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Italian Ricotta Cookies

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It was time for our annual neighborhood cookie exchange and these festive Italian Ricotta Cookies with almond icing and holiday sprinkles were perfect for the occasion. This holiday classic will become a delicious yearly tradition!

Made with whole milk ricotta cheese, these soft Italian Christmas Cookies are cakey, tender and irresistible!

Italian Ricotta Cookies on a round white plate

Italian Ricotta Cookies

My family loves the traditional frosted sugar cookies, but there’s not always time for the rolling, cutting, and decorating. These Italian Christmas cookies are simply made by scooping the dough out onto parchment paper, baking then topping with an easy powdered sugar frosting. And Bill, the frosting loving husband, raved about these even before they were iced!!! FYI, his hearty endorsement included the frosted cookies, too.

Frosted Italian Ricotta Cookies on a square white plate

Tips for Making These Italian Christmas Cookies

Though I’m not sure the origin of these cookies is really Italy or if this is an Italian-American contribution, they are a Christmas classic for many families across the US. Often flavored with lemon or anise, I went with vanilla in the cookies and almond extract in the frosting. Feel free to add the flavorings you and your family prefer.

  • As with all cookies, have your butter and eggs at room temperature. The butter shouldn’t be so soft that it looks greasy, us soft enough to make it blend easily with the sugar.
  • PRO-Tip: Use a cookie disher/cookie scoop to make consistent sized cookies. I used a smaller scoop for some (my preference) and a medium scoop for the rest. Just adjust the baking time. I also rolled the dough balls between my palms to help make them rounder.
  • Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for easy cleanup. I reuse my parchment for subsequent batches of the same cookie.
  • Let cool completely before icing. And while the frosting is still wet, add sprinkles in colors to match the season or event. You can also decorate these Italian Christmas cookies with colored sugar or candied cherries.
  • Use an offset spatula to spread on the icing or hold the cookies by their sides and dip the tops into the bowl of frosting.

These were perfect for a neighborhood holiday cookie exchange. There was nothing but crumbs on the platter when it was time to go home!

How Do You Store Ricotta Cookies?

Store your ricotta cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. Once they’re frosted, let them dry for at least 2 hours before placing in a covered container. They do not need to be refrigerated.

Can You Freeze Ricotta Cookies?

Baked Italian ricotta cookies freeze well. The unbaked dough does not freeze well, though the dough can be made a day ahead of time and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for a few days. Freeze the cookies before they’re frosted as the sprinkles could bleed as they defrost, depending on the brand you use.

More Holiday Cookies You’ll Love:

I also brought my rosettes, which were a novelty among my friends! 

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Look for whole milk ricotta as the extra fat helps make for soft, tender cookies. The flavorings can be tweaked. I used vanilla for the cookies and almond for the frosting. Anise and lemon are also commonly used. Vary the color of your sprinkles for different holidays or occasions. Think St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Bridal or Baby Showers, etc.

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Whole milk ricotta cheese (I removed 1 tablespoon from a 16-ounce container)
  • Vanilla extract, not imitation
  • All-purpose flour
  • Table salt
  • Baking soda (check the expiration)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Almond extract
  • Milk
  • Colored sprinkles or sugar, depending on the holiday
Italian Ricotta Cookies on a square white plate

Italian Ricotta Cookies

A sweet, soft Italian sugar cookie made festive with frosting and sprinkles!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Yield 8 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 carton (15 ounces)  whole milk ricotta cheese (I removed 1 tablespoon from a 16 ounce container)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 4 cups  flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • Colored sprinkles or sugar

Instructions

In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in ricotta and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda, then gradually add to the creamed mixture.

Scoop out rounded teaspoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a large bowl, cream butter, powdered sugar, almond extract and enough milk to reach your desired consistency. Frost cooled cookies and immediately decorate with sprinkles or colored sugar. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes

Adapted from Taste of Home.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

48

Serving Size:

2 cookies

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 233Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 119mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 0gSugar: 35gProtein: 2g

HOW MUCH DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?

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18 comments on “Italian Ricotta Cookies”

  1. So very festive and yummy with the colourful sprinkles!

  2. I love ricotta cookies! These are so festive and beautiful!

  3. Beautiful cookies for the holiday season. I love that you don’t have roll these cookies out.

  4. These cookies have been on my to-do list for a long time Liz! I’ve even save a spritz version which I’m curious to try.
    PS-I’m glad everyone was treated to a win for braving the cold at the game yesterday:@)

  5. What lovely sounding cookies and the sprinkles make them so festive. 

  6. Liz, this is known in my house as the “famous” Nana cookie.  I have been making it for years and have taught all the grandchildren how to make them.  Somehow it skipped over Tricia, but that’s another story.  I also use the vanilla in the cookie and I think the secret ingredient for the glaze is the almond flavor.  I can’t get thru the holiday without making these cookies and believe it or not I got the recipe from someone I worked with 20 odd years ago.  Good things last.

  7. We just love Italian Ricotta Cookies at Christmastime too, Liz.  I make mine a tad bit different with lemon instead of almond, but I can only imagine how delicious these taste with an almond flavor!  Mmmm!

  8. I treated myself to delicious chocolate chip cookies in the wee hours in the recent past. I was in Walmart not long ago actually looking for Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies in the box which are quite hard to find nowadays.

    I have to admit I have a weakness in my tooth and heart for delicious soft chocolate chip cookies. And I’m actually working on a weight loss stint this year and supposed to be staying on track with healthy eating and drinking vinegar water to lose weight. I guess it’s okay to eat a cookie every now and then, right? 🙂

  9. These are so delicious and the girls love helping me make them!

  10. I make these for just about every occasion. Love them!

  11. Yum! One of my favorite cookies. 

  12. These cookies are so soft and tender, they are the best!

  13. I want my cookie jar fully stocked with these! Such a good cookie.

  14. Always our favorite recipe to make for every holiday.

  15. This was absolutely amazing! Quickly disappeared at my house!

  16. I used up some leftover ricotta I had in the fridge to make these cookies. I am SO glad I did because they were superb!

  17. Such an easy cookie to make! And always a crowd favorite!

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