This easy Sicilian Ricotta pie with a hint of lemon is one of the creamiest, most delicious Pie you will ever make! Classic Italian Ricotta Pie is traditionally associated with Easter, but it might just be your favorite Pie all year round!
Wonderful shortcrust pie dough (Pasta Frolla) filled with creamy ricotta flavored with lemon zest makes this Pie wonderfully silky, creamy custard-like, also well balanced in sweetness. Making Easter Italian Ricotta Pie will be very easy with the help of my step-by-step baking guide!
🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- Perfect creamy texture – This Easter Italian Ricotta Pie has the most perfect custard-like creamy texture without being grainy. The secret behind the texture is 1. draining the ricotta 2. using the yolk part of the egg only 3. there is also a small amount of cream and starch in the recipe that encourages the right texture development
- Most amazing buttery crust – I think we can all agree that there is nothing worse than soggy Pie! I have tons of Pro tips for you in this recipe about how to achieve the best ever crispy yet soft Pie crust texture. No more soggy Pie!
- Intense and natural custard ricotta lemon taste – The combination of ricotta and lemon along with the buttery pie crust will blow your mind! The Pie is traditionally made for Easter but it would be a real shame to wait for a whole year, I am totally doing this Pie all year round! Try using the best quality ingredients, it will make a huge difference
- Quick & easy to make – This is a super quick and easy Ricotta Pie recipe, literally most part of the recipe is just waiting for eg. resting the dough, pre-baking the dough, etc. Even if you are a beginner in the kitchen, you can comfortably try this recipe
- Honest detailed tutorial - This recipe might look long, and in fact, it is, simply because you, my dear readers, are coming to this site with different levels of baking experiences. Baking is science and the details do matter, and my ultimate aim is your baking success, so please do not skip my instructions and tips!
📖 What is ricotta cheese
Ricotta is an Italian creamy cheese, with a very mildly sweet, creamy, milky flavor profile that can be used to make sweet or savory meals or desserts. Like mascarpone, ricotta is used in many Italian desserts, such as cheesecakes, cannoli, and of course, Italian Ricotta Pie. Besides desserts, ricotta is a super popular dairy product making pasta like ravioli, pizza, etc.
In the United States, American ricotta is almost always made of cow's milk whey, as opposed to Italian ricotta which is typically made from the whey of sheep, cow, goat, or Italian water buffalo milk. While both types are low in fat and sodium, the Italian version is naturally sweet, while the American is a little saltier and moister.
While making this Ricotta Pie you should aim to use good quality, creamy (so that does not have small grains) Italian ricotta with high-fat content. In case the Ricotta is a bit more on the watery side, make sure that you drain it before using it so your Ricotta Pie won´t turn out watery or grainy.
While I do not recommend replacing ricotta in this recipe, I have a ricotta cheese substitute article, in case, you ever need it.
📝 Ingredient notes
For the pie crust (Pasta Frolla)
- Flour: I am using pastry flour for this Pie recipe, feel free to use all-purpose flour, if you can’t find pastry flour in your local supermarket. If you want to be a pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my flour guide
- Baking powder: There is a small amount of baking powder in the recipe just to make the crust puff up a tiny bit
- Powdered sugar: This shortcrust is made with a small amount of powdered sugar/icing sugar that makes the pie dough sweet but not overly sweet. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my sugar guide
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most dessert recipes. Balances flavor and enhances other ingredients
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. While in most of the recipes butter needs to be at room temperature, this is an exception and you have to take it very seriously. The butter needs to be chilled, which means take the butter out of the fridge, cut it into small chunks then place it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before using it.
- Egg: Room temperature as always. The egg can´t be left out or replaced unless you have the knowledge to totally reformulate the recipe
- Lemon zest: Citrus zest makes the Pie dough super fragrant, don´t skip this ingredient
For the Ricotta filling
- Ricotta: Try to purchase high-quality Italian ricotta cheese that is creamy and not too watery. If watery, make sure you drain it before using it
- Egg: For the creamiest result we will only use egg yolk, at room temperature as always. Try my macaron recipe perhaps with the leftover egg whites. The egg can´t be left out or replaced unless you have the knowledge to totally reformulate the recipe
- Sugar: There is a small amount of sugar in the Ricotta filling. Classic Ricotta Pie should not be super sweet, so if you like very sweet desserts, you might want to increase the sugar quantity
- Corn starch: Use corn starch as a thickening agent, just a small amount
- Heavy cream: Gives extra creaminess to the filling. Also known as whipping cream, has a fat content of 36% and 40%, in my recipes, I use 36%. Avoid substitutes like vegetable-based “whipping cream”
- Lemon zest: Using citrus zest is one of the most underrated ingredients in baking. This Sicilian Ricotta pie will have a deep, natural lemony flavor due to the zest added both into the filling and also on top of the Pie as a decoration element. If for some reason you don´t like lemon, you can use orange zest too or replace it with one or two teaspoons of vanilla extract
For the Whipped mascarpone frosting (optional decoration element)
- Mascarpone: Very rich Italian cream cheese, exceptionally smooth, and easy to spread or whip. The flavor is milky and slightly sweet, and goes super well with this Italian dessert
- Heavy cream: As per above, use high-fat content (36%) heavy cream and use it very cold
- Powdered sugar: Icing sugar / Powdered sugar is the first choice when it comes to whipping up the frosting. The question I often get is whether the quantity is a typo. NO, it´s not! You do not actually need a lot of sugar when making whipped mascarpone frosting! It stays beautifully fluffy without tons of sugar, the secret is the technique of whipping, not the amount of sugar
- Lemon zest: again we will be using lemon zest to flavor this whipped mascarpone frosting
👩🍳 How to make this recipe
1. The importance of temperature while making Pie crust
When I started experimenting with baking, I had several disastrous attempts making Pies. Now I understand that the one and the only reason I failed was being impatient and forcing the dough even when its temperature was inappropriate.
