The BEST recipe for limoncello cake ever! This recipe for Limoncello Ricotta Cake takes lemon cake to a new level with so much flavor. Don’t miss this tasty Italian dessert recipe that’s sure to be your new favorite for every occasion.

Limoncello ricotta cake with candied lemon peel on a white platter.

Delicious and moist, this lemon cake has all of the flavors you love and a frosting that can’t be beat! Made with Italian Limoncello liqueur and creamy ricotta cheese, I guarantee this is a recipe you’ll be making again and again.

Limoncello Ricotta Cake is similar to my fan favorite Lemon Ricotta Bundt Cake. However, this recipe uses delicious limoncello liqueur and a limoncello cream cheese frosting that makes it perfect for any celebration.

Limoncello Ricotta Cake on a white pedestal with a piece cut out of it.

What makes this cake so special are the flavors and textures that go in it. Firstly, the ricotta cheese helps to build that moist texture and creaminess of the cake. If you’re hesitant about using ricotta, don’t be. It’s no different than adding sour cream or yogurt to cake batters.

Secondly, the Limoncello brings a delicious lemony flavor that helps to amplify the flavors of the lemon zest. No limoncello, no problem! Just substitute lemon juice for the limoncello in this recipe.

Limoncello Ricotta Cake on a pedestal with a bottle of Limoncello liqueur in the background.

Lastly, the Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting, takes this cake to a new level! I opted to go the cream cheese route because my cream cheese frosting is another fan favorite and I knew topping this cake with it would make it really special. Again, you can substitute lemon juice for the limoncello if desired.

As for the topping, I decided to garnish the cake with candied lemon peel. My favorite brand of lemon peel is Paradise Candied Lemon Peel. However, you could also garnish this cake with real slices of lemon or skip the garnish all together.

overhead view showing the  paradise candied lemon peel.

And, for a fun take on a traditional dessert, be sure to try my Tiramisu Bundt Cake with a delicious ricotta filling.

Simple Italian Desserts

Desserts don’t have to be complicated, and that includes Italian desserts. Make-ahead desserts are also ideal. As well as desserts with simple and easy to find ingredients. Here are some of my favorite Simple Italian Dessert recipes that are perfect for your next party.

Italian Thumbprint Cookies are cookie perfection! These tasty treats are rolled in chopped almonds and topped with fig jam. Simple and delicious, this is a great recipe to have on hand for a cookie exchange or make ahead and freeze for when guests stop by.

Italian Fig and Almond Thumbprint Cookies on a white plate with fig spread in the background.

Easy Tiramisu is the classic Italian dessert and no list of Simple Italian Desserts would be complete without it. I love that this recipe simplifies the dish without compromising the flavor.

Classic Anisette Cookies couldn’t be more delicious and comforting! Love serving these little cookies after dinner with coffee and tea.

Almond Ricotta Cake is the perfect Italian Almond Cake made with ricotta cheese, almond extract, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Cannoli Cheesecake Bars are a great way to get the flavors you love in cannolis, without all of the work.

Lemon Ricotta Bundt Cake will forever be my favorite Italian dessert recipe. So simple and so full of flavor, this cake is perfect for any occasion.

Lemon Ricotta Bundt Cake with paradise candied lemon peel on top

Limoncello Ricotta Cake

The ingredients for this cake are simple and easy to come by. But, what really makes the cake special, is taking the time to incorporate air into the batter. To start, it’s a good idea to break out your stand up mixer. Personally, I love my KitchenAid Stand Up Mixer, but if you don’t have one, a hand mixer will work.

Firstly, preheat the oven and grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. It’s also a good idea to line the bottoms of the pans with parchment rounds.

In your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Next, add in the ricotta and beat for five minutes until the mixture is pale in color. Add in the eggs, one at a time, limoncello, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Fold in the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Use a kitchen scale to pour equal amounts of batter into each of the cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

baked rounds cooling on a wire cooling rack.

Let the cakes cool on a cake pan completely before frosting. Alternatively, you could make these ahead and, once cooled, freeze in an airtight container until ready to frost.

Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting

Lastly, you can’t miss the pièce de résistance of this cake: the frosting! Sweet and simple, it really ties the cake together and makes it special.

This simple frosting can be made right before serving the cake or ahead of time. The key is to make sure you are using room temperature butter and cream cheese so that the ingredients fully incorporate.

