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Ricotta Pie

This Italian Ricotta Pie is an amazing ricotta dessert that is light and creamy with a delicate lemony flavor! Perfect for spring entertaining and the ideal sweet ending to a traditional Italian meal!

Slice of ricotta pie on white plate with gold fork and whole pie in the background.
Lemon zest gives this ricotta pie a wonderful fragrance that you’re going to love!

Why you will love this recipe!

There’s absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t fall in love with this Ricotta Pie! The tender pie crust is filled with a creamy sweet ricotta filling which has a wonderful scent of lemon. A slice of this pie completes any meal. Not too sweet and not too rich, it’s absolutely the Goldilocks of pies!

Like all Italians, I adore desserts made with whole milk ricotta. You can learn how to make ricotta with my simple recipe if you can’t find it easily.

Ricotta is not as heavy and cloying as cream cheese or heavy cream but still has enough creaminess. Some of my favorites ricotta desserts include this Sicilian cheesecake, pastiera Napoletana and simple sweet ricotta recipe.

The lattice top might make you think you’ve seen this before and you’re almost right. It’s similar to my Strawberry Crostata. However, it’s definitely up to you if you want to add the lattice. If you bake the pie without the lattice, it will still be wonderful!

Like all good crostata recipes, it relies on a good pie crust! Italian sweet shortcrust dough is known as pasta frolla. Tender and flavorsome, this dough is used to make all sorts of pies, tarts and even makes tasty cookies! Pasta frolla is easily made in the food processor (or by hand) and rolls out like a dream. Any cracks or splits can be patched without any trouble. The best part is that I never have trouble with crust shrinkage.

Enough about the crust (even though it is super amazing!) but let’s talk about the ricotta filling. Oh my goodness, the flavor that the lemon zest gives this pie is to die for! Plus the filling is creamy and smooth due to the little bit of heavy cream added into the filling. I like to add a little extra flavor in the form of ground cinnamon, vanilla and a dash of rum. None of which is overpowering, just a subtle hint of something in the background.

Also known as “crostata di ricotta” or Sicilian ricotta pie, this recipe for Ricotta Pie is a classic addition to the family Easter table but also loved year round. And the fresh citrus flavor makes it a winner whatever the occasion. 

Ingredients

The ingredients for this recipe prepared on a table.
  • All purpose plain flour – For tender pie crust, use a flour that has a low protein content.
  • Baking powder – Just a little in the pie dough makes the crust light and flaky.
  • Salt – Even though I’m asking you to use unsalted butter, we do need a pinch of salt in the crust to enhance the flavor.
  • Unsalted butter – I prefer unsalted butter but if all you have is salted use that. However you must leave out the extra pinch of salt otherwise the crust will be too salty.
  • Sugar – Regular granulated white sugar is my preference. If you like brown sugar, you could try that though it would be a different flavor. This Italian recipe is a bit sweeter than some but if you prefer your desserts less sweet reduce the sugar in the filling to ½ cup.
  • Eggs – Free range eggs are my top choice but use whatever you have. Keep in mind that the  best taste comes from quality ingredients.
  • Whole milk ricotta cheese – There’s no need to watch the fat content here. After all, this ricotta pie recipe uses lots of butter and eggs along with some cream. Plus the filling will be creamier and richer with whole milk ricotta. If you’ve bought too much ricotta, you’ll be happy to know that you can freeze ricotta cheese easily.
  • Heavy cream – I use cream that has about 35% fat content. 
  • Lemon – Only the zest is needed for this recipe and it adds an incredible fragrance to the pie.
  • Ground cinnamon – The fragrance of ground cinnamon can’t be matched and it pairs wonderfully with ricotta. You’ll just use a little so that it doesn’t dominate. Be sure to replace spices regularly as they do go stale. To check, just rub a little between your fingers and taste and smell it. If you smell that typical cinnamon scent and the taste is a little sweet and spicy, then it’s all good. Typically, if stored in a sealed bottle it should last for a year before it loses its flavor and scent.
  • Rum – I like to use dark rum. Omit it completely if you’d rather make an alcohol free ricotta pie.
  • Vanilla extract – Use vanilla extract for the best flavor. Alternatively, half a teaspoon of vanilla paste or a scraped vanilla bean are both good substitutes. Vanilla essence won’t provide the same flavor.

Instructions

Both the filling and pie dough can be made a day in advance. Store both in the fridge if making ahead. If you don’t have a food processor, read on for how to make this ricotta pie without a food processor.

A four step process image showing how to make pie dough for this recipe.
  1. Using a food processor, pulse the all purpose plain flour, baking powder, salt and butter until the mixture looks sandy and crumbly. 
  2. With the processor off, add the sugar, egg and egg yolks.
  3. Process until the mixture starts to come together.
  4. Remove the dough from the food processor and use your hands to press it together into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and pop into the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Prepare a 10 inch (25 cm) tart pan with a removable base by greasing with butter and dusting with flour. Alternatively, use a 10 inch pie plate that has been greased and floured in the same way.