Baking is science and in general, the temperature is one of the most important factors to understand AND utilize for our benefit. When I say temperature I don’t purely mean baking temperature but also the environment we work e.g kitchen temperature as well as the dough temperature.
While making this Pie crust, the temperature is everything! If the dough is too hot, it’s sticky and can’t be rolled out or shaped. If too cold, it will easily break. The entire Pie making process is a balancing exercise between keeping the dough cold enough but not too cold.
💡 Top Tip: Use your fridge or even better, if the freezer, to chill the dough whenever it is getting too warm to handle. 2-3 minutes in the freezer will make a huge difference and will result in a dough that is much easier to shape
2. The process of making Pie crust (Pasta Frolla)
Making Pasta Frolla in fact super quick, all you need to pay attention to is temperature as explained above.
- Make sure all ingredients are measured with a Digital scale and prepare all the tools ahead: Rolling pin, Silicone baking mat
- Place the measured butter chunks into the freezer for 5-10 minutes
- Sift together dry ingredients; flour, icing sugar, baking powder, and salt, mix so they are combined properly
- Add very cold butter chunks to dry ingredients and rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a sand-like consistency. This will take about 3 minutes, make sure you do not spend too much time with this step as butter can easily warm up and that is something we want to avoid
- Add egg into the mixture and mix with your hands just until the dough comes together. First, it might look crumbly but do not add more wet or dry ingredients to the recipe instead gently knead the dough with the palm of your hand for a minute or two (do not over-knead and do not use a mixer) just until the dough becomes smooth
- If the dough is too warm and sticky, place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes first. Otherwise, continue rolling the dough out between two Silicone baking mat to about 27cm / 10-11inch
- Place the dough into the freezer for 10-15 min in between the two Silicone baking mat. Do not remove the mat at this point as the dough might stick to the mat while it is warm and it would break the dough
You will be pleased to know that, unlike other recipes state, no food processor is needed to make the pie dough. In fact, I make all my tart and pie recipes with the same process, by hand. The key is the technique - mainly keeping the dough cold - no need for fancy, expensive tools like a food processor.
💡 Top Tip: I strongly advise using 2 silicone baking mats whenever you need to roll pie dough, but if you do not own this wonderful, inexpensive baking equipment, flour your working surface and roll the dough on that
3. How to prepare the Ricotta filling
This Ricotta filling has the most amazing custard-like texture, no surprise since we are using the same ingredients as for a custard Pie; egg yolk, cream, etc.
- Whip room temperature ricotta for 1-2 minutes with the help of an electric hand mixer
- Add sugar and whip for a further minute
- Add corn starch and whip until combined
- Add room temperature eggs one by one while continuing whipping
- Then, whip in room temperature cream
- Finally, fold in lemon zest
After the process, you should get a creamy, lightly whipped Ricotta filling.
💡 Top Tip: If your ricotta is rather wet / watery, make sure you drain it first
4. What is blind baking
Baking blind is the process of baking a pie or tart crust without the filling. It’s done by lining the Pie tin with parchment paper and filling it with eg. baking beans. Blind baking is the most important step to avoiding soggy bottom on your Pie, that is every bakers´ biggest nightmare! Yet, so many recipes fail to explain the basic rule of how to avoid soggy bottom on Pies.
The secret is that the crust needs to be fully pre-baked (blind baking) before pouring the ricotta filling in. Do not trust recipes that state to pre-bake pie crust for 10-15 minutes only.
💡 Top Tip: You will need to bake the pie crust all the way until it reaches a beautiful golden color, and the bottom, as well as the side, is fully baked, as the crust won’t bake further after the filling is in
5. How to bake
Baking this Italian Ricotta pie is a step-by-step process that is worth following to avoid disappointment.
