|

Sweet Italian Ricotta Pie ( Easy Traditional Recipe)

Ricotta pie is a traditional Italian dessert with a creamy ricotta cheese filling baked in a sweet short-crust pastry called pasta frolla. Southern Italian families wouldn’t dream of a holiday dinner that didn’t end with this decadent dessert, especially at Easter time. 

A slice of ricotta pie topped with powdered sugar on a white plate in front of the remaining pie in a glass pie plate.

The filling in this delicious pie is creamy and custard-like with a bit of grainy texture characteristic of ricotta cheese. The crust is a sweet pie dough called Pasta Frolla.   It is an Italian shortcrust pastry typically used to make Italian crostata recipes like this traditional Apricot Crostata or my free-form Apple Crostata.  But don’t worry it is very easy to make.

The Ricotta Filling

Ricotta desserts can be found all over Southern Italy especially Sicily, where my family is from.  Many traditional Sicilian desserts like Cassata cake and Cannoli are filled with ricotta cream. So the fact that it shows up in the form of a pie is really no surprise. ​

​As mentioned above the filling for this ricotta pie has a bit of a grainy texture.  That is typical of ricotta because this lovely cheese is made of cheese curds. 

The word ricotta in Italian means recooked.  To make ricotta, the whey left over from making cheese, is recooked with the addition of some acid such as lemon juice, and the curds that form are strained out of the liquid in the form of creamy ricotta.  

A slice of ricotta pie.

So in its natural state, you will get some curds in ricotta.  If you find the grainy texture off-putting, you can break the tiny curds down further by whipping the ricotta in a food processor or with an electric mixer for a few minutes.  

 To reduce the graininess of the ricotta, I incorporate a small amount of heavy cream into the filling mixture. This makes the filling smoother, creamier, and more custard-like in texture.  

Some families love to flavor their ricotta cheese pie with orange or lemon zest.  I make my ricotta filling with a lovely almond flavor, also common in Sicilian cuisine. You may even see versions of this pie with mini chocolate chips, reminiscent of our beloved cannoli. 

However Italian families make their sweet ricotta pie, this classic dessert is a much-anticipated Easter Sunday tradition.  In my Italian family, one pie just isn’t enough!

Ingredients for ricotta pie.

Ingredients

This Italian ricotta pie recipe is made with simple ingredients.  

All-purpose Flour or 00 Flour: I have made this dough with both types of flour and both work well in this recipe.  

Baking Powder: This gives the pasta frolla a wonderfully tender texture.  

Large Eggs:  Whole room temperature eggs and one egg yolk. 

Granulated Sugar and Powdered Sugar

Unsalted Butter:  Cold butter that has been cut into cubes.

Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese: Well-drained to remove any excess moisture.   You can use either store-bought or homemade ricotta cheese.

Heavy Cream:  This adds extra creaminess and creates a custard pie consistency.   

Almond Extract:  You can also use vanilla extract. 

Lemon or Orange Zest:  You can add this to the crust or you can use this in place of the almond extract in the filling.  This is optional.

Step by Step Instructions

2 photos one showing pasta frolla dough in a food processor bowl and one showing the pasta frolla disk on a granite top.

Make the Pasta Frolla

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and lemon or orange zest if you are using it, in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to blend it evenly.
  2. Add the eggs and butter to the flour mixture.  Pulse until the dough starts to come together.
  3. Pour the dough onto a floured work surface and press it together. Then gently knead it a few times to form a smooth ball. Flatten the dough to form a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the dough for about an hour. 
Ricotta pie filling in a glass bowl.

Make the Ricotta Pie Filling

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta in a large bowl for approximately 30 seconds.  
  2. Add the sugar, eggs, heavy cream, and almond extract then mix until just combined.  Place the filling in the refrigerator while you roll out the dough. 
rolling out dough, dough in a pie dish, filled shell with lattice top and the pie with aluminum edge guards on it.

​Roll out the Dough and Bake the Pie

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a generously floured work surface.  Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll it into a large circle, slightly larger than your deep dish pie pan or springform pan.  
  2. Transfer the dough to a deep dish pie plate and gently press it in place.  Trim the excess around the edge and use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the dough.
  3. Pour the ricotta filling into the pie crust. 
  4. Roll out the excess dough and cut it into strips for the lattice top. You can also cut it into shapes to decorate the top of pie.  Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil. 
  5. Bake the pie in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 40-45 minutes.  It is done when it is golden brown and the center jiggles slightly when moved gently.
  6. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack before transferring it to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Dust it with powdered sugar before serving.

