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Lemon Ricotta Cake

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overhead shot of slices of Lemon Ricotta Cake on a plate
Savor the irresistible charm of our lemon ricotta cake, a dessert that combines zesty lemon flavor and ricotta for a taste that's simply heavenly.
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Table of Contents
  1. Lemon Ricotta Cake Ingredients
  2. Ricotta Lemon Cake Substitutions and Additions
  3. How To Make This Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe
  4. How To Serve Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake
  5. When to Serve Ricotta Cake
  6. Italian Ricotta Cake Storage Tips
  7. Why This Lemon Ricotta Cake is the Best
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. More Recipes You’ll Love
  10. JUMP TO RECIPE

This light and fluffy lemon ricotta cake combines the freshness of lemon with the creaminess of ricotta. It’s an Italian dessert brimming with bright, citrusy notes that will leave you craving more.

close up shot of a slice of Lemon Ricotta Cake taken out by a spatula

Lemon Ricotta Cake Ingredients

Lemon Ricotta Cake raw ingredients that are labeled
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Each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating this traditional cake’s perfect fluffy texture and lemon flavor. 

Every component contributes to the overall deliciousness, from the lemon zest to the ricotta to make this traditional Italian cake.

You’ll need a handful of ingredients:

  • 1½ cups of all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons (3 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup of salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup of full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, for dusting the top of the cake

Ricotta Lemon Cake Substitutions and Additions

GRANULATED SUGAR: If you prefer a less sweet cake, you can reduce the amount of granulated sugar. Alternatively, experiment with brown sugar for a subtle caramel undertone.

SALTED BUTTER: Unsalted butter can be used instead. Just add a pinch of salt to maintain the cake’s balance.

CITRUS: Experiment with different fruits like oranges or limes to create orange ricotta cake or lime ricotta cake with unique flavors.

FLOUR: For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free flour blend instead of all-purpose flour.

RICOTTA: It’s important to use whole milk ricotta for the best results in this delectable cake. Part skim ricotta will not produce the same richness.

VANILLA EXTRACT: Swap out the vanilla extract for almond, orange, or coconut extract to introduce new dimensions.

BERRIES: Gently fold in frozen or fresh berries like blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries into the batter for bursts of fruity goodness.

NUTS: Add a crunchy texture by incorporating chopped nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pecans into the batter.

SPICES: Enhance the cake with a dash of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom for a warm and aromatic twist.

LEMON GLAZE: Drizzle a simple lemon glaze made from powdered sugar and lemon juice over the cooled cake for extra sweetness and a glossy finish.

POPPY SEEDS: Mix in poppy seeds for a different texture and a hint of nuttiness, transforming it into a lemon poppy seed ricotta cake.

LAVENDER: For a unique twist, add dried culinary lavender buds to the batter for a delicate floral aroma.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS: Fold in mini chocolate chips for a lemon-chocolate combination.

COCONUT: Add shredded coconut to infuse a tropical flair into your cake.

LIQUEUR: Infuse a touch of liqueur, such as Limoncello or Grand Marnier, into the cake batter for a sophisticated twist.

How To Make This Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe

Let’s have a look at the easy steps for whipping up this delicious lemon ricotta cake.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

Ensure the butter, eggs, and ricotta cheese are at room temperature. This allows for smoother mixing and better incorporation of ingredients.

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with a parchment paper circle. Lightly spray the pan with baker’s spray. You can use Baker’s Joy or a generic version.

STEP TWO: Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a small mixing bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients to combine.

STEP THREE: Beat the granulated sugar, lemon zest, and softened butter together just until combined. 

Use either a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a medium bowl and a hand mixer, on low speed.

Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 2½-3 minutes or until light and fluffy.

sugar, lemon zest, and butter combined in a bowl

STEP FOUR: Lower the mixer speed to medium-low and add the ricotta cheese. Mix just until combined.

ricotta cheese added to the sugar mixture

STEP FIVE: Keep the mixer speed on medium-low. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well until no yellow streaks remain.

eggs added to the ricotta cheese mixture

STEP SIX: Lower the mixer speed to low. Add the vanilla and fresh lemon juice, mix just until combined, and no streaks of vanilla remain.

STEP SEVEN: Increase the mixer speed to medium-low. Add half of the flour mixture at a time. Mix just until combined; do not over-mix.

flour mixture added and combine with the egg mixture

STEP EIGHT: Spoon the lemon ricotta cake batter into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula or silicone spatula to smooth the cake batter. 

Bake on the middle oven rack for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes away clean. 

PRO TIP:

Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to keep a close eye on your cake as the suggested baking time approaches and begin checking at the 30-minute mark.

cake baked in a cake pan and placed on a baking sheet

STEP NINE: Allow the cake to rest in the pan for about ten minutes. Slowly release the sides of the springform pan. Move the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. 

STEP TEN: Once completely cooled, use a handheld sifter to dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar. I used a cake lifter to transfer the cake to a round serving plate. 

Slice into eight pieces before serving.

powdered sugar dusted on top of the cake

How To Serve Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake

Serve your ricotta cake recipe in various ways:

Enjoy a slice of the cake on its own to savor the lemony goodness. Add a warm cup of tea, hot chocolate, or coffee to drink.

Top each slice with fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries for a burst of freshness.

A dollop of whipped cream on the side adds an extra layer of indulgence, or pair a warm slice with vanilla ice cream for a dessert contrast.

Lemon desserts add a refreshing element to your meals. Try our lemon lasagna and lemon cobbler as well.

