadian Living Magazine’s Ricotta Cookies from a holiday issue. I’ve made a few switch ups which will definitely appeal to all lemon lovers.
To achieve an all around citrus taste in the cookie dough, I added lemon zest and made a quick lemon sugar by pulsing together the lemon zest with the granulated sugar in my mini food processor. It’s the same technique I use when baking batches of Ciambelle Cookies as well!
Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor you can skip this step. And simply beat together the butter and sugar with the lemon zest.
I also omitted the baking soda altogether and increased the baking powder from 1/4 teaspoon to a full teaspoon. This yielded a plumper cookie which did not spread out much and does not flatten out. They resembled these perfect little round soft and fluffy pillows.
Also for uniformly round cookies I used a 1 1/2 inch round cookie scoop but you can just as easily measure the dough out with a rounded tablespoon.
I opted out of the cream cheese icing and decided to make a luscious lemon glaze.
They’re extremely soft to the bite, much more so than my Tarallucci al Limone. And they also have a very cake-like texture full of lemon flavour which are sure to appeal to all you die hard cookie fans!
How To Make Lemon Ricotta Cookies
1. Pulse together the lemon zest and sugar together in a food processor for about 1 minute. This technique infuses the sugar granules with the citrus scent.
2. Place the lemon sugar and the softened butter in a large mixing bowl.
3. With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
4. Add in the egg, ricotta cheese and vanilla extract
4. Beat together until well combined.
5. Add in the sifted dry ingredients consisting of flour, salt and baking powder. And stir the dry ingredients into the ricotta mixture.
6. Scoop out approximately 1 tablespoon of cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet while spacing the cookies 2 inches apart. (use a 1.5 inch small scoop or a tablespoon)
7. Bake in a preheated oven for about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven when pale yellow in colour with golden bottoms. Then simply transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before glazing.
Lemon Glaze For Cookies
This is a simple dairy free lemon glaze consisting of powdered sugar, also known as icing or confectioner’s sugar. And with both the juice and zest of a lemon.
You may need an extra lemon for juicing if your first one does not give out enough juice.
Simply add the powdered sugar, juice and zest in a medium bowl. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients until smooth in appearance with no lumps.
You can customize the thickness of the lemon icing or glaze to your taste. Adding less lemon juice to the icing sugar will result in a thicker glaze. Or, if you prefer a thinner glaze try adding a little more lemon juice.
Do keep in mind though that these cookies absorb quite a bit of the icing, especially a day after. So if you want that white glazed appearance make sure the icing is not overly thin.
Can You Freeze Lemon Ricotta Cookies?
I had full intentions to test out whether these ricotta cookies would freeze well because I’m all for baking ahead during the holidays.
However, they lasted 1 full day in my freezer because greedy hands quickly devoured the cookies! They’re that delicious!
Here is what I recommend!
- If baking and freezing ahead do freeze the cookies without the lemon glaze.
- Thaw and then glaze the cookies the same day you plan to serve them for best appearance.
How to store Italian Ricotta Cookies
- Store the cookies in an air tight container and keep in a cool dark place.
- They’ll be at their freshest for about 5 days
- Or freeze unglazed cookies and then defrost and glaze them on the day you plan to serve them.
Bake them today and tag @marisasitaliankitchen on Instagram so I can see your creation!
This recipe was originally posted Nov 13, 2017 and republished May 14, 2021 with updated content and photos.
Lemon Ricotta Cookies
For The Cookie Dough
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 large egg
- 8 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt I used fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- sprinkles or nonpareils for decorating
For The Lemon Glaze
- 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
- zest from 1 lemon
- 4 to 5 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line 3 cookies sheets with parchment paper as this will make for easy release of the cookies and set aside.
- Pulse the granulated sugar with the lemon zest in a food processor for about 1 minute so as to infuse the sugar with the lemon scent.
- Place the lemon sugar and the softened butter in a large bowl and beat until fluffy.
- Beat in the egg, ricotta cheese and the vanilla until well combined.
- In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and stir this into the ricotta mixture.
- Using a small cookie scoop of about 1 1/2 inch in size, scoop out the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart so that they have room to expand. Or simply measure out a heaping tablespoon if you don't have a cookie scoop.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 to 14 minutes or until the bottoms are golden in color.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and in the meantime prepare the lemon glaze.
- FOR THE LEMON GLAZE
- Place the icing sugar and lemon zest in a medium sized bowl and whisk in the lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time, until a desired consistency is achieved.
- Dunk the top of the ricotta cookies into the lemon glaze and place on a wire rack with a tray underneath to catch any drippings.
- Sprinkle with nonpareils of your choice and then allow the lemon glaze to set before serving.