Lemon Ricotta Cake

4.98 from 178 votes

Treat yourself to irresistibly delicious Lemon Ricotta Cake! Bursting with fresh lemon flavor and a moist crumb, it's a must-try dessert.

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This Lemon Ricotta Cake is everything you could want – it’s light, almost custardy with citrusy freshness, and it’s got that unique, creamy hint of ricotta. Plus, it’s so easy to make! No fancy baking skills are required here. It’s finished off with a light dusting of powdered sugar for a beautiful presentation. This lemon ricotta cake is perfect for all occasions, whether you’re having friends over for a casual brunch, or just treating yourself on a quiet afternoon.

Whole lemon cake sprinkled with powdered sugar with three slices cut from one side, two slices are pulled away slightly and the third is still attached to the cake. Cake plate is sitting on a round wooden board with a towel over it, with lemon wedges around.
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If you love lemons as much as I do, you must try this simple, refreshing lemon ricotta cake. The ricotta cheese gives the cake a creamy and rich texture, yet it’s still got a light feeling to it, thanks to the fresh lemons. This lemon cake truly brings a touch of sunshine to any occasion.

Why you’ll Love This Lemon and Ricotta Cake

  • Bright and refreshing flavor. The tangy lemon zest and juice cuts through the sweetness, creating a perfectly balanced dessert.
  • Easy, one-bowl treat. Whip up the batter quickly by combining all ingredients in a single bowl, minimizing cleanup and saving time in the kitchen. The simplicity of the recipe allows you to enjoy a delicious homemade dessert with minimal effort.
  • Perfect for any occasion. Enjoy this cake as a standalone treat or alongside brunch favorites like a yogurt parfait and this vegetable frittata. Its vibrant flavor profile adds a wonderful touch to the table, making it a crowd-pleasing choice for guests to enjoy.
  • Great treat with a protein punch. Don’t let the light and delicate texture of this cake fool you. Thanks to the protein-rich ricotta, this simple treat is wholesome and satiating. Pair it with a cup of coffee or tea!

Ingredients to make A Lemon Ricotta Cake

  • Lemon: This bright citrus fruit adds a refreshing flavor to the cake. The zest and juice infuse the batter with a tangy aroma, adding a burst of freshness that complements the richness of the ricotta and olive oil.
  • Ricotta cheese: You will want to opt for ricotta on the firmer side; whole milk is preferred. If your ricotta is very runny, strain it slightly in a fine mesh strainer before using it. Firm ricotta lends a moist and tender crumb, adding creamy richness.
  • Sugar: Any type of granulated sugar will add sweetness to the cake while also balancing the tartness of the lemon.
  • Olive oil: One of the key players in keeping the cake moist and creating that delicate crumb without the need for butter. Olive oil also adds a subtle fruity note that complements the lemon and ricotta well.
  • Eggs: Helps bind all ingredients together and provide proper structure. Eggs also help give the cake a slight rise, resulting in a lighter texture. You can swap eggs for flax egg.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour is best for making this cake. But cake flour will work too.
  • Baking powder: This leavening agent creates air pockets in the batter, helping the cake rise.
  • Vanilla extract: Balances the tangy flavors of lemon by adding a sweet aroma.
  • Salt: Essential to balance flavors and enhance the overall taste of the cake.
Ingredients for recipe before being prepped: vanilla, eggs, salt, lemons, baking powder, sugar, flour, ricotta, and oil.

How to make Lemon Ricotta Cake

  1. Add the lemon zest and sugar to a large bowl. Use your fingers to massage the zest into the sugar until it’s fragrant and moist.
  2. Next, add in the lemon juice, olive oil, ricotta, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to the egg mixture.
  4. Whisk until combined.
  5. Pour batter into a round pan and bake.
  6. When done baking, remove from oven and allow to cool before you remove the cake from the pan.
6 image collage making recipe: sugar and lemon zest in a bowl with hands massaging them together, 2- wet ingredients added before mixing, 3- wet ingredients combined with dry ingredients added to the side, 4- batter fully combined, 5- cake batter in a round pan before baking, 6- after baking.

