How to Make Italian Lemon Ricotta Pie

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Learn how to make Italian lemon ricotta pie with this simple recipe. If you are not familiar with what a lemon ricotta pie is or have never made one yourself, don’t worry, neither had I until a few years into my marriage.

lemon ricotta pie

This is in my opinion one of the easiest Italian dessert recipes I know of and I encourage you to give it a try. This recipe is a crust-less ricotta pie, making it even easier to make.

If you prefer not to use lemon, simply omit it for a regular Italian ricotta pie recipe.

How to Make Italian Lemon Ricotta Pie

In this post, I provide step by step instructions for how to make ricotta pie, and I also have a video as well. However, the video omits the lemon zest – but just add the zest to the other ingredients when mixing… it’s all in the instructions below. 

Like all my Italian recipes I share, this lemon ricotta pie is very easy and simple. Do not be intimidated! This is a wonderful pie that is perfect for any holiday or really, any time of the year.

Making a Lemon Ricotta Pie

A ricotta pie recipe is somewhat similar to a cheesecake, mainly in texture and form.  I go into the details of texture a little further down. As you can imagine, yes it has lemon but it is not overpowering.

If you think of a lemon pie recipe, thoughts of lemon meringue pie may come to mind. That is not how a lemon ricotta pie tastes. The lemon added is the zest of a whole Meyer lemon, which equates to a tbs of zest. The lemon flavor is very subtle and delightful.

Also, do not confuse this ricotta pie with ricotta cake which is like a regular cake made with lots of flour. If you like lemon flavored desserts, you should check out my Italian lemon cake recipe too!

how to make lemon ricotta pie

You can see my original photo above from over 10 years ago (taken with a basic point and shoot, but at least you’ll see what it looks like without filters, enhancing etc!).   

Click here if you want to skip the cooking tips and start the recipe.

Ingredients Needed for this Recipe

The ricotta pie filling consists of:

  • Ricotta cheese (whole milk)
  • White sugar
  • White flour
  • pinch salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • grated zest of 1 lemon

You will want to use whole milk ricotta cheese for the best results. The whole milk provides the creamy texture. Using skim milk or low fat milk might be tempting but it will not taste as good.

Note about the filling

lemon ricotta pie

This is a traditional Italian recipe (very popular at Easter and Christmas time) and very simple to make. The most unique ingredient would be the ricotta cheese and confectioners sugar which you can easily get at any grocery store.

The filling for lemon ricotta pie is sweet, but not overly sweet in taste. This recipe provides the perfect balance between the tangy lemon zest and sweetness of the filling – making it just right.

How to Make My Italian Ricotta Pie Recipe

Here are the basic steps for making a ricotta pie.

egg whites separated

Step 1. Separate the egg whites and yolks. Save the whites in a bowl.

blend all ingredients in bowl except whites

Step 2. Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl, except the egg whites. 

whisk egg whites until stiff

Step 3. Whisk the egg whites until they have stiff peaks.

fold whites into batter

Step 4. Then you fold the egg whites in gently making sure not to over mix.

pour into pie pan

Step 5. Pour the mixture into a floured spring form pan or cake pan.

bake and let the ricotta pie cool

Step 6. Bake it, then let it cool and add the confectioners sugar or other toppings prior to serving. 

Isn’t that the easiest ricotta pie recipe you’ve ever tried? Everyone will be impressed.

The cake will deflate a little when you take it our of the oven, do not be alarmed.

A No Crust Lemon Ricotta Pie

italian lemon ricotta pie no crust

As you can see in the image above, there is no crust for this pie.

Many people think that there is supposed to be a crust for the pie, but this recipe is for a crust-less ricotta pie. The pie will hold it’s own shape without a crust. I believe this is the authentic way to make a ricotta pie, but I’m sure others may have their own point of view. 😃

Is Ricotta Pie a Cheesecake?

How to make lemon ricotta pie

You may have heard ricotta pie compared to cheesecake. While this is true, there are a few key differences.

  • For starters, the consistency isn’t as dense as a cheesecake.
  • It also has a greater moisture content giving it a characteristically slightly wet texture, almost a mix between a custard and cheesecake.
  • Cheesecakes are generally taller, while ricotta pie is a thinner pie. You can see this in my images.
  • Lemon ricotta pie uses only ricotta cheese. Traditionally cheesecakes use cream cheese, unless it is a ricotta cheesecake.

Using Lemon Zest

In my ricotta pie recipe I use the fresh lemon zest of a whole Meyer lemon. The zest of a whole lemon is almost equal to one tablespoon of lemon zest. If you only need a half of a lemon such as my lemon and asparagus pasta recipe which uses zest in the alfredo sauce, then only use 2 teaspoons of zest.

Simply add the lemon zest in the first step when mixing all the ingredients together.

Surprisingly the lemon zest does not overpower the flavor of the pie. It adds a subtle flavor that makes this desert bright and refreshing.

