Cakes/ Cheesecakes/ Dessert

Ricotta Cheesecake

February 16, 2018

This recipe for easy Italian ricotta cheesecake is similar in style to American cheesecake, but the ricotta cheese gives this cake a unique flavor, and makes it light and fluffy. 

Ricotta Cheesecake

If I had to choose a dessert that wasn’t made of chocolate, I would probably go for the creamiest, heaviest, tallest piece of cheesecake imaginable. But not everyone is me (which in this case,  is probably a good thing), and some of you have asked me for a cheesecake recipe that is lighter and less dense than my classic cheesecake.

Using ricotta cheese makes for a cheesecake that’s not only lighter, but also has a different taste. If you’ve ever been to Italy and tried a classic Italian torte, the flavor is quite reminiscent (although tortes are made differently). If you love ricotta cheese and you love light cheesecakes, then you’re going to love this ricotta cake.

Ricotta Cheesecake

Ricotta and cream cheese cheesecake

Other than ricotta, I use cream cheese to add some creaminess and flavor. This is how I like it, but an authentic Italian recipe calls for ricotta cheese only. You can play with the quantities by adding less cream cheese and increasing the amount of ricotta cheese accordingly.

Drain the ricotta cheese. You don’t have to do it, but I highly recommend it, especially if the cheese is watery. Place the cheese in a fine-mesh sieve lined with two layers of paper towels, and place the sieve over a bowl. Leave it to drain for several hours, or even overnight, before using it. The result is thicker cheese, and better, creamier texture. Too much liquid in the cake will affect its texture.

Ricotta Cheesecake

Make it more Italian style

If you’ve ever tried authentic Italian or Sicilian ricotta cheese cakes and loved them, then this cake is already similar in taste and texture, but there are a few other things you can do to make it even more Italian:

  • Replace ½ of the crust crumbs with Italian amaretti or biscotti cookies.
  • Leave out the crust. Some classic, authentic recipes don’t use a crust at all.
  • If you prefer a taller cake, you can increase the amount of ingredients (baking time will be longer).
  • Add 1 tablespoon of Amaretto liqueur to the filling.
  • Separate the eggs to get an airy and even lighter texture (I like doing it but it’s a matter of personal taste). Add the egg yolks when the recipe calls for whole eggs, then after all the ingredients are combined, whip up the egg whites to soft peaks and fold it into the batter. The cake will look airy on the outside with that rustic look of an Italian torte.

Rather than serving this cake plain, I prefer it with fresh berries, figs, or berry sauce.

Ricotta Cheesecake

More Cheesecake Recipes:

4.94 from 16 votes
Ricotta Cheesecake
Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe
YIELD: 9 -inch/23cm cheesecake

  • 1 cup (100g) graham cracker or digestive biscuits crumbs*
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz. (225g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 540 g/19 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese , drained**, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs , at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Wrap the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with one large piece of foil, then repeat with another piece. This will ensure that water from the water bath doesn’t seep into the cake.
  2. In a medium bowl mix crumbs and melted butter until evenly combined and moistened. Press mixture into pan. You can use the bottom of a glass to press it into an even layer. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before adding the filling. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth and lump-free, 1-2 minutes. Add ricotta and sugar and beat until combined and cheese is smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Add cornstarch, vanilla extract, and zest, and beat just until blended and smooth. Pour batter over cooled crust and spread evenly.
  4. Place pan inside a large roasting pan, then pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Place carefully in the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes or until sides of the cheesecake are set but the center is still slightly wobbly.
  5. Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours to set. The cake will taste best a day after it’s made.
  6. Cake can be kept in the fridge, well covered, for up to 5 days.
Recipe Notes

*To make crumbs, pulse cookies in a food processor or blender until finely ground.
**Ricotta cheese is watery and must be drained for several hours. Place the cheese in a fine-mesh sieve lined with two layers of paper towels, and place the sieve over a bowl.

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  • Reply
    Victoria @ Pleasant Kitchen
    June 20, 2016 at 10:49 am

    These look amazing! Definitely a naughty but nice treat!

    • Reply
      Kathy Hawthorne
      November 29, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      Yummy cheesecake

  • Reply
    March 18, 2018 at 6:45 am

    I tried this recipe and it came out amazing, I got compliments from all my guests.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Great cheesecake! I used 2/3 cup sugar and it was still wonderful. Very easy with perfect results.

    • Reply
      June 22, 2019 at 11:47 am

      Did you grease the springform pan? Also cool in the pan? Thanks.

      • Reply
        October 15, 2020 at 6:08 am

        Hola! Me gustaría saber el tamaño de molde que usaste

  • Reply
    August 3, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    This baked cheesecake was beautiful. I mixed in some crystlized ginger and used ginger cookies for my base. Yum yum yum

  • Reply
    December 23, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    I made it once according to the recipe and it was great!
    Now I’m tempted to modify. Do you think it would be ok to add canned peaches inside?

    • Reply
      December 26, 2019 at 8:47 am

      I’m glad you like it 🙂 It depends on how you add them. Canned peaches might add liquid to the cake (even if you strain the peaches) so it will change the texture of the cake and the cake might be too watery.

      • Reply
        Natasha Singh
        April 23, 2020 at 6:28 am

        Hi can I use cream ricotta cheese

        • Reply
          April 26, 2020 at 5:08 am

          Hi Natasha, I’m not sure what cream ricotta cheese is?