- After the dough is chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes, remove the Silicone baking mat
- Trim the rolled out dough into 27 cm / 10-11 inches in diameter then carefully place the dough into a Pie dish 9 inch / 23 cm
- Fold the extra dough under the crust then flute with your fingers
- Chill pie dough again in the freezer for 30minutes
- Pre-heat oven to 170 C / 338 F
- After 30 minutes, line the pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (baking beans or rice can work completely fine too)
- Blind bake pie crust for 20 minutes
- After 20 minutes, remove pie weight, continue baking the Pie crust for another 20 minutes or until crust is well baked, golden brown both on the bottom and side as well
- Let the crust rest for 15 minutes at room temp. Do not pour Ricotta filling in while the crust is very hot
- Once Ricotta filling in, cover the edge of the pie crust all around with aluminum foil, so it won´t be browning too much
- Bake the Ricotta Pie for 45 minutes
How do I know when Ricotta Pie is ready-baked? At the end of the baking time, the edge of the crust should be beautifully golden brown, the side of the filling should be set and the middle of the filling might be still a bit wobbly.
Do not overbake your Pie as it can cause the filling to dry out and start developing cracks on top. Also too high oven temp can cause the same.
💡 Top Tip: Let the Ricotta pie cool at room temperature for at least 3 hours. The pie will further set as it cools (it will also slightly shrink and that is normal), so make sure you do not attempt to serve or cut the pie straight after baking.
6. How to make the Whipped mascarpone frosting decoration
Classic Italian Ricotta Pie has either a lattice or a full-layer pie crust top. I recommend trying something new, then the classic Italian recipe, which I think really takes the Pie to the next level and fits super well with the overall taste profile.
Whipped mascarpone frosting is super simple, it consists of heavy cream, mascarpone, and a small amount of icing sugar whipped until fluffy, pipeable consistency.
Using the right ingredients at the right temperature is extremely important while making whipped mascarpone:
- mascarpone has to be cold, use the full-fat version (41%)
- heavy cream needs to be very cold (pop it into the freezer for a few minutes before using it) and again, full-fat version so anywhere between 36-40%
- icing sugar has to be sifted to avoid lumps
You will have to whip the mixture with an electric hand mixer for a minute or two until it reaches a creamy, fluffy consistency, then stop.
Once you are happy with the consistency, move frosting into a piping bag fitted with your favorite nozzle tip, the one I am using is French star nozzle tip.
💡 Top Tip: Do not overwhip your mascarpone frosting. Once it is fluffy (1-2 minutes with an electric hand mixer), stop whipping as it won´t get stiffer, in fact, it will only get runnier, then it will break. I don´t use my stand mixer to whip this frosting since it is really easy to overwhip it.
7. How to decorate the Ricotta Pie
The decoration is totally optional but seriously, it is soo easy and pretty, I really recommend trying it.
- Let the Ricotta Pie cool to room temperature, then prepare the whipped mascarpone.
- Move whipped mascarpone into a piping bag fitted with French star nozzle tip and pipe decoration around
- Dust the edge of the Ricotta Pie with icing sugar
- Finally, decorate with more lemon zest
Voila, your wonderful creamy Italian Ricotta Pie is ready!
💡 Top Tip: With different nozzle tips, you can achieve different decorations, feel free to experiment
🥣 Equipment notes
Pie is one of those desserts that do not require any special equipment, you will only need your hands and understanding the temperature and temperament of the pie dough. A Rolling pin and a Pie dish are needed, but that’s it.
This recipe is made in a 9 inch/ 23cm Pie dish that is kind of a deep dish pie pan. Anything bigger can cause significantly longer baking time, anything smaller can be maybe a bit too tiny to slice. Regarding the material of the tin, many favors one or the other, however, I truly believe that once you master the technique, the material, whether it is glass or ceramic or something else does not matter too much. My pie dish is a rather affordable and old-fashioned enamel.
Silicone baking mat is one of those inexpensive baking hacks I wish everyone knew about. It is the perfect baking equipment to roll pie dough, pate sablee dough, babka dough, or any other sticky dough without using extra flour. I really recommend investing in this wonderful equipment!
You will be pleased to know that unlike other recipes state, no food processor is needed to make Ricotta pie, in fact, I make all my Pies with my hands only!
