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(Updated on 25 March 2024)

The Italian Classic Cheesecake, but gluten-free!

This gluten-free Italian Ricotta Cake is an impressive dessert that looks good and tastes even better. Full of crunchy toasted almonds, tangy candied citrus peel and small nuggets of rich chocolate, this ricotta cake will not disappoint.

There are plenty of different versions of Italian Ricotta Cake, but I like this one the best after finding this recipe in an old edition of 1991’s Australia Vogue Cookbook. I hope you will like my version by adapting gluten-free ingredients and the addition of almonds and peel,

The pastry is not solely a pie crust nor a cake, it’s a bit of both!  You’ll have to make it to understand what I mean. It holds the ricotta filling beautifully and transforms the cake into a wonderful dessert.

Unlike most cream cheese desserts or cakes, ricotta lightens this cake into a less-stodgy indulgence. The orange and lemon peel, plus the orange liqueur gives the cake a summery flavour, although Christmas and Easter come to mind too. It really could be an all-year-round dessert!

Gluten-Free Italian Ricotta Cake

by Sandra, Fun Without Gluten
Italians love ricotta in their cakes, together with the crunchy toasted almonds, tangy candied citrus peel and small nuggets of rich chocolate, this cake is full of texture and flavour.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course baking, Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8


For the gluten-free pastry

  • 240 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (reduce to 1/4 tsp if your store-bought flour has xanthan gum already included in the blend)
  • 65 g light brown sugar
  • 35 g almond meal
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 130 g cold butter, cut into small pieces

For the filling:

  • 400 g ricotta, full-fat (the fresher, the better!)
  • 40 g toasted almonds, skins removed and halved
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier/Cointreau or 1 teaspoon of orange essence flavouring
  • 50 g dark chocolate chips or buttons cut into small pieces
  • 80 g caster/white sugar
  • tbsp candied orange peel, cut into small pieces
  • tbsp candied lemon peel, cut into small pieces

To decorate

  • icing sugar, sifted, to decorate
  • chocolate-coated candied orange segments
  • whipped cream


For the gluten-free pastry

  • Mix the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, brown sugar, almond meal, egg and vanilla together in a food processor or by hand.
  • Add the cold butter pieces and pulse or knead the mixture until it comes together and resembles a soft dough.
  • Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover and chill while preparing the filling.

For the filling:

  • Chop the candied peel into small pieces and slice the toasted peeled almonds in half.
  • Combine all the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside.


  • Line a spring-form tin with foil, pressing well into all the sides. Grease the foil with some butter or with an empty butter package.
    Lining and greasing the cake tin for the Italian ricotta cake
  • Cover the base with the ricotta filling.
    The ricotta layer spread out evenly over the crust
  • Finish with the remaining dough mixture by rolling it out on a sheet of baking paper to fit the top of the ricotta layer. Flip the rolled circle piece over onto the ricotta layer.
    Rolling out the Italian ricotta cake crust
  • Press half the dough mixture into the base of the prepared tin.
    Adding and mixing the ricotta batter on top of the crust


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  • Bake for 50 minutes or until the cake appears golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.


  • Allow to cool down completely in the tin. Cover the tin with plastic film and chill overnight.
  • Remove the cake from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before removing it from the tin.
  • Set the cake on a nice cake platter, dust with sifted icing sugar over the top. Serve with some freshly whipped cream or double cream and candied chocolate oranges.


  • Keeps for 3 days chilled
  • Suitable to freeze pre-sliced 
Keyword gluten-free ricotta cake, gluten-free Italian, gluten-free Italian dessert
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