Ricotta

19 Creamiest, Dreamiest Ricotta Cheese Recipes

From stuffed shells to cheesecake.

May 26, 2022
Photo by Linda Xiao

Ricotta cheese is a necessary part of life, by which I mean it is a necessary ingredient in lasagna, and lasagna is life. But rarely do we sing the praises of ricotta the way college students do about burrata after studying abroad in Italy for three months, or the way we obsessed over blocks of feta on TikTok.

Now is ricotta’s long overdue chance to step in the spotlight. We have 19 recipes—starting with two homemade ricotta recipes (one for the stovetop and the other for your Instant Pot), moving all the way to ricotta toasts, pasta, pizza, and pancakes.


Our Best Ricotta Cheese Recipes

1. Creamy Homemade Ricotta

Let’s start with the basics—homemade ricotta cheese. Think back to your nursery school rhymes: three kinds of dairy—whole milk, heavy cream, and buttermilk—cook together to create curds (aka fresh ricotta!). Strain the curds over cheesecloth to remove the whey—the longer you let it drain, the firmer and lumpier it’ll be (for creamier ricotta, leave more whey). Food Editor Emma Laperruque recommends drinking the whey over ice!

2. Ricotta Toast

Now that you’ve made fresh ricotta, it’s time to taste it. Sure, you could eat it by the spoonful, but spreading it over thick slices of brioche is even better. If the ricotta is too thick, mix it with a little bit of heavy cream so that it’s even more spreadable.

3. Super-Fluffy Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Wondering how to get fluffy, cloudlike pancakes? Ricotta, of course. “The tang from the cheese and lemon means they are less sweet, so that you can pile on all your favorite toppings (like maple syrup, fresh berries, and powdered sugar),” writes recipe developer Elaine Lemm.

4. Ricotta Spoonable

The idea of ricotta spoonable is that you can, at any point, grab it from the fridge, put it on the table, and instantly have a snackable dip. Cookbook author Dorie Greenspan (who hardly needs an introduction) mixes whole-milk ricotta with lots of chopped herbs based on whatever’s in season, freshly grated lemon zest, olive oil, and lots of salt and pepper.

5. Cheesy, Meaty Lasagna

You can’t have lasagna without ricotta cheese (sorry not sorry). Whisk fresh ricotta with an entire cup of grated Parmesan, finely chopped garlic, and salt, then spread it over homemade ragù and no-cook noodles.

6. Personal White Pizza With No-Yeast Dough

My new go-to weeknight dinner is this 10-minute pizza (yes, only 10 minutes, thanks to the yeast-free dough) topped with a cheesy trio of mozzarella, Parmesan, and ricotta, plus garlic and red pepper flakes for good measure.

7. Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi

Here’s the thing about gnocchi—if the potatoes aren’t cooked exactly right or the dough is overworked, the gnocchi will taste tough and chewy, rather than melting in your mouth. Leave it to ricotta to make everything, including these gnocchi, taste lighter and brighter.

8. Chocolate-Flecked Ricotta-Mascarpone Cheesecake

I am asking you to bake a cheesecake with ricotta. And mascarpone. And cream cheese. This chocolate-studded cheesecake is, in the words of Food52’s resident baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell, “sophisticated and comforting.”

9. Bucatini With Ricotta & Sumac

A little bit of ricotta cheese makes this lemony pasta recipe so creamy (as does a little bit of the starchy pasta water).

10. Ivy Manning's Instant Pot Homemade Ricotta

We’ve gone over how to make homemade ricotta cheese in a pot on the stove, but did you know  that you can also make it using everyone’s favorite multicooker, the Instant Pot? The yogurt setting will transform three basic ingredients into creamy ricotta.

11. Pasta with Ricotta & Saffron

Saffron—the world’s most expensive spice—obviously deserves to be called out here but we can’t take our eyes off of the ricotta either, which creates a ridiculously creamy “sauce” for the pasta.

12. Roasted Grape + Ricotta + Thyme Toast

Go beyond basics with this upgraded ricotta toast that’s topped with halved grapes and olive oil, and broiled in the oven until the fruit is blistered and the cheese is a little melty.

13. No-Bake Cheesecake With a Pretzel Crust

Homemade cheesecakes are always a treat, but sometimes they’re too intimidating. This no-bake recipe gets its luscious creamy filling from a combination of ricotta and cream cheese, plus sugar.

14. Spicy Scallion Pasta With Ricotta

Even when you don’t have time to cook or go grocery shopping, you can quickly put together this two-serving pasta dish that tastes like it took far longer to cook than it did.

15. Toast With Buttered Raisins & Ricotta

“Not quite jammy, yet no longer tough and chewy, the raisins become a whole new condiment something like a conserve, but far less work,” writes recipe developer Rebecca Firkser. Warm fruit,creamy ricotta, and crunchy toast is a satisfying snack at any hour of the day.

16. Pasta alla Norma (Eggplant and Tomato Pasta)

This classic Italian dish doesn’t call for fresh ricotta, but rather ricotta salata, which is a hard cheese that is pressed, salted, and aged for at least three months.

17. Smoky Eggplant With Whipped Ricotta & Pistachios

Start the party with this grilled appetizer, and no one will ever want to leave.

18. Cheesy Stuffed Shells With Kale Pesto

Instead of a meaty bolognese sauce, these vegetarian shells are stuffed with ricotta cheese and smothered with a kale-based pesto.

19. Kale & Italian Sausage Lasagna With Pumpkin Béchamel

When the temperature drops below 60, I would like someone to immediately hand me a personal tray of lasagna. This autumnal one features layers of kale, Italian sausage, pumpkin béchamel, herby ricotta, and fresh mozzarella.

What’s your favorite way to cook (or bake!) with ricotta cheese? Do you make it yourself? Let us know in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Campobasso
    Campobasso
  • Bevi
    Bevi
  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames
  • boulangere
    boulangere
Staff Writer, Food & SEO

4 Comments

Campobasso May 26, 2022
I have a simple breakfast using ricotta that I call “cheese toast.” It consists of toasting a slice of bread (your choice). Once cool, spread on butter, top with a generous layer of ricotta, then top with a cheese such as Muenster, Monterey Jack, or even American. Add a sprinkle of onion or garlic powder and paprika. Then melt the cheese in the oven for a few minutes at 350 or in an air fryer. It’s a healthy snack or breakfast that both kids and adults enjoy.
 
Bevi May 26, 2022
I have made Lapadia's recipe for Ricotta Whey for over a decade: https://food52.com/recipes/6791-herb-infused-ricotta-whey

And forgive me if this sounds pedestrian, but I have made the Jumbo Shells with Cheese Filling from the back of the Prince Jumbo Shells package forever!
 
boulangere May 26, 2022
Linda’s ricotta is the bomb! I’ve taught it many times, and it is universally loved. Don’t knock the back of the package recipe: I’ve tried I don’t know how many recipes for corn tortilla dough; last week I just didn’t have it in me to research yet another, so I used the formula on the back of the bag of masa. Perfect.
 
AntoniaJames May 26, 2022
I do make my own ricotta - I started when I first saw the Jennifer Perillo's recipe here, and haven't bought ricotta since!

What do I bake with ricotta?

In a month or two, when blueberries are at their most brilliant, this ricotta custard blueberry tart with nut crescent crust is nice:

https://food52.com/recipes/30140-ricotta-custard-blueberry-tart-with-nut-crescent-crust

In the dead of winter, I make this Ricotta Filled Chocolate and Pecan Filled Tart

https://food52.com/recipes/10017-ricotta-filled-chocolate-and-pecan-tart

;o)