Lemon-Ricotta Pound Cake
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Flavored with lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice, this incredibly tasty and moist ricotta pound cake is the perfect treat: great with afternoon tea or for dessert. It makes a wonderful gift, too!
This pound cake is a variation of one I made over the holidays, which called for orange zest and orange liqueur. Here, lemon zest and juice have replaced the orange zest and liqueur, and the baking powder has been reduced a tad, too.
Like the orange and ricotta cake, this one is incredibly moist and delicious, and is a cinch to throw together.
**UPDATE: If you love an olive oil cake, I’ve since adapted this recipe to use olive oil in place of butter. It’s also a one-bowl job: One-Bowl Orange-Ricotta Pound Cake (Simple substitute lemon zest for the orange zest and fresh lemon juice for the orange liqueur.)
5 Favorite Quick Breads
- Mrs. Myers’s Best Banana Bread (truly the best)
- Must-Try, Super-Moist Zucchini Bread
- My Mother’s Delicious Pumpkin Bread
- Orange and Ricotta Pound Cake (with butter) OR with oil: One-Bowl Orange-Ricotta Pound Cake
- Yotam Ottolenghi’s Lemon-Semolina Cake
Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake
- Total Time: 1 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 1 large loaf or three mini loaves
Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis
** UPDATE: If you love an olive oil cake, I’ve since adapted this recipe to use olive oil in place of butter. It’s also a one-bowl job: One-Bowl Orange-Ricotta Pound Cake (Simple substitute lemon zest for the orange zest and fresh lemon juice for the orange liqueur.)**
- Important: You must use a 9×5-inch loaf pan or 10×5-inch loaf pan or something larger for this recipe, or, two 8×4-inch loaf pans, otherwise the batter may spill over into your oven, and the cake will not bake evenly. If you only have an 8×4-inch loaf pan, I would recommend not filling it higher than 3/4 or even halfway to be safe. You can bake off the remaining batter in smaller pans or you can wait till your first loaf is done; then bake off the remaining batter in your cooled and cleaned loaf pan.
- I often use three mini loaf pans, because this is a great one for gifting.
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks | 170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
- 1 1/2 cups (196 g) cake flour or all-purpose
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 (13 oz | 366 g) cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups (360 g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- zest of 1 to 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (less than 1 lemon, usually)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9- or 10 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan (see notes above!) with butter (grease it very well). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.
- Using a mixer, cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar until blended, about 3 minutes — I never really go over three minutes, and it’s ok if there are some visible pieces of butter. In other words, the batter will not look entirely smooth (see photo). With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, zest and lemon juice until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan (Note: Do not fill pan higher than 3/4 — save extra batter to bake off in a mini pan or muffin tin … if you fill the pan higher than 3/4 you risk the batter spilling over. See notes above.) and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 60 minutes (about 35 minutes for mini pans). Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: lemon, pound cake, ricotta
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
197 Comments on “Lemon-Ricotta Pound Cake”
Just want to chime in on this discussion. I made a second one (first one undone in the middle) and cooked in for 70 minutes, covering it loosely with foil when it became too brown on top. So… on the first cake we cut around the middle and ate the ends and sides. The pieces we salvaged were melt-in-your-mouth moist – amazing! The second one, though cooked all the way through, was as Suzette said, heavy and dense. Still with that amazing flavor, but after having tried the other one, a texture disappointment. Mine however, did have a bit of room left at the top of them pan, so maybe a bit more baking soda?? Think I need buy smaller loaf pans and try, try again.
Lindsay — so strange. Suzette and I were just noting how strange it is that the results can vary so dramatically from batch to batch. I plan on revisiting this soon, and when I do, I will be sure to report back.
Hi. I did lemon pound cake. It is soooooo good. But i did on cake pan i love it. Wonderful.
So great to hear this!
This cake looks so tempting! The recipe seams to be very similar to my curd cheese mini gugls:
Lindsay — my first one (the parts that were done) came out like your first one….nice and moist with a beautiful golden color which is why I just had to try it again, so when the second one came out so heavy and dense I was somewhat disappointed even though the great flavor was still there. The memory of that first one, though, is what makes me want to keep trying until it comes out just right!! 😉
These cakes just look irresistible!!
I also make pound cakes very often, especially with lemon and ricotta, but omit the butter and use olive oil, it’s much lighter.
Thanks for the recipe, I love your blog!
Val — I love olive oil in cakes, too. Thanks so much for your nice words about the blog.
Hi, I was looking for a cake to cook for my Mother’s birthday and she loves lemon cake. However, her birthday is tomorrow and I have a 14 month old keeping me on my toes as well, so I don’t have time for a practice run and the comments about not-quite-cooked middles have me a little worried. I was just wondering if you thought cooking the cake in a round tin would maybe make a difference with these problems? I do plan on trying it one day because it looks and sounds delicious.
