This lemon ricotta cake is a deliciously moist and rich Italian ricotta cake filled with lemon. It has a wonderfully light and fluffy crumb with a sweet and creamy flavor. Make this rustic ricotta cake to end a weeknight meal, for breakfast, as a snacking cake or anytime you need a simple, but stunning ricotta dessert.
Why Should You Make This Recipe
I absolutely adore simple, but flavorful cakes. My French Apple Cake, Almond Cake, Almond Flour Chocolate Cake and Rosemary Olive Oil Cake are just a few of my favorites on the blog. If you’re a fan of simple cakes that are incredibly easy to make and full of flavor, this ricotta cake recipe is for you.
- Layers of flavor and textures. One thing I adore about this lemon ricotta cake is the depth of flavor. The ricotta cheese creates a beautiful light and fluffy crumb, along with a sweet creaminess. The lemon and vanilla bring another layer of bright and cozy flavor.
- Easy to make, bake and eat. This Italian ricotta lemon cake tastes like you just bought it from a bakery, but don’t let that fool you. This ricotta dessert is incredibly quick and easy to make. Enjoy this moist Italian lemon cake as a simple dessert, a delightful breakfast or as a decadent snack.
This lemon ricotta cake recipe requires just a handful of simple ingredients to make and you probably already have them in your pantry and fridge. Here’s what you’ll need.
Dry Ingredients: Gather all purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Wet Ingredients: Gather granulated sugar, lemon zest, butter, ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon juice. If you would like to top with the cake as pictured, gather powdered sugar and lemon slices.
Here are my recommended ingredient substitutions to make this easy ricotta dessert if you need them.
- All purpose flour: To make this Italian lemon cake gluten free, use a good 1-1 gluten free flour. I recommend using the one from Bob’s Red Mill.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda: These both act as leaveners in this lemon and ricotta cake.
- Granulated Sugar: This ricotta cake recipe calls for granulated sugar, but maple sugar would also work well to make this cake refined sugar free.
- Lemon Zest and Juice: Lemon pairs so beautifully with ricotta cheese and vanilla extract. I highly recommend using both the lemon zest and juice in this lemon ricotta cake.
- Unsalted Butter: Vegan butter or plant based can also be used in place of regular unsalted butter.
- Eggs: This recipe has not been tested without eggs. Make sure they are room temperature.
- Ricotta Cheese: There isn’t an exact match for the texture and rich flavor of ricotta cheese. However, in a pinch use an equal amount of sour cream or full fat greek yogurt.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla is a a wonderful flavor to pair with lemon and ricotta cheese. I recommend using this if you have it. The easiest substitute would be vanilla bean paste.
Lemon Ricotta Layer Cake: Prepare the recipe as written and divide the lemon ricotta cake batter into (2) 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed and the sides of the cake pull slightly away from the edges of the pan. Assemble the cake with this delicious lemon cream cheese frosting.
Lemon Ricotta Bundt Cake: Prepare the ricotta cake recipe as written. Pour the batter into a well greased 10-inch bundt pan. Bake the cake for 45 - 55 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Top with powdered sugar or lemon glaze.
How To Make
Learn how to make lemon ricotta cake in a few easy steps.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C). Grease and line the bottom of a 9- inch (23 cm) springform or cake pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together until well combined.
- In a large mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment, beat the sugar and lemon zest together until they are the consistency of wet sand.
- Beat butter and lemon sugar together until well combined. This takes about 3 minutes on medium speed. On low, beat in the ricotta cheese until combined. Then increase the speed to medium-high for 4-5 minutes. On low beat in the eggs, vanilla extract until smooth and well combined. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Evenly spread the ricotta cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the ricotta lemon cake for 38-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the almond cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool the pan in the pan for 15-20 minutes. Gently release the side of the springform pan and allow the cake to cool for 5-10 more minutes.
- Transfer the Italian lemon cake to a serving plate or serve right from the pan. Top with powdered sugar and lemon slices. Slice and enjoy!
How To Make Ahead, Freeze, Store and Serve
Store: Place the the ricotta lemon cake in an airtight container for 1 day at room temperature. Then the cake should be transferred to the fridge for up to another 5 days.
Freeze: Make sure the simple lemon cake with ricotta is completely cooled to room temperature. Individually wrap the cake or each slice in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag or other airtight, freezer proof container. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Thaw: The easiest and tastiest way to thaw your moist ricotta cake is to let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Enjoy at room temperature cold from the fridge.
Serve: This Italian cake is best served as is or with a dusting of powdered sugar. It is also delicious with fresh fruit such as berries, topped with freshly whipped cream or strawberry glaze.
M’s Expert Tips
- Zest the lemon directly into the sugar. This allows the oils from the lemon to flavor the cake better.
- Bring cold ingredients to room temperature. This allows the ingredients to mix together more evenly which requires less mixing, resulting in soft, fluffy, moist and tender ricotta cake.
- Strain the ricotta. If the ricotta cheese is watery, I recommend draining or even straining the ricotta cheese to remove the excess water.
- Measure the flour properly. I highly recommend using a food scale to get perfectly measured ingredients every time.
- Don’t overmix the batter. Always use the lowest speed on your electric mixer or mix in the dry ingredients by hand. Make sure to mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
- Use the baking times as a guide. All ovens vary and baking times should be used as a guide. As a general rule, when the cake becomes very fragrant, it’s a good idea to start checking. Begin checking the cake at the minimum baking time. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out with a few moist crumbs or clean.
This is most likely the result of too much liquid in too small of a pan. This recipe was developed using a 9-inch (23 cm) pan. If you need to use a small pan, I recommend dividing the batter between two cake pans.
Place a cheesecloth over a fine mesh strainer. Evenly spread the ricotta cheese over the cheesecloth and allow the water to drain.
Other Lemon Cakes to Try
If you try this Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe please rate the recipe and leave a comment below. Doing so helps other readers decide if this is a great recipe to bake. Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram using @olivesnthyme so I can see what you’re baking! - M
Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe
- 1 stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric hand mixer with beaters
- 1 zester
- 1 parchment paper
Lemon Ricotta Cake
- 1¾ cups (210 g) all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- 2 lemons, zested
- ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1½ cups (330 g) whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) lemon juice
- 3 large eggs (US), room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Lemon Ricotta Cake Toppings
- 2- 3 tbsp (15 - 23 g) powdered sugar
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C). Grease and line the bottom of a 9- inch (23 cm) springform or cake pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together until well combined.1¾ cups (210 g) all purpose flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
- In a large mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment, beat the sugar and lemon zest together until they are the consistency of wet sand. Beat butter and lemon sugar together until well combined. This takes about 3 minutes on medium speed.1¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar, 2 lemons, zested, ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter room temperature
- On low, beat in the ricotta cheese until combined. Then increase the speed to medium-high for 4-5 minutes. On low beat in the eggs, vanilla extract until smooth and well combined. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.1½ cups (330 g) whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature, 3 tablespoon (45 ml) lemon juice, 3 large eggs (US), room temperature, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Evenly spread the ricotta cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the ricotta lemon cake for 38-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the ricotta lemon cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool the pan in the pan for 15-20 minutes. Gently release the side of the springform pan and allow the cake to cool for 5-10 more minutes.
- Transfer the Italian lemon cake to a serving plate or serve right from the pan. Top with powdered sugar and lemon slices. Slice and enjoy!2- 3 tablespoon (15 - 23 g) powdered sugar, 1 lemon thinly sliced