          • Rosemary
            November 20, 2020 at 12:17 pm

            I don’t have a scale. How many cups are 19 oz ? Is it 2 1/2 ?

          • Shiran
            November 22, 2020 at 4:31 am

            1 cup equals about 250g/8.8 oz.

  • Reply
    Mary Beth Scalici
    January 18, 2020 at 11:39 am

    I’m making this recipe today – one question – when you take it out of the oven to cool do you take it out of the water bath? This is my first attempt at Italian Cheesecake!

    • Reply
      January 19, 2020 at 6:35 am

      Hi Mary. I take it out after baking, but because the pan is hot, you can leave it for a while before removing once it’s easier to handle.

    • Reply
      April 20, 2020 at 1:21 pm

      Made this with the option of splitting the egg whites and yolks. It baked for about 80 minutes. After chilling over night and trying, it appears it still did not set as expected and still runny in the middle. The flavor it still really good though.

      What should be the time adjustment on baking with this option?

      • Reply
        May 11, 2020 at 5:32 am

        It should be enough baking time even with that option.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    I like the mild lemon/orange zest flavor. I came out great looking and has a good creamy texture.

  • Reply
    May 7, 2020 at 10:25 am

    I don’t own a spring form pan so can I use a ready made graham cracker crust for this recipe?

    • Reply
      May 11, 2020 at 4:33 am

      Sure, you can 🙂

  • Reply
    Gemma Wilford
    May 11, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    I’ve just made this, and I substituted the crackers for ginger nut biscuits. I also swapped the vanilla essence for orange essence. Yummy yummy

  • Reply
    July 6, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    I made this yesterday and it was amazing. I did make a few modifications..
    – Zest of a small lemon + orange
    – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
    – Reduce sugar to 3/4: 1/3 monk fruit sugar + 1/4 cane sugar

    It was my first time baking cheesecake and your recipe was so simple and easy to follow and came out great. Will definitely bake this again and again!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    If you add the Amaretto liquor should you eliminate the zest?

    • Reply
      July 12, 2020 at 5:17 am

      You can add both, it’s up to you!

  • Reply
    Lisa Amador
    July 10, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    I followed this recipe down to the last detail and it came out perfect. It’s important not to over bake this, even if you think it’s too pale. It will set if you refrigerate it overnight. Letting it do its thing guarantees a very creamy and dreamy result. Just the perfect, simple recipe!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2020 at 9:38 am

    Making this tomorrow not putting lemon in or zest of, my lime tree is over flowing and I have made lime curd which is going on top, yum. Have made this cheese cake recipe before

    • Reply
      August 26, 2020 at 10:15 pm

      If I use a 4.5 round inch pan that is 2.25 inches deep. How long should I bake it? Also I’ve made this before and it is glorious! Our family loves it! Thank you for creating this recipe.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    Is the water bath a necessary part of cooking this? I don’t have a roasting pan, but I do have the springform pan.

    • Reply
      August 20, 2020 at 5:45 am

      It helps to keep the cake moist. You can bake it without it but the texture would be a little different/more dry.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    If I use a 4.5 round inch pan that is 2.25 inches deep. How long should I bake it? Also I’ve made this before and it is glorious! Our family loves it! Thank you for creating this recipe.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Can I make this with just ricotta cheese and not cream cheese?

    • Reply
      October 4, 2020 at 2:39 am

      Yes you can, just keep in mind that the cream cheese adds creaminess and nicer texture.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Just about to pull it out of the oven and it looks great

  • Reply
    February 24, 2021 at 12:23 am

    I am trying to make it today. Fingers crossed.
    It is in the oven. Now the waiting game.

  • Reply
    February 26, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Hi Shiran,

    I am so excited to try this recipe! I cannot resist cheesecake, and I love making different versions when I come across new recipes. I’m so glad you shared this! 🙂

  • Reply
    Joyce Davudson
    May 7, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    I made this Ricotta cheesecake .I followed recipe. It was a hit. So easy it sat up beautifully in bath. Will make this again.

  • Reply
    Jasmine Smith
    May 13, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    This was soooooooooo yummy! Highly recommend!

  • Reply
    September 7, 2021 at 1:22 am

    Tried this with my sister and it was so good! we loved how moist and flavorful it is, and pretty simple to make when following the directions exactly. Loved it!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2021 at 10:59 am

    Turned out wonderfully and this was my first time making cheesecake. No springform pan. Wish I could add a photo. I used all ricotta (homemade from raw milk) and no cream cheese because I didn’t have any on hand. That definitely changed the texture to more crumbly and dry, it not bad and the flavor was still fantastic. I would make it again even without the cream cheese. Some cherry topping would be wonderful with it. Kids and husband approved.

  • Reply
    May 13, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    The easiest cheesecake recipe I have ever used. Came out great.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    Hi Shiran,

    I really love how easy you make this look. My kids love cheesecake, or rather they are obsessed with it. I am going to try your recipe; it sounds new. I already have everything I need in the fridge, will let you know how it went.

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      June 19, 2022 at 1:59 am

      Hi Claire, looking forward to hearing how it went!

  • Reply
    Millie Law
    June 21, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    Please tell me the number of servings recommended from this recipe. Looking forward to making it for a special luncheon!

    • Reply
      Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.
      June 22, 2022 at 9:19 am

      Hi Millie, it really depends how big you slice your pieces, but this cheesecake is made in a 9in pan. You can get 8-10 nice slices out of this! Enjoy!

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