Italian Ricotta Cookies

There are SO many wonderful Christmas cookie recipes. It’s hard to decide which one is my favorite.  Biscotti?  Nutella Snowballs?  Italian Ricotta Cookies?  


Well my hands-down favorites are Italian Ricotta Cookies.  The name sounds odd for a cookie with “ricotta” cheese included.  But don’t worry!  There isn’t a slight cheesy flavor at all!  The cheese contributes to the light, fluffy texture of the cookies.  They’re simply heavenly!


And with all of the heavy foods offered during the Christmas season, it’s so nice to nibble on something that is oh so light, sweet and delicious!  Plus these cookies are so festive with the colors of the season sprinkled all over.  With just a slight hint of lemon in both the cookie and the delicate icing of these Italian Ricotta Cookies, you just might have visions of lemon groves bursting with fresh citrus fruit along the Amalfi coast!

Italian Ricotta Cookies

Italian Ricotta Cookies are very popular throughout the year because they can be sprinkled with any color for decoration.  The flavor is also seasonless because there is no ginger, molasses, or typical Christmas flavors included in these delicious little cookies.

Italian Ricotta CookiesFor a more hefty cookie to dip into your hot chocolate, coffee, latte’, or wine, bake some Biscotti with Dried Cranberries, White Chocolate and Pistachios.  Drizzled with more white chocolate, you’ll fall in love with these biscotti!  Here’s the recipe:  Biscotti with Dried Cranberries, White Chocolate and Pistachios

Italian Ricotta Cookies




  • It’s a good idea to make cookies that are all the same size.  To do this, use a small cookie scoop to help you keep the cookie size uniform.
  • Use softened butter (to room temperature).
  • Using both baking powder and baking soda helps the cookies achieve their famous softness and pillow-like texture.
  • Use parchment paper to in your baking pans.  This helps prevent the cookies from sticking to the pans.  It also helps in the clean up!!
  • For Christmas, decorate Italian Ricotta Cookies with colorful decorating sprinkles in red, green and/or white colors.
  • Add the sprinkles immediately after icing the cookies with the glaze.  The glaze hardens fast, so add the sprinkles very quickly so they stick to the glaze. 
  • Italian Ricotta Cookies stay fresh for 2 days and up to one week stored in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze cookies in airtight containers for up to 1 month.

I use and recommend any of these kitchen tools:

Set of 3 different sizes of scoop spoons

Set of 3 different sizes of baking pans/sheets

Set of 4 different sizes of cooling racks


Italian Ricotta Cookies


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Italian Ricotta Cookies

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Additional Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Category: Cookies & Bars
  • Cuisine: Italian


A very soft, tender cake-like cookie with hints of lemon. Decorate with your favorite cookie sprinkles. A favorite at Christmastime! Decorative sprinkles are set in a sweet and simple glaze. You'll eat at least 2 or 3 guaranteed! The dough can be made two days in advance so it’s a good, time-saving, make-ahead recipe.


Units Scale

For the Cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups (495g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 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
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 31/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (or 11/4 tsp almond extract)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk, adding more if necessary to your desired consistency — we like the icing more ‘light’ than thick and heavy, but it is entirely up to you and what you prefer.
  • Red and Green colored sugar sprinkles, but it would also be festive with Silver and Gold sprinkles too
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 31/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (or 11/4 tsp almond extract)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk, adding more if necessary to your desired consistency — we like the icing more ‘light’ than thick and heavy, but it is entirely up to you and what you prefer.


For the cookies

  1. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt for 20 seconds, set aside.
  2. 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).
  3. Mix in ricotta and vanilla extract then blend in eggs one at a time.
  4. Set mixer on low speed and slowly add in flour mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 20 minutes of dough chilling.
  7. Scoop chilled dough out 1 Tbsp at a time (and no larger!) and shape into balls (if it’s too sticky just drop onto sheet using two spoons), drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake in preheated oven 12 – 14 minutes until underside of cookies are golden.
  9. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Once cool dip tops of cookies in glaze and return to wire rack, immediately add sprinkles if using. Allow glaze to set at room temperature.
  11. Store in an airtight container in a single layer.

For the glaze

  1. In a mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar, melted butter, lemon juice or almond extract, vanilla.
  2. Add ½ cup of milk until smooth, adding in more milk 1 a little bit at a time to thin as you desire.


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This was first posted in 2016 and updated and re-posted in 2019.

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