Bakery-Style Ricotta Cookies

published Nov 6, 2022
christmas
Ricotta Cookies Recipe

Ricotta cookies are fluffy, lightly sweet, and full of Italian-American bakery vibes.

Serves24

Makes48 (2-inch) cookies

Prep40 minutes

Cook14 minutes to 18 minutes

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ricotta cookies on wood and blue plate
Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

When I think of Italian American bakeries, I envision piles of biscotti, rainbow cookies, cannolis, and trays and trays of an array of cookies decorated with colorful sprinkles —including ricotta cookies. Super soft and cakey, thanks to the ricotta cheese, these cute little cookies remind me a bit of Lofthouse sugar cookies (which are often made with sour cream or yogurt). They aren’t too sweet, and the almond-flavored icing and sprinkles on the top turn them into a festive treat. Want proof of their deliciousness? The 80 ricotta cookies I brought to my daughter’s school playdate were devoured in mere minutes.

Tips for Making Ricotta Cookies 

  • Buy high-quality, whole-milk ricotta. Although part-skim ricotta cheese works fine in the cookies, get a whole-milk style for a more rich and flavorful cookie. One of our testers made the cookies with Galbani Double Cream Ricotta and highly recommended it.
  • Use parchment paper, not a baking mat. These tender cookies stuck a little bit to silicone baking mats, so stick with parchment paper here.
  • Always chill the dough. Sticky cookie dough is no fun to portion out, so make sure the dough is chilled before you scoop. You’ll want the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  • Choose your extract. While almond extract is the traditional flavoring in the icing, vanilla extract is a great alternative for those who want to avoid nuts or don’t like the flavor of almond extract.

Can Ricotta Cookie Dough Be Made in Advance? 

Ricotta cookie dough can be made up to a few hours in advance and chilled before scooping and baking. For longer-term storage, scoop the chilled dough out onto a baking sheet, freeze until solid, then transfer to a zip-top bag. Freeze for up to two months, and bake the dough balls from frozen for the same amount of time.

Ricotta Cookies Recipe

Ricotta cookies are fluffy, lightly sweet, and full of Italian-American bakery vibes.

Prep time 40 minutes

Cook time 14 minutes to 18 minutes

Makes 48 (2-inch) cookies

Serves 24

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick)

    unsalted butter

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 cup

    ricotta cheese (whole milk-style preferred)

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 3/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt

For the glaze and topping:

  • 1 1/3 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoons

    milk

  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon

    vanilla or almond extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Nonpareils or colored sanding sugar, for topping

Instructions

Make the cookies:

  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened. Meanwhile, place 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Add 1 cup granulated sugar to the bowl with butter. Beat with the paddle attachment (or with an electric mixer) on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula.

  3. Add 1 cup ricotta cheese, 1 large egg, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl again.

  4. Turn the mixer on to the lowest speed. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. The dough will be sticky. Fold the dough a few times by hand with the spatula to make sure the flour is completely mixed in. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 or up to 2 1/2 hours.

  5. About 15 minutes before the dough is ready, arrange 2 oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 350ºF. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

  6. Scoop out the dough with a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop or by dropping level tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets. If not using a cookie scoop, roll into a ball. Space out the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets (24 per sheet).

  7. Bake for 7 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from front to back and between racks. Bake until evenly golden brown on the bottom and starting to brown around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes more.

  8. Let cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make the glaze:

  1. Place 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.

  2. Dip and decorate the cookies in batches of 10 (the glaze hardens quickly): Dip the top of a cookie in the glaze and keep the cookie upside down while gently shaking so excess glaze drips back into the bowl. Return the cookie to the rack, glaze-side up. Sprinkle with nonpareils. Dip and decorate the next 9 cookies before before dipping the next batch of cookies. Let sit until the glaze hardens, about 20 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cookie dough balls can be frozen solid on the baking sheet, then stored in a zip top bag for up to 2 months. Bake the cookies from frozen for the same amount of time.

Storage: Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.