Flavored with lemon zest and a bit of limoncello liqueur, our Italian ricotta cookies are easy to make and a perennial family favorite for the holidays.

Lemon-glazed Italian ricotta cookies on a linen napkin, and a cooling rack with more cookies and a sprig of pine in the background.

These easy-to-make Italian ricotta cookies are one of our favorite Christmas cookies. Lightly sweetened and loaded with tangy lemon flavor from the limoncello and lemon zest, these cookies are a favorite with adults.

They taste great with a cup of coffee or espresso and their delicate cake-like texture makes a nice choice for a light dessert after a heavy holiday meal.

  • Non-alcoholic: Making these cookies alcohol-free is easy to do by increasing the amount of lemon extract in both the cookie dough and the glaze and adding a little extra milk. The exact directions are included in the printable version of the recipe below.

You can also switch up the flavors and make orange or almond variations on this recipe.

  • Orange Ricotta Cookies: To make an orange-flavored version of these cookies, replace the lemon extract, lemon zest, and limoncello with orange extract, orange zest and orange liqueur (triple sec).
  • Almond Ricotta Cookies: To make an almond-flavored version of these cookies, use almond extract, finely crushed almonds, and amaretto.
Three Italian ricotta cookies glazed with limoncello and sprinkled with powdered sugar on a napkin, more cookies, a bottle of limoncello, and a Christmas ornament in the background.

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Limoncello-glazed Italian ricotta cookies on a cooling rack and a green napkin, with a pine sprig in the background

Italian Ricotta Cookies

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Flavored with lemon zest and a bit of limoncello liqueur, our Italian Ricotta Cookies are a perennial family favorite for the holidays.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Glaze:

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello liqueur
  • Grated lemon zest, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat until the mixture become light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta, vanilla extract, lemon extract, limoncello liqueur, and lemon zest.
  • Add in the flour mixture and beat until well combined. Don’t overmix.
  • Drop the dough using a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12 to 13 minutes until cookies appear set and edges turn a pale golden brown. Let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze:

  • In small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar with 1 tablespoon of the limoncello. Slowly add up to 1 more tablespoon of the liqueur until the glaze reaches spreading consistency. You may need to add a little water.
  • Spread the glaze on the cookies using a pastry brush.
  • Arrange in a single layer and allow the glaze to dry completely before covering with plastic wrap.
  • Store in a tightly sealed container with plastic wrap between layers (don't stack more than 2 layers if possible). Bring cookies to room temperature before serving.

Tips for Making This Recipe

For easiest handling, chill the dough for 30 to 45 minutes before dropping.
If you plan to freeze these cookies, don’t glaze them. It’s also best to place a sheet of waxed paper between the layers.

For a non-alcoholic version:

Increase the lemon extract to 1 teaspoon and add 2 teaspoons of milk to the dough. Substitute milk for the limoncello in the glaze as well.

Flavor Variations:

To make orange ricotta cookies, replace the lemon extract, lemon zest, and limoncello with orange extract, orange zest and orange liqueur (triple sec).
To make almond ricotta cookies, use almond extract, finely crushed almonds, and amaretto.
Calories: 93kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 90mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 8g, Iron: 1mg
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