A four step process to making the filling and finishing this recipe.
  1. Roll out two thirds of the pie dough between two sheets of lightly floured, non-stick parchment and use it to line the prepared pan. Check the recipe card below for more information.
  2. Use a food processor to combine all the filling ingredients until smooth.
  3. Pour the filling into the base and level off.
  4. Roll out the remaining dough and scrapes. Cut into stripes and lay in a lattice pattern on top of the filling. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

Hint: Very finely grated zest adds a lemony zing to the crust and filling. Be careful not to grate the white pith – it’s quite bitter. Don’t throw the rest of the lemon away, juice it and pop it into the freezer for when you make recipes like lemon curd or raspberry compote

Variations

The wonderful advantage of many desserts that use ricotta cheese is that you can play with the flavors. While I love the lemon flavors that make this ricotta pie taste freshness and Spring, there are many other flavors that will also taste amazing!

  • Substitute the lemon zest for any other citrus like orange, lime or mandarin.
  • Adding chocolate chips to the filling is delicious especially if you use orange zest instead of lemon zest.
  • Instead of rum use marsala, grappa, anisette or your favorite liquor.

Tips for Success

Overhead view of latticed topped pie, a slice of pie, white plates, lemons and lemon leaves.

There are two components of this Italian Ricotta Pie – the crust and the filling which can both be made in advance. In fact, the pie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just thaw in the fridge for a day before using to line the pan.

Lemon zest (or other citrus as suggested in the “Variations”) is essential to the overall taste of the ricotta pie. The citrus zing can’t be matched so please don’t omit it.

To make the crust, I find it easier to use a food processor. However, if you don’t have a food processor, simply chop the cold butter into small pieces (or coarsely grated) and rub into the all purpose plain flour, baking powder and salt with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs then mix in the sugar, egg and egg yolks to form a dough.

Be sure to chill the dough thoroughly to make it easier to handle. If the dough becomes warm and sticky, pop it back in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. Cold pie dough is the key to success!

If the ricotta is watery, line a strainer with clean cheesecloth or strong paper towels. Place the strainer over a bowl and spoon the ricotta in. Let it drain for 30 minutes or so. Even up to an hour depending on how liquidy the ricotta was in the first place. It’s best to pop the bowl with the strainer in the fridge while the ricotta is draining.

The food processor is handy to make the filling as well. It can also be made by just whisking all the ingredients together though the filling may be a little grainy. To make the filling smoother, pass the ricotta through a fine sieve before making the filling.

FAQ

Is Ricotta Pie served cold?

I prefer to serve this ricotta cheese pie completely chilled rather than at room temperature. It will cut more cleanly and hold better when chilled. However, you might like to remove it from the fridge 30 minutes before serving so that the pie can come to a cool room temperature.

Does Ricotta Pie need to be refrigerated?

Yes! Ricotta can spoil quickly at room temperature. Once cooled, keep the pie in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

How long is Ricotta Pie good for?

This pie will be good for up to 5 days. Be sure to keep it well covered and refrigerated.

Can Ricotta Pie be frozen?

It probably can but I never have – it never lasts very long in our household!! Freezing may change the texture but it would still be a good way to save leftovers that you can’t eat within 5 days. Wrap well in plastic and pop into a sealable container. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Serving Suggestions

Slice of pie on white plate with whole pie in the background and halves lemons scattered around.

This Ricotta Pie is excellent served just as it is with a light dusting of powdered sugar on top and a strong cup of coffee on the side. But if you’d like to step it up a notch, I have some suggestions for you.

Fresh fruit is simple and complements this pie perfectly. However, you might also like to drizzle with this sweet strawberry coulis or a tangy blueberry compote.

More recipes like this

Cannoli Cake – everything you love about cannoli in a cake!!

Italian Tiramisu – the most amazing version you’ll ever eat.

Torta Caprese – a dark and decadent Italian chocolate cake.

Italian Cream Puffs – my family recipe.

slice of pie on white plate with gold fork and whole pie in the background.

Ricotta Pie Recipe

The tender pie crust is filled with a creamy sweet ricotta filling which has a wonderful scent of lemon.
4.99 from 84 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings:10 people
Author: Marcellina

Equipment

  • 1 tart pan (10 inch/25cm) with a removable base or 10 inch pie plate (25cm)

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose plain flour (224 grams)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 oz unsalted cold butter (113 grams)
  • ¾ cup superfine white (castor) sugar (150 grams)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks

Filling

  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese (500 grams) drained if watery
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup superfine white (castor) sugar (150 grams)
  • ½ cup heavy cream (120 mls)
  • zest of one lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (15 mls)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 mls)

For serving

  • powdered sugar, berries or fruit sauce

Instructions

To make the crust

  • Chop the cold butter into small pieces then place in a food processor with the all purpose plain flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add the sugar and egg and egg yolks then process until the mixture just starts to come together on the sides of the bowl. Remove and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC and butter and flour a 10 inch/25cm tart pan with a removable base.

For the filling

  • In a food processor, place all the filling ingredients and process to 1-2 minutes until well combined and smooth. Refrigerate until the crust is ready.

