20 Delicious Ways to Cook With Ricotta

Ricotta cake recipe

The Spruce 

Ricotta cheese gives both sweet and savory dishes a tender texture and cheesy flavor, so start thinking beyond lasagna. It's one of the most versatile cheeses, pairing well with red sauce and all kinds of fruit (it's also good when drizzled with honey). You can even make your own ricotta, for a fun family project with delicious results.

When shopping for the cheese, buy whole-milk, high-quality ricotta unless the recipe specifies otherwise. Lower-fat ricotta will have a different texture that may not work in all preparations, especially if you use it for baking. These are some of our favorite ricotta recipes to take you from breakfast through dessert.

  • 01 of 20

    Ricotta Cake Mix Cake

    Ricotta cake made with mix cake

    The Spruce 

    Start with a yellow cake mix to create this deceptively simple ricotta cake. The cheese gives it a tender, moist crumb that tastes decadent, even though it only has five ingredients. Leave it unfrosted, dust with powdered sugar, or frost with your favorite flavor.

  • 02 of 20

    Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Ricotta chocolate chip cookies

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    For cookies that turn out soft on the inside and crispy on the edges, try this easy ricotta cheese chocolate chip recipe. Using mini semisweet chocolate chips means they distribute more evenly throughout the dough, ensuring chocolaty goodness in every bite. But just like other drop cookies, you can add chopped nuts, other flavored chips, or a little lemon or lime zest for additional flavor and texture.

  • 03 of 20

    Low-Fat Spinach and Ricotta Pasta

    Low-fat spinach and ricotta pasta

    The Spruce

    Low on cholesterol but big on flavor, low-fat ricotta cheese gives this spinach and pasta dish plenty of richness without the cream you would typically use in similar dishes. Elbow, rotini, or penne pasta would all hold that sauce well, and you can also use full-fat ricotta if you have it.

  • 04 of 20

    Ricotta Blueberry Coffee Cake

    Ricotta blueberry coffee cake

    The Spruce / J. Meier

    Start the day off right with a dense, moist blueberry coffee cake with a streusel topping. Use an 8 x 8-inch square pan for a thicker cake or a larger pan for a thinner one, adjusting the cooking time accordingly. Either fresh or frozen blueberries will work, too.

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  • 05 of 20

    Asparagus Ricotta Spring Pasta

    Asparagus ricotta spring pasta

    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    For a light, fresh-tasting spring dinner, turn to asparagus ricotta pasta. Adding lemon keeps things sunny, even with the added richness from ricotta cheese. Fresh tagliatelle pasta has the perfect texture, but you can also tear sheets of lasagna noodles for a more rustic flare. Dried pasta works too, but springing for the fresh stuff will make it taste special.

  • 06 of 20

    Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

    Blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Slightly sweet, fluffy, and tender ricotta pancakes make a special breakfast or brunch dish. Adding lemon and blueberries just completes the package. They taste so much better than boxed mix but with little extra effort. Make them mini for a chic presentation.

  • 07 of 20

    Heirloom Tomato and Ricotta Tart

    Heirloom tomato and ricotta phyllo tart

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Beautiful, multicolored heirloom tomatoes give this phyllo tart a gorgeous Instagrammable look that tastes even better. A sheet of flaky phyllo is covered with a zesty lemon and ricotta spread and then topped with the tomatoes for a lovely textural contrast that makes a great appetizer or a light meal all its own.

  • 08 of 20

    Ricotta, Stewed Sweet Potato, and Hot Honey Grilled Cheese

    Smoked ricotta, stewed sweet potatoes and hot honey grilled cheese

    The Spruce / Grilled Cheese Social

    Level up your basic grilled cheese by using stewed sweet potatoes, creamy ricotta, and spicy hot honey for a lunch that's all grown up. Multigrain bread has enough texture to stand up to the fillings, but a crusty ciabatta or your favorite rustic loaf would also taste great. If you can find smoked ricotta, it adds a very tasty element to the party.

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  • 09 of 20

    Spinach and Ricotta Tart

    Torta pascualina (spinach and ricotta tart)

    The Spruce / Marian Blazes 

    Spinach and ricotta tart, or torta pascualina, generally shows up on Lenten tables but makes a great lunch or light dinner any time. Use phyllo dough, puff pastry, or empanada dough for the pastry layers, then fill it with a decadent blend of three cheeses, frozen spinach, and spices.