Baking Tips

  • ​The butter for the pasta frolla should be very cold.  I had the best luck when I placed the butter in the freezer for a few minutes before making the crust.  
  • Pasta frolla can be tricky to work with, but it is easiest when it is cold so let the dough rest in the refrigerator for an hour before trying to roll it out.
  • A marble or granite work surface will help keep the dough cold while rolling it out.
  • Keep your work surface and rolling pin floured as you roll out the dough. You may need to lift the dough periodically and add more flour to keep it from sticking.
  • If the dough breaks while placing it in the pan, don’t worry.  It can easily be patched and no one will be the wiser.
  • Making the lattice top on the pie is optional.  This pie will be beautiful without any crust on top.  
A slice of ricotta pie in front of a plant with little white flowers.

FAQ’s

How do you drain ricotta?

Unless you use a very high-quality ricotta or Ricotta Passata which is very dry, you will need to drain it. Place the ricotta in a fine mesh sieve lined with a cheesecloth or strong paper towel.  Set the sieve over a bowl, cover the ricotta, and place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight.  This should remove most excess liquid from the ricotta making it ready to use in your recipe.

Should ricotta pie be served cold?

I think the flavor and texture of the pie are best when served chilled. I like to take the pie out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before I serve it.  This way it is easy to cut and it has a creamy texture. 

How do you store Ricotta Pie?

Ricotta pie should be covered with plastic wrap, or aluminum foil or placed in an airtight container and refrigerated.  Stored properly it will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  
You can also freeze ricotta pie for up to 3 months.  Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and cover it with aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer.  Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. 

More Traditional Italian Easter Recipes

I love the traditional recipes served in Sicily and other parts of southern Italy.  Many Italian families break the Lenten fast with a decadent meat and cheese pie called Pizza Rustica

Easter morning would not be the same without sweet and fluffy Italian Easter bread with a colored egg in the center.   

 Another of our favorite desserts are my Nonna’s Pani Di Cena.  These are soft almost bread-like anise-flavored cookies cut into a cross shape and covered with a white glaze frosting. Just delicious!

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Italian Ricotta Pie or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

You can also follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest for more recipes your family will love!

Ricotta Pie Recipe

A slice of ricotta pie topped with powdered sugar on a white plate in front of the remaining pie in a glass pie plate.

Italian Ricotta Pie

A sweet ricotta cream filling is baked in a tender pasta frolla crust in this classic Italian recipe. Traditionally enjoyed at Easter time, this is the perfect dessert to end any meal all year round.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Refrigerate Dough 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 servings
Calories 445 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Deep Dish Pie Plate 9"

Ingredients
  

Pasta Frolla Pie Crust

  • 2 cups Flour all purpose or "00" flour
  • ½ cup Sugar granulated
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg large, room temperature
  • 1 Egg Yolk large, room temperature
  • ½ cup Unsalted Butter cold, cubed

Filling

  • 2 cups Ricotta Whole Milk drained
  • 1 cup Sugar granulated
  • 4 Eggs large
  • cup Heavy Cream
  • ½ tsp Almond Extract
  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar

Instructions
 

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to mix the ingredients.
  • Add the eggs and butter to the flour mixture and pulse until a dough forms. This may take a minute or two. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it a few times to form a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta in a large bowl for approximately 30 seconds.  Add the sugar, eggs, heavy cream, and almond extract then mix until just combined.  Place the filling in the refrigerator while you roll out the dough.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a generously floured work surface.  Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll it into a large circle, slightly larger than your deep dish pie pan or springform pan.  
  • Transfer the dough to a deep dish pie plate and gently press it in place.  Trim the excess around the edge and use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the dough.
  • Pour the ricotta filling into the pie crust. Roll out the excess dough and cut it into strips for the lattice top. You can also cut it into shapes to decorate the top of pie. Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil. 
  • Bake the pie in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 40-45 minutes.  It is done when it is golden brown and the center jiggles slightly when moved gently.
  • Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack before transferring it to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Dust it with powdered sugar before serving.

Notes

Baking Tips

  • ​The butter for the pasta frolla should be very cold.  I had the best luck when I placed the butter in the freezer for a few minutes before making the crust.  
  • Pasta frolla can be tricky to work with, but it is easiest when it is cold so let the dough rest in the refrigerator for an hour before trying to roll it out.
  • A marble or granite work surface will help keep the dough cold while rolling it out.
  • Keep your work surface and rolling pin floured as you roll out the dough. You may need to lift the dough periodically and add more flour to keep it from sticking.
  • If the dough breaks while placing it in the pan, don’t worry.  It can easily be patched and no one will be the wiser.
  • Making the lattice top on the pie is optional.  This pie will be beautiful without any crust on top.
Scroll up for more information including storage recommendations.

Nutrition

Serving: 10servingsCalories: 445kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 12gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 160mgSodium: 237mgPotassium: 122mgFiber: 1gSugar: 32gVitamin A: 766IUVitamin C: 0.05mgCalcium: 153mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Ricotta Cheese, short-crust pastry, almond extract, custard pie
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Similar Posts

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.