Kitchn Love Letters

The Pasta Queen’s Ricotta Balls Are the Best Thing to Come from TikTok

updated Oct 7, 2021
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Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

Before quarantine started I laughed off TikTok, assuming it was filled with the latest dance crazes and not much else (and let’s be real, I wasn’t totally wrong). But as the weeks went on and I was desperate for a way to distract myself, I downloaded the app. Within minutes, I landed on a cooking video from The Pasta Queen. Her radiant energy, wholesome commentary, and sense of humor drew me in — but what kept me coming back were her incredible recipes. Every night, my boyfriend and I would watch her cook, mesmerized by everything from her Alfredo and red pesto sauces to lemon and olive oil cookies.

After months of watching but never actually cooking any of her recipes, I decided it was time to give one a try. The one both my boyfriend and I were most excited about was her ricotta balls, primarily because we’d never heard of them before. Sort of similar to gnudi, these balls are made with ricotta cheese, Pecorino, breadcrumbs, parsley, and an egg. You mix everything together, then gently simmer them in homemade tomato sauce. To say I was glad I tried one of her recipes is an understatement — these ricotta balls became an instant favorite.

Get the recipe: The Pasta Queen’s Ricotta Balls

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

The Pasta Queen’s Ricotta Balls Are Everything I Love Combined into One Comforting Dish

The concept of “ricotta balls” is fun and playful, but it’s also just really delicious. It’s peak comfort food — and not that difficult to make. Preparing the balls is similar to making actual meatballs, and it’s actually a bit stress-relieving. It’s the ideal recipe to make on a leisurely Sunday, or after a long day of work when all you want to do is get lost in the process.

Simmering the ricotta balls in a homemade tomato sauce is also rather special. As they cook, they plump up, swell, and turn into cheesy little fluffy pillows, and the sauce thickens. I like to garnish the dish with basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and serve it with crunchy slices of bread that can soak up the extra sauce after you’ve eaten the balls.

As a heads up, the recipe is written using weight measurements, not volume. If you have a kitchen scale, you can use that. But if you don’t, you can easily convert the measurements using an online tool. I promise these ricotta balls are well worth the effort.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

If You Make These Ricotta Balls, a Few Tips

Before you head into the kitchen to make these ricotta balls, keep these tips in mind.

1. Play around with the dough until it feels right. Depending on how wet your ricotta is, or how humid your kitchen is, you might have to play around with the dough and add more breadcrumbs to get the texture right. The dough should be soft without being sticky. When the dough is firm enough to roll into a ball without sticking to your hands, it’s ready.

2. Use whatever tomato sauce you have on hand. The star of the show is definitely the ricotta balls, so feel free to cook them in whatever sauce you have on hand.

3. Be patient. The ricotta balls take a decent amount of time to cook in the sauce, so be patient and let them simmer for at least 10 minutes before checking on them. If you’re not sure whether they’re done, just cut one in half to see if the center is cooked.

Get the recipe: Ricotta Balls by The Pasta Queen

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.