Italian Ricotta Cookies are a traditional cookie that can be made anytime of the year. Unlike biscotti, ricotta cookies are moist and more cakelike than a hard or crunchy biscuit. Ricotta cookies are made with butter, sugar, flour and eggs. These ingredients are blended together with flavorings such as vanilla, orange or lemon. Spoonfuls of the mixture are dropped onto cookie sheets for baking. They are glazed and can be decorated to fit any holiday season. I can recall these cookies were often on hand in my grandmother’s and my aunts’ houses. Immediately, they would greet you with, “have a cookie”, the minute you got there.

I chose this cookie recipe to show readers how a recipe can be made over into a healthy dessert.  It is a simple cookie to make, yet very delicious and appealing.  The key is in swapping out saturated fat, too much sugar and processed ingredients for more healthful choices. The substitutions I usually make for ingredients in most of my baking recipes include an alternative sugar, whole grain flour, less saturated fat and egg substitutes.  You will find these substitutions work just fine in this cookie recipe.

Smart Balance in place of butter; egg substitute in place of whole eggs; skim ricotta cheese

Light sugar (half regular sugar and half Stevia). Eagle all purpose flour (part white flour and part whole wheat flour).

A standard recipe for Italian Ricotta Cookies comes from Good Housekeeping Magazine and similar recipes can be found from Italian Food Forever and Giada De Laurentiis.

Ricotta-Cheese Cookies

From Good Housekeeping

The ricotta cheese in these Italian-style cookies keeps them moist, and the recipe yields a large batch, which is great since the baked cookies freeze so well.

Yields: about 6 dozen cookies
Total Time: 45 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Oven Temp: 350


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt


  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar and butter until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. At medium speed, beat in ricotta, vanilla, and eggs until well combined.
Reduce speed to low. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; beat until dough forms.
Drop dough by level tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until cookies are very lightly golden (cookies will be soft). With pancake turner, remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
When cookies are cool, prepare icing: In small bowl, stir confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. With small metal spatula or knife, spread icing on cookies; sprinkle with sugar crystals. Set cookies aside to allow icing to dry completely, about 1 hour.

Here is my makeover version and it comes with a guarantee that this cookie tastes just like the original – just ask my husband!

Makeover Italian Ricotta Cookies

I think the lemon flavor adds to the cookies appeal but you can use vanilla or orange flavoring instead.

Makes 4-5 dozen


  • 1 cup sugar alternative ( that is half regular sugar and half Stevia, such as Domino Light)
  • 1/2 cup Smart Balance butter blend, softened
  • 15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
  • Juice from half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
  • 4 cups Eagle Ultra Grain brand all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Grated zest from half a lemon


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice from half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Grated zest from half a lemon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the sugar and Smart Balance with an electric mixer at low speed until blended. Raise speed to high and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Beat in the ricotta, juice from half the lemon ( 2 tablespoons), half of the lemon zest and the egg substitute at medium speed until well blended.

Reduce speed to low and mix in flour, baking powder, and salt until dough forms.

Beat ingredients until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Place a level tablespoon of dough, 2 inches apart, onto parchment lined cookie sheets, 12 to a sheet.

Drop by level tablespoon on parchment covered baking sheets.

Bake until a light golden color (they will be soft), about 15 minutes. Rotate baking sheets halfway through the baking time.

Cookies are done after 15 minutes.

With a spatula, transfer cookies to a cooling rack; repeat with remaining dough.

The top of the cookies will be light and the bottom will be brown.

While cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze.


In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar, lemon zest, water, lemon juice until smooth and thin.  Add a little more water if the glaze is too thick.

With a pastry brush spread glaze on the top of the cookies.

Use a pastry brush to spread the glaze.

Let cookies dry completely and make sure the glaze has hardened before storing.  If it is hot where you live, you may want to store these cookies in the refrigerator.