If you don’t have lemon zest, you can add a 1/2 tsp of lemon extract. Lemon zest and lemon extract have a slightly tangy flavor which is balanced with the sweetness of the pie.

If you choose to use lemon juice instead, it will have a sweeter taste and won’t bring forth the lemon smell as much as extract or zest. This article here explains the difference between the two very well.

Toppings to Use on the Lemon Ricotta Pie

Toppings for Lemon Ricotta Pie

Once the ricotta pie has finished baking, you can add additional toppings besides just confectioners sugar.

Try to use fresh fruit such as:

  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • strawberries
  • blackberries

Some people even top with chocolate, although I have not. I recommend adding the toppings once the pie has fully cooled, and it is ready to serve.

How to Store Ricotta Pie

You can store ricotta pie of any kind in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air tight container. It is best served at room temperature, so take it out 20 minutes prior to serving.

I do not recommend freezing lemon ricotta pie due to the moisture content. However if you do, it will probably last 3-4 months. Make sure it is in an air tight container with minimal air.

What to Serve with Italian Lemon Ricotta Pie?

what to serve with lemon ricotta pie

Italian lemon ricotta pie will always serve well with a cup of fresh coffee or espresso. It is a light pie, so it can easily pair with other desserts of any kind, including chocolate wafers or other finger cookies.

It will also go well with other fruits which is common for Italians to eat as part of their after dinner course.

Other Italian Dessert Recipes

Chocolate toto cookies

Italian toto cookies are chocolate cookies covered with light icing containing a touch of whiskey!

almond biscotti recipe

Try these Italian almond biscotti, a true authentic recipe.

butterball cookies

If you want easy, try my Butterball cookies with pecans. It’s out of this world!

anginetti cookies

Delicious anginetti cookies with a hint of lemon are an Italian favorite for weddings, Christmas and other special occasions.

Where’s the Lemon in my Ricotta pie Video?

Unfortunately the video below shows the recipe without lemon, but you can still follow the video just make sure to add in the lemon zest per my instructions. 

Note:  the video does not mention the pan size I used.  I used a 9 inch for the video.  

Enjoy my recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pie and let me know how you like it in the comments below.

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Recipe Video

YouTube player
Lemon Ricotta pie Video
italian lemon ricotta pie

Italian Lemon Ricotta Pie Recipe

Italian lemon ricotta pie is an easy Italian dessert I received from my Italian husband. It is a great dessert recipe for the holidays or parties. Easy and simple to make! Enjoy!
4.41 from 15 votes
Print Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 172kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lb ricotta cheese (whole milk) (20oz or approx 2 1/2 cups)
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp white flour
  • pinch salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • grated zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Separate the egg whites and egg yolks (keep the egg whites in a separate bowl)
  • Combine the ricotta, sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest and egg yolks (only the yolks), in a large mixing bowl.
  • Beat until very smooth without lumps or clumps
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  If you have an electric mixer, use the whisk that came with it.
  • Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture.
  • Spray the cake pan or spring form pan with cooking spray or butter and dust with some flour.  Once evenly coated dump any excess flour into the sink by simply tapping the sides.
  • Add the ricotta filling to the pie pan
  • Bake for 35 minutes uncovered at 375F
  • Let cool for 1 hour to allow pie to set and settle (it will deflate)
  • Before serving, top with confectioners sugar (don’t be shy).  If you have fresh blueberries or other fruit, add these either on top or as a side dish.

Notes

Nutritional data are estimates based off of API Calculations.
For this recipe you will need a handheld or electric mixer and a cake pan or spring form pan (preferred). 

Nutrition

Calories: 172kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 0.03g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 413IU | Calcium: 156mg | Iron: 1mg

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Original post Nov. 2015. Most recently updated January 18, 2023.

How to Make Italian Lemon Ricotta Pie
42K Shares

69 Comments

  1. This is a question: 35 mins. Is the TOTAL baking time, right?
    Pie is in the oven, so please answer quickly if possible.
    Thanks!

  2. Thanks! I figured it out and the pie turned out good. It just needed a little more sugar to my taste, so I am making a slightly sweeter version tonight with the remaining ricotta I have.

  3. The recipe said 1 lb. ricotta. In the video you say 1 1/4 pound ricotta. Which is it. Also, in the video you do not mention the lemon zest.

  4. Hi Linda, yes the video is for the recipe without the lemon, the recipe is near identical. I mention it in the text (not the same I know!). Hopefully I can get another video done. I’ve updated the recipe to read 1 1/4. Thanks for pointing that out!

  5. Hi Joanna, that is a great question and I honestly have never frozen it, so I’m not sure. I would be afraid it would change the texture. If you do try it let me know what the results are! Sorry I couldn’t give a better answer for you.

  6. This looks delicious and easy! Can I substitute part-skim ricotta for whole milk ricotta as it is all I have?

  7. Hi Maria, yes you can, but the texture won’t be the same. I tried the part-skim once and I much preferred the whole milk. If I recall, the skim-milk had a more gritty texture due to the lack of fat. Hope that helps and I hope you enjoy the recipe!! Thanks!

