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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.

Made with whole milk ricotta cheese, these soft Italian Christmas cookies were soft, 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 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.
  • I stored my cookies in the refrigerator. If you want to store them at room temperature, do not put them into a sealed container as the glaze will get soft and run.
  • 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.

These were perfect for a neighborhood holiday cookie exchange. I also brought my rosettes, which were a novelty among my friends! Other favorite holiday cookies include these cranberry cream cheese bars, chewy gingersnaps and Noel nut balls.


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Italian Ricotta Cookies on a square white plate

Italian Ricotta Cookies

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

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 32 minutes
  • Yield: 8 dozen small cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian, Italian-American


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


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


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.


Adapted from Taste of Home.

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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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