Jodie — hi! Are you going to be using a metal or glass loaf pan? If you are using glass, I am a little worried bc I haven’t used glass yet. Do you have a bundt pan? That might be the safest. I actually have a tub of ricotta in the fridge that I purchased for the practices of making this recipe. I have one other thought if you plan on using a loaf pan. Pour about 3/4 of the batter into the pan and with the remaining batter bake in muffin cups or buttered ramekins. Does that make sense? Let me know.
And, if you are going to use a round tin, what size? I think round will be safer than loaf. Just be sure to not fill the pan higher than 1/2 to 3/4 up the sides. You can always bake the pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet too in case any batter spills over.
I made this today in 3 small loaf pans like yours and it was perfect. I’m not a baker and totally forgot to cream the ricotta with the butter and sugar and instead ended up adding it after the eggs, lemon and vanilla and it was still fantastic! It’s very dangerous having those cakes staring at me right now! Thanks for such a wonderful recipe.
Wonderful to hear this! I’m glad the recipe is so forgiving. Honestly, I think your method makes more sense. I always find it odd beating the butter with the ricotta and sugar, because the butter and sugar never cream quite so well when the ricotta is right there with them. I might try your order next time. So glad these were a success!
Gosh, this sounds soooo, wonderful. I love, love lemon and the ricotta just sounds so delicious too. However, my husband and I are diabetic and wondering if anyone you know has tried using Truvia in this recipe?? I so want to try it. The rule is 1/2 cup in place of 1 cup of sugar. I also do not have mini backing loaves, but regular sized loaf pans. Will one loaf pan do for the recipe or do you know? I’d hate to experiment and screw this up, I’d rather just break down and buy the mini loaf pans. lol Tuesday Morning here I come. Thanks so much for all the help in advance!
Freda, hi! You are funny. One loaf pan should do it. What size is yours? It definitely makes a large loaf, so if your pan is on the small size, I would advise not using all of the batter in the loaf pan — you can bake off mini loaves in ramekins with the extra batter…odd I know, but better than having the batter spill out. If your pan is standard size, however, I just say go for it.
As for the Truvia, I have never experimented, so I can’t say. Report back if you end up making it with the Truvia. Would love to hear how it turns out.
I just made this for a dinner party and it was a huge hit! It was incredibly moist and had just the right amount of lemon flavor. We served it with black cherry gelato, which paired wonderfully. Thank you for sharing such a delicious and easy recipe – this will become one of my go-to desserts now!!
i made this tonight and it was delicious. After reading the comments, I kept a close eye on the baking time. I used a metal loaf pan and baked it at 350 degrees. I baked it uncovered for 45 minutes, covered it with foil, then baked it for another 15 minutes. It came out perfect!
I made this today. Following the exact measurements for everything except I reduced the amount of ricotta but about 1 1/2 tablespoon ( I ran out of ricotta).I creamed the sugar,ricotta and butter blend for less than 3 minutes because it looked like it was breaking apart.After baking for about 50 minutes it was a nice golden colour, the toothpick came out clean and there was a crack in the middle just like yours. Unfortunate after leaving it to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes it sank. It’s moist and all but there is the sunken-cake-almost-gooey-batter.
What did I do wrong? How can I improve it so it does not sink?
it did exactly the same for me and I baked it 55 min. gooey center,
Such a bummer, and I’m sorry truly. If you are up for giving it another go, and I hope you do, because it is really, really delicious, try this recipe, which is an updated version of the one in this post: One-Bowl Orange-Ricotta Pound Cake. It’s made with oil, as opposed to butter, and it comes out perfectly every time. It’s also just as delicious. Use lemon zest in place of the orange zest and lemon juice in place of the orange liqueur, if you’re looking to keep the flavor profile the same as this one.
pined this a while ago but made it today, it is delicious. I love lemon and this is perfect.
Hi, I pinned this over the Christmas holiday and just made this today. I added lime zest as well. I’m in New Zealand and its summer here so it’s the perfect summer treat! It’s absolutely divine!, I just wanted to say thanks for a great recipe.
So happy to hear this, Simone! Love the idea of lime zest. Thanks so much for writing in.
I made the Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake and served it for company tonight. What a hit! It was unbelievably delicious. Everyone raved. This recipe is a keeper.
So happy to hear this, Claudia! Thanks for writing in.
I just took them out of the oven. I used a metal (decorative pan from Nordic I think that has lemons on the top when you flip it over). I filled it to about 3/4 full then put the rest into a small loaf pan. It came out great right at 50 minutes. I had sprayed like crazy so even the decorative top one came out of the pan fine. I used Meyer lemons so I might up the zest in the future as it wasn’t quite as lemony as I like (which tends to be hit you in the face lemon). But the little loaf is gone now so no one around here is complaining.
Haha, I love it! So great to hear the bread came out of the pan without any trouble. Your decorative pan with lemon topping sounds beautiful! And delicious 🙂
For anyone still looking through the comments for advice, like I do: I doubled this recipe today, using weight measurements for all the ingredients and AP flour, and baked it for 90 minutes in a 10-inch tube pan. It came out perfectly! I’ve baked the regular recipe several times with great success, and love making it in the three mini loaf pans when I need a hostess/thank you/etc gift, then I give one to a friend and keep the third for myself. Everybody wins!