To assemble and bake the ricotta pie

  • Divide the dough in two pieces – ⅔ and ⅓. Rewrap and return the smaller piece to the fridge.
  • Using the larger piece, press it down to flatten and form a rough circle. Dust the pastry lightly with flour.
  • Roll out it between two sheets of non-stick parchment paper until large enough to fit the tart pan. If the pastry is sticking, dust with a little more flour.
  • Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and roll the pastry gently around the rolling pin. Lift and unroll into the pan. Pull up the pastry around the sides and encourage it to fall into the corners. Remove the parchment paper. Patch tears with excess pastry. Trim the edges level to the top of the pan.
  • Pour the filling into the base. Spread and level the filling.
  • With the scraps and the reserved dough, you’ll make a lattice pattern for the top. Add scraps of pastry to the leftover piece. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper as before. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper the cut into strips
  • Pour onto crust then tap down lightly a couple of times to remove any air pockets in the filling.
  • Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet for easier transferring to the the oven.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. The middle will still be a little jiggly but that’s fine. The inside needs to be 160ºF/70ºC when ready.
  • Allow to cool then refrigerate before serving. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Notes

Tips for Success
  • Use a 10 inch /25cm pie/flan pan with a removable base that has at least 1 1/4 inch (3cm) high sides. Alternatively use an 11 inch pie/flan pan with lower sides though the cooking time may vary and ratio of filling to crust will be different.
  • Pie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months
  • To make the pie dough without a food processor – simply chop the cold butter into small pieces (or coarsely grated) and rub into the all purpose plain flour, baking powder and salt with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs then mix in the sugar, egg and egg yolks to form a dough.
  • Chill the dough thoroughly. This is a soft dough, if it becomes warm it will be difficult to handle, return it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Make homemade ricotta cheese with my easy recipe.
  • Drain the ricotta if watery. 
  • If making the filling by hand, pass the ricotta through a fine sieve to make it smoother.
For more information, read the “Tips for Success and FAQ’s” above.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 438kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 133mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 801IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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25 Comments

    1. There could be a couple of issues that cause this, Anna. Firstly did you completely follow the instructions? Or is your kitchen very warm? This dough must be chilled for an hour. When rolling out, dust the dough with flour and roll out between two sheets of parchment. Remember to keep the second portion of dough in the fridge while you work with the other. This is a tender dough but has never failed me. You’re welcome to email me so that we can troubleshoot.

  1. Just made the ricotta pie very good. I used a pre made crust since my crust making skills are awful. I also added 2T of marsala. Reminds of the pies from my old Italian -American neighborhood where Buddy Valastro’s Carlos’s Bakery is.

  2. I’d like to make this in an 11 inch tart pan. Would you suggest I increase the recipe by 1/4? I think I could do that with most of the ingredients but I’m wondering about the egg.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Julie, I’ve never made this pie in an 11 inch pan but it should work. With the eggs in the filling, I would just add an extra egg yolk. When making the pastry, I would use 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk – whisk them together in a jug and pour in as much as you need until the mixture just starts to come together on the sides of the bowl. You may not need all of it. Hope that helps.

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you for replying. I ended up making the recipe as written in the 9 inch pan since I’ve never made it before. It. Is. Delicious! Very easy to make and it came together quickly with the use of the food processor. When I began rolling the dough, I needed to add flour to both sides to keep it from sticking to the parchment. Once I got the hang of it, worked out perfectly. I typically make my pasta frolla with confectioners sugar but liked this recipe using regular sugar just as much. Tried orange zest instead of lemon but kept everything else the same. This one is a keeper. We loved it!

  3. Do you place the tart pan directly in the oven or should I place the pan on a cookie sheet and than into the oven? My ricotta is draining in the fridge overnight and I’m making this tomorrow morning. Thank you.

      1. That’s exactly what I was thinking. This is my first time baking with a tart pan with removable bottom. Just about to begin my crust now. Thank you for the speedy reply! I’m glad I drained my ricotta overnight, a good amount of water seeped through the paper towel and sieve, I thought I had cheese cloth but no luck. Even used a name brand “G” ricotta.

      2. I totally forgot to add the heavy cream. So disappointed in myself! Ugh! Any idea how this will effect the outcome? I did do my batter in the food processor too.

  4. I have 18 people for Easter…to make a large pie do I double the recipe? What is your best suggestion? Thanks

    1. Hi Maria, yes, I’d double the recipe and make two separate pies. I think one extra large pie wouldn’t bake as well – the outside edge would be overcooked before the middle is done.

  5. 5 stars
    What a lovely dessert alternative to cheesecake, I’m going to make this for Easter! Thank you for sharing.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this pie and I cannot tell you how delicious it was! The whole family, including my in-laws loved it, and I’m definitely making it again and again!

  7. This will be my first time to try Ricotta Pie. Glad I’ve found your recipe. I like that it’s easy to follow and with simple ingredients to make it. Thanks!:)

  8. 5 stars
    I love to bake with ricotta. The ricotta just gives such a great texture and wonderful flavor! Can’t wait to try your recipe! Thank you!

  9. 5 stars
    I love using ricotta in recipes. This looks and sounds delicious. I know it will be a hit for Easter dinner dessert.