Italian Ricotta Cookies are those classic soft cake-like cookies with a delicate lemon flavor that are have become a holiday mainstay, even for non-Italians like myself!
The chances that you have had a Italian Ricotta Cookie are incredibly high, these perennial favorites are not limited to holiday cookie trays. These cookies are often served alongside other classic Italian cookies at graduations, family picnics and parties. The sprinkles are often switched up to suite the occasion, making these popular cookies are seasonless.
Just like the sprinkles the flavors can be switched up also, you can change out the lemon zest for orange zest, or omit the citrus flavors all together, and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the seeds of 1 vanilla bean for a lovely vanilla cookie.
Tips and hints for Italian Ricotta Cookies
Ricotta cookies are very simple, if you run into a problem it will most likely be over browning on the bottom of the cookie, but I have a few tips to help you avoid this common problem:
- Avoid using dark metal pans, Use a light-colored baking sheet and line with parchment paper.
- Turn the sheet pan around halfway through the baking process to ensure even baking of the final product.
- All ovens run slightly different. Set the timer for about half the bake time recommended, especially with new recipes. This lets you to monitor the progress of the baking, and fine-tune the baking time without fear of over-baking the cookies.
Italian Ricotta Cookies
- 3 1/2 cups 495g all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 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
- 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
For the cookies:
- In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt until well mixed, 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 into the butter mixture. 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 the sheet using two spoons), drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake in preheated oven 12 - 14 minutes until the 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 a 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.