  8. I am trying a 8×10 pan. Should I still let it bake for same amount of time? How will I know when it is fully cooked?

  9. Hi Crystal, I’ve never made it in an 8×10 pan but I would think the time would be about the same to bake. You’ll know it’s ready when the inside is not runny – probably use a toothpick to check, that’s what I would do. You can see in my video it will be a little brown on top when done.

    Let me know how it turns out!

  10. Hi Lynn, that is a great question but I am not sure. I havent made it gluten free and not sure which type of flour would be best. I have seen many baking recipes with almond flour but not sure of the ratio.

    If you try one and it turns out let us know!

  11. I so looked forward to Easter when my MEma would make this cake. She would put a lattice top on the cake.

  12. 5 stars
    Delicious!!! Can’t wait to make it again! Thanks for sharing. I used a 6 in springform pan. Baked at 350 for 1hour.

  13. It doesn’t say what size spring form pan…I used the one I had and will taste my cheese cake later it looks a little thinner than I would like. We’ll see. It was easy to make. No crust surprised me…

  14. Can you use orange zest, and about how much sugar to make it sweeter? On curfew and lockdown here. Can’t get to store. Don’t want to waste my Ricotta 👍

  15. Hi Jane, sorry for the late reply. I wish I had a specific amount for you but to make it sweeter comes down to personal taste. I would probably add two more Tbsp. However you could always just add more powdered sugar on top if it isn’t sweet enough. 🙂 Stay safe during the lock down. We just got a Stay at Home directive from our Governor.

  16. Hi ,I’m making today ,In lockdown in Australia no visitor, so can I freeze the leftover is any !!
    Cherrs pamela

  17. I hope it turned out! If you have left overs and want to freeze it I would do it. There is debate over freezing anything with ricotta but I’d rather freeze it than let it go to waste. Let me know how it turned out!

  18. I will be making this for the first time this Sunday for Easter. In the text before the recipe you mention using confectionary sugar but the recipe only calls it “white sugar.” Can you please clarify granulated or confectionery should be mixed into the pie?

  19. 5 stars
    Love this recipe. Made it multiple times. I’ve tried with lemon, lime and orange zest. All came out great. I did use a water bath and 12″ spring form pan. This gave me a thinner pie. After the release and cool down, I used 1″ cookie cutter to make dot pies. This was a hit over by the local firehouse last week. And I got to eat the remains with family. Thanks for the recipes.

  20. How do I know it’s cooked right at 35 minutes it was shaky and still looked like mixture?

  21. 4 stars
    This was fantastic. I only had 1 pound of ricotta so substituted the other 1/4 pound with cream cheese. Can’t wait to try it again with all ricotta. Also used Monk fruit instead of sugar. Thanks for a yummy and easy dessert!

  22. 5 stars
    Just made and eaten. Divine! Thank you for the recipe. I adapted it to what I had on my fridge (chanco cheese instead of ricotta) and added some almonds to the recipe. Otherwise just followed your fantastic instructions! Super yummie!

  23. This is delicious. I added extra lemon extract. The pie didn’t rise more than 1/2”. But the taste was amazing!

  24. Hi,

    It’s cooling right now and the whole house smells wonderful! Longest hour ever waiting for it!

    After it has cooled, and I’ve served some, how should the rest be stored? Refrigerator? Room temperature? Covered with plastic wrap, tinfoil, airtight container?

    Hope to get a reply very soon.

    TY

  25. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe. Where has this pie been all my life? I love how it uses very little sugar and flour. We are on WW and I have no problem fitting this into my point out. Only 6 points per serving for any other dieters out there. I made it just as directed and was thrilled with the results. Thank you for making your recipe so user friendly. Looked up on google how to beat egg whites correctly and with that knowledge this pie was so easy to accomplish. I am subscribing to your web site and hope to try many more of your Italian recipes. Grazie

  26. Hi, I am looking forward to making this great sounding dessert, however, perhaps because I am later getting it, recipe ingredients were missing. First they were covered by advertisements, when they left, nothing was there?!🤪

  27. Hi Bob, Yes, that will be fine. I use a pie plate as well. Just keep in mind, the bigger the pie plate the thinner. But you’ll see in my images that I used a pie plate. Not sure if the one in the picture was Pyrex, but pretty sure it is. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we do here!

  28. HI,
    I’d like to try this recipe very soon. You dont mention draining the ricotta Is it necessary?
    Thanks,
    Klara

  29. I want to make this for friend who has to follow gluten-free diet. Can I use corn starch instead of flour and, if so, how much should I use?

  30. Hi Linda, I’m not sure to be honest since I don’t deal with gluten-free recipes. You may want to try and use gluten-free flour. I’ve been told it’s usually a 1:1 ratio.If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
    Thanks,
    Liz

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