Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 30 mins
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These dreamy Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are made from scratch and filled with the taste of sunshine! Light and fluffy with a hint of lemon zest, perfect for a sweet weekend breakfast.

Fluffy Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Recently I found myself with an abundance of lemons and a carton of leftover Ricotta, and naturally, inspiration led me to my favorite breakfast obsession: pancakes. If having too many pancake recipes is wrong, then I refuse to be right. And this citrusy take on the classic is one of our very favorites.

I love this straightforward yet luxurious recipe for spongey lemon pancakes with an Italian twist, thanks to the addition of ricotta cheese. The sweet citrus flavors are just so fresh and bright, like a burst of summer that you can whip up any time of the year! Enjoy these fluffy little pancakes topped with maple syrup, dressed up with lemon curd, or sprinkled with blueberries – whatever you choose, you’ll be hooked!

Why Add Ricotta to Pancakes?

Ricotta cheese is a classic Italian staple that can be used in so many ways, sweet and savory. When added to recipes like pancakes, there’s no sign of cheesy flavor here – just unbelievable moisture for a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Ricotta lemon pancakes are the perfect way to use up leftover ricotta cheese.

From top: Flour, sugar, milk, ricotta cheese, baking soda, baking powder, salt, eggs, melted butter, lemon juice, vanilla.

What You’ll Need

The ingredients for this recipe are mostly basic pantry items! You can find ricotta in the refrigerated cheese section of most grocery stores. Be sure to pick out fragrant, brightly-colored lemons for the best flavor. Avoid wrinkly or dull lemons.

  • Eggs: 3 large eggs with the yolks and whites separated. Whipping the egg whites separately is what gives these pancakes the lightest, fluffiest texture.
  • All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour will get the best rise out of these pancakes in my experience. Alternatively, a fine-ground flour alternative like oat or almond flour can be used for a gluten-free recipe.
  • Ricotta Cheese: The addition of ricotta cheese brings an indescribable moist and buttery texture to this recipe. If you haven’t tried it already, prepare to be amazed!
  • Butter: Unsalted butter, melted and then cooled.
  • Lemons: For the zest that gives this recipe the most fresh and wonderful lemon flavor!
  • Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract has the best and most natural flavor.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar that’s been divided, to use when whipping the egg whites and egg yolks separately.  
  • Milk
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Using both together helps create lightness in the pancakes.
  • Salt
Overhead shot of lemon ricotta pancakes. A sliced strawberry and lemon wedges are arranged on top.

How to Make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

This pancake recipe is easy to make, with only a couple of extra steps to ensure the most fluffy pancakes ever! I can promise you that it will be worth it. Using a stand mixer will make things even easier, but you can also channel your inner Julia Child and use a good, old-fashioned whisk.

Beat the Egg Whites: Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer or by hand until they start to bubble, then sprinkle in a tablespoon of sugar. Continue beating until soft peaks form, and then set the egg whites aside.

Mix the Ingredients Separately: In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt). In a separate small bowl, combine the milk and melted butter. In a third, larger bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Combine the Milk Mixture and the Egg Yolk Mixture. Whisk half of the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Then whisk in the second half of the milk mixture. Whisk well until smooth.

Add the Dry Ingredients and Egg Whites: Slowly stir the flour mixture into the large bowl. Then fold in the egg whites, being careful not to over-mix.

Textured pancake batter in a mixing bowl with a whisk.

Add In the Ricotta Cheese: As you add in the ricotta, fold very gently so you don’t break down the texture too much. Once the batter is streaked with ricotta clumps, set the bowl aside.

Cook the Pancakes In a Skillet: Pour rounds of batter onto a preheated non-stick skillet using a ladle or measuring cup, and wait while the pancakes cook. The easiest way to tell if your pancakes are ready for flipping is to watch for bubbles – once bubbles are forming, flip and continue to cook until both sides of the pancake are evenly browned. Place finished pancakes in the oven to keep warm, and repeat the process until all the batter is finished.

Overhead shot of cooked pancakes on a platter.

Enjoy! Serve a stack of these delicious pancakes warmed from the oven with your choice of toppings.

A table with milk, strawberries, lemons, coffee, cloth napkins, syrup, and a platter of homemade pancakes. Some of the pancakes have been placed and garnished on a smaller plate.

Tips for Success

This vibrant and unique pancake recipe is easy and well-worth the detailed mixing instructions. For more helpful tips on making lemon ricotta pancakes, check out these helpful tips:

  • Separate the Eggs. The key to fluffy pancakes? Separating the eggs! I often used to skip this step when whipping up a batch of easy weekend morning pancakes. But with this recipe, whipping the whites and yolks separately really makes all the difference when it comes to texture.
  • Improvise the Amount of Ricotta As Needed: If you don’t have a full 3/4 cup of Ricotta, don’t let that deter you — the recipe still turns out great with slightly less. You can also leave it out altogether in a pinch, and enjoy regular lemon pancakes sans the special ricotta texture.
  • Don’t Over-mix the Batter: This is a seemingly small but very important detail that is the difference between cooked pancakes that are soft and fluffy (yay!), or chewier and tougher (ick!); pay attention when mixing the batter and stop when all the ingredients are just combined. Some small clumps here and there are better than chewy pancakes!
  • Mixing Dry Ingredients Separately Will Prevent Clumps: Whisking the dry ingredients before combining them with the wet ingredients will eliminate most lumps from the batter. Because the only clumps we’re after are clumps of ricotta cheese!
  • Give the Pan a Wipe Between Batches: To prevent any extra batter residue from burning. If you’re using a bit of butter or oil to coat in the pan, this also serves as a clean slate between rounds of pancakes.
Three pancakes on a plate, topped with whipped cream and fruit. Syrup is being poured over the pancakes.

