Ricotta cookies are fluffy on the inside with a delicately crispy exterior. Although they are made with cheese, they don’t taste cheesy at all! The ricotta just makes them tender and delicate.
These traditional Italian cookies have been holiday favorites for generations. But why should Christmas be the only baking season? Their lemony accents and delicate flavor make these melt in your mouth cookies perfect for Easter!
These delicious cookies are coated with a simple sugary glaze and decorated with seasonal sprinkles. You can decorate them for any occasion, from Easter brunch to the 4th of July to Halloween. And of course, they are a must-have on any Christmas cookie tray!
For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below
There are a few ingredients that give these their distinctive texture and taste:
Ricotta cheese – These use 15 ounces of ricotta cheese, so an entire container. I use whole milk ricotta for the best texture and taste.
Lemon zest – A little bit of lemon zest added to the batter gives them a subtle yet distinctive flavor.
The remaining ingredients are baking staples, including flour, baking powder, salt, butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs.
How to Make Ricotta Cookies
First, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set these dry ingredients aside for a few minutes.
Then use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until they are light and fluffy. Stir in the ricotta and vanilla extract and blend to combine.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Adding the eggs one at a time helps make sure the eggs mix with the butter, so don’t try to shortcut things and add them both at once!
Finally, gradually add the flour mixture and mix it until the flour is just combined.
2. Chill Dough
Cover the bowl of dough with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours. This will ensure the dough is easier to handle and the cookies don’t spread too much.
The dough can stay in the refrigerator chilling for up to 48 hours before baking, making it easy to make the dough ahead of time.
Use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to line the cookie sheet. Scoop out the chilled dough using a 1-inch cookie scoop and put the balls of dough on the trays, keeping them about an inch apart.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 9-11 minutes. Observe them during the baking time since you want the underside of cookies brown, but not the tops.
Once they are firm and the bottom of the cookies are brown, take them out and put them on wire racks to cool.
Decorating the Cookies
These are decorated with a simple glaze made from melted butter, confectioner’s sugar, milk, and vanilla. If you want to keep the glaze bright white, use clear vanilla to make it.
To make the glaze combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat it until smooth. The glaze will be thin but not completely runny.
Either dip the cookies in the glaze or spread it on top. Add the sprinkles or other toppings right away because the icing on cookies hardens quickly.
You can decorate them with colored candy sprinkles or sugar or nuts such as slivered almonds.
How to Store
This recipe makes a big batch of cookies, so there is a good chance you will have leftovers! Put them in an airtight container with a sheet of parchment paper between the layers.
Even though the icing hardens, it still is best not to stack the cookies right on top of each other. They will keep at room temperature for 3 days. If you want to keep them longer, then refrigerate them for up to a week.
The dough will keep for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.
Yes, these freeze well, but it is best to freeze them before icing them. Freeze them in airtight containers, and they will keep for up to 3 months.
To thaw, leave them on the counter overnight. Then make the glaze and decorate them for whatever holiday is closest!
Key Tips for This Recipe
Be sure to check out the step by step instructions
Let them cool completely before frosting.
Decorate the cookies with sprinkles right after frosting since the icing hardens fast.
This recipe makes a large batch with dozens of cookies, so cut it in half if you prefer.
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Ricotta Cookies Recipe
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ¾ cups (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter melted
- 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract **see notes
- 3 tablespoons milk
- sprinkles sparkling sugar, or nuts
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- In a stand mixer bowl, beat the butter with sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.
- Mix in ricotta and vanilla extract until well combined.
- Add eggs one and a time, beating after each.
- Gradually add flour mixture and mix well.
- Cover dough with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Chilling dough for at least 2 hours will enhance the texture and keep the cookies from spreading.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Use a 1-inch cookie scoop to form the dough into balls. Drop dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch between the cookies.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the cookies are lightly brown on top and golden brown on the underside.
- Cool on wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients until smooth. The icing will be thin but not overly runny.
- Dip the tops of the cookies into the bowl of icing or spread it on top with a spoon.
- Immediately add colored candy sprinkles, sparkling sugar, or nuts to decorate.
- Using clear vanilla extract in the icing will help to keep the glaze bright white.
- Use almond extract in place of vanilla in the glaze if you prefer.
- Decorate the cookies with sprinkles right after dipping since the icing hardens fast.
- This recipe makes a large batch with dozens of cookies, so cut it in half if you prefer.
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Nutrition facts are estimates.