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Orange Ricotta Cookies

Orange Ricotta Cookies - A Family Feast

Classic Italian foods always seem to make an appearance on our family table at the holidays.  For my husband Jack and his big Italian family – of course, that makes sense!  But for me – coming from a large Polish family – in between the pierogi and the stuffed cabbage that was always served at our Christmas meals, we also had a few Italian foods at the table thanks to my mother’s sister, Bertha.

Coici Bertha, as we called her (Coici is “aunt” in Polish), was married to my Uncle Pete – an Italian – so the menu at her house was always a wonderful blend of the best of two culinary worlds!  She made a terrific lasagna (note to self…I must get her recipe!) but I also remember the cookie tray – an exotic (to me) combination of treats including anisette cookies with colorful sprinkles, pizzelle (some with, and some without powdered sugar) as well as some delicious soft, frosted ricotta cookies!

Among my favorites were the ricotta cookies – and a few weeks ago, Jack and I were sharing fond cookie memories from each of our childhoods!  I looked around and found this recipe online, but wanted to adapt it to recreate these Orange Ricotta Cookies we’re sharing today!


Orange Ricotta Cookies - A Family Feast

Ricotta cookies are often flavored with lemon, but we liked the more distinctive orange flavor in our version.  We used whole milk ricotta in our orange ricotta cookies – giving them a soft, cake-like consistency and the fresh orange zest gives the cookies wonderful flavor.  The icing also has orange zest as well as orange juice – so there is no mistaking the delicious citrus flavor!

These orange ricotta cookies are really quite easy to make – but a word of caution.  As you mix in the flour, just be sure not to over mix the cookie dough to ensure that your ricotta cookies are light and tender!


Orange Ricotta Cookies

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 dozen


For the cookies

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta (drain any excess liquid, if necessary)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 large orange (about 2 teaspoons)

For the glaze

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the sugar and softened butter and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the first egg to the mixing bowl and mix well. Then add the second egg, and again mix well.
  5. Add the ricotta, vaniila and orange zest and mix to combine.
  6. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until all ingredients are just combined – being careful not to over mix.
  7. Using a small scoop or tablespoon drop the dough onto the baking sheets about two inches apart.
  8. Bake cookies for 20 to 22 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and light golden. (If you are baking both cookie sheets at the same time in the oven, rotate halfway through the baking time.) Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks before glazing.
  9. When ready to glaze, in a small, wide bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest and mix into a smooth glaze. Add more powdered sugar if needed to make the glaze thick enough to coat the cookies when dipped.
  10. Holding the cookies with your fingers, dip the top of the cookies in the glaze and then immediately turn back over and place on a wire rack to dry.
  11. Allow cookies to dry for about 2 hours until completely set before storing.

You may also enjoy:

Italian Anisette Cookies

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  1. I love ricotta cookies, I think they are so soft and so versatile! Beautiful Martha! Oh and it would be Christmas if my mom didn’t make stuffed cabbage too!

  2. Hi Tanya,
    Ricotta cookies are among my favorite also and are part of my wonderful childhood memories. Last Christmas I made chocolate/orange ricotta cookies (reminiscent of that segmented-orange, foil-wrapped candy that came in the blue box–sorry can’t remember the name.) Wonderful! Enjoy the cookies and your Christmas!

  3. My five year old son and I made these cookies today. They are delicious, and so easy! What a great find on Pinterest 🙂 I’m sure we will be making three regularly. Thank you!

  4. I love this recipe and plan to try it. I was jotting down all the ingredients and noticed you have vanilla extract list but I don’t see where you would add it. I’m thinking maybe when you mix the sugar and the butter? Since I work with a large group of people, I’d like to make this for work. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Oh my gosh – thank you Monica! We appreciate you letting us know about the error in the recipe! You would add the vanilla extract along with the ricotta and orange zest. Thanks again and I will update the recipe right now.

  5. If I triple this recipe, do I triple each ingredient?

  6. This recipe sounds lovely! I want to make a batch for this Christmas. Do you think it’ll still come out good if I make the batter a few days before serving them, and refrigerate? Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Kimberly – I’d recommend baking the cookies and storing them in the freezer for a few days if you need to make them ahead of time. Then glazing them the day you plan to serve them. I’m not sure that uncooked batter will bake up correctly if it’s left to sit in the refrigerator for a few days. Hope that helps! Enjoy the recipe!

  7. Just made these today, yum! However, I did have a lot of glaze leftover (I had 29 cookies, well 28 after quality control), so next time I’ll start with a half-recipe of the glaze. I added some almond extract in addition to the vanilla and the flavor is awesome.

