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Close up of fresh berry topped ricotta cheesecake on a white marble plate with a light grey background.

Ricotta Cheesecake

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This fabulous cheesecake uses a combination of cream cheese and ricotta to create a lighter, but slightly rustic texture than regular cheesecakes. A creamy, sweet, and barely tangy filling is poured into a buttery graham cracker crust and baked until golden and set. It keeps very well and can be frozen, so you can make it in advance. 

  • Total Time: 9 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

Units

For the crumb crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (see Notes for alternatives)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the ricotta filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, at room temperature (drained if it has excess liquid)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Instructions

For the crumb crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°C.
  2. Have ready a 9-inch round cake pan with removable bottom (springform pan). Line it with foil if you want to (see Notes below).
  3. Grind graham crackers in the food processor until you have very fine crumbs.
  4. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined and no dry spots remain. It will look like wet sand.
  5. If you already have the crumbs, mix the ingredients in a bowl. 
  6. Scatter this mixture in the prepared pan and press firmly onto the bottom. Use your hands or a measuring cup. 
  7. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack while making the filling.
  8. Don't turn off the oven. 

For the ricotta filling:

  1. Lower the oven to 275°F/140°C.
  2. Mix cream cheese, ricotta, and sour cream in a large mixing bowl until very smooth. You can use a handheld mixer at low speed, or a wire whisk. If the cheese is at room temperature, mixing it by hand should not be a problem. We don't want to incorporate air into the batter. 
  3. Gradually add sugar and mix until it's well incorporated. If using a handheld electric mixer, use it only until this part and at low speed. I use a whisk.
  4. Add eggs, two at a time, mixing with a wire whisk until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Be patient as the egg white sometimes takes a little longer to incorporate, and don't be tempted to beat. This is good for creaminess later.
  5. Add vanilla and lemon zest, stirring to incorporate well. The batter can have some ricotta pieces and that is fine. Especially if you only use a hand whisk. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the baked crust. It might be warm and that’s fine.
  7. Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the top is dry and the filling barely jiggles in the center. It might take you more or less time so start checking 10 minutes before the given time. Don't be tempted to bake it until the center is completely set. It will solidify as it cools down and after it’s refrigerated. 
  8. Cool completely to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack, the center will fall a little. 
  9. Wrap in plastic (still in the pan) and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. I usually leave it for 1 day. It's essential to chill it for several hours before eating it.
  10. When ready to serve, run a smooth-bladed knife carefully around the edges to loosen the cheesecake, open the springform ring, and, using a spatula, lift and transfer the cake to the serving plate.
  11. Serve cold or at room temperature, plain or with a topping. We love fresh berries that are tangy and make a great contrast with the creamy filling, especially raspberries. 
  12. Store leftovers covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or frozen for up to a month. For the freezer, I wrap it in cling film first and then aluminum foil. Defrost at room temperature or in the fridge, depending on how much time you have. 

Notes

  • Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust. 
  • Lining the pan (optional): you can use a large piece of aluminum foil to line the bottom round of the pan to help you remove the cheesecake after it's baked. You will have excess foil hanging. Close the metal ring enclosing the foil and leaving the excess on the outside. Press this extra foil upwards against the sides of the pan. Follow instructions for the base and filling and bake as directed. After the cheesecake has been refrigerated and you're ready to serve it, bring down the excess foil and release the metal ring. Lift the foil and place your whole hand, palm up, between the foil and the metal base. Lift the cheesecake and carefully remove the foil as you place it on the serving plate. The cake is cold so it will hold. 
  • Storage: this ricotta cheesecake keeps well for days in the fridge and can be frozen with great results. Always cover well in plastic wrap to avoid dryness, and add an extra layer of aluminum foil if freezing it. Do so without the berries. An airtight container can also be used if storing it in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Toppings: besides fresh berries, as we do, you can use any cheesecake topping, homemade or store-bought. We love our fresh cherry saucehomemade strawberry sauce, or lemon blueberry topping. For a sweeter dessert, use homemade dulce de leche or salted caramel. I don't recommend chocolate sauce as it can overpower the ricotta flavor.
  • Watery texture: this can happen if the ricotta cheese is not drained properly, or if the cheesecake is not baked for long enough. To avoid this problem, drain the ricotta if it has excess liquid (this varies depending on the brand) and bake the cheesecake until it is almost set and not too jiggly.
  • Crumbly texture: overbaking can cause this, so be careful to start checking before the given time is up.
  • Overbrowning: if it becomes too brown on the top or edges before the center is fully cooked, tent it with foil and continue baking.
  • Cracking: this can happen if the cheesecake is overbaked, cooled too quickly, or if the oven temperature is too high.
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooling + refrigeration time: 8 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Category: Cheesecakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: International

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8
  • Calories: 480
  • Sugar: 22.2 g
  • Sodium: 267.3 mg
  • Fat: 35.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29.4 g
  • Fiber: 0.4 g
  • Protein: 12.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 190.3 mg