Variation & Topping Ideas

Where to begin with variation ideas? These pancakes can be mixed, drizzled, sprinkled, and topped with a variety of different ingredients. So many flavors pair so nicely with the lemon! Here are some ways to mix up your pancake batter:

  • Stir in a half cup of White Chocolate Chips
  • Sprinkle in a handful of Fresh Berries for Raspberry or Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes
  • Swap out the Lemon Zest for Orange Zest
  • Mix in a pinch of Cinnamon or Nutmeg for a hint of warmer flavor

Pancake Topping Ideas

Along with the classic maple syrup and/or butter combo, here are more suggestions to dress up these Lemon Ricotta Pancakes: 

  • Fresh Berries (Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries)
  • Candied Lemon Slices
  • Lemon Curd
  • Chantilly Cream or Whipped Cream
  • Honey
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Berry Coulis
  • Fruit Jams & Marmalades
  • Chopped Nuts (Walnuts, Macadamias, Pecans)
  • Cinnamon Sugar or Powdered Sugar
A stack of pancakes topped with whipped cream, berries, and lemon.

How to Store and Reheat Extras

Store leftover pancakes in the fridge for up to 5 days, wrapped tightly or sealed in an airtight ziplock bag or container. If storing leftover pancake batter, use an airtight container and keep the batter in the fridge for up to two days. For an extra layer of protection, you can place a layer of plastic wrap over the container before closing the lid.

To reheat cooked pancakes, you can follow the below techniques:

  • Microwave: Heat the pancakes on a microwave-safe dish for a few seconds at a time until they’re warm all the way through.
  • Oven: Reheat pancakes in the oven, wrapped in foil and at a low temperature until heated through.
Pancakes on a plate. A bite has been cut from the pancakes and is being lifted away on a fork.

How to Freeze Pancakes

Cooked pancakes can be kept frozen for up to 2-3 months. To freeze pancakes, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until the pancakes are solid. Transfer the frozen pancakes to a zip top bag or freezer-safe container and store in the freezer. 

Let frozen pancakes thaw in the refrigerator and then reheat them using the oven or microwave.

Yield: `12 to 14 large pancakes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

A serving of lemon ricotta pancakes, garnished with fresh fruit and whipped cream, on a breakfast table with syrup and other items.

Lemon lovers, meet the breakfast of your dreams! These soft, fluffy Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are light and flavorful and super easy to make from scratch. Topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, they are irrestiable!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

Pancakes:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1⁄3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 eggs + 2 yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon zest or lemon extract

Optional Toppings:

  • Maple Syrup
  • Powdered sugar
  • Lemon slices
  • Lemon Curd
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

Instructions

    1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and baking powder.
    2. In a separate mixing bowl combine milk, ricotta cheese, lemon juice, eggs, vanilla and lemon extract and mix until combined.
    3. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk to combine. If lumps remain, that is fine.
    4. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, spray with non-stick spray or butter.
    5. Spoon about 1⁄2 cup of batter onto the center of the heated pan. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the edges appear cooked and the bubbles in the center of the pancake have begun to burst.
    6. Flip the pancake over and let cool for another 1-2 minutes, until cooked through. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining batter.
    7. Top pancakes as desired with any of the optional toppings you desire!

Notes

Storage: Pancakes may be stored in an airtight container or baggie in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 172Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 6g

Categories

More Sweet Breakfast Ideas

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Comments

30 Responses
  1. B. Anderson

    I learned at my mother’s knee to separate the eggs and to fold in the whites at the end. She did it with buttermilk pancakes…to die for. I went looking for the lemon-ricotta recipe because of some yum cakes we had at the Sheraton in Sacramento, served with blueberry compote, and your recipe and the one from CHOW look the best. But I do take issue with the amount of vanilla you listed. I love vanilla but it can be ovrpowering, and I’m thinking of leaving it out altogether. I think the lemon and the cheese should shine, especially with the blueberry sauce.

  2. MarbellaSD

    These look great, I’ve made them before with another recipe and love them. But oh, this recipe takes so many bowls!!!!

  3. Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste

    These look absolutely incredible, Jessica! Will you be at BlogHer Food this weekend? I hope to see you there!

  4. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.

    Ok, first, you can never have enough pancake recipes! There’s just no such thing! Second, these look amazinnnggg!

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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