Firstly, cream together the unsalted butter and cream cheese. Make sure it is really well combined before adding the powdered sugar, limoncello, and lemon zest. Then, simply frost the cake as you normally would.

Limoncello Cream Cheese frosting spread all over the cake.

At first, I frosted this cake on all sides just using a butter knife to create swirls. Later I opted to give the cake a more rustic look showcasing the cake beneath the frosting by using a cake scraper to clean up the sides as I rotated the cake pedestal.

limoncello ricotta cake on a white pedestal.

Lastly, sprinkle with Paradise Candied Lemon Peel if desired.

Limoncello Ricotta Cake is tasty and elegant option for your next Italian meal. Great for brunches, dinners, birthdays, or holidays, you are going to love this flavorful and moist cake. Enjoy!

Tried this recipe? Comment below and let me know how you like it!

Limoncello Ricotta Cake on a white pedestal with a piece cut out of it.

Limoncello Ricotta Cake with Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting

Super moist and delicious Italian Limoncello Ricotta Cake is simple to make and perfect for an celebration. Don't miss the tasty Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting!
4.91 from 88 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 471kcal
Cost: 12-14

Equipment

  • 2 8-inch round cake pans

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 ½ sticks)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup limoncello liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from one lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (one stick)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Limoncello liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from one lemon)

Garnish

  • 2 tablespoons candied lemon peel (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8 inch round cake pans and line bottom with a parchment round. Set aside.
  • In a stand up mixer or large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the ricotta and blend until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, incorporating well. Mix in the Limoncello, lemon zest, and vanilla.
  • In a seperate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into prepared pans and smooth as needed. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pan at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  • To make the Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting, in a large bowl cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add in the powdered sugar, Limoncello, and zest. Mix until well combined. Place one layer of the cooled cake on pedestal or cake plate and spread on about a cup of frosting. Place on the top layer of the cake and spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Sprinkle on candied lemon peel if using.

Notes

This cake can be made up to a two days in advance. Just store covered in the refrigerator. 

Nutrition

Calories: 471kcal
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limoncello ricotta cake pinterest pin.

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Recipe Rating




133 Comments

  1. Hi all… I am new to this site and happened upon this lovely recipe. I am making it today for a friend’s birthday and I am questioning the amount of ricotta this cake calls for. Fifteen ounces seems like a lot. I’m worried about the texture and crumb. Please advise Ange:)
    Also, my name is Angela:)

    1. Hi Angela!! Yes, you will need a whole 15 ounce container of ricotta for this recipe. Be sure to drain it well before using and beat it well with your hand mixer. Hope you friend enjoys it 🙂

  2. 3 stars
    When I try to print this recipe I only get a blank page and I know printer is ok bc am printing recipes from other sites with no problem. Any idea why?

  3. Hi! I make this recipe for my restaurant and everyone loves it and it always sells out. Thank you very much for the praises I get. My question is how long can I keep it in the refrigerator?

  4. 5 stars
    My son in law requested this for his birthday. I searched a number of sites and this looked delicious. It was! Everyone loved it and I’m sure that it will be requisitioned again.

  5. 5 stars
    My husband’s new favorite! He tried to convince me to cut the cake in half and say that it’s a semi-circle cake so he couldeat some, lol.

  6. 5 stars
    I did the experiment to see how well this recipe freezes! Well, It’s absolutey perfect! The cake and frosting was as good as if I just baked it. Leftovers from a dinner party are always great for unexpected guests dropping by for coffee. By the way, this cake tastes even better in my opinion when refrigerated!
    Thanks again
    Cindy Bennett🍋

      1. You can freeze with the frosting, or freeze the individual cake layers and then frost before serving. Hope this helps!

  7. What can I substitute for the limoncello? I love lemon flavor, but noone in the house drinks alcohol.

  8. Quick question. . . can I leave the butter out of the Limoncello Cream Cheese Frosting? I’m making this today for a birthday celebration.