  • 10 of 20

    No-Bake Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Bars

    No-bake lemon ricotta cheesecake bars

    The Spruce / Elaine Lemm

    When you need something sweet but don't want to turn on the oven, no-bake lemon ricotta cheesecake bars will save the day. Graham cracker crust forms the base, topped with a mix of cream cheese and ricotta for a light and fluffy filling, then coated with sweet and sour lemon curd. It also freezes well for a make-ahead dessert.

  • 11 of 20

    Meat Sauce and Ricotta Lasagna

    Homemade lasagna with meat sauce

    The Spruce

    Both pork shoulder and ground beef give this hearty Italian lasagna lots of meaty flavor, while ricotta cheese keeps things creamy. And while the pork shoulder infuses the sauce, you actually remove it before assembling the lasagna, so you end up with two dishes from one recipe.

  • 12 of 20

    Honey Apple Toast

    Honey apple toast

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Think outside toast with butter with this simple non-recipe for a beautiful breakfast. Just toast up a slice of bread, spread it with ricotta cheese, then top with sliced apple and a drizzle of honey. Make it your own with your favorite kind of bread, any apple variety, or some flavored honey.

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  • 13 of 20

    Cheese Blintzes

    Jewish cheese blintzes

    The Spruce

    If you want to enjoy a fancy-looking brunch classic at home, turn to these delicate blintzes filled with cheese. You can even make the blintzes ahead of time and freeze them. Then, to assemble, fry them straight from the freezer before filling and topping with your favorite fresh or canned fruit.

  • 14 of 20

    Three-Cheese Ravioli

    Homemade three cheese ravioli

    The Spruce

    Homemade three-cheese ravioli turns dinner into a fun afternoon project even the kids can do, with some adult assistance. Top them with pesto, red sauce, or just butter and Parmesan, or use spinach pasta for a different twist. A green salad and some garlic bread would round out the meal.

  • 15 of 20

    Classic Sicilian Cannoli

    Sicilian cannolis

    The Spruce

    Cannoli, or crispy tubes of fried dough filled with a sweet ricotta mixture and topped with dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, or even sprinkles, are a classic Italian dessert. For the most authentic results, try making your own ricotta for the filling.

  • 16 of 20

    Cheesy Baked Ziti

    Easy cheesy baked ziti

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    For a similar flavor profile to lasagna but with less work, baked ziti will do the trick. You can also adapt the recipe to suit your family, by adding ground beef or sausage, sneaking in some roasted veggies or spinach or adjusting the cheese. Serve with garlic bread and a salad for a well-rounded dinner.

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  • 17 of 20

    Italian Cheesecake

    Italian cheesecake

     The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Italian cheesecake differs from the New York style in that it uses ricotta instead of cream cheese for a lighter, fluffier texture. It also typically doesn't have a crust, making it gluten free and quicker to prepare. This elegant version uses three different extracts, as well as both lemon and orange zest, for a fragrant dessert that also looks gorgeous on your table.

  • 18 of 20

    Asparagus Pizza

    Asparagus pizza

    The Spruce / Anita Schecter 

    Topping homemade pizza with ricotta cheese instead of red sauce (and in addition to the usual mozzarella) gives it a different twist. Add asparagus and some baby arugula instead of meat, and you've got a light and fresh dish that tastes like spring, no matter what the weather says.

  • 19 of 20

    Italian Ricotta Cassata Cake

    Italian ricotta cassata cake

     The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    The filling in this decadent Italian cassata cake tastes similar to a cannoli but in a lusciously layered cake dessert fit for a special occasion. Rum or marsala wine gives both the yellow cake and frosting a lovely aroma. Decorate with chocolate shavings, sliced strawberries, or additional mini chocolate chips.

  • 20 of 20

    Chicken Manicotti

    Chicken manicotti in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney 

    With a silky cream sauce and lots of ricotta, chicken, and spinach stuffed inside manicotti noodles, you won't need any sides for this hearty pasta casserole. It makes a big batch, so consider splitting it into two dishes and freezing one for later use.