Italian Ricotta Cookies

by Heather on May 17, 2010

When we lived in San Francisco, I would occasionally nanny in the North Beach neighborhood, aka SF’s Little Italy. There are some awesome Italian bakeries over there, and I could never resist stopping in for a few little cookies. One of the bakeries specialized in focaccia and I’m sad that I never got around to buying it before we moved. If you’re in San Francisco, spend some time in North Beach- it’s a fun neighborhood with a lot of boutiques and a bounty of great restaurants! Also, check out the candy shop Z Cioccolato on Columbus Ave. and eat as much taffy as you want while you shop, along with a homemade fudge sample!

I had some leftover ricotta cheese that was ready to be used (meaning, just about on its last leg), so I searched for some kind of cookie I could make with the ricotta. These cookies taste somewhat similar to sugar cookies, but the ricotta gives them a bit more richness and they are definitely chewier.  We loved them and as always, I ended up eating more than my share :) Since an almond flavor reminds me of Italian baked goods, I added some almond extract to this recipe and it gave it a nice touch.

Isn’t this photo awesome and ridiculous? Alex and I decided to get creative with his old dental school typodont….

Italian Cookies, adapted from this recipe

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract

8 ounces ricotta cheese

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt


2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. In a medium bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla, almond extract and ricotta cheese. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the cheese mixture. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, cream together the remaining butter and confectioners’ sugar. Beat in vanilla and milk gradually until a spreadable consistency is reached. Frost cooled cookies.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

DessertForTwo May 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

That picture made me laugh out loud at my desk! These cookies sound great–what a good use for ricotta. Sometimes I stir ricotta into mashed potatoes instead of milk and butter and my honey loves it.

Natalie (The Sweets Life) May 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

Sometimes I’m hesitant to buy ricotta because i never know what to do with the leftovers…but ricotta cookies? I’m all over that! In fact, I might buy ricotta just for these! :) Thanks for sharing!

Ruby May 27, 2010 at 9:30 am

Made these cookies last night after finding the recipe on this website. They have a great flavor to them, although I think I was expecting the traditional consistency of Italian cookies: crunchy to the point of biscuit-like (think anisette toast, etc.) These are much softer and chewier, not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’d like more crunch I’d recommend baking them for 12-13 minutes as I did (don’t worry, they won’t burn). Also don’t be alarmed if you have to add more milk to the icing than the recipe calls for in order to get the right texture; I did, and it came out delicious anyway. Great recipe! And such cute cookies!

Heather May 27, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Thanks for the tips and I’m glad you gave it a try!

Amanda December 21, 2016 at 12:13 pm

I’m gluten intolerant and couldn’t find a gluten free ricotta cheese cookie recipe so I decided to try this recipe with a 1 to 1 gluten free flour. I cannot express how delicious these turned out. I felt these would be best with a more starch flour so for those wanting to try gluten free, I recommend a 1 to 1 with rice flours opposed to bean or sorghum. I used Bobs Red Mill but I feel any rice flour blend would turn our wonderfully!

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