Make Ahead

Fresh Ricotta Ice Cream

August 21, 2012
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 1 scant quart
Author Notes

I often dream of the first time I had ricotta gelato from Grom in Florence, Italy. I was in gelato nirvana. Over the years, I've tried a number of recipes in an attempt to experience that feeling at home. Even the recipe from Ici in California that gets rave reviews did not do it for me. One day I stumbled upon a Gourmet recipe for a Watermelon Sundae that cleverly combined a rich ricotta ice cream and icy-cold watermelon. I immediately made the ice cream and after a few tweaks, I finally found the texture and flavor similar to what I had experienced at Grom. The addition of a little more cream and candied citrus peels (orange, citron, lemon) was the trick. The Grom version did not have chocolate or pistachios but these addtions make for an even more delicious, cannoli- like ice cream. I've made this with homemade ricotta, a good store-bought ricotta and even a fresh sheep's milk ricotta. The sheep's milk ricotta gives the closest taste to Grom's. Note that no cooking is required for this recipe. —PRST

Test Kitchen Notes

Just by looking at the ingredients in this recipe I was intrigued. I was imagining the taste of a cannoli, and after making the recipe I was not disappointed. The ricotta taste really came through, while the addition of the heavy cream made it smooth and rich. I really enjoyed the hint of lemon -- it was just enough. It was also super easy putting all of the ingredients together. I give it 3 thumbs up: 1 for me, 1 for my husband and 1 for my son! —baker23

What You'll Need
  • 1 2/3 cups fresh, whole milk ricotta
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped candied citrus peel (a combination of orange, lemon and citron)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped bittersweet chocolate
  1. Blend cheeses, milk, sugar, rum, zest, vanilla and salt in a blender until smooth. Add cream and blend until just combined.
  2. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker, adding candied citrus peels, chocolate and pistachios at the end. Mix until just incorporated. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden. Allow to sit a few minutes to soften before scooping!
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37 Reviews

