My lemon ricotta cookies recipe brings the perfect tart lift to any party, tea, or midnight craving! While many chefs view lemons as a summer fruit, I also adore lemon in cookies during winter months. Not only does it lift the cold with each bite, but you can use seasonal-friendly Meyer lemons to ramp up these lemon cookies.
Even better: these fruit cookies use cheese. Before you cringe, hear me out! Ricotta is a common addition in Italian cookies, the same way we add cream cheese or sour cream. This recipe is eyes-roll-back-in-your-head good!
Let’s do it!
This cookie recipe, aside from being downright delicious, is so easy to make that you might actually be kind of mad at me. Cookies this delicious and this simple, shouldn’t be so easy to come by! I usually end up making way, way too many.
But is there such a thing as too many cookies?
- Easy to make
- The tart, tangy flavor
- Simple ingredients
- Quick prep and bake time
How To Make Lemon Ricotta Cookies
There’s nothing intimidating about making lemon cookies. Begin by combining all the dry ingredients and set them aside. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and ricotta and mix well. Fold in the dry ingredients, but be sure not to overmix. Scoop out the cookies onto lined baking sheets, bake, and allow to cool.
I leave my cookies on the pan to cool, so they finish baking without over-drying in the oven. While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze by combining all the ingredients and spoon over the cookies. These delicious lemony treats are so decadent. They’re perfect with tea or coffee or as dessert!
Ricotta cookies sound complicated at first glance. What’s a Meyer lemon? Do I need to zest my lemons? I’m here to answer all your questions!
Glaze- This is where you can really showcase the lemon flavor! Adjust the powdered sugar to your level of sweetness. If you want more lemon, add more juice. Just play with it a bit until you find the perfect balance of tang!
Folding- Do not be tempted to beat the flour into the wet batter with your mixer. You’ll knock the air out of the fluffy ricotta and eggs, and your cookies will be flat and dense. To fold, sprinkle about ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet batter.
I try to distribute the flour mixture across the entire surface of the wet batter and not dump a big pile in the center to decrease clumps. Draw your spatula through the middle of the dough and then scoop around the side, folding the batter over the dry ingredients.
Keep repeating this process, adding in a little of the dry ingredients at a time. I like to rotate my hold on the bowl as well to help prevent little pockets of dry ingredients. Be patient! Folding shouldn’t be rushed!
Meyer vs Lemons: Meyer lemons are the smaller, slightly sweeter counterpart to the more commonplace sour lemons. They’re the lemons that people often use in desserts thanks to their higher sugar content, but they can be finicky about their season. Typically, Meyer lemons are only around during the winter months. But they’re definitely worth the wait!
Zest it up! There are many ways to get that top layer of yellow flesh off of lemons. For this recipe, you’ll want to use either a zester or a grater, to get the really fine, thin strips of zest.
Squeeeeeze: Just like zesting, there are a lot of ways to juice lemons, too. My preferred method is to use a citrus juicer, and then run the juice through a strainer to make sure I don’t get any seeds or pulp in the final juice.
Many people I know feel like if they start making cookies, they have to finish it all that day. But cookies are so much more make-ahead friendly than we give them credit for!
You can always make these cookies and store your finished it in either airtight containers or bags. But what about making the dough ahead of an important event? Yep, you can actually freeze your cookie dough!
Can You Freeze These?
Wondering if can you freeze these cookies? You absolutely can, and the best part is you have a couple of options! You can freeze pre-baked or after baking.
To freeze these easy cookies before you bake, scoop the dough onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and put in the sheet in the freezer. Freeze for several hours or until completely frozen. Transfer the frozen dough balls into a freezer bag to store.
If you’re freezing after baking, I would hold off on the glaze until you’re ready to serve. Make sure your cookies are completely cool before you put them in the freezer bag to freeze.
You can glaze them before they’re completely thawed, but I suggest letting the outer layer warm up a bit so the glaze sticks better. Baked cookies will be fine in the freezer for months.
Make Ahead Tips
Aside from making the dough and freezing it, I love doing the same thing for lemon juice. Especially with seasonal Meyer lemons, it’s a great idea to buy a bunch, juice them, dish the juice into ice cube trays, freeze, and then store the cubes in Ziploc bags until you need them.
How Long Can You Keep This?
Fully baked cookies will last up to three weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. Since this Lemon Ricotta Cookie recipe has a glaze, that might get a little extra sticky with time, but it should still be edible.
But, honestly, the fully baked cookies never last that long in my household. Especially if there’s cold milk around.
Baking is more of a science than normal cooking, but there is still some room to get creative!
Can I Turn These Into Lemon Bars?
Transferring cookie recipes to bars is as easy as spreading the dough in a pan! One of my favorite variations is to add in a handful or two of fresh or dried blueberries for lemon blueberry bars.
Or, if you loved the ricotta angle, let’s take it up a level by doing lemon cheesecake bars! Another winner is to toast some sweetened coconut and whip up lemon coconut bars. I wouldn’t say no to any of those!
Can I Add Cranberry?
Is it ever a bad idea to add cranberry? It pairs so wonderfully with everything!
Cranberry bars are a staple come the holidays, and what better way to whip them up than by going back to the original: cranberry bliss bars! But what I really love is to make white chocolate cranberry cookies around Christmas. There’s just something so delightful holiday about that decadent flavor pairing!
Can I Add Chocolate Chips?
Yes. What recipe wouldn’t benefit from chocolate? And even better — what other add-ins would make your cookies pop?
I mean, really now. Those are all amazing.
Can I Use Orange Instead?
There is a whole world of citrus out there, so don’t stop at lemon! Orange cookies are another delicious way to brighten up a winter day or celebrate a summer party. Cranberry orange cookies are my particular pick for winter — that match of orange and cranberry is so festive and hearty! For summer, I love orange creamsicle cookies. Creamy, dreamy citrus heaven!
Can I Add Berries To This Recipe?
Bring on the berries! How about blackberry pie bars? I can’t get enough of blackberry’s rich, complex flavor. And I always love strawberry bars — top it with some whipped cream, and you’re in for a treat!
Lemon Ricotta Cookies
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- 2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup plus 2-3 extra tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Mix in eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Mix in ricotta, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon. Beat until incorporated. Fold in flour mixture just until combined. Do not overmix.
- Scoop dough (about 2 Tablespoons) onto prepared baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven, until edges just begin to turn slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheets for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup lemon juice and the zest of 2 lemons. Thin glaze as needed, with extra lemon juice, to achieve a thick pourable consistency.
- Spoon glaze on each cookie. Allow glaze to set for about 2 hours.
Now that you know how easy it is to tackle a lively, unique dessert like my cookie, how about some others?
- Banana Oatmeal Cookies – Hearty breakfast in a cookie!
- Pineapple Cookies – Tropical, ooh la la!
- Lemon Crinkle Cookies – a new twist to usual chocolate flavor!
- Lemon Shortbread Cookies – bake this with whatever shape you want!
- Pumpkin Spice Cookies – soft fluffy little cookies with a sweet warm pumpkin flavor
Whether you bake your cookies right away or freeze the dough for later, my lemon ricotta cookies recipe will treat you well, I guarantee. Perfectly tart. Rich and creamy. Balanced softness with chewiness. I apologize in advance for how many of these cookies you’ll eat.
What event did you make these for? Let me know in the comments!