🎓 Expert tips
- Use high-quality 82% fat content European style very cold unsalted butter to make pie dough and the best quality non-watery ricotta cheese for the filling
- If your ricotta cheese is watery, drain it before using it to avoid watery, greasy pie
- While assembling and kneading the dough, work as quickly as possible without 1. overworking the dough 2. making the dough too warm. Kneading literally should not take more than a minute or two. Do not use a food processor
- The temperature while working with this dough is super important. Too warm? The pastry dough will tear. Too cold? The pastry dough will break. Aim for the in-between stage, a cold enough dough that is comfortable to work with. Use your fridge or freezer to chill the dough if it gets too warm
- I strongly advise using a Digital scale to be able to measure your ingredients correctly, and a Digital oven thermometer to be able to measure your exact oven temperature
- Do you over-bake your Pie as it can cause the filling to dry out and start developing cracks on top.
- Feel free to experiment with flavorings, lemon zest, orange zest, vanilla bean, honey, and pure almond extract all should go well with ricotta. Alternatively, you can even load the ricotta filling with some chocolate chips!
Yes of course you can, this recipe works no matter what size of pies you want to bake, however, you will need to adjust the ingredients and baking time accordingly
Yes, most probably you can, however, you can´t just replace flour with gluten-free flour 1:1 without reformulating the recipe. When one ingredient changes, some other ingredients need to be changed too in order to keep the balance in the texture and flavor
Probably you can, although it won´t taste at all like my recipe. You will need to adjust the ingredients somewhat if the egg is left out. Sadly, I am not able to provide substitutes for all sorts of allergies and diets
Probably it was under-baked. Bake it longer next time and make sure to use a digital oven thermometer, you will be shocked to see how different the real oven temperature can be from your expectations
Probably you over-baked your Pie as it can cause the filling to dry out and start developing cracks on top. Too high oven temperature will also cause cracks, again, an oven thermometer will be your best friend to avoid these baking related issues
Leftover Pie – if there is any – should be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days in an airtight container.
I do not recommend freezing this Pie as it might impact the texture of the pie crust as well as the filling.
🥧 More Pie recipes
Creamy Sicilian Ricotta Pie (VIDEO)
Pie crust (Pastra Frolla)
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- If your ricotta is rather wet, make sure you drain it first then whip room temp ricotta with the help of an Electric hand mixer for 1-2 minutes.
- Add sugar and whip for a further minute, then add corn starch and whip until combined.
- Add room temp egg yolks one by one while continue whipping, then whip in room temp cream
- Finally, fold in lemon zest and set the mixture aside
- Sift together the dry ingredients; flour, icing sugar, baking powder, salt
- Add very cold butter cubes and rub the mixture between your hands until it becomes a sand like consistency
- Add egg into the mixture and mix with your hands just until the dough comes together
- Knead with the palm of your hand for a minute or two (do not over knead and do not use mixer) just until the dough becomes smooth
- After the dough chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes, remove silicone baking mat.
- Trim the rolled out dough into 27 cm / 10-11 inches in diameter then carefully place the dough into a Pie dish 9 inch / 23 cm
- Fold the extra dough under the crust then flute with your fingers. Chill pie dough again in the freezer for 30minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 170 C / 338 F.
- After 30 minutes, line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (rice can work completely fine too). Blind bake pie crust for 20 minutes
- Remove pie weight, continue baking the Pie crust for another 20 minutes or until crust is well baked, golden brown both on the bottom and side as well. Let the crust rest for 15 minutes on room temp.
- Make sure only pour the filling in, if the crust is properly baked
- Once Ricotta filling in, cover the edge of the pie crust all around with aluminium foil, so it won´t be browning too much.
- Bake the Pie for about further 45 min. The side of the filling should be set and the middle of the filling might be still a bit wobbly, while the crust should be golden brown. Focus on the these, not the time itself
- Do not over bake your Pie as it can cause the filling to dry out and start developing cracks on top. Also too high oven temp can cause the same.
- Let the Pie rest for 3 hours on room temperature before cutting. The Pie will further sets as it cools
- Whip mascarpone, very cold heavy cream and icing sugar with an Electric hand mixer. until smooth and fluffy, about one or two minutes. Once it has reached the right consistency, do not over beat as it can become runny
- Move whipped mascarpone into a piping bag fitted with your favourite nozzle tip and apply decoration all around the Pie then dust with more lemon zest
- Serve immediately or store the Pie in fridge for 2-3 days
- Measure your ingredients with a Digital scale for accuracy
- Use high-quality 82% fat content European style very cold unsalted butter
- Drain your ricotta cheese to avoid watery, greasy pie
- Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details and science behind baking
- While assembling and kneading the dough, work as quickly as possible without 1. overworking the dough 2. making the dough too warm. Kneading literally should not take more than a minute or two
- The temperature while working with this dough is super important. Too warm? The pastry dough will tear. Too cold? The pastry dough will break. Aim for the in-between, a cold enough dough that is comfortable to work with. Use your fridge or freezer to chill the dough if it gets too warm
- I strongly advise using a Digital oven thermometer to be able to measure your exact oven temperature