This unfussy Lemon Ricotta Cake is just the type of treat you want on the regular - simple, tender and just sweet enough to satisfy your sugar cravings. This one-pan cake is easy to make and needs little more garnish than a dusting of powdered sugar - perfect for home bakers!
Make indulging your cake cravings easy with this rustic, Italian-inspired Lemon Ricotta Cake.
Simple, delicious and super do-able, this straightforward recipe yields a moist cake with a hint of lemon that feels both comforting and special at the same time.
Why you'll love this recipe
➤ It's an easy, from scratch, everyday cake: This humble snack cake is moist, just sweet enough, and has a great crumb — but it's quick to whip up with only a handful of ingredients. No pastry chef skills needed here!
➤ This fuss-free cake is versatile: Perfect as a simple dessert, great with coffee, or as the quick snack you eat standing over your kitchen sink, no fork or plate required (c'mon, you know we all do it!).
➤ Keeps for days: The ricotta cheese keeps the cake moist and tender for much longer than most baked cakes. It's a fantastic make ahead cake recipe.
➤ Makes any occasion special: There's no easier way to elevate a Tuesday than with homemade cake. Trust us; everyone will appreciate your (minimal) effort.
You only need a handful of ingredients to make this tender ricotta cake.
A few ingredient notes:
- Ricotta cheese: I recommend using whole milk ricotta cheese in this recipe. The extra fat in the whole milk version ensures the cake is moist and tender.
- Lemons: Fresh lemons are a must in this recipe as you need both the juice and the zest to give the cake its bright citrus flavor.
- Butter: I typically use unsalted butter when baking. If you only have salted butter, consider reducing the amount of salt specified.
The beauty of a simple cake like this is it doesn't require much effort. Start with room temperature ingredients, and this cake will come together quickly.
Cream together the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Mix in the ricotta cheese for at least 3 minutes. This is an important step so the dense ricotta cheese doesn't weigh down the cake. You're essentially aerating the batter with this extra long mixing time. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Batter will be thick.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40 minutes at 350°F or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, remove and finish cooling on wire rack.
Ricotta is a fresh, creamy cheese with a mild flavor. You're probably most familiar with ricotta cheese in classic lasagna recipes, but it's also used with great results in baked goods. Its thick, milky consistency adds texture, moisture and a slightly sweet flavor when used in baking recipes.
This lemon flavor in this ricotta cake tastes the most vibrant at room temperature. I usually cover the cake in foil and keep it on the counter. The ricotta cheese helps the cake stay moist for days if covered, but it rarely lasts that long at my house.
Most cakes freeze well and this recipe is no exception. Cool the cake completely and wrap in plastic wrap. Wrap again in heavy duty foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Your best bet to make a gluten-free version of this cake is to use a 1-1 gluten-free flour substitute like King Arthur's Measure for Measure or Cup4Cup. Nut flours tend to be too heavy to use as an equivalent substitution for all-purpose flour in this recipe.
Expert tips for making Lemon Ricotta Cake
✔︎ Room temperature ingredients incorporate so much more easily than when they come straight from the fridge. Set your butter, eggs and ricotta cheese out for about an hour before you start making this cake.
✔︎ The key to light and fluffy ricotta cakes is to thoroughly beat in the ricotta cheese. Ricotta cheese is a heavy, wet cheese, and if not properly incorporated, it can make your cake dense. Make sure you beat it into the butter and sugar for the full 3 minutes before moving on to the next step in the recipe. A stand or hand mixer is the most efficient way to do this.
✔︎ I make this cake in an 8" round cake pan because I prefer a slightly thicker cake, but you can also make it in a 9" cake pan. Follow the recipe as written but check for doneness at 30 minutes and add more time if needed.
✔︎ These inexpensive parchment rounds are the BEST! No more cutting big sheets of parchment to line your pans. They are perfectly sized to fit and come with helper handles to easily lift the baked cake out of the pan. Highly recommend!
✔︎ Use a serrated knife to cleanly cut this cake.
✔︎ Store your baked cake loosely covered on the countertop.
✔︎ To serve, lightly dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar. You can also top with freshly whipped cream and berries if you prefer.
Did you make this recipe? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please rate the recipe and leave a comment below. Your feedback helps us and your fellow readers!
Lemon Ricotta Cake
For the cake:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Zest from two large lemons
- Powdered sugar, optional garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8" cake pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat on medium high speed for 2 minutes. Add ricotta and beat again for another 3 minutes until smooth.7 tablespoons unsalted butter,, 1 cup sugar, 1 ¼ cups whole milk ricotta cheese,
- Add eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and juice and beat until combined. Pour in flour mixture and stir until just combined. Batter will be thick.2 large eggs,, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, Zest from two large lemons
- Scrape batter into prepared pan and level with offset spreader or back of spoon. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove from pan and finish cooling on baking rack. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.Powdered sugar,
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.