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Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake

Jessie Sheehan
Cook Time:
40 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

Simple lemon cakes and I go way back. There is nothing easier to bake than a bright and tart one-bowl cake. However, when you add ricotta cheese to the mix, as well as some extra-virgin olive oil, the depth of flavor — as well as the ultra-moist, soft texture they provide — cannot be beat. The ricotta works like magic in this lemon cake, adding richness and creaminess to the cake, while enhancing the fragrant lemon flavor. Here, lemon is used in three different ways: zest, juice and extract. This ensures the flavor shines brightly in every bite.

This one-bowl recipe makes it easy to assemble the cake. The olive oil you choose for the recipe should be one you love, as the flavor will shine through. A yolk is added to the batter, along with two whole eggs to add moisture and richness to the cake. Finally, we are not skimping on the ricotta. A generous amount — more than you’d typically add to a single layer cake — is exactly what’s needed to achieve the fluffy texture and slightly tangy flavor. To serve, a simple dusting of powdered sugar is all this cutie needs, but who wouldn’t say no to lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream?

Get Ingredients: If you don’t have everything you need on hand, you can easily purchase all of the ingredients (just click the orange button below that says ‘Get Ingredients’). You can pick and choose exactly what ingredients you need based on what’s in your pantry and they’ll be on your doorstep before you know it.


  • cooking spray, for greasing
  • 1/4 cup lemon zest (from 3 to 4 large lemons)
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 to 4 large lemons)
  • cups full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • sifted powdered sugar, for serving
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Heat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.


In a large mixing bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until the sugar takes on a yellow-ish tint and is fragrant. Whisk in the oil, vanilla extract and lemon extract. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, whisking after each addition.


Add the lemon juice and ricotta and whisk to combine. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, one at a time, and whisk to combine. Gently fold in the flour with a flexible spatula. The batter will be lumpy.

4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a moist crumb or two. Let the cake cool on a rack, 10 to 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the cooling rack and let it continue to cool before serving with sifted powdered sugar.


Leftover cake can be tightly wrapped and stored on the counter for up to 3 days.