Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe

This Italian lemon ricotta cake has a moist and soft texture and is loaded with lemon flavor. The recipe is so easy to make and perfect for beginners!

An slice of Italian lemon ricotta cake.

What Is Lemon Ricotta Cake

Lemon ricotta cake is a popular Italian recipe known in the country as torta alla ricotta e limone. This cake is often served as a dessert, for breakfast with cappuccino or caffellatte, or also for la merenda (afternoon snack).

The cake has a soft and buttery texture with hints of fresh lemon thanks to the ricotta cheese and the addition of lemon zest and juice.

This ricotta cake is a classic in Italy, an example of how something so simple can be so delicious too.

Italians have a very simple taste for cakes. When it comes to this baking good, they prefer to just dust them with powdered sugar and that’s it.

But, this doesn’t mean their cakes are unflavoured and not appetizing, on the contrary, they focus more on the cake itself and leave out the decoration only for special occasions.

Lemon ricotta cake in a serving plate on a kitchen countertop.

The recipe is very simple to make and I also share some useful tips for you if it’s the first time you making this cake. Now, let’s see the ingredients one by one.

Ingredients Needed

  • Ricotta – It adds moisture and a creamy-buttery flavor, use whole milk ricotta cheese for best results.
  • Lemon – For freshness, aroma, and summery flavor. Use a large lemon juice and zest, or two small lemons.
  • Unsalted Butter – You will need to melt it first so it can combine easily into the batter.
  • Eggs – Yolks and whites separated.
  • Flour – All-purpose flour, sifted.
  • Baking powder & baking soda – Together they create the magic for this fluffy cake.
  • Vanilla – Use extract or sub with other types of vanilla.
  • Sugar – For sweetness, please read the notes below.
Ingredients for Italian lemon ricotta cake displayed with names on a tile surface.

How To Make The Italian Ricotta Cake

Prepare your ingredients and make sure everything is at room temperature. Including the melted butter.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F. Grease and dust with flour a 7-inch/ 18cm cake pan or line it with parchment paper. A bundt pan would be also a good alternative.

Start with the dry ingredients. Sift flour together with baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.

Flour sifted with baking powder and baking soda on a bowl.

In a large mixing bowl add the full fat ricotta cheese, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Add lemon zest and lemon juice, then mix until combined.

A collage with two photos of preparing the yolks and ricotta mixture.

Add to the bowl the flour you prepared before and mix until everything is combined and there are no crumbs left.

Collage with two photos of adding and incorporating flour into the ricotta mixture.

Place egg whites and a pinch of salt into a bowl, then use a hand mixer and beat until stiff peaks form.

Beating eggs whites to make ricotta cake.

Add the beaten egg whites to the batter, working with a spatula and slowly with movements from down to up until everything is nicely combined.

Collage with two steps of preparation of the batter for ricotta lemon cake.

Add the batter into the baking pan and use a spatula to nicely even the top. Then bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove the freshly baked cake from the oven, place the pan on a cooling rack and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Two photos collage with the cake unbaked and the ricotta lemon cake just out of the oven.

After that, run a thin spatula around the pan edges to loosen the sides. Place the wire rack over the top of the pan, flip it, and tap it lightly to remove the cake.

Allow to cool down and then dust with icing sugar, slice it and serve as it is or with some fresh berries and whipped cream on the side.

Italian lemon ricotta cake on a plate, dusted with icing sugar and garnished with slices of fresh lemon on top.

If it’s your first time making this recipe, I strongly recommend you read the section below before you start.

Tips And Notes

  • Prepare all ingredients before starting with this cake recipe. Weigh, divide, melt, etc.
  • For best results, please use a kitchen scale and properly weigh the ingredients.
  • I have tried it with less sugar and believe me, it wasn’t as fluffy and moist as it’s supposed to be. This cake is amazing, but you will need to add this amount of sugar.
  • The key to light and fluffy ricotta cake is beating the egg whites and carefully folding them into the batter. Don’t skip this step!
  • Pre-heat the oven before starting to make this cake. It takes about 15 minutes in total to make the cake, and the oven should be ready by the time you finish.
  • Do not open the oven door in the first 30 minutes or you’ll compromise the cake’s fluffiness.
  • Don’t take off the cake from the baking pan right after you baked it. Give it some time to rest, then remove it and place it in in a cooling rack.
  • If you feel tempted to mix the whole eggs with the other ingredients, you can do it, but be aware that the cake won’t have the same moist crumb and fluffiness as it should.

Recipe Variations

  • Add berries. You can mix in some blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or your favorite fresh berries.
  • Mix other flours. Substitute about 1/3 of the flour with rice or almond flour for a slightly different texture and flavor. I haven’t tried with gluten-free flour, but if you do, let me know the results in the comments below.
  • Add other aromas. You can also add other subtle aromas by adding a few drops of orange or almond extract.
  • Make it a birthday cake. Once cooled down, cut the cake into 2 discs and add lemon marmalade or a berry jam as filling. Then decorate with your favorite lemony frosting recipe.

How To Store

This lemon ricotta cake can last up to 2 days on a covered cake stand on your countertop.

After that, you will need to transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for another 2-3 days.

The cake also freezes wonderfully and once thawed it stays nicely moist because of the ricotta cheese. Just make sure to first wrap it with cling film, then place it in a proper container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Watch How To Make It

Hungry for more? Try other similar recipes like this Italian Ricotta Pie or our delicious Pear and Ricotta Crostata.

Italian lemon ricotta cake recipe.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Super moist, soft, and very easy to make. This lemon ricotta cake will become your favorite. Enjoy it simply or use lemon frosting to make this a wonderful birthday cake!
PREP 15 minutes
COOK 1 hour
TOTAL 1 hour 15 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Maricruz

Equipment

  • 1 7-inch (18cm) cake pan  greased and floured, or lined with parchment paper.

Ingredients 

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour (180 g)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (250 g)
  • 1 cup sugar (250 g)
  • cup melted butter (80 g)
  • 3 medium eggs (yolks and whites separated)
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F. Grease and dust with flour a 7-inch/ 18cm cake pan.
  • Sift flour together with baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In a larger bowl put the ricotta, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract.
  • Add lemon zest and lemon juice, then mix until combined.
  • Add the flour to the bowl with the ricotta mixture and mix until combined.
  • Place egg whites and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then use an electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Carefully, fold the fluffy egg whites into the batter.
  • Add the cake batter to the baking pan previously and use a spatula to even the top.
  • Bake for about one hour or until a stick comes out clean.
  • Remove the ricotta cake from the oven, place the pan on a cooling rack and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • After time passed, run a thin spatula around the pan edges to loosen the sides.
  • Place the wire rack over the top of the pan, flip it, and tap it lightly to remove the cake.
  • Allow to cool down completely and serve.

NOTES

  • For best results, please use a kitchen scale and properly weigh the ingredients.
  • The key to light and fluffy ricotta cake is beating the egg whites and carefully folding them into the batter. Don’t skip this step!
  • Do not open the oven door in the first 30 minutes or the cake will not rise properly.
  • Give the cake some time to sit before removing it from the pan.
Nutrition
Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 312mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 462IU | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 1mg
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