Tips for making lemon ricotta cake recipe

  1. Use room-temperature eggs. Eggs from the refrigerator are harder to mix with the other cold ingredients. To quickly bring eggs to room temperature: run them under warm water for a few minutes.
  2. Opt for whole milk ricotta cheese. Whole milk ricotta has a higher fat content, giving you a richer and creamier cake.
  3. Don’t overmix the batter. When combining the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, mix just until the batter is smooth and there are no more lumps. Overmixing cake batter can lead to a dense and tough texture.
  4. Grease or line the cake pan. To prevent the cake from sticking, grease the pan with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. You can also run a butter knife along the sides after it has cooled off to release any stuck parts.
  • Swap any other citrus. This cake is wonderful with any citrus, so feel free to swap in lime, orange, or grapefruit. Each will bring a unique twist to the cake while maintaining the bright flavors and moist texture.
  • Add crunch. Add chopped nuts like walnuts, almonds, or pistachios for a flavorful and satisfying crunchiness. You can also add a subtle crunch by adding a tablespoon or two of poppy seeds to the cake batter.
  • Sweet additions. If you prefer a sweeter cake with varying textures, fold in some dried fruit like raisins, cherries, dates, or cranberries.
Slice of lemon ricotta cake showing a rich and moist crumb, topped with powder sugar.

Topping ideas for your lemon cake

A dusting of powdered sugar is always a classic option for lemon ricotta cake but have fun with it and experiment with other delicious toppings. Here are a few tasty ideas:

How to store lemon ricotta cake

This cake keeps fresh at room temperature for several days, tightly wrapped (if it lasts that long!). To extend its shelf life, you can also wrap the cake in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out and store it in the refrigerator.

How long will lemon ricotta cake last in the fridge?

This lemon ricotta cake will last for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Can I freeze lemon and ricotta cake?

Yes, you can store the cake in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use low-fat ricotta cheese instead of whole-milk ricotta?

Yes, you can use low-fat ricotta but keep in mind the texture and moisture content will be affected. Whole milk ricotta cheese yields a richer and creamier cake.

How can I adjust the sweetness of the cake?

You can reduce sugar if you prefer the sweetness toned down. Alternatively, you can bump up the amount of sugar if you want the cake sweeter or incorporate sweetened additions like dried fruit.

Can I use lemon concentrate instead of fresh lemons?

Bottled lemon concentrate will work in a pinch, but the overall flavor won’t be as robust. Plus, you’re missing out on the benefits and taste of lemon zest. Using fresh lemons will always trump bottled lemon juice for the best flavor.

Straight on view of a slice of lemon ricotta cake with a bite taken out and fork resting on plate.

This lemon and ricotta cake is a refreshing and flavorful dessert that comes together in one bowl. It’s irresistibly soft and incredibly moist. And the best part? This cake with ricotta is not only delicious but also satisfying. So treat yourself to a slice of pure lemony perfection and level up your dessert game.

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Lemon Ricotta Cake

Treat yourself to irresistibly delicious Lemon Ricotta Cake! Bursting with fresh lemon flavor and a moist crumb, it's a must-try dessert.
5 from 178 votes
Servings 8 servings
Course Dessert
Calories 419
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
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  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line an 8-inch round baking pan with parchment paper, then spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Add lemon zest and sugar to a large bowl. Use your fingers to massage the zest into the sugar until it’s fragrant and moist. Whisk in the lemon juice, olive oil, ricotta, eggs and vanilla until smooth.
  • To the same bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool for about 20 minutes, then invert to remove from the pan and cool completely. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.


Calories: 419kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 77mg, Sodium: 230mg, Potassium: 134mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 26g, Vitamin A: 235IU, Vitamin C: 21mg, Calcium: 146mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
Course: Dessert

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  1. Gabriela Eisenberg says:

    Easy to make! I loved the taste. I will make it again – it’s a “pretty” addition to a brunch table even a bridal shower. I feel like it is a better alternative to lemon bars. My cake kind of sank a bit. I also had it baking for about 10 min over the suggested time. It got a little too brown (burnt) on the sides and I still am not sure it baked all the way. Definitely could be “baker” error. I had my 4-yr-old granddaughter as my sous chef. The texture was a bit like a lemon bar – not like cake consistency. I had to use Gluten free flour also. Again, it tasted delish.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      I agree, it’s such a beautiful cake for a special celebration! So glad you liked how it tasted and love that your granddaughter helped out as sous chef, so sweet! What kind of gluten-free flour did you use? It’s possible the type of gluten-free flour lended to the lemon bar consistency.

      1. Gabriela Eisenberg says:

        I used Kings Arthur’s gluten free, 1 to 1. Sometimes I use Bob Mill’s 1:1 gluten free. I like these a lot and most of the time the texture stays pretty close to the real thing. I believe having my granddaughter helping – she measures the flour and stirs it in influenced the result. I loved the taste. I definitely will make it again (maybe I’ll give my sous chef the day off, lol).
        Love your recipes!! BTW the Greek yogurt pancakes is requested all the time by my grandkids. I love those!!

        1. Yumna J. says:

          Aww, I’m so glad your grandkids love my Greek yogurt pancakes! I agree that a 1:1 gluten-free flour shouldn’t drastically affect the recipe but it’s definitely possible the amount of flour influenced the lemon bar texture.

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