This authentic Italian lemon ricotta pie will quickly become a favorite member of your recipe rolodex. The lemon zest gives it a bright tang, while tempered with a creamy, custard-like ricotta filling, and set in a buttery, slightly sweet short crust pastry. It’s a pie sure to impress family and friends, and the best part, it’s super easy to make!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Indulge in authentic Italian pastry. This pie is an Italian classic!
- Looking for something different to bring to your family Easter gathering? This pie is most commonly served during Easter, but it’s just as delicious any time of year.
- The lemon tang is perfectly accompanied with a light, creamy filling.
What you’ll need:
2 Cups ricotta
2/3 Cup granulated sugar
3 Egg yolks
Zest from one lemon (about 1 tbsp)
2 Tsp Cornstarch
1/4 Cup heavy whipping cream
PASTA FROLLA (ITALIAN SWEET SHORTCRUST PASTRY)
2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
8.5 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cubed)
1 large egg
1/4 Tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
Tips and Tricks
1. The type of ricotta you get is super important. I found that buying an Italian ricotta brand wasn’t nearly as watery as American brands. This kept me from having to drain the ricotta with a cheesecloth, which saves a ton of time (and mess!). Italian ricotta can easily be found in the specialty cheese section of the grocery store.
2. You can absolutely alter this recipe to allow for different flavored pies. Grapefruit, orange, or lime zest would also be delicious! Just make sure they equal to about 1 tbsp.
3. The temperature of the butter needs to be cold. I always put my butter already cubed in the freezer until I’m ready to grab it. Make sure you don’t knead the dough too long, as it only needs a couple of minutes, and your hands will warm up the dough quickly.
4. The crust needs to be blind-baked (pre-baked) before you add the filling. Make sure to add pie weights (or dried beans, rice, or sugar) on parchment paper covering the pie crust. The weights keep the dough from puffing up in the oven, and you want to keep it flat. More importantly, pre-baking the pie crust ensures the crust and fillings don’t end up underbaked or soggy. Instructions for pre-baking the pie crust can be found in the instructions list in the recipe card below.
I hope you love this ricotta pie recipe as much as I do. It’s such a versatile dessert for any time of the year, and any gathering will allow it. It is one of the most unique pies I’ve made, and also one of the easiest!
You sure can! The pie needs to be completely wrapped in plastic wrap or foil, then in an airtight container. I find it easier to freeze the slices, which can be wrapped, then stored in Ziploc bags. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Pre-baking the pie crust ensures that the crust on the bottom, as well as the fillings, aren’t underbaked or soggy.
If you don’t own a cheesecloth, I would suggest a colander (and press with a large spoon) or even a salad spinner. Paper towels can work in a pinch, but pieces of the wet paper can get into the ricotta.
Italian Lemon Ricotta Pie
- 9 inch pie dish
- Rolling Pin
- 2 Cups Ricotta Room temp, drain if watery (see notes)
- 2/3 Cup Granulated sugar
- 3 Egg Yolks room temp
- Zest from one lemon (about 1 tbsp)
- 2 Tsp Cornstarch
- 1/4 Cup Heavy whipping cream room temp
Pasta Frolla (Italian sweet shortcrust pastry)
- 2 Cups Unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 Cup Powdered sugar
- 8.5 Tbsp Cold unsalted butter cubed
- 1 Large egg
- 1/4 Tsp Baking powder
- 1 Pinch of salt
- Cut butter into cubes and put into freezer until use.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients to get rid of any lumps.
- Add the egg and cubed butter into the dry mixture and mix with either a pastry cutter or fingers (I personally use a pastry cutter for the initial mixing to keep hands from warming up the dough).
- By now, the mixture should feel like clumpy sand. Start bringing together with hands to form a dough.
- Finish by kneading for a minute or two, or until the flour is completely combined into the dough. Form into a disc and place in refrigerator for about 30 min to 1 hour.
- If you want to make the dough ahead of time, you can absolutely keep it in the fridge overnight. (It will be fine in the freezer too, just make sure to transfer it to the refrigerator to defrost completely, but still cold).
- After the dough has chilled, remove and roll it out onto a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick and place into pie dish.
- Cut away the additional pie dough to where it is just covering the edges of the dish and flute with fingers. If you're using a tart pan, just cut away off the top of the pan.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Chill pie dough again in freezer about 30 minutes.
- Remove and cover with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans, rice, or sugar and blind bake the dough for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pie weights and parchment paper and bake the pie crust again for another 15 minutes, or until it is baked through.
- Cool the crust about 15-20 min on a baking sheet then cover the edges with aluminum foil (this prevents the crust from over-baking while cooking the pie).
- Add the ricotta filling, and place the pie (on the baking sheet to make it easy to remove from oven) into the oven to cook for about 40 minutes or until set.
- You can tell when the pie is set when its just slightly wobbly in the center. This is more important than the cook time itself because you don't want the pie to be over baked!
- Once removed from the oven, the pie will continue cooking through and will need to rest about 2-3 hours until serving.
- In a stand mixer with whisk attachment (or hand mixer), beat the ricotta cheese by itself for about 5 minutes on medium speed to smooth it out some. You want to make sure any water from the ricotta is drained before using. It typically won't be watery if you use an authentic Italian ricotta cheese (you can find in a specialty cheese section of grocery store or an Italian grocery). While the ricotta was being mixed, I took this time to zest the lemon and put that aside.
- Add the sugar then cornstarch and beat another minute or so.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time and then turn the mixer to med-low and add in the heavy cream until everything is combined and smooth.
- Lastly, fold in the lemon zest with a spatula until fully combined.
- If you’re able to find Italian ricotta cheese, absolutely get it! When making this recipe, I bought one container of American ricotta cheese and an Italian brand from the specialty section of the grocery store, and I was honestly amazed at how much of a difference it was. The American brand was extremely watery and it would have taken forever to drain it with a cheesecloth. The Italian brand didn’t need to be drained at all. Huge time saver and the flavor was also better as well!
- If you are looking to save time, you can easily skip a homemade pie crust and use a store bought one or even a pre-made “dough disc” that just rolls out. Whole Foods carries a wonderful pre-made disc from a brand called Rustic Tart (it’s super buttery and flaky). This saves a lot of time because the filling itself takes hardly any time at all to whip together. I will say, though, that the pasta frolla pastry crust is amazing and well worth it to make from scratch!
- Make sure to knead the dough quickly and to not overwork it (the process should take a couple minutes). You don’t want the dough to get too warm.