Lemon ricotta muffins are spongy, moist, and flavored with a burst of fresh lemon and almond extract. This easy muffin recipe is delicious as-is or when topped with almond glaze.
Just like plain Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese is another super versatile ingredient that gets a lot of use in my kitchen.
It's an integral part in many savory dishes like baked ziti with meatballs, manicotti, and lasagna, but did you know it's SO good in desserts and sweet baking recipes, too? It adds moisture and a sponginess to a variety of baked goods that especially pairs well with bright citrus flavors.
I've been hard at work perfecting my Italian ricotta cookies so I made a batch of these lemon ricotta muffins with some of the leftover container of ricotta. Delicious just like I remember!
The photos here are freshly updated since this post was first shared in 2016. The recipe is the same.
How to make these easy muffins
With the extra bonus of ricotta, this recipe isn't much different from your typical muffin recipe. The wet and dry ingredients are mixed in separate bowls, and then added together and gently stirred until just combined. My reference point for "just combined" is when you don't see any more dry flour in the batter.
I like to use a wooden spoon or spatula for combining the wet and dry ingredients because it helps prevent over-mixing, which is much easier to do with a hand or stand mixer. Over-mixing muffin (or quick bread) batter activates the gluten in the flour and can lead to tougher textured baked goods.
Totally the opposite of what we want for these tender and springy ricotta muffins.
To note: the ricotta muffin batter here is thick. It's not pourable in the slightest, so don't worry if you're thinking something went wrong somewhere along the way.
The batter shot up above looks pretty different than the batter for these blueberry crumb muffins, right?
Since this lemon ricotta muffin batter is thick and fluffy, scooping the batter into a muffin tin using a cookie scoop is a must. You can also use the two-spoons method of transferring the batter, but I find a scoop with a swinging arm makes this process quicker and less messy.
Can I use muffin liners?
If you're a fan of using muffin liners for your muffins, then I don't see why not. I'd prepare them how you typically do for muffins or cupcakes.
Muffin liners and I are not the best of friends. I've had one too many occasions when I lost too much of a muffin to the liners when peeling them off that I usually skip them entirely now. Just personal preference.
If you're going to be scooping the batter directly into the muffin tin (like me), be sure to spray the wells generously with cooking spray or grease with butter so these ricotta muffins don't stick. They don't rise up and produce huge muffin tops that hang over the sides, so focus on getting the bottoms and sides of the wells well-greased.
Once the muffins have finished baking, give them a few minutes to cool in the muffin tin and then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Since you don't want the still-warm muffins to crumble, I carefully run a small, thin spatula around the edges of each muffin. Then I use that spatula to gently hoist the muffins out of their wells from one side.
Don't force it. If you're met with resistance, run the spatula down the sides again. I like to use flexible silicone spatulas for this part because you can likely push the spatula down the side and get the top to curve under a bit to loosen up the edges along the bottom of the muffin.
Does that make sense? I've never tried to describe my muffin removal process before and hope that conveys the message!
Simple almond glaze
You can certainly pack it up once the muffins are done baking, but I took the extra step of adding a quick glaze (just confectioners' sugar, milk, and almond extract) over top.
It added an extra sweet little touch to these soft and spongy, almost cake-like lemon ricotta muffins, but you can definitely omit if you'd like. I thought the muffins on their own had a perfectly balanced flavor and enough sweetness to be enjoyed alone, sans glaze.
- I recommend using a spoon to mix everything together (instead of a hand or stand mixer) to avoid overmixing the batter, which can lead to a tougher crumb on baked goods.
- Though part-skim would technically work, full-fat ricotta is my pick for sweet ricotta recipes for a more 'rich' result.
Lemon Ricotta Muffins with Almond Glaze
For the Muffins:
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup ricotta cheese full-fat preferred
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup unsalted butter (equivalent to 8 tbsp), melted
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from two small lemons
- 1 ¾ teaspoon lemon zest, from two small lemons
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, roughly chopped
For the Glaze:
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk, any variety
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 10 cups of a regular 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
- Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk so all of the dry ingredients are evenly mixed together.
- In a separate bowl, add ricotta cheese, eggs, melted butter, almond extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat the wet ingredients together well until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. The batter will be pretty thick.
