Italian cheesecake is a beautiful dessert that’s both creamy and airy in texture, and bright and citrusy in flavor. Our version is topped with a lemon blueberry sauce that perfectly complements the orange in the cake. This ricotta cheesecake is the perfect dessert for holidays, birthdays, or anytime you want a little bit of decadence.
Italian cheesecake has always been a favorite of mine.
Thanks to the ricotta, its texture is lighter than a New York-style cheesecake, and the orange zest takes the flavor over the top.
The flavor of this particular cheesecake is quite similar to the Easter treat, pastiera Napoletana, just without the crust, citron, and grano cotto.
Italian cheesecake with blueberry sauce is a welcome addition to any dessert table and goes especially well with an espresso, or an espresso martini.
And if cheesecake intimidates you, fear not. Our step-by-step process walks you through exactly how to achieve the perfect creamy ricotta cheesecake every single time.
How to make Italian cheesecake
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- The night before you plan to make your cheesecake, begin to drain 32 ounces (907g) of whole-milk ricotta through a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve placed over a small pot to collect the moisture. To help with the draining process, weigh the ricotta down by placing a plate or two on top.
- The next day, wring out whatever moisture is left in the ricotta by twisting the cheesecloth as shown. Note: Depending on the brand of ricotta you might be surprised how much water will collect in the pot!
- Preheat the oven to 400f. Grease and lightly flour a 9-inch spring form pan and wrap the pan in two layers of foil. This will help prevent water from seeping into the pan later when you make the water bath.
- Place the springform pan into a roasting pan large enough to allow for a water bath halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Set aside.
- Separate 5 room temperature eggs taking care to not get any of the yolk mixed in with the white. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the drained ricotta until smooth (about 15 seconds) and gradually add 2/3 cup (133g) of sugar and the egg yolks, whisking after each addition (about 1 minute).
- Add 1/4 cup (30g) of sifted flour, the zest of 2 large oranges, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and whisk until incorporated (about 30 seconds).
- In a separate clean bowl that is free of any grease, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, begin to beat the 5 egg whites on medium speed for 30 seconds, then add the remaining 1/3 cup (66g) of sugar.
- Once the sugar is added, beat on high speed until medium-soft peaks are formed (medium-soft peaks are shown in pic 8 above).
- Using a spatula, fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture.
- Continue to fold until incorporated taking care to not overmix.
- Add the batter to the prepared springform pan and create a water bath (bain-marie) by adding enough hot water to cover the bottom 1/2 of the springform pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 and bake for 45 minutes until golden on top and slightly jiggly in the center. Turn off the heat in the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 30 minutes with the door slightly ajar. That means open the oven by only 1-2 inches. Remove from the oven and run a thin blade knife around the edge of the cake to ensure it’s not sticking and allow the cake to come to room temperature. Then, cover and move the cheesecake to the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours. Once chilled, remove the cake from the springform pan. Slice and serve with the blueberry sauce on the side and enjoy!
How to make blueberry lemon sauce
- Place 10 ounces (290g) of frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup (113g) of water, 1/2 cup (100g) of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1 1/2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry and add to the blueberry mixture. Allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the zest of a large lemon taking care to not crush the blueberries. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve drizzled over a slice of ricotta cheesecake.
Top tips for perfect Italian cheesecake
- Be patient. Italian cheesecake, or any cheesecake, is not something that is made on a whim. It requires planning and preparation but is well worth it in the end.
- The ricotta. The drier the ricotta, the better. I recommend buying a brand that is on the drier side, like Galbani. While Polly-O is delicious in its own right, it has higher moisture and is better more for baked ziti than desserts in our opinion. Regardless of the brand you use, draining through a cheesecloth for at least several hours (I recommend overnight) is essential otherwise you may wind up with cheesecake that is runny or doesn’t set properly.
- Egg whites. When beating egg whites, it’s imperative to not allow any of the yolk (the fat), or any other grease to come in contact with the whites otherwise they’ll never stand up no matter how long you beat them.
