Almond lovers unite! This almond ricotta cake is so decadent, so flavorful, and truly delicious on another level. It’s inspired by a classic Italian ricotta torta, which is light and oh so creamy from rich, soft ricotta cheese, but with lots of almond and citrusy lemon flavor: it uses almond flour (though almond meal works too!), almond extract, and has sliced almonds sprinkled on top before baking. Everyone who tries this dessert is obsessed, and for good reason. It has the most outrageous, creamy texture of any cake you’ll ever make! (Runner up for my current favorite dessert? Creamy rice pudding!)
What makes this cake so special?
What gives the almond cake it’s signature light, almost gooey texture? Two things! First, it’s naturally gluten-free (hooray!). The body of the cake comes from almond flour, which on its own isn’t very light. However, it’s the creamy whipped ricotta that gives it an airy texture. Also, there’s whipped egg whites. They’re light as a cloud! When you fold whipped egg whites into cake batter, it introduces air, making every bite creamy!
Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of texture from the crisped up edges, as well as the crunchy almonds on top. This is a dessert for people who enjoy balanced, rich flavors that won’t weigh you down. Also, it’s a great flourless dessert for Passover!
Ingredients For Almond Ricotta Cake
- Butter: Creamed with sugar and extract to provide a light and tender texture.
- Granulated sugar: Used to sweeten the cake.
- Vanilla extract: Provides vanilla flavor.
- Almond extract: Provides additional almond flavor.
- Large eggs: Make sure to use room temperature eggs! The egg yolks are used as a binder, while the whites are whipped to form stiff peaks and gently folded into the batter.
- Whole milk ricotta cheese: super creamy, ricotta gives the cake it’s rich, gooey texture. Want to take this to the next level? Try making homemade ricotta — it’s got 4 ingredients and is so easy!!
- Lemon zest: The zest from 2 lemons is used to compliment the ricotta and almond flavor. It adds a bright, fresh, citrusy note to the dessert.
- Almond flour: Used instead of all-purpose flour to give the cake structure and body. You can substitute with almond meal, which is coarser than almond flour. Our preference is for the latter, which gives a more delicate texture to the cake.
- Kosher salt: Just a pinch, to help season and balance the other ingredients.
- Sliced almonds: These compliment the almond meal and almond extract (don’t worry, it’s not too much!) and add crunch to the otherwise soft, gooey cake. Make sure to use sliced almonds, which are thinly sliced, and not slivered almonds.
- Confectioner’s sugar: A light dusting of powdered sugar once the cake cools slightly is the perfect sweet touch.
We bake the almond ricotta cake in a 9″ round cake pan. You can also use a 9″ springform pan.
Additionally, you’ll need a stand mixer or a hand held electric mixer, nonstick baking spray, and parchment paper.
How To Make Almond Ricotta Cake
There’s a few steps, all of which require time (you have to let the ingredients whisk or beat for the recommended times to incorporate enough air into the cake!), but it’s mostly hands off. Trust us, your patience will be rewarded.
- Preheat an oven, then grease the cake pan!
- Cream together butter, sugar, and extracts until incredibly smooth.
- Add egg yolks.
- Beat in ricotta cheese and lemon zest, then add almond flour and a pinch of Kosher salt. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold onto the almond ricotta cake batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with lots of sliced almonds, then bake until golden brown and puffed up!
- Cool slightly, then dust with powdered sugar.
Tips For Best Results!
- Use room temperature ingredients! The ingredients will mix together better and the cake will rise more easily.
- Follow instructions with regards to timing! Allowing enough time for the cake batter to aerate and whip is what gives the almond ricotta cake its decadent texture!
- Grease the cake pan well or use a springform pan! Even if you’re using a springform pan, make sure to grease the sides well. We use a standard 9″ round cake pan for this and have had no issues getting the cake out. To remove from the pan, simply invert the cake onto a large plate, then invert it again back onto a cake stand or serving tray.
- Use whole milk ricotta! It adds to the thick, creamy texture of the cake batter!
- Sliced almonds, not slivered! For a traditional almond cake, you want to use paper thin sliced almonds.
- Allow the cake to cool slightly before slicing. If you wait to cut into the cake at least 15 minutes, you’re more likely to get clean slices.
Can this be made ahead? How long will the cake keep?
Leftovers will keep in a refrigerator for up to 4 days. The cake, however, is best enjoyed fresh — make it the same day you plan to eat it. Can be enjoyed at room temperature or slightly warm.
Can I use all-purpose flour?
There are definitely recipes for almond cakes made with all-purpose flour, but this one is specifically written to be gluten-free (it’s a great Passover cake since it’s flourless!) and made with almond flour (or almond meal). We do not recommend substitute AP flour.
Does this cake freeze well?
Anything can be frozen, but that doesn’t mean the texture will be the same when you thaw or reheat it. This cake is extremely moist and creamy — it is best enjoyed fresh or within 4 days. If you freeze and thaw, it will likely alter the texture.
