Appetizers are almost a celebration in themselves; they are simple, light, and delicious. They can be hot or cold, served before a meal or they can be the meal. And if you want to get extra fancy you can call them hors d’oeuvres.
This creamy Baked Ricotta Cheese with Lemon and Herbs is a perfect appetizer that you can pair with bread or crackers, some fruit, or salty olives. The best part of this cheese dip is that it is so quick to make.
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Creamy ricotta cheese is taken up a notch with the simple addition of herbs and spices that makes a super simple hot cheese dip. Add some tart lemon zest for bright citrus flavor, aged parmesan for a nutty taste and fruity olive oil to drizzle on top for a bubbly, hot bite of cheesy deliciousness. I’m not kidding!
This recipe is perfect for parties. Your guests will love it. Or just make for yourself for a light dinner or your own personal happy hour snack! It’s irresistible any way you serve it.
What is ricotta cheese?
- Ricotta is an Italian cheese. It is considered a fresh cheese known for being light, fluffy, and sinfully creamy.
- Most ricotta is made from cow milk, but you can also find sheep, goat, and buffalo milk ricotta.
- Ricotta (means recooked) is made from whey, while curds make most of the other cheese we eat. After the curds and whey are separated for cheese making, the whey is fermented and cooked. The results are small, delicate cheese curds.
- In the U.S. most ricotta is made with whole milk as opposed to making it with whey.
- Herbs – parsley, thyme, chives, rosemary
- Red pepper flakes