- Be gentle when cooking. Using a water bath, also known as a bain-marie, helps to gently cook the cheesecake and helps to prevent sudden temperature changes that can lead to cracking or deflating. We strongly recommend following our process for cooking, beginning with the bain-marie, reducing the temperature after 10 minutes of cooking, and allowing the cake to cool in the oven for 30 minutes with the door cracked, etc. Also, avoid making sudden hard movements near and around the oven while the cheesecake is there.
- More on the bain-marie. I found it helpful to first place the roasting pan/cheesecake combo on the rack in the oven and pull the rack out enough to allow us to fill the roasting pan from a kettle of hot water. That way I wasn’t transporting the entire pan filled with hot water to the oven.
- Serve chilled. Italian cheesecake will be best after a minimum of 6 hours in the fridge. It’s best served chilled, and while it’s delicious with nothing on it, we love serving it with lemon blueberry sauce.
- Serving on the bottom of the springform. Since this cheesecake has no crust like its NY counterpart it’s harder to remove from the bottom plate. If you have a paper insert (or cut one from parchment paper) that will work well to allow easy removal of the cheesecake. Otherwise, it’s best to leave the cheesecake on the springform’s bottom.
More sweet treats
Here are a few more of our favorite Italian-inspired desserts. We hope you love them as much as we do!
- Homemade cannoli – crispy fried tubes of dough filled with ricotta and cinnamon cream.
- Blueberry ricotta cake – lemon, ricotta, and fresh blueberries stand out in this super easy cake.
- Tiramisu – layers of espresso-dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone-zabaglione cream topped with cocoa.
- Orange olive oil cake – olive oil and orange zest are the predominant flavors in this incredibly moist cake.
- Lemon ricotta cookies – these cookies are so simple and the perfect treat for the holidays.
If you’ve enjoyed this Italian cheesecake with lemon blueberry sauce recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.
For the cheesecake
- 32 ounces (907g) whole milk ricotta cheese strained (see notes below)
- 5 large egg yolks at room temperature
- 5 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar divided (see below)
- 1/4 cup (30g) flour sifted, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large navel oranges zested
- 2 tablespoons (28g) butter to coat the pan
For the blueberry sauce
- 10 ounces (290g) blueberries frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup (113g) water
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large lemon zested
For the cheesecake
- Preheat your oven to 400f and using the butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 10" springform pan.
- Wrap the edges of the springform pan with two layers of foil and place in a roasting pan.
- In a large bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, beat the ricotta until smooth, gradually adding 2/3 cup of the sugar and egg yolks, beating after each addition.
- Add the flour, orange zest, and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites for 30 seconds and gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar while beating on medium speed. Once all the sugar is added, beat on high speed until medium-soft peaks are formed.
- Using a spatula, fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture taking care to not overmix, then add the mixture to the prepared springform pan. Add enough hot water to cover the bottom 1/2 of the pan for your water bath.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 400f then reduce the heat to 325 and bake for 45 minutes until golden on top and slightly jiggly in the center.
- Turn off the heat in the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 30 minutes with the door cracked. Remove from the oven and run a thin blade knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it's not sticking and allow the cake to come to room temperature. Then cover and move to the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours. Once chilled, remove the cake from the springform pan. Slice and serve with blueberry sauce on the side and enjoy!
For the blueberry sauce
- Place the blueberries, water, sugar, and vanilla in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a slow boil.
- Stir in the cornstarch slurry and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
- Remove from the heat and gently stir in the lemon zest taking care to not crush the blueberries.
- Serve over the cheesecake and enjoy!
- Draining the ricotta overnight through a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve is required to ensure the cheesecake isn't runny and bakes properly.
- Using the slow cook and cooling steps stated in the recipe is important to avoid cracking or deflating.
- This recipe was written for a conventional oven. For convection ovens, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and begin checking for doneness at the 75% mark.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.