Rich, tender, and lacy, these easy gluten-free lemon ricotta pancakes make a tasty breakfast or brunch. Top them with seasonal fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup for a stunning breakfast or brunch.
I’ve been on a bit of a pancake kick lately. Last week, I revisited this favorite lemon ricotta pancake recipe that I first published on TBG back in 2012. At the time, I’d been smitten with the fluffy ricotta pancakes at Plow, a lovely breakfast spot in my San Francisco neighborhood. I’ve been friendly with the owners, Joel and Maxine, since working at a coffee shop on the same block when I first moved to SF. So one day after a luscious pancake brunch, I plucked up the courage to ask them for the recipe. I gave them my email, and I waited.
Turns out I’m not the most patient person when it comes to thick and fluffy ricotta pancakes, so I began tinkering with recipes at home. One such recipe came from Deb, adapted from Gourmet, and was, like all her recipes, perfection. Because of the low amount of flour, the recipe worked well gluten-free by simply swapping in sweet rice flour for the all-purpose.
As I planned to share my gf ricotta pancakes, the coveted Plow recipe finally came through my inbox. Plow’s version was heftier, more like a traditional pancake, and it contained melted butter and more flour compared to Deb’s/Gourmet’s version. But when I tried to de-glutenize Plow’s ricotta pancakes, they turned out heavy and dense. So I decided to share Plow’s original recipe (which you can now find here) as well as my gluten-free version of Deb’s recipe.
While revisiting the recipe this week, I decided to pull what I loved from each formula and mash them together. I dialed down the butter from Plow’s version, stuck with the original amount of flour, and added more lemon zest, which I rubbed with sugar to bring out the flavor.
Easy Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Finally, both recipes called for whipping the egg whites and folding them into the batter. But the batter was thick, making the whites challenging to fold. Wouldn’t it be nice if the pancakes could be made by simply whisking everything together, as per my favorite classic gf pancake recipe? I tested a version this way, adding in some baking powder and soda for lift, and the difference was negligible. Whipped whites yielded a slightly fluffier pancake, while the version with whole eggs whisked in resulted in delicate, lacier cakes. I shared the results in my Instagram stories and took a poll, and the vast majority of voters said they’d prefer the easy version.
So today I present you with my new and improved gluten-free lemon ricotta pancakes. They’re moist, tender, pillows of ricotta love scented with fragrant lemon zest and butter. They’re higher in protein than many pancakes, meaning they’ll keep you full longer. And they pair well with any seasonal fruit. Suggestions below!
Ricotta Pancake Ingredients
- Ricotta cheese is the diva of this gluten-free lemon ricotta pancake show, so be sure to use the most rich, luscious ricotta you can find. I prefer Bellwether Farms whole milk basket ricotta, which is tasty enough to eat straight, with a spoon. It’s inspired many recipes on TBG – see below for more ways to love ricotta!
- Eggs moisten and lift the batter.
- Butter adds richness.
- Granulated sugar rubbed with lemon zest adds sweetness and fresh citrus flavor. Meyer lemon is divine here if you have some. Or you can use half lemon half tangerine, or use orange zest for orange ricotta pancakes.
- Lemon juice adds another hit of citrus and the acidity keeps them extra tender.
- A blend of gluten-free flours – millet, sweet rice, and oat – lend a neutral flavor as well as some whole grain goodness. If you don’t have these on hand, I’ve given substitution suggestions in the recipe. You can also try this with 1 cup all-purpose wheat flour if you’re cool with gluten.
- Vanilla perfumes the batter. I couldn’t decide whether I preferred these with or without the vanilla, so I made it optional. Choose your own adventure.
- Baking powder and baking soda help the batter lift, spread, and brown.
- Salt sharpens the flavors.
How to Make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes:
First, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips until moist and clumpy. This draws out the oils in the zest for more lemony goodness.
Next, whisk together the lemon sugar, ricotta, eggs, melted butter, lemon juice, and vanilla.
Sift in the flours, baking soda and powder, and salt. Stir until just combined.
Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. These pancakes like to cook low and slow. Add a pat of butter or ghee, and scoop the batter onto the hot griddle. I like to use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop for uniform pancakes. Cook until they’re firm enough on top to flip, 2-3 minutes. Use a thin metal spatula to flip the pancakes over. Cook on the second side until golden, about a minute.
Serve warm topped with your goodies of choice.
Is Ricotta Gluten-Free?
It sure is! I prefer whole milk basket ricotta from Bellwether farms in California. Milk and salt are the only ingredients. If you’re craving a cheese-making adventure, you can easily make your own ricotta.
How to Serve Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
These mildly flavored pancakes go well with fruit of any season. Add a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, dollops of creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, or more ricotta, and a sprinkle of something fun – bee pollen or hemp hearts. Here are some ideas:
- Spring (shown here): strawberry rhubarb chia jam, berries, yogurt, maple, bee pollen
- Summer: honey-roasted apricots, peaches, plums, and/or nectarines, whipped ricotta, mint
- Fall: blackberries, fresh figs, or maple-roasted pears, hemp hearts, yogurt, dark maple syrup
- Winter: supremes of blood orange, grapefruit, cara cara oranges, tangerines, and sliced kumquats, or candied Meyer lemons, whipped mascarpone, poppy seeds
More favorite pancake recipes:
- Gluten-Free Ricotta Crepes
- Savory Ricotta Pancakes with Peas & Saffron
- Grain-Free Almond Flour Pancakes
- Fluffy Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pancakes
- Baked Pear and Cardamom Pancake
- Buckwheat Crepes, with Figs and Honey
- Sourdough Apple-Cheddar-Oat Pancakes
- Berry-Peach Oven Pancake
More gluten-free recipes with ricotta cheese:
- Cheesy Baked Pasta with Greens
- Italian Ricotta Tart
- Gluten-Free Tart with Ricotta & Citrus
- Savory Ricotta Tart with Beets & Pesto
- Gluten-Free Shortcakes with Ricotta and Berries
- Orange Ricotta Cake
- Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Ricotta and Pumpkin
- Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Ricotta
*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make these gluten-free lemon ricotta pancakes, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and rating below, and tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
Gluten-Free Lemon Ricotta PancakesPrint Recipe / Pin Recipe
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) organic granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons packed finely grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
- 12 ounces (1 1/3 cups / 340 g) whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 4 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons (42 g) melted unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) strained lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (63 g) sweet rice flour (or GF AP flour)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (55 g) millet flour (or corn flour)
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (35 g) oat flour (or sorghum flour)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ghee or high-heat cooking oil, for cooking the pancakes
- In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips until moist and clumpy.
- Whisk together the lemon sugar, ricotta, eggs, melted butter, lemon juice, and vanilla.
- Sift in the flours, baking soda and powder, and salt. Stir until just combined.
- Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. These pancakes like to cook low and slow. Coat the pan lightly with ghee or oil. Drop ¼-cup scoops of batter onto the hot griddle. I like to use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop for uniform pancakes. Cook until they're firm enough on top to flip, 2-3 minutes. Use a thin metal spatula to flip the pancakes over. Cook on the second side until golden, about a minute.
- Serve warm topped with your goodies of choice.
- Leftover pancakes keep well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 4 days. Or freeze for longer storage. Reheat before serving.