Lemon Ricotta Cake: a simple and super easy cake made with ricotta cheese and lemon. So airy and moist! Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

Lemon Ricotta Cake Recipe

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This tasty lemon ricotta cake recipe is such a simple and delectable cake to whip up any day of the week. Whether you bake this in a classic cake pan or triple up the recipe ingredients and turn it into a lemon ricotta bundt cake, just know that you’ll be in for a total treat!

Italian Ricotta Cake

The French call this lemon cake a gâteau au citron et à la ricotta. It can also go by the name of gâteau italien à la ricotta because, of course, this lemon ricotta dessert is traditionally known as an Italian contribution.

Regardless of what it’s called, this easy lemon cake recipe is loved in many countries, and for good reason!

It’s probably right up there among my other lemon favorites, including my lemon tart and madeleines with lemon curd.

Easy Ricotta Cake: It’s all about the texture

Unlike lemon ricotta pound cake, this cake is incredibly light and delicate. The ricotta makes every bite of this cake feel like a bite of heaven in your mouth.

While it’s incredibly moist and looks much more compact than a classic yellow cake recipe, it’s much lighter on the palate.

A lot of the moisture has to do with the main star of the recipe (the ricotta), but it’s also a result of the apple used in the recipe.

The apple, while minimal in amount, adds moisture and density to the cake, although don’t mistake that for meaning this cake is heavy in any shape or form.

This tasty lemon ricotta cake is anything but.

easy lemon ricotta cake imageJust know, however, that this cake won’t rise quite the same way as a bakery cake would.

Cutting into each slice, you’ll easily be able to see just how light and delicate this cake is. Dusted with powdered sugar, this lemon ricotta cake is perfectly capable of stunning, regardless of its simplicity.

Lemon Cake from Scratch

This lemon ricotta cake is also the very definition of easy. It’s really a foolproof cake that any level baker can make.

If you’re typically not a baker, then making a dessert like this lemon ricotta cake from scratch may not be something you’d instantly sign up to do.

But I’m telling you that it’s going to be as easy as it would be to make a lemon ricotta cake with box mix.

I love whipping this up for a casual dinner with friends or family because it’s just so darn simple.

I was particularly prompted to share this moist lemon cake recipe today after I recently made my tomato ricotta tart. I had leftover fresh ricotta and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I used it to create this dessert.

top of lemon cake image

A One-Bowl Recipe

This Italian lemon ricotta cake is a one-bowl kind of recipe, no fancy tools needed. It’s the kind of cake a French person would actually make at home.

In general, the French tend not to bake too much because they can easily get the best desserts at their local patisserie.

On occasion, however, they do like to bake something from scratch at home.

A one-bowl recipe like this could easily fit the bill and satisfy the needs of a French person for a simple, delicious dessert that requires only basic ingredients.

It also comes together pretty quickly, which is always nice when you’re looking for a dessert that’s not only effortless but quick too.

italian lemon ricotta cake close-up image

I typically make this cake in a 6″ cake pan, but you can make a more shallow cake in an 8″ pan or double the recipe ingredients if you still want the height but want to use a larger pan.

I just find the 6″ pan a comfortable size for a quick dessert I can manage without a handful of guests over.

Does ricotta cake need to be refrigerated?

This cake does not need to be refrigerated. You can leave this cake out at room temperature for a couple of days. Like many other cake recipes, you should probably refrigerate the cake after a couple of days to preserve its freshness.

Can you freeze a ricotta cake?

If you want to freeze the ricotta cake, flip the cake out of the pan while it’s warm and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Then wrap the entire cake in foil and set in the freezer.

You can thaw the cake in the fridge overnight and then set it out on the counter to come to room temperature when you’re ready to serve.

lemon ricotta cake slice on a plate image

Does refrigerating a cake dry it out?

Refrigerating a cake will always dry a cake out, which is why it’s always optimal to leave a counter-friendly cake like this out when possible.

That said, you can prevent how dry your cake gets by wrapping the cake well in plastic wrap while it’s still warm if you do choose to refrigerate it.

How long does fresh ricotta last?