    1. I’ve never made it without the butter. You may be ok just using extra cream cheese in its place.

      1. I would think you’d have to double the recipe. Let me know how it turns out.

  9. This recipe looks delicious! I’m considering this for Easter dessert, but I have a couple questions:
    1). Do you have any thoughts about using mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese in the frosting? Or, 4 ounces of each?
    2). Same type of question, but regarding impastata instead of whole milk ricotta.
    I might sneak some lemon curd between the layers as well. 😀

    1. Hi Becky! I think mascarpone instead of cream cheese would be delicious! I’ve never cooked with impastata, but it actually sounds like it would work really well here. And, lemon curd is always a great idea! 🙂

    2. 4 stars
      As a curious baker that hasn’t made this cake yet, in my opinion I would make as written. Then you’re guaranteed to have a good cake. Read all the reviews, people love this cake. I am making this for the first time for Easter and following the recipe. That is a lot of changes to her recipe. Wise to make as written. 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        I made exactly as written in recipe. This cake is outstanding!! Everyone loved it. Moist..it cut like a dream perfect slices. I used 9” inch cake pans and cake was plenty thick with adding frosting. Baked cake layers 30 minutes. Followed directions for cooling and frosting cake. Definitely a keeper!

    3. Yes, for each brick of cream cheese you can use 1/2 of a cup of marscarpone in place of butter… So for 8 oz of cream cheese add 1/2 cup marscarpone in place of the butter.

  10. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe numerous times…always a crowd pleaser from the very first bite. People are amazed at the taste, and that I made it rather than it being store-bought. It’s even been suggested that I open a bake shop it’s so delicious. So I have to thank you Angela for this amazing recipe, and the #1 addition to my small repertoire.

  11. Oh my word! I messed up big time, but you know what?? It tastes great…albeit dense, but great. Apparently I was mixing two recipes at the same time and I DOUBLED the butter🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️in this one. Next time I’ll be sure to follow the directions as written and only concentrate on one. I used my homemade limoncello and that flavor came thru nicely. Can’t wait to try it again.

    1. Hi Mary Ellen! Glad to hear you tried the recipe… even if you made a mistake. It happens to the best of us!! Hope you’ll try the cake again. Glad you enjoyed what you could. 🙂

      1. 4 stars
        Ok, made it again and did it right this time😁! Delicious and MUCH lighter than the first. Taste still good as written. My husband actually liked the first, but he like dense cakes anyway. This is a keeper for sure. Thanks

      2. 4 stars
        I made this today. The cake is so tasty and moist!
        The frosting, though very tasty is so very sweet and I think maybe covers up the wonderful flavor of this cake too much for my taste so, the next time I make it (yes I will absolutely be making the cake again) I think I will try making it as just a single layer with a limoncello glaze drizzled over the top.
        This recipe is absolutely being saved onto my recipe app.

  12. 5 stars
    Amazing! I have made this cake at least a half dozen times, and recently started to use the recipe for cupcakes (which were also amazing-used larger/taller baking cups, not the traditional crinkle folded ones). It has been dubbed the official birthday cake amongst my friends. I have used limoncello, as well as substituted lemon emulsion. It is fantastic. I highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.

  13. 5 stars
    Angela I have made this cake in two 9 inch cake tins! They have only risen approximately one & a half centimetres each! Is this correct? I was extremely careful with every detail but wonder if I should have mixed in the dry ingredients by hand and not the mixer?? Bev

      1. In the recipe you said 8” pans. When asked by bakers below you said 9” pans. I believe 8” is what it should be, confusing bakers..

      1. Hi Angela, I have made your cake’s 3 time’s. Always delicious. I personally don’t think it’s airy enough. The last 2 times I beat it at high speed in my kitchen aid mixer for 5 minutes. Could it be my ricotta wasn’t quite at room temperature. I’m planning on making 2 for a larger cake with the frosting. Any ideas on what I might have done differently would be appreciated. Thanks again for a delicious recipe.

      2. If you’re beating at high speed, maybe reduce it to a medium high, over-beating could be the culprit here. Also, when adding the dry ingredients, be careful not to over mix the batter. Mix it until it’s just combined. Hope this helps!

    1. I’m not sure when you plan on eating it. Storing in the fridge is always a good idea. Or you can freeze the layers if you don’t plan on eating it until later.

  14. Hello! I was wondering if this recipe could be made into cupcakes and if so, what temp and how long do you think I should bake them? Also, any idea how many one recipe would yield? Either way, I can’t wait to make this!!

    1. You can absolutely make them into cupcakes. I would bake for about 20 minutes then test for doneness using a toothpick. You should get about a dozen cupcakes. Enjoy!

      1. 5 stars
        I’m italian, and this recipe ( along with your others) has impressed me. It was so delicious and decadent from the very first time I baked it. I even make my Lemoncello which adds to the fun . Please keep sharing these great recipes. I love to impress my guests. It’s my go to recipe in future. I happen to be a true lemon lover💕