These Lemon Ricotta Cookies are a must for the holidays! They are cakey, soft, moist, and full of bright lemon flavors. The sweet lemon glaze adds delicious flavors to these cookies. It’s a great make-ahead cookie recipe that everyone will absolutely love. Happy baking!
I’ve been baking a lot lately because…well…it’s December! Somehow, baking during this time of the year just feels extra cozy and heart-warming. Today, I’m sharing this super easy recipe for lemon ricotta cookies, and let me tell you…they are amazing!
These lemon ricotta cookies are cakey, soft, moist, and full of delicious lemon flavors. Plus, the lemon glaze adds a really nice touch of brightness. I love these so much.
Lemon ricotta cookies are a classic Italian favorite. They are so easy to make, and because the dough needs to chill for at least 3 hours, I always make the dough the night before and bake them the next day. It’s a great and easy make-ahead recipe!
Lemon ricotta cookies are of my favorite cakey cookies. By the way, I’m a big fan of cakey and soft cookies…go check out my delicious cakey carrot cake cookies. They are so good!
Anyway, back to these lemon ricotta cookies.
To give you an idea, here’s an overview of the ingredients and what they are for:
- Flour: all-purpose flour works here.
- Baking powder: To help the cookies rise.
- Salt: Salt always brings out flavors in baked goods.
- Unsalted butter, softened: For flavor and fat.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness.
- Eggs: Eggs provide structure and texture to baked goods.
- Whole milk ricotta: Use whole milk ricotta to make them softer and more cakey.
- Vanilla extract: For flavor.
- Fresh lemon juice: Make sure it’s freshly squeezed for best results. You’ll need about 3 tablespoons.
- Lemon zest: From about 2 medium lemons. The lemon zest will accentuate the amazing lemon flavors.
- For the lemon glaze: Confectioner’s sugar and fresh lemon juice.
The key ingredients here are the ricotta and the lemon. You won’t even taste the ricotta cheese. The ricotta is used in this recipe to add softness and airiness. It will also make them perfectly moist. So, basically, it’s for texture.
As for the lemon juice and lemon zest, make sure it’s freshly squeezed and zested. You don’t want any artificial flavors since you can really taste the lemon here.
How to Make These Cookies
As always, the specific ingredient quantities and instructions are included in the recipe card below, but to give you a top-level idea of how lemon ricotta cookies are made:
- Combine the dry ingredients: Flour, baking powder, salt.
- Combine the wet ingredients: Cream the sugar with the butter first, until fluffy. Then mix in the ricotta, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
- Mix the dry and wet ingredients: Until just combined. Do not overmix, or the cookies could turn out dense.
- Chill the dough: Chilling the dough will prevent the cookies from spreading too much in the oven. Don’t skip this step. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Bake! At 375 degrees F for 14-15 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
- Glaze: Once completely cooled, drizzle some glaze (confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice) over the cookies.
Many cookie recipes call for mixing the dry and wet ingredients together. It’s no different here. Just the standard and usual. Easy peasy!
The key in this recipe is that you NEED to chill the dough for at least 3 hours, or better yet, overnight. Otherwise, the cookies will spread too much.
How to Prevent The Cookies From Spreading Too Much
There are 4 things you should keep in mind to prevent flat cookies:
- Make sure the dough is COLD: To prevent them from spreading too quick and too much, the dough needs to be completely chilled. Chill the dough for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Use a cookie scoop: Definitely use a cookie scoop if you can! Because the dough needs to remain cold, it’s best to just use a cookie scoop to prevent warm hands from to touching the dough. Also, the dough is very soft and sticky, so using your hands would make it really messy.
- Measure 1.5 tablespoons: If you use too much dough per cookie, it will expand too much. My cookie scoop is 1.5 tablespoons and works perfectly.
For 2.5 cups of flour, I used 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder. I’ve tested a few batches of these lemon ricotta cookies, and this is the perfect amount of baking powder for the perfect height!
I love make-ahead recipes, especially around this time of the year. Because the dough for these lemon cookies need to chill for at least 3 hours, I always make the dough the night before, and bake them the next morning.
When you chill the dough, make sure to put plastic wrap over it, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the dough.
I’m so in love with these soft and cakey lemon ricotta cookies. They are light and airy, and the brightness that the lemon adds is just divine.
I love this recipe because I can just make the dough ahead and bake the next day. They are so delicious and easy to make!
Plus, they keep really in an airtight container at room temperature, even after being glazed. However, if you live in a humid and warm place, I’d recommend storing these cookies in the fridge to prevent the glaze from melting.
Your house will smell like a fresh bakery. It’s the best thing ever! Happy baking!
More cookies to bake this month:
- Carrot Cake Cookies
- Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
- Peppermint Mocha Cookies
- Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tips for Success
- Chill the dough for at least 3 hours or overnight. This will prevent the cookies from spreading too much.
- Use fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. You can really taste the lemon here, so you probably don’t want any artificial flavors.
Lemon Ricotta Cookies
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 15 oz whole milk ricotta
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Zest of 2 lemons (plus more for garnish)
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 4 to 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (plus more as needed)
- In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients until evenly combined: flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a mixer, mix the wet ingredients: On medium-high speed, beat the softened butter with the granulated sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer’s speed to medium and add in the eggs, one at a time. Then, beat in the ricotta, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest until evenly combined.
- Gradually, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on medium-low speed until no pockets of flour remain (scrape the sides of the bowl if needed). Do not overmix.
- Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the dough. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. Tip: To prevent the cookies from expanding too much in the oven, the dough needs very cold.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Scoop dough, about 1.5 tablespoons per cookie, onto the lined sheet pans. Place each cookie dough about 2 to 3 inches apart. The dough is sticky, so use a cookie scoop if possible. You may need to do multiple batches – just refrigerate the dough until ready for the next batch.
- Bake for 14 to 15 minutes or until golden brown at the bottom. The top should look a bit pale. Once ready, remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batches. Tip: don't open the oven until the cookies are ready, otherwise the cookies could deflate.
- Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar with the fresh lemon juice. Tip: add the lemon juice one tablespoon at a time, mixing until desired consistency. I like my glaze to be a bit thicker, so I use less lemon juice.
- Once the cookies are completely cooled, drizzle each cookie with some glaze. Top the cookies with lemon zest if desired. Enjoy!
- Special equipment: handheld or stand mixer, cookie scoop (size: 1.5 tablespoons), sheet pans, parchment paper, cooling rack, plastic wrap, zester.
- How to prevent flat cookies: Chill the dough for at least 3 hours or overnight, don’t open the oven until the cookies are ready, make sure each cookie is 1.5 tablespoons, and use the amount of baking powder specified in the recipe.
- Use fresh lemon juice and zest for optimal results.
- Storing: Store in airtight containers for up to 5 days. If you live in a warm and humid place, store the cookies in the fridge so that the glaze doesn’t melt.