When to Serve Ricotta Cake

SUNDAY BRUNCH: Brighten up your Sunday brunch with this citrusy treat. Its light and freshness are perfect for a laid-back morning gathering.

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: Make someone’s birthday extra special with a homemade lemon ricotta cake. 

PICNIC DESSERT: Pack a slice for your next picnic. Its portable nature and taste make it ideal for outdoor dining.

HOLIDAY DESSERT: Elevate your holiday dessert table with this cake. It adds a twist to traditional celebrations.

MOTHER’S DAY: Make your mom feel extra special with this flavorful simple cake. You’ll only need a few basic ingredients to create this great recipe!

AFTERNOON TEA: This fluffy cake with its moist crumb is the ideal treat to serve alongside cucumber sandwiches and tea.

Italian Ricotta Cake Storage Tips

If you are planning ahead or have leftover cake to store, here are a few guidelines to follow:

MAKE AHEAD: You can prepare the batter ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before baking. 

This makes it convenient for planning and ensures a fresh cake when you need it.

IN THE FRIDGE: Store leftover lemon ricotta cake in the fridge, covered, for up to three to four days. You can use an airtight container or a plastic wrap to help keep it fresh.

IN THE FREEZER: To freeze, wrap slices individually in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. They can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge before serving.

REHEATING: To reheat, simply warm individual slices in the microwave for a few seconds or in a preheated oven at 350°F for a few minutes until heated through.

Why This Lemon Ricotta Cake is the Best

BALANCED FLAVORS: This lemon ricotta cake strikes a balance between the tanginess of lemons and the richness of ricotta. 

ELEGANT: This cake manages to exude elegance while being incredibly easy to make. It’s a perfect dessert that impresses without the fuss.

VERSATILITY: Whether it’s a casual brunch or a formal gathering, this cake fits the bill. Its versatility makes it suitable for any occasion, and it’s always a hit.

CROWD PLEASER: Few desserts can claim to be universally loved, but the lemon ricotta cake certainly can. 

LEMON LOVER’S DREAM: This cake is a dream for those who adore the tangy taste of fresh lemons. 

close up shot of a slice of Lemon Ricotta Cake on a plate with a piece taken out of it

Indulge in the goodness of our easy lemon ricotta cake – a dessert that’s not just easy to make but also a burst of citrus. With its lemon and creamy ricotta, this cake is a crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for any occasion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use low-fat ricotta cheese?

While you can use low-fat ricotta, full fat ricotta cheese adds a creamier texture to this Italian lemon cake.

Can I replace the lemon zest with lemon extract?

Lemon zest provides a natural citrus flavor and aroma, but you can use lemon extract sparingly if you prefer.

Is it necessary to sift the powdered sugar for dusting?

Sifting ensures an even and fine dusting, but you can sprinkle it without sifting if you prefer.

Can I freeze the cake with the powdered sugar on top?

It’s best to freeze the cake without the powdered sugar. Add the sugar after thawing and just before serving.

Can I add blueberries to the batter?

Absolutely! Blueberries can be gently folded into the batter for an extra burst.

Can I use a different type of flour, like almond flour?

All-purpose flour works best for this recipe, but experimenting with almond flour may yield interesting results.

Can I make this cake gluten-free?

You can try a gluten-free flour blend, but the texture may differ slightly.

What’s the best way to zest lemons?

Use a fine grater or a microplane to zest lemons, avoiding the bitter white pith.

Can I use unsalted butter and add salt separately?

You can use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt as needed.

Can I double the recipe for a larger cake?

Doubling this simple recipe to make a larger cake is possible; just adjust the baking time accordingly.

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overhead shot of slices of Lemon Ricotta Cake on a plate

Lemon Ricotta Cake

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Savor the irresistible charm of our lemon ricotta cake, a dessert that combines zesty lemon flavor and ricotta for a taste that's simply heavenly.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemons zest (2 lemons for zest)
  • ½ cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons lemon, juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting the top of the cake

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with a parchment paper circle. Lightly spray the pan with baker’s spray. Use Baker’s Joy or a generic version.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a small mixing bowl (3-4 cups). Whisk to combine.
  • Using either a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a medium-sized mixing bowl (2-3 quarts) and a handheld mixer, on low speed, beat together the granulated sugar, lemon zest, and softened butter just until combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 2½-3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  • Lower the mixer speed to medium-low and add the ricotta cheese. Mix just until combined.
  • Keep the mixer speed on medium-low. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well until no yellow streaks remain.
  • Lower the mixer speed to low. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, mix just until combined, and no streaks of vanilla remain.
  • Increase the mixer speed to medium-low. Add half of the flour mixture at a time. Mix just until combined, do not over-mix.
  • Spoon the cake batter into the prepared springform pan. Use an offset spatula or silicone spatula to smooth the cake batter. Bake on the middle oven rack for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes away clean. Remember, every oven cooks differently. Begin checking the cake at the 30-minute mark.
  • Allow the cake to rest in the pan for about 10 minutes. Slowly release the sides of the springform pan. Move the cake to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Once completely cooled, use a handheld sifter to dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar. I used a cake lifter to transfer the cake to a round serving plate. Slice into eight pieces before serving.

Notes

  • Ensure the butter, eggs, and ricotta cheese are at room temperature. This allows for smoother mixing and better incorporation of ingredients.
  • Oven temperatures vary and may need to be recalibrated periodically to ensure they are accurate. Make sure to keep a close eye on your cake as the suggested baking time approaches and begin checking at the 30-minute mark.

Nutrition

Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 287mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 596IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 128mg | Iron: 2mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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