These Italian ricotta cookies are soft cakey little cookies that almost melt in your mouth. They are covered in a sweet glaze and topped either with sprinkles or lemon zest. They are made with ricotta cheese but they don’t taste like cheese at all. You will love these cookies!
Italian Ricotta cookies are a traditional Italian cookie and many people make them around the holidays. I made a ton of cookies in pastry school but never made these and I was intrigued by the ricotta ingredient and had to try them!
These cookies are like little soft pillowy cakes that melt in your mouth. Traditional recipes don’t use any butter but I added it in here to help with the texture. They are topped with a light vanilla glaze and with either sprinkles or lemon zest. They are perfect to add to a holiday cookie gift box!
I LOVE making a ton of cookies around the holidays and these are on my list. Some of our other favorite holiday cookies are these gingersnap cookies (SO GOOD!) these eggnog snickerdoodle cookies, or these double chocolate peppermint cookies.
Why you should make these cookies
- They are almost like soft little cakes instead of cookies.
- The cheese adds so much moisture to the cookie that it just about melts in your mouth!
- They are topped with a sweet vanilla glaze that you can add sprinkles or zest to.
Ingredients for this recipe
- Unsalted butter softened– You’ll need softened butter to cream with the sugar. Learn how to soften butter quickly!
- Granulated sugar– Sugar adds sweetness and structure to the cookies.
- Egg– Eggs helps to bind the ingredients.
- Whole milk ricotta cheese– Ricotta cheese adds a ton of moisture and keeps this cookie soft.
- Vanilla extract– Adds flavor.
- All purpose flour– This is the bulk of the cookie.
- Baking powder & Baking soda – These are leavening agents for the cookies.
- Kosher salt– Salt brings out the flavor.
- Lemon– I topped the glaze with lemon zest but you can skip it.
- Sprinkles– usually I say sprinkles are always mandatory but in this case it is optional. Traditional ricotta cookies use sprinkles though.
- Confectioners sugar & Milk– to make the glaze
Using anise in the cookies
I am NOT an anise fan. Traditional Italian ricotta cookies use anise though, and if it is something you like, add in 1/2 tsp ground anise to the batter with the dry ingredients. Alternatively you can substitute the vanilla for anise extract.
How to make Italian Ricotta cookies
These are super simple to make. You can make them by hand in a medium sized bowl or by using a hand or stand mixer.
Make the dough-In a medium sized bowl either mixing by hand or use a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until a paste forms. Add the egg, ricotta, and vanilla, and mix again. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until a thick dough forms.
Chill the dough-Chill the dough in the bowl for 1-2 hours until firm. Then scoop out the dough using a small cookie scoop and line them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake and glaze– Bake the cookies for 12 mins on 350° F. Make the glaze in a small bowl by whisking confectioners sugar, and milk until a loose glaze forms. When cool, dip the cookies in the bowl or spoon it over and sprinkle the sprinkles or zest on top.
- The glaze hardens quickly so make sure to have your sprinkles or zest ready to sprinkle them on when the glaze is still wet. Otherwise they wont stick!
- Substitute the vanilla extract for anise extract, lemon extract, or almond extract for a different flavor.
- You can scoop out the cookie dough first and then chill them if you prefer to do it that way.
How can I roll these without them being so sticky?
Wet your hands a little before rolling to help the cookie dough from being sticky
Can I make these ahead?
Sure! I would make the cookies up to 5 days in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Then glaze and garnish them on the day of serving.
Can I double the recipe?
Yes you can!
Storing and Freezing
Storing- I stored them in the fridge in an airtight container because I found that they kept better that way. On the counter they just got a little mushy. They stay fresh for about 3-5 days.
Freezing- To freeze, make the cookies but don’t glaze them. Store them in a freezer safe zip top bag for up to 2 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator and then glaze and garnish them the day you want to serve them.
More holiday cookies:
- Crispy Gingersnap Cookies
- Eggnog Snickerdoodles
- Gingerbread Biscotti
- Double chocolate peppermint cookies
Melt in Your Mouth Italian Ricotta Cookies
For the cookies:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg large
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
For the glaze:
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tbsp milk or cream
- Sprinkles optional
- Lemon zest optional
- In a medium sized bowl or in the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 1/2 cup butter with 1 cup sugar until a thick paste forms. Add in the egg, 1 cup ricotta, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- In a small bowl or on a piece of parchment paper combine the 2 cups flour with 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix to combine. Add the dry mixture into the ricotta mixture and mix until a thick dough forms.Chill the cookie dough in the bowl for 1-2 hours in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Scoop out the dough using a small cookie scoop or a large tablespoon kitchen spoon. Shape into a ball and place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 mins until the bottom of the cookies are golden brown.
- In a small bowl combine the 1 cup confectioners sugar and 2 tbsp milk or cream. Whisk until the lumps disappear and a thin glaze forms. When the cookies are cool, dunk the cookies in the glaze or spoon or drizzle it all over the cookies. Quickly sprinkle the cookies with sprinkles or citrus zest. Let the glaze harden.