So happy to hear this!! Thanks so much for writing in.
This recipe sounds fantastic! You mention cake flour in the recipe but that you used all purpose. Did you use just regular all purpose flour or is there an all purpose cake flour?
Hi Anita! I use all-purpose flour. I rarely have cake flour on hand and find all-purpose to work just fine in just about every recipe.
I made this today as I had 1.5 cups of ricotta sitting in my fridge for the last 2 weeks and this looked so good. After reading the comments, I decided to make it in 2 loaf pans. Cooked it for about 35 minutes and it was perfect! Very moist but less lemony than my regular lemon loaf. I’ll make this again but maybe try to add more juice/ zest. Thanks for a great way to use up leftover ricotta!
So happy to hear this Ann! Could totally see adding more lemon and zest … love that flavor.
Made this in a glass pyrex loaf pan and the edges got a bit over done. I plan on making it again in a tube pan and I hope to have better results. Overall the cake had good flavor and was moist.
I made my cake using light olive oil and an extra egg.i baked mine in friand pans as I wanted to take them to work. I also made a lemon syrup and put about a teaspoon on each while still warm. Everyone loved them. I will definitely be making these again.
Just wondering about those having trouble with the cake not cooking in the middle. Maybe separate your eggs, beat egg whites till stiff. Make cake as directed but fold in egg whites at the end. It gives the cake more air and so cooks more even.
Has anyone had any success making a gluten free version?
I made the recipe, everybody at home loved.
In terms of taste and texture, everybody at home loves it.
But there’s something that calls my attention.
When I took the loaf out of the oven, it looked great with a very good height, but while waiting for it to get cool, I notice the loaf somehow deflated a little bit.
Let’s say that initial heigh was over the border of the loaf pan, and end up under the border.
Don’t get me wrong, it still has good height.
Is that ok?
Thanks for writing. I think it’s totally OK. I actually love the way cakes look when they do shrink a little bit. When you cut into it, was it cooked all the way through? That’s the only thing I would be concerned about — sometimes when cakes fall it’s because they aren’t cooked all the way through, and then you cut into them to find a raw center, which is no good.
I made this in a little mini loaf pans and some mini Bundt pans. It turned out fantastic I guess I’m just wondering how to wrap them so that they can be given as gifts. I thought I had read that somewhere in your page but I can’t find it now, so I think it said to wrap it with parchment paper and tie with twine? It will that dry it out?
Hi Carrie! So happy to hear this. LOVE the idea of mini Bundt pans. Given the shape of your Bundt cakes, I’m thinking those clear cellophane bags would work really well and look really nice… something like this. You could drop one Bundt in each bag and tie each with a pretty ribbon. I think that will keep them fresher than the parchment, too. You probably saw the parchment on this post: orange-ricotta pound cake.
Delicious! It’s my “go to” for birthdays. Always a hit!!
So happy to hear this, Jacki!
I was so excited to make this. I ended up using 4 mini loaves and they were more than half full. They. Baked beautifully but when they cooled they flattened out and sunk. So disappointed. What did I do wrong? I followed this recipe to a T.
Hi LB! Were they cooked completely? Or when you cut into them, were they raw in the center? These cakes do sink a bit in the middle, but there’s nothing wrong with that if the texture of the cake is cooked and still nice and moist.
This is the BEST lemon ricotta cake I’ve ever made / tasted! It was even a hit with my Italian parents and getting them to praise food is tough. I made one large loaf and to make sure there wasn’t too much in the tin, I put the remainder a 5 inch ramekin. Both came out perfectly, both times I’ve made this. The outside was browned and the inside was dense but not dry. The loaf stayed moist for many days. Personally, I highly recommend this with some macerated strawberries and chopped mint!
So wonderful to hear this, Christina! Love the ramekin idea, and LOVE the macerated strawberries + mint idea, too. Yum.
Delicious and wonderfully easy pound cake. I made the orange when I realized I had no lemons. I filled two loaf pans a little over 1/2 full, baked 350 for 45 minutes and they were perfect and moist. They are shorter in height but doesn’t matter especially when you bite into that beautiful texture. This is my “go to “ cake recipe. LOVE IT!
Wonderful to hear this, Sharon! Love this one, too 💕💕💕💕
I made this today. A few modifications were that I used extra ricotta (2 oz) because I had a 15 oz tub. I used a whisk because I’m in our summer house and don’t have a hand mixer here. Everything else I followed the recipe exactly. I baked at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes. It turned out PERFECTLY. Absolutely wonderful recipe.
Wonderful to hear this, Rebecca! Thanks so much for writing. Love that you used the whole tub of ricotta … I am always doing things like this 🙂
This is a great recipe. Directions are excellent. The cake came out of the oven perfectly, light and mildly lemony. My whole family loved it.
Wonderful to hear this, Patricia! Thanks so much for writing.