These Italian-style lemon ricotta ramekin cheesecakes are made with ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, Greek yogurt and lemon zest for easy individual-sized desserts.
Who else loves cheesecake?
I mean, I love cheese for dessert, so cheesecake just makes sense.
That said, sometimes a full-size cheesecake is simply too big.
And, quite frankly, sometimes making a cheesecake seems a little intimidating.
These easy lemon ricotta ramekin cheesecakes are easy, individual-sized desserts.
What Cheese Do I Need?
These little cheesecakes use ricotta and mascarpone.
It’s a perfect way to use homemade ricotta!
Can I Use Regular Yogurt Instead of Greek?
Greek yogurt is much thicker than regular (unstrained) yogurt.
If you want to use plain (unstrained) yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, line a mesh sieve with cheesecloth and strain the yogurt for about an hour.
Can I Skip the Graham Cracker Crust?
These cheesecakes are delicious with or without the crust.
How to Make a Graham Cracker Crust in Ramekins
To make the graham cracker crust, I used a (more buttery) variation on my vegan graham cracker crust.
Start by crushing a few graham crackers. Mix the crumbled crackers together with a little melted butter and sugar.
Divide the mixture between four ramekins.
Next, use your fingers to press the crackers onto the bottom of the ramekins.
You can carry the crust up the sides a little if you like.
Slide the ramekins into the oven and bake for about seven minutes.
The crust will harden slightly.
Set the ramekins aside and start working on the cheesecake filling.
How to Make Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Filling
Start by adding the ricotta, mascarpone, yogurt, sugar and vanilla to a large bowl. Use an electric hand mixer to whisk everything together.
Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, and then whisk a little more.
Next, add an egg and mix on low until it’s incorporated.
Your cheesecake mixture should be thick and creamy.
Scoop the cheesecake mixture into the ramekins and smooth it out with a rubber spatula.
If you see any bubbles on the surface, smooth those out too.
Add the ramekins to a large casserole dish (or any large dish with sides). Pour hot water into the dish, taking care to not splash any onto the cheesecake.
The water bath will help keep the top of the cheesecake from cracking.
Carefully move the whole setup inside your oven and bake!
Your cheesecake is done when the outer edges have set, but the inner part of the cake still wiggles when gently shaken.
Carefully remove the dish from the oven, take the cheesecakes out of the hot water, and leave them to cool. Set the cakes in the fridge for at least four hours before serving.
Just before serving, top the cheesecake with fresh berries and a little warm jam.
Italian-Style Cheesecake (vs. New York)
These ricotta cheesecakes are Italian-style cheesecakes. That means they’re made with ricotta.
Since we’re adding mascarpone, they are slightly creamier than an all-ricotta cake.
Don’t expect ultra-dense New York-style cheesecakes, but these will be a little creamier and thicker than a fluffy Philly-style cheesecake. It’s the best of both worlds!
Lemon Ricotta Ramekin Cheesecakes
2 Days (Fridge), 1 Month (Freezer)
- 4 6-ounce ramekins
Graham Cracker Crust (Optional):
- ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs, finely ground (~4 graham crackers) Use gluten-free graham crackers if needed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 quart water for water bath (amount approximate)
- 4 ounces ricotta (whole milk)
- 4 ounces mascarpone Half of a standard-size container
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (whole milk)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ lemon, juiced and zested
- 1 egg
- fresh berries, warmed jam (optional, to serve)
Graham Cracker Crust:
- Preheat oven to 375°F.Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until well blended. Texture should resemble wet sand.Divide mixture between four 6-ounce ramekins.
- Use your fingers to press the cracker mixture into the bottom and partially up the sides of the ramekins.Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake 7 minutes.
- Lower oven heat to 350ºF.Begin boiling water in a tea kettle (or in a small pot).Add ricotta, mascarpone, Greek yogurt, sugar, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Use an electric hand mixer on medium-high to whip until ingredients are well combined. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and mix whip again.Add the egg to the cheese mixture, and whip on low until egg is incorporated.
- Scoop cheesecake mixture into the ramekins, dividing evenly. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the cheesecake mixture.
- Place ramekins into a large baking dish. Carefully pour the hot water into the casserole dish, taking care not to splash water into the ramekins. Add water until the water-level reaches halfway up the ramekins.
- Bake cheesecake about 25 minutes. Cakes should be set along the edges, but still slightly wiggle in the center when moved.Carefully remove cakes from the water bath, and allow them to fully cool (about 30 minutes), and then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.Serve within 2 days. Optionally, top with berries and warm jam before serving.
- This recipe was tested in 6-ounce ramekins and is not intended for use in a springform pan.
- If you change the pan size, be aware that the cook time will need to be adjusted.
- There is not enough batter to fill a full 8″ springform pan.
- Use gluten-free certified graham crackers.
- Skip the crust entirely. These cheesecakes are delicious without a crust.
- Graham cracker crust can be prepared up to 3 days before baking. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Cheesecakes can be baked up to 2 days before serving. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Cheesecakes can also be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to one month. Thaw in the fridge for about 8 hours before serving. (Keep in mind that you’d be freezing your ramekins, so freezing may or may not be a great option for you.)