Looking for a simple cake with impeccable flavor? Lemon ricotta cake is the perfect dessert. It is filled with citrus and almond flavor, while the ricotta cheese creates a rich and tender texture. This Italian cake tastes even better the next day!

lemon ricotta cake slice with a fork holding a bite from the end.

If you suggested putting ricotta cheese in a cake other than cheesecake I would have looked at you funny, but I was proven wrong when my mom baked this cake with almonds and said it was delicious! To be fair, I can’t say no to anything citrus or with almond extract. If you feel the same, then you will love this dessert!

Why this recipe works

  • It’s an everyday cake. You can eat it any time! With coffee in the morning, a snack in the afternoon or simply dessert.
  • It’s quick and easy to make. The batter is prepped in just 10 minutes!
  • Perfect flavor and texture. The citrus almond notes paired with the light and tender texture make this the best lemon ricotta cake.
  • The cake stores well at room temperature, in the fridge or the freezer!

Ingredient notes

lemon ricotta cake ingredients in bowls with text.
  • Ricotta: Full-fat ricotta cheese will give the cake a lovely rich flavor. Make sure it is at room temperature for easy mixing.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter that is at room temperature. Salt is added separately to activate the baking soda.
  • Lemon: Use fresh lemon to juice and zest. It makes all the difference in flavor! I do not recommend store-bought lemon juice from the bottle.
  • Almonds: Unsalted almonds add a little texture to the cake, but you can omit them from the recipe if you prefer.
  • Almond extract: One of the best flavors to pair with lemon in my opinion.

Recipe variations

Play around with mix-ins! For a fresh fruity flavor, add 1/2 cup raspberries or blueberries to the batter. For a chocolate fix, add 1/2 cup chocolate chips. You can also change the nuts and use pecans, pistachios or hazelnuts instead of almonds.

Personalize your garnish with different topping ideas. Instead of a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, drizzle a little bit of melted white chocolate on top of the cake. You can also whisk together a simple icing (1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar + 1 Tablespoon milk + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla).

Consider baking the cake in two 6-inch round pans and making a layered cake. Baking time will be shorter, around 25 to 35 minutes. You can frost the cake with a lemon buttercream or simple vanilla frosting.

How to make lemon ricotta cake

photo collage demonstrating how to make lemon ricotta cake in a mixing bowl.
  1. Whisk the dry ingredients—flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add ricotta and mix for 5 minutes.
  3. Add wet ingredients—eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and almond extract. Beat until combined.
  4. Stir in dry ingredients, the flour mixture and chopped almonds. Avoid over-mixing. Pour batter to 9-inch springform pan.
photo collage demonstrating how to make a lemon ricotta cake in a cake pan.
  1. Bake at 350° F for 45 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then slide a butter knife around the edge. Release the edge of the springform pan and place the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.
  2. Garnish with sliced almonds and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Expert tips

Use room temperature ingredients to create a consistent and smooth batter. This will result in a beautifully textured cake. Use fresh lemon juice and zest (not store-bought). It makes a huge difference in flavor!

Beat the butter and sugar for a full two minutes until light and fluffy, then mix in the ricotta for a full 5 minutes. This is super important to get a light and fluffy cake. using a hand mixer or stand mixer will yield the best results.

Use a light colored cake pan and grease it well. Dark colored pans heat quickly and retain heat longer. This will cook the outside of the cake more quickly and darken the sides. Aluminum or tin baking pans are best.

slice of lemon ricotta cake garnished with confectioners' sugar and lemon slice.

Storage tips

Let the cake cool completely before storing. It will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up 1 week.

To freeze lemon ricotta cake, wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap and place in an airtight container or bag to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and serving. Add a fresh dusting of confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use part skim ricotta?

Yes, but the cake will be slightly less rich. Full-fat ingredients tend to yield better tasting desserts!

Do I have to drain the ricotta?

No, it’s not necessary (but it also doesn’t hurt). If there is extra liquid sitting on top of the cheese, discard it.

Why is my ricotta cake dense?

The batter wasn’t mixed long enough or the oven temperature is too low. Be sure to mix the ricotta into the batter for a full 5 minutes.

What do you serve with lemon ricotta cake?

Fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream is best! Opt for fruit that is in season. Figs, melon and pears are good options for winter while berries and stone fruits pair well in the summer.

Can I make this cake gluten-free?

Yes, but only with cup-for-cup flour. I do not recommend almond flour or other nut flours as they have too much fat and will make the cake dense and gummy.

lemon ricotta cake with almonds, confectioners' sugar and lemon wedges as garnish.

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

lemon ricotta cake with almonds, confectioners' sugar and lemon wedges as garnish.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Lemon ricotta cake is a simple, but delicious dessert. It is filled with citrus and almond flavor. The ricotta cheese makes a tender texture.
5 (14 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups (218 g) all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • cup finely chopped almonds

Topping

  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1-2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add ricotta and mix until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and almond extract. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bottoms and sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add flour mixture and chopped almonds. Fold in with a spatula (avoid over-mixing). Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
  • Bake at 350° F for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then slide a butter knife around the edge. Release the edge of the springform pan and place the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • When ready to serve, place slivered almonds on top of the cake. Dust with confectioners’ sugar through a fine mesh sieve. Slice and serve.

Notes

Texture: It is really important to mix the ricotta in for a full 5 minutes with the butter and sugar. This is how you get the light and tender texture!
Ricotta: Full fat will yield the best results, but if you only have part-skim on hand then you can use that instead.
Nuts: If you don’t like almonds, you can omit them all together or replace them with another nuts such as pistachios or hazelnuts.
Store cake in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Freeze for up to 2 months. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or freezer bag. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature.
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 340kcal, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 67mg, Sodium: 186mg, Potassium: 133mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 22g, Vitamin A: 445IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 110mg, Iron: 1mg

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