- Scoop batter evenly into the 10 prepared muffin cups. The batter should come up to just below the top of each muffin cup. Evenly scatter sliced almonds over top of the muffins and lightly press them into the surface.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and a tester (like a toothpick) inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool in muffin tin for a few minutes, and then loosen the outer edges with a small thin spatula. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once muffins are completely cool, add all of the glaze ingredients to a bowl and whisk until no lumps remain. I transferred the glaze mixture to a plastic bag, sealed, and snipped the corner off (you can use a piping bag if you have one). Drizzle glaze over top of the muffins and let harden before serving or storing.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
These muffins are delicious!
Added 1 tablespoon of lemon zest to batter and lemon juice to glaze because we love lemon.
I'm so happy you like them! The lemon zest/juice combo sounds like a delicious addition.
I made the recipe just as written except that I accidentally bought “low fat” ricotta. They turned out perfectly!
I'm so glad you liked them, Sue! Thanks for letting me know how they went. 🙂
Joan Giancola says
Could mascarpone be substituted for the ricotta?
Hi Joan, I haven't made that substitution myself so I couldn't say for sure. When made with ricotta these muffins are pretty spongy already, so I would be afraid mascarpone could make them a little too moist/dense. Flavor-wise I think it would be great, but I'm just not sure how the texture could change. I hope that's helpful!
Alyssa, thank you so much for this delicious recipe and especially the clear instructions, very easy to follow. These cakes came out perfectly & my family loved them. A great way to use up leftover ricotta from spanakopita.
Thank you, Helen! I'm so glad you liked them. 🙂
Excellent recipe! I had some leftover ricotta that needed to be used, so when I ran across this recipe, I knew it’d be a great Friday morning treat for the kiddos (and myself of course ).
The texture is divine... almost reminiscent of a pound cake. First batch was made exactly as written, and with the 2nd batch, I threw in a generous handful of fresh blueberries. Both versions were a big hit, so THANK YOU for sharing!
You're very welcome, Kat! So glad you like them. They sound delicious with blueberries!
I followed your instructions, and they came out delicious thank you
So happy to hear! You're welcome, glad you like them. 🙂
Thank you for the delicious muffin recipe with my favourite ingredients 😀
Ricotta in muffins is ALWAYS a great idea! Love these light and tasty muffins!
Kat Brown says
This looks so delicious. Does this make regular size or mini muffins? If it's for regular size do you think I could use this same recipe for twice that many minis? I realize I will have to adjust the baking time. Thank you! Kat
Hi Kat, this recipe makes regular-sized muffins, but you can definitely make them mini! I haven't made this exact recipe into minis before, but I'd imagine they'd make at least double the quantity, maybe even more. Let me know if you give them a try! 🙂
Although sliced almonds are listed in the ingredients I didn't see them noted in the directions. The photo shows them on top but are they inside the muffins as well?
Hi Kelly, whoops! Thanks for catching that - I'll add it to the instructions. I just added them over top (not inside), with the almond extract adding the almond flavor to the batter.
The texture of mine is strange. Pretty dense, when for some reason I was expecting them to be pretty light and fluffy. Did I do something wrong or does this sound correct? Tatar is delish. Thanks!
Hi Sarah, the ricotta cheese does make them denser than standard muffins. I'm sorry the texture wasn't what you expected! That said they shouldn't turn out too dense to the point it's off-putting. It doesn't sound like you've done anything wrong. The only thing I could think of would be if after combining the dry and wet ingredients the batter was over-mixed, as that can cause baked goods to become firmer/more dense from the gluten activating in the flour. Other than that, I'm not sure. Please let me know if you have any more questions - thank you for trying them!
These muffins scream springtime! Yum!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Beautiful subtly sweet muffins!!! because it's lemon season, right 😉
Lemon season for sure! Thanks Rebecca 🙂
haha oh gosh we go through family size tubs of hummus outrageously fast!!
Love the sound of these muffins ... and even better that they use almond extract ... which means I have a reason to sniff the bottle. That smell!!! The best.
Omg I can't stop sniffing the bottle of almond extract! Hahaha almond flavored anything is usually a favorite of mine. Thanks Ashley!
Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says
Savory muffins are definitely a favorite of mine, yet I hardly ever make them! This lemon ricotta version sounds incredible, Alyssa! I've never used ricotta in muffins before, sounds like it takes these cuties to a whole new level of deliciousness!
Ricotta in muffins may just be my new favorite thing Gayle! I mean...besides creamy pasta dishes. 🙂