Fresh ricotta typically lasts one to two weeks. After a couple of weeks, you’ll definitely want to toss the ricotta to be on the safe side.

lemon ricotta cake close up image of slice on a plate

Notes to Jot Down Before Baking

  • With one-bowl recipes, it can be tempting to over-stir the batter. Instead, stir everything just until they’re all mixed together and no longer. You’ll end up with a lighter cake.
  • For easy removal of your cake, grease your pan well with softened butter or baking spray and consider lining the bottom of the pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit the pan.
  • While the apple amount is minimal in this recipe, it is important for proper moisture in your cake, so don’t skip it! Some readers have reported that subbing in 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce works too.
  • If you want to turn this into a gluten-free lemon ricotta cake recipe, then you can substitute almond flour for the all-purpose flour. Just note that you will want to reduce the oven temperature to 375°F or even 350°F as baked goods made with almond flour tend to brown a little quicker. Test for readiness using a toothpick inserted in the center.
  • For extra lemon flavor, you can try adding lemon extract (I would use 1/4 tsp – 1/2 tsp for the recipe below). Be careful with adding lemon juice as it can cause slight curdling of the batter.

Want to make your own homemade ricotta for this recipe and more? You won’t believe how easy it is! All you need is some milk, heavy cream, salt, and vinegar!

homemade ricotta cheese spread

Lemon Ricotta Cake: a simple and super easy cake made with ricotta cheese and lemon. So airy and moist! Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

A light and super moist cake made with fresh ricotta and lemon. 


  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, (43 grams) softened, plus more for greasing pan
  • 5.5 tbsp granulated sugar, (69 grams)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour, (47 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking powder, (4 grams)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup ricotta, (81 grams)
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1/3 a medium apple, (approx 1/3 cup) peeled and grated
  • powdered sugar, to dust the top with


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 6" cake pan with some softened butter.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar together using a rubber spatula. When the two are combined and creamy, add in the egg and mix to combine. 
  3. Pour in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir everything together.
  4. Then add in the ricotta, lemon zest, and grated apple. Again, stir everything to combine  - there should be no visible clumps of flour or dry ingredients. 
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the batter. Bake the cake for approximately 25 minutes, until the cake is beginning to golden on top and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before flipping out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust the top with powdered sugar. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 248
Lemon Ricotta Cake: a simple and super easy cake made with ricotta cheese and lemon. So airy and moist! Recipe via MonPetitFour.com

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  1. What type of apple works best for this recipe? I’m thinking of making it for Mother’s Day brunch. Thanks!

    1. Hi there! I typically have small gala apples on hand, so I use that. I think gala, fuji, and honey crisp would all work the same. If you used a green apple, you’d probably get a little more tartness which you may actually like with the lemon flavor. 🙂

  2. I usually triple the recipe in a spring form pan and it turns out great…just need to watch the baking time as it needs more time due to its thickness.

    1. So glad you enjoyed this Pamela! Next time, I would try doubling for a little more height with your 8″ pan! 🙂

  3. Im goin to make this i just take a pic of recipe easier for me thanks for sharing we need sweet stuff in these times of turmoil

    1. Hi Beth! Yes, I’ve done this in an 8-inch pan and doubled the recipe for a little bit of a larger portion. Many people double this recipe – take a look through the comments for ideas! 🙂

  4. Please send me the recipe. I did write it out roughly but would appreciate it typed. Sounds Yum. Disappointed I cannot make it tonight ad No Ricotta! Will buy some am tomorrow. Thamks

    1. Hi Catherine, the recipe card at the bottom of the post has a print option or you can save it as a pdf (or copy and paste into your own word doc if you prefer).

  5. This was the first cake I ever made from scratch! Tried it during the pandemic and ended up making it a bunch of times. I looked for excuses to make it!

    I make it GF every time using Cup for Cup or Bobs- any of the 1:1 flour blends work well!

    I use a 9” pan and actually make 2 at a time. After they cool, I add a layer of lemon curd between them and then frost the entire cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. It’s the best!!!

    I always add the extra lemon extract and it’s perfect! Thanks for this recipe!!

    This is my FAVORITE cake ever !!

  6. I made this cake with gluten free 1-1 flour and it was amazing. Currently working on my second batch and third for my husband (adding raspberries and chocolate chips)

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