  8. I made the Orange Ricotta Cookies for part of a platter to take to my little sister’s Christmas play… simply amazing! They were gone so quickly! My mom also tried them (she’s my guinea pig since I’m allergic to so many things and couldn’t try them myself… not that I had to twist her arm haha) she said they were delish and that we’d be adding them to our yearly baking list. The recipe was easy to make, ingredients were easy to find… and thy baked up beautifully. Will be making more of these for Christmas day… maybe Easter too since they are so delish! Mom also noted that the cooler they were the more you could taste the Ricotta… not that that’s a bad thing. Thanks for sharing!!

  9. Hi – How long do these cookies stay fresh? My sisters and I are making cookies tomorrow for our own Christmas cookie trays so they probably won’t get eaten until Christmas Eve or so. Do you think that would be okay? They look scrumptious!!

    • Hi Trish – If you are making these cookies so far in advance, I’d probably recommend baking the cookies – but hold off frosting them. Then freeze them (well wrapped) until a day or so before you are ready to serve them – frosting them once they have thawed. They are good for a few days but will probably not be so good baked this far in advance!

  10. These remind me of cookies my grandmother made. She also made a chocolate cookie with orange flavor (that I remember), how much cocoa would I add to this recipe because this seems the closest to what she made thanks!

    • Hi Jill – We haven’t made this recipe with cocoa so I’m really just guessing! I’d suggest cutting back a bit on the flour (maybe to two cups) and then adding in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cocoa powder depending on how chocolatey you want the cookies. You might also need to adjust the sugar too if you are using unsweetened cocoa. Hope that helps – let us know how they come out for you!

  11. Just made these with my son as our “Santa” cookies this year. So easy and these may be the best cookies I’ve ever made. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  12. Do these cookies have to be Refrgerated after their cookies. Because of the ricotta.always wonder about it .sa very very good cookie,there gone in a second. Made them for my granddaughter ‘s wedding and I put color glaze for her wedding colors,when over big. Love all the great recipes.

  13. I plan to bake this one and we usually like our cookies soft so I always underbaked them like 8m but noticed this one requires 20m to bake so wonder if anyone baked this one with less time. Thanks!!

    • Hi Cloey – I don’t know! But feel free to do a small test batch baking them less time or check the cookies partway through the baking time to see if they are cooked through and as soft as you’d like them to be! These cookies are sort of a firm, cake-like consistency as written. Hope that helps!

  14. Loved the recipe, very easy! Wish it had mentioned though that in order to get them to look like the picture, you need to form them a bit with your hands into balls. Keep that in mind. Otherwise, great!

    • Thanks for the feedback Natalie! We used a small scoop ourselves but you’re right – if using a regular tablespoon, you will want to roll the dough a bit to get a more rounded shape.

  15. I have subscribed, BUT cannot print the recipes. I give up!

    • Oh no! I’m so sorry you are having trouble printing the recipes. Would you be able to help us trouble shoot the problem? Could you reply back and let me know what sort of device you viewing the recipe and trying to print from (desktop computer or mobile device, PC or Mac, Apple IOS, Android, etc.)? And are you trying to print using the print button within the recipe? I’d love to get this resolved for you if possible! Thank you!

  16. These cookies are wonderful, follow the recipe and you will enjoy delightful light fluffy cookies with a tang of orange, and I’ve me them with lemons -also are just as yummy. I found baking them at 375 was quicker for 22 minites, the ricotta is dense and they stay puffy this way… As opposed to 325 this left them flat and took at least 10 minutes more. Thank you for a lovely recipe!

    • You’re very welcome Mariute! Sounds like our ovens may be a little different in temperature – but either way, we’re glad you found a way for the recipe to work! Thank you for writing to us today.

  17. These are delicious!!! The cookies are so moist and have a delightful orange flavor. My husband is not a big fan of sweets, so I was amazed when he asked me to make these again.

  18. Cheryl Hoffman :

    I’m planning to make these but can I use part skim ricotta?

    • Hi Cheryl – We’ve only made this recipe as written. I would imagine the fat in the full fat ricotta helps create a nice, moist cookie – I’m not sure how much of a difference you’ll see using part skim. Please let us know how it comes out!

  19. Although it’s been a few weeks since I made these over the holidays, I wanted to say that I made two batches of these cookies and people are still raving about them. Unique and delicious flavor, a nice standout from the more traditional x-mas cookies. The recipe was so easy to follow. Thank you!

  20. They were absolutely delicious and my parents could not stop raving about them. They even claimed that these cookies could put a bakery we know that sells ones just like them out of business because of how much better these were. They were super easy and super good. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  21. Didn’t try recipe yet ..although I do make ricotta cookies regularly but not citrus ones …might make for a citrus themed baby shower for my daughter ( she never goes with standard ideas) anyway …I’m confused about sizing of cookies …you talk about using tablespoon but reading through comments you say you used a small scoop which for me is a teaspo. Also how many does this make? Thanks