mindia February 3, 2023
Luscious ice cream! Try it! I made my own ricotta because I don't have a local market that has the good stuff. The only tiny changes I made was to use dark chocolate rather than bittersweet, and I backed off the sugar just a tad. Next time I will either omit or reduce the rum...because it kept my ice cream from getting as solid as I'd like.
Julia M. June 7, 2019
5/5 stars for taste and texture. I didn't use the candid orange peel or pistachios -- I used mini chocolate chips, but I couldn't believe how great it turned out. This is a fantastic ice cream recipe that requires NO cooking. Stir the ingredients together, and chill in the fridge over night. Churn in an ice cream maker, and voila, you have amazing ice cream with texture and flavor that keeps for weeks in the fridge. I'll be making this multiple times. Next time, I will use candid citrus peel and chopped chocolate.
Jo O. May 30, 2017
Can this be made without an ice cream maker and using freshly made ricotta?
Asher July 24, 2017
Fresh ricotta works as long as its not too moist. if no ice cream maker you will need to remove the ice cream from the freezer every half hour to hour and give it a good whip until frozen solid otherwise it wont be light and fluffy. Good luck!
Ps You can get ice cream machines very cheap ($20 - $30) from most homeware stores, a great investment if your family eats alot of icecream!!
Rebecca G. November 29, 2015
I made the recipe without an ice cream maker, and though I took it out of the freezer to break and mix it every 30 minutes for several hours, it still cristallized. It tasted AMAZING though! Will definitely make it again the day I get an ice cream maker!
JBD August 25, 2015
The best ice cream texture I have ever had. This recipe is perfect, and so easy to modify with other flavors. Ricotta Cherry Garcia, anyone?
stardust June 26, 2015
I made this ice cream many times already and we love it. Last time I didn't have enough ricotta and cream cheese so I used mascarpome instate and it was even better.
Emily June 15, 2015
My husband and I made a stop in Florence, Italy on our honeymoon last year and we had our first experience with ricotta gelato...I fell in love with it! From that point on I searched every gelato shop in Europe and also at home in the US and we never found ricotta gelato again. We have been dreaming about having it ever since and this recipe really captures the flavor that we experienced in Florence. We omitted the toppings, just because we wanted it as close to what we had the first time as possible. This was truly delicious and I already can't wait to make it again and again! Thank you for posting this recipe!!
Assya April 26, 2015
I absolutely love Grom's pistachio ice cream, last summer I kept going to their truck on 72nd st in central park.
Is this recipe supposed to be similar?
Assya April 26, 2015
similar to the pistachio flavor sorry
Ann W. September 7, 2014
I made this for a gourmet 5-course Italian fund raiser dinner for my chorus (Aurora Chorus in Portland, OR). It was just plain sinful and one of the easiest ice creams I've made. And yes, I made it with home made ricotta--lovely pillow of the sweetest, most exquisite ricotta I've ever tasted. Served it along with a small slice of Italian almond cake. You could have dropped a pin--things got to quiet...that is, until the oohs and aaahs and mmmmmm's started. Thanks for posting it again. This recipe should be on everyone's top favorite dessert recipe list.
Tarah T. October 21, 2020
What is your Italian almond cake recipe? Would you share it?
Hima January 21, 2014
I am so glad I came across this recipe. Made this ice cream (with home made ricotta) several times now. Every time it turns out excellent.
PRST January 21, 2014
So glad you like the recipe! I think it works best with homemade ricotta. Some commercial ricottas tend to be grainy.... Keep enjoying!
BrooklineMom August 26, 2013
Quite easy to make - but have to say, didn't really care for the grainy texture. Even though blended the base forever, it just felt like I was eating sweetened ricotta.
PRST August 27, 2013
Sorry you didn't like the recipe. The success depends on the quality of the ricotta. If the ricotta is grainy to begin with (and many poor quality ricotta's are....), no amount of blending will fix it and the ice cream texture will be grainy. I would hope that you followed the recipe exactly as the rum and cream cheese add to a smooth texture. As to the ice cream tasting like sweetened ricotta- that's the point of the recipe.
Nancy B. July 31, 2013
This sounds absolutely dreamy. I can't wait to try it.
keyra July 6, 2013
wondering how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker....any ideas?
Jenny April 21, 2016
I'm wondering about the same thing, although from what I've seen in the no-churn ice cream recipes, we could switch out the whole milk for condensed milk and lower the sugar and blend forever.
PRST June 11, 2013
One other question jyohal- what type of ice cream freezer are you using?
PRST June 11, 2013
jyohal! I think leaving out the rum had a significant effect on the texture as alcohol doesn't freeze and helps a non-egg custard or cornstarch ice cream be softer. See David Lebovitz's tips on making ice cream softer. But I am still not sure about what you described as a chalky texture.
jyohal June 11, 2013
@Jef, I don't think I used raw or nonhomogenized milk/cream. I used normal stuff from the grocery store, and then good quality ricotta. I don't think my ice cream softened * too much* - when I put it back in the freezer after serving it wasn't melty/milkshake looking, just only slightly melted.

I just realized one thing - I left out the rum. Do you think that impacted the freezing the day after significantly? Thank you for all your help!
Jef June 11, 2013
sometimes some parchment paper cut to fit the container helps to absorb some of the moisture that comes with letting the ice cream soften. and thanks, PRST, hope they work out well for you.
PRST June 10, 2013
Thanks for posting Jef. I don't have much experience using raw milk/cream since the sale of such is illegal in Montana. I did wonder if the ricotta ice cream softened too much before refreezing. BTW: I just saved your two ice cream recipes to try soon!
Jef June 10, 2013
out of curiosity, did you use raw, nonhomogenized milk and/or cream? if you had you would need to do some homogenization of your own. I've had a little of that separation and chalkiness happen by not homogenizing.

another possibility is putting the container back in the freezer with extra moisture from condensation (after letting it sit out to soften a little) still on it. that could cause that as well.
PRST June 10, 2013
Geez, I am so sorry. I am not really sure what happened. It's been grainy for me a few times- that is totally due to the ricotta. I wonder if it softened too much and then re-freezing changed the texture?