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Travel to Italy through the flavors of this Italian-inspired Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe. The cake has a nice fresh and tartness flavor with a bit of sweetness from the cream cheese.
A slice of an Italian-inspired lemon ricotta cake on a cake stand

Travel to Italy through the flavors of this cake recipe. This cake brings a nice fresh and tartness flavor, while the cream cheese frosting balances it out with a hint of sweetness. It’s exactly the combination of these flavors that truly makes this the best recipe for Lemon Ricotta cake.

Lemon ricotta cake with cream cheese on a cake stand with lemons in the back, flowers, and a cake knife.

Traditional Italian vs. Italian-Inspired Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe

Traditionally, Lemon Ricotta cakes are served as a snack with a cup of hot beverage. It won’t normally include any frosting but only powdered sugar. Not only does it make it easier to serve, but it’s also lighter to digest. 

The cake itself is dense and less sweet, so inspired by the traditional recipe I added the cream cheese frosting to add a bit more sweetness. At the same time, it also gives the cake body and makes it more festive.

Baking with Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta is a creamy, tad lumpy, cheese from Italy. You’ll find it in the fridge section of your grocery shop next to the mozzarella. It usually comes in a plastic container, but you may find a ricotta cheese that is from the supermarket brand. Fresh ricotta is best and you can even make homemade ricotta cheese using whole milk and vinegar. 

The ricotta cheese is what makes the cake denser as well but at the same time removed the traditional sweetness of what usually characterizes a cake.

Tips for Making this Italian-Inspired Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe

A few tips for successfully making this recipe are:

  1. Take time to mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Spend more time in this first step and less time when you start adding the other ingredients so you don’t overmix.
  2. Always use a scale to bake. Honestly, always use a scale, period! It’s more accurate and provides better results. It’s a tiny investment that will forever change your life.
  3. You’ll gradually add your icing sugar to avoid making a mess.
  4. Use quality lemons. Italy always produces the best type of lemon, so if you can and want to do this recipe justice…try to find organic and high-quality lemons.
  5. Let the cake cool before taking it out of the baking pan and especially before frosting. If your cake is warm it will “melt” your frosting and the cake won’t stand on its own.

Ingredients Swap and Variations

I chose to make a 2-tier cake with cream cheese frosting in the middle and on top, but you can make other variations.

You can go the traditional route and only sprinkle powdered sugar on top. You can also make it in a bundt or loaf baking pan and drizzle it with a sugar glaze. For these options, you will probably need less batter. You may be able to get two cakes out of this recipe or half the recipe for a thinner cake.

The only part of the cake that I feel comfortable letting you swap is the garnish. Everything else is an integral part of the recipe.

Storage Tips

I found that the safest way to store this lemon ricotta cake is in the fridge. Depending on the weather you can leave it on your countertop, but refrigerating is the better option. Especially, because the cream cheese frosting will stay firm. In general, the cake can last for up to 4 days without being too stale. I don’t recommend freezing the cake due to the thickness of the frosting. If you do want to free the cake then it’s better to add a thinner layer of frosting.

Other Baked Goods To Try

Best Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Condensed Milk Brownies Recipe

Oreo Cheesecake Brownie Recipe

A slice of an Italian-inspired lemon ricotta cake on a cake stand

Best Italian-Inspired Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe

Omaily Lucas
Travel to Italy through the flavors of this Italian-inspired Lemon Ricotta Cake recipe. The cake has a nice fresh and tartness flavor with a bit of sweetness from the cream cheese.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Resting Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins
Course Dessert, Pastry, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 slices
Calories 907 kcal


18 cm/7 Round baking tin
Electric mixer


  • 300 grams unsalted butter (softened)
  • 440 grams sugar
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 250 grams ricotta cheese
  • 250 milliliters milk
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest (approx. 2 lemons (see note 1))
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice ((see note 1))
  • 420 grams all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 120 grams butter (softened)
  • 240 grams cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 500 grams icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one and mix well after each one.
  • In one bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, milk, lemon zest, vanilla, and lemon juice. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add both mixtures gradually to the butter-sugar cream by alternating between the two. Mix well after each addition.
  • Line the inside of your baking pan with parchment paper. Add half the mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes and repeat the same process for the remaining batter.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add the sugar until it’s all well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 5 minutes more

Cake Assembly

  • After the cake is cooled completely, assemble the cake by adding a small dollop of cream cheese to the cake stand. Add one layer of cake then spread a thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top. Please the second cake on top and spread more cheese frosting on top. Garnish with lemon peel.


  1. Use high-quality, organic, lemons if possible.


Calories: 907kcalCarbohydrates: 130gProtein: 12gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 24gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 162mgSodium: 338mgPotassium: 190mgFiber: 1gSugar: 96gVitamin A: 1325IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 155mgIron: 2mg
Keyword cream cheese frosting, dessert, italian cake, italian snack, lemon ricotta cake
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