Cannot put into words just how truly delicious this Italian dessert is. While chocolate lovers may be running to make a flourless chocolate cake, this cake has stolen my heart and will forever more. It is truly perfection on a plate!!
If you make this Almond Ricotta Cake recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
More Italian desserts to try!
Almond Ricotta Cake Recipe
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 4 large eggs room temperature, separated
- 10 oz whole milk ricotta about 1 ¼ cup
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest from 2 large lemons
- 1 ½ cup almond flour
- pinch of Kosher salt
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- Confectioner's sugar for serving, about 2-3 Tbsp
- Nonstick baking spray or butter for greasing pan
- Prepare the cake pan. Preheat an oven to 325F. Line a 9 inch cake pan or springform pan with parchment, then spray generously with baking spray or butter.
- Cream the butter and sugar. Place ½ cup softened butter, 1 ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tsp almond extract into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Begin on medium speed, then increase to medium-high and beat until very smooth, 5 minutes.
- Incorporate egg yolks. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides between additions.
- Whip the ricotta. Add the ricotta cheese and lemon zest, then continue beating on medium speed until very smooth, an additional 5 minutes. Pour in the almond flour then add a pinch fo Kosher salt. Mix until just combined. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, then clean and wipe out the bowl of the stand mixer very well.
- Beat the egg whites. Replace the paddle with the whisk attachment, then beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold half of the egg whites into the cake batter until just mixed in. Repeat with remaining egg whites.
- Bake the cake. Pour the cake batter into the greased cake pan. Sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly over the top of the cake, then bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top and sides of the cake are firm and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool, then slice. Allow the cake to cool for 10-15 minutes, then carefully remove the outer ring of the pan. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, then slice and serve warm or at room temperature.
- This cake will keep in a refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Can be made earlier in the day, but best served the same day it’s made.
- Please stick to recommended mixing times, as the air incorporated into the batter is what gives the cake its signature texture!
- Almond meal can be substituted with almond flour, but the texture will be slightly different. Almond flour is finely ground and will yield a more delicate, light cake.
Can cottage cheese be used instead of ricotta if pureed in a foor processor?
Ari Laing says
Hi Anne! I haven’t tried this, so wouldn’t feel comfortable saying whether it’s an adequate substitution. My guess is that from a textural point, it should work okay. Not sure what it would do to the taste, though. If you try substituting cottage cheese for ricotta, please report back so that others know how it turned out for you! xo, Ari
This is sooooo good. I’ve made it several times (have one in the oven right now), my new favorite recipe, better than cheesecake. So easy, nothing too unhealthy, so delicious, and I’m not even a gluten-free girl. I didn’t have a fresh lemon on hand this time so used lemon oil instead of zest, it will be fine. I’ve made it both in springform and cake pan, comes out beautifully either way but prefer cake pan. Thank you so much for sharing this truly wonderful recipe!
Ari Laing says
Thank you, Carla!! It is my favorite dessert of all time, PERIOD. I think the texture is just insane! And I’m not gluten-free either (obviously lol), but my god, how amazing to have this recipe on standby for when guests who ARE come over for dinner?! THE BEST. xo, Ari
I’ve tried this recipe a couple times and each time it completely falls apart. I tried cooking it longer, divided into smaller pans and letting cool overnight and still getting this result. Any tips?
Ari Laing says
Hi Marge! It is definitely a softer cake — this is because of the moisture in the ricotta cheese, as well as it being gluten free. It doesn’t have the same structure or body as a cake that’s made with all purpose flour. Two overall comments: the first is that you can just expect it to be a soft cake and that it will fall apart easily when you slice into it (the first slice is admittedly the sloppiest looking, but the rest are usually fine to get out of a pan). The second is that you can drain the ricotta over cheesecloth for an hour or two to release excess moisture, but it WILL change the texture of the cake. Sounds like it would be a welcomed change for your preferences, but I just made this cake again over the weekend for a dinner party and the texture is exactly what I envisioned during recipe development. Let me know if I can assist further — really appreciate your feedback! xo, Ari
What about removing the parchment?
Ari Laing says
Hi Jane! This is a soft cake — the structure of it is super delicate due to the ricotta cheese (and also that it’s made without all purpose flour). We recommend leaving the parchment paper when slicing, so when you go to get a slice of the cake, if it crumbles apart a little, it’s caught by the parchment. Hope this helps! xo, Ari
Lisa B says
Made this today for a monthly lunch and everyone loved it! This is a keeper and I will definitely make it again.
Ari Laing says
Thanks, Lisa!! My all-time favorite dessert on Well Seasoned, we make this ALL the time! xo, Ari
I made this as a Passover dessert, and it was delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, and I’m glad I did. I love how moist the cake was and the almond flavor was so nice. My guests loved it too – thanks for the great recipe 🙂
Ari Laing says
It’s truly such a foolproof (and delicious) cake! xo, Ari
Best, most delicious cake that tastes like a giant marzipan! The texture adds to the deliciousness. It is a keeper in my recipe box.
Ari Laing says
Thanks, Judy! It’s got the most amazing texture! xo, Ari