Ricotta dessert recipes

Discover 10 amazing Ricotta dessert recipes, from classic Italian treats to innovative new ideas, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth.


Ricotta is a versatile and delicious cheese that’s not just for savory dishes. When incorporated into desserts, it lends a rich and creamy texture that’s perfect for creating indulgent treats. In this article, we’ll explore a variety of ricotta dessert recipes, highlighting their unique flavors and delightful presentations. Whether you’re a fan of classic Italian desserts or looking for innovative ideas, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the sweet world of ricotta!

What is Ricotta?

Ricotta is a type of Italian cheese known for its mild flavor and creamy texture. Made from the whey leftover from cheese production, it’s traditionally produced using cow, sheep, goat, or water buffalo milk. Ricotta has a slightly grainy texture and a fresh, mildly sweet taste, making it an excellent ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes.

Health Benefits of Ricotta

Ricotta isn’t just delicious—it’s also nutritious. It’s high in protein, which helps build and repair tissues, and it’s rich in calcium, supporting bone health. Additionally, ricotta contains a good amount of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B12, and zinc, which contribute to overall well-being.

How to Make Homemade Ricotta

Making ricotta at home is surprisingly easy. You’ll need milk, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt. Simply heat the milk until it’s hot but not boiling, then add the acid and salt. Stir until curds form, then strain through cheesecloth. The result is fresh, creamy ricotta that’s perfect for your dessert creations.

Classic Ricotta Desserts

Ricotta Cheesecake

Ricotta cheesecake is a delightful twist on the classic cheesecake. It’s lighter and fluffier than traditional cheesecake, with a delicate texture and a hint of citrus. This dessert is perfect for any occasion and can be topped with fresh fruit or a dusting of powdered sugar.


Cannoli are classic Italian pastries filled with a sweet ricotta mixture. The crispy shells paired with the creamy filling create a delightful contrast that’s sure to please. Add chocolate chips or candied fruit to the filling for extra flavor.

Italian Ricotta Cookies

Italian ricotta cookies are soft, cake-like cookies with a sweet ricotta-based dough. They’re often topped with a simple glaze and colorful sprinkles, making them a festive treat for holidays or special occasions.

Innovative Ricotta Dessert Ideas

Ricotta Chocolate Mousse

Ricotta chocolate mousse is a rich and creamy dessert that’s surprisingly light. The ricotta adds a velvety texture to the mousse, while the chocolate provides deep, indulgent flavor. Top with whipped cream or fresh berries for an extra special treat.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Lemon ricotta cake is a moist and flavorful dessert that’s perfect for spring and summer. The ricotta keeps the cake tender, while the lemon adds a bright, refreshing flavor. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or a simple lemon glaze.

Ricotta Ice Cream

Ricotta ice cream is a creamy and indulgent treat that’s easy to make at home. The ricotta adds richness, while the ice cream base provides a smooth, silky texture. Mix in your favorite toppings, such as chocolate chips or fruit, for a personalized dessert.

Seasonal Ricotta Desserts

Summer: Ricotta Berry Parfait

Ricotta berry parfait is a refreshing and light dessert that’s perfect for summer. Layer fresh berries, creamy ricotta, and crunchy granola for a delicious and healthy treat. The ricotta provides a rich, creamy texture, while the berries add a burst of fresh flavor.

Fall: Ricotta Pumpkin Pie

Ricotta pumpkin pie is a unique twist on the classic pumpkin pie. The ricotta adds a creamy texture and a subtle sweetness that complements the spiced pumpkin filling. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream for a cozy fall dessert.

Winter: Ricotta Hot Chocolate

Ricotta hot chocolate is a rich and indulgent winter treat. The ricotta adds a creamy texture and a slight tanginess that balances the sweetness of the hot chocolate. Add a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder to elevate your indulgence.

Ricotta Desserts from Around the World

Ricotta cheese is a popular ingredient in many cuisines worldwide. It’s used in both sweet and savory dishes, and in desserts, it provides a creamy texture and mild flavor that complements a variety of ingredients. Here are some delightful ricotta desserts from around the globe:

Cassata (Italy)

Cassata is a traditional Sicilian dessert that showcases the creamy texture of ricotta. It’s a layered cake made with sponge cake, sweetened ricotta, candied fruit, and a layer of marzipan. The cake is usually covered in icing and decorated with intricate designs, making it a festive treat that’s often served during celebrations and holidays.

Malva Pudding (South Africa)

Malva pudding is a sweet and sticky dessert from South Africa that’s typically served warm with custard or ice cream. The pudding itself is made with apricot jam, and the ricotta adds a creamy richness to the dish. After baking, it’s soaked in a buttery syrup, resulting in a moist and indulgent treat.

Gulab Jamun (India)

Gulab Jamun is a beloved Indian dessert made with ricotta cheese, or paneer, which is similar to ricotta. The cheese is mixed with flour, rolled into balls, and deep-fried until golden brown. The fried balls are then soaked in a sweet syrup flavored with cardamom and rose water, creating a delightful blend of textures and flavors.

Manjar Blanco (Peru)

Manjar Blanco is a creamy Peruvian dessert similar to dulce de leche. It’s made by cooking milk and sugar until thick and caramelized, and the addition of ricotta provides a smooth and creamy texture. Manjar Blanco is often used as a filling for pastries or served with fresh fruit.

Kalakand (India)

Kalakand is another popular Indian dessert made with ricotta or paneer. The cheese is cooked with sugar and flavored with cardamom, then topped with chopped nuts. The result is a soft and crumbly sweet that melts in your mouth. It’s a common treat during festivals and celebrations.

Tiramisu (Italy)

Tiramisu, a timeless Italian dessert, consists of layers of ladyfingers soaked in coffee, mascarpone cheese, and cocoa powder. While mascarpone is traditionally used, ricotta can be a lighter and equally delicious substitute, creating a creamy and indulgent dessert that’s loved around the world.

Sfogliatella (Italy)

Sfogliatella is a famous Italian pastry that comes in two forms: riccia and frolla. Both types are filled with a mixture of sweetened ricotta, semolina, and candied citrus peel. The pastry is crisp on the outside and filled with a rich, creamy center, making it a delightful treat for breakfast or dessert.

These ricotta desserts from around the world highlight the versatility and universal appeal of this delicious cheese. Whether you’re in the mood for something rich and indulgent or light and refreshing, there’s a ricotta dessert out there to suit your tastes.

How to Store Ricotta

Proper storage is essential to maintain the freshness and quality of ricotta cheese, especially if you plan to use it in desserts or other recipes. Here’s how to store ricotta to keep it at its best:

1. Refrigeration

Ricotta cheese should be stored in the refrigerator. It’s best kept in its original container or transferred to an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing other flavors or drying out.

2. Use Quickly

Once opened, ricotta should be used within a few days. It’s a fresh cheese, so it doesn’t have a long shelf life. Generally, ricotta lasts about a week in the refrigerator once opened, although this can vary slightly depending on the brand and freshness.

3. Freezing Ricotta

Ricotta can be frozen, but its texture might change slightly, becoming more crumbly and less smooth. If you plan to use frozen ricotta in cooked dishes like casseroles or baked goods, this change in texture won’t be noticeable. However, for recipes where the texture is key, such as in desserts or fresh dishes, it’s best to use fresh ricotta.

To freeze ricotta, place it in an airtight container or freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. It can be frozen for up to two months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw the ricotta in the refrigerator overnight and stir well before using.

4. Avoid Cross-Contamination

To prevent contamination, use a clean spoon or scoop when serving ricotta. Don’t dip a spoon that’s been used for tasting back into the container, as this can introduce bacteria.

5. Check for Spoilage

Ricotta that’s gone bad will usually have a sour smell and may develop mold or an off-color. Should you observe any of these indicators, it’s advisable to dispose of the cheese. When in doubt, it’s better to be safe and throw out any ricotta that seems questionable.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your ricotta remains fresh and delicious, ready to be used in your favorite dessert recipes or other dishes.

You can also read: Ricotta Cheese Dessert Recipes

Tips for Cooking with Ricotta

Ricotta cheese is a versatile ingredient that can enhance a variety of dishes, from savory to sweet. To make the most of this creamy cheese, follow these tips for cooking with ricotta:

1. Use Fresh Ricotta

Fresh ricotta has a mild, sweet flavor that’s perfect for cooking. If possible, buy ricotta from a deli or specialty store for the freshest product. Avoid ricotta that’s watery or has an off smell, as this can affect the taste and texture of your dish.

2. Drain Excess Moisture

Some ricotta can be quite watery, especially when store-bought. To avoid watery dishes, drain the excess moisture by placing the ricotta in a cheesecloth-lined strainer and letting it sit for a while. This is particularly important when using ricotta in baked goods or desserts, as too much moisture can affect the consistency of the final product.

3. Blend for Smoothness

For ultra-smooth ricotta, blend it in a food processor or use a hand mixer until creamy. This is especially useful when making desserts like cheesecakes or fillings for pastries, where a smooth texture is key.

4. Season Well

Ricotta has a mild flavor, so it benefits from seasoning. For savory dishes, add salt, pepper, herbs, or garlic. For sweet dishes, try adding sugar, vanilla, or citrus zest. The right seasoning can enhance the natural flavor of ricotta and make your dish shine.

5. Use in a Variety of Dishes

Ricotta is incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes. It works well in savory pasta dishes like lasagna, as a topping for pizza, or as a filling for stuffed vegetables. It’s also great in sweet dishes like cheesecakes, pancakes, or desserts like cannoli.

6. Experiment with Substitutes

If you’re out of ricotta or want to try something different, you can substitute it with other soft cheeses like cottage cheese or mascarpone. Keep in mind that these cheeses have different textures and flavors, so the result may vary slightly.

7. Bake Carefully

When baking with ricotta, be mindful of the oven temperature and baking time. Ricotta-based dishes can become dry or overcooked if baked at too high a temperature or for too long. Follow recipe instructions carefully and keep an eye on the oven to ensure your dish comes out perfectly cooked.

8. Use as a Dessert Filling

Ricotta makes an excellent filling for desserts like cannoli or crepes. It’s light, creamy, and pairs well with a variety of flavors. For a simple dessert, mix ricotta with honey and berries for a light and refreshing treat.

9. Incorporate into Breakfast

Ricotta can be a delightful addition to breakfast dishes. Spread it on toast with honey and fruit, mix it into pancake batter, or use it as a filling for crepes. It’s a tasty and healthful way to kick off the day.

10. Store Properly

Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness of ricotta. Store it in the refrigerator and consume within a few days of opening. If you have leftover ricotta, you can freeze it, although the texture may change slightly after thawing.

By following these tips, you can make the most of ricotta’s creamy texture and mild flavor, creating delicious dishes that everyone will love.

Ricotta Dessert Recipes

Here’s a quick list of the ricotta dessert recipes we’ve covered:

  1. Ricotta Cheesecake
  2. Cannoli
  3. Italian Ricotta Cookies
  4. Ricotta Chocolate Mousse
  5. Lemon Ricotta Cake
  6. Ricotta Ice Cream
  7. Ricotta Berry Parfait
  8. Ricotta Pumpkin Pie
  9. Ricotta Hot Chocolate
  10. Cassata
  11. Malva Pudding
  12. Gulab Jamun
  13. Manjar Blanco

FAQs About Ricotta Dessert Recipes

How long does ricotta last in the fridge?

Ricotta can last up to a week in the fridge if stored properly in an airtight container. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to utilize it within a few days to maintain its freshness.

Can I freeze ricotta cheese?

Yes, you can freeze ricotta cheese, but the texture may change slightly after freezing. It’s best to use frozen ricotta in cooked dishes rather than fresh applications.

What’s the difference between ricotta and cottage cheese?

Ricotta is smoother and creamier than cottage cheese, which has a lumpier texture. Ricotta is often used in desserts, while cottage cheese is typically used in savory dishes.

How do I make ricotta smooth for desserts?

To make ricotta smooth for desserts, blend it in a food processor or with a hand mixer until creamy. You can also strain it through cheesecloth to remove excess moisture.

Can I use ricotta as a dessert filling?

Yes, ricotta makes an excellent dessert filling. In pastries like cannoli, people commonly use it and can flavor it with sugar, vanilla, or citrus zest.

What can I substitute for ricotta in dessert recipes?

You can substitute cottage cheese or mascarpone for ricotta in most dessert recipes. However, these cheeses have different textures and flavors, so the result may vary slightly.


Ricotta is a versatile and delicious cheese that’s perfect for creating a variety of sweet treats. From classic Italian desserts to innovative new ideas, these ricotta dessert recipes are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Whether you’re looking for a light and refreshing summer parfait or a rich and indulgent winter hot chocolate, there’s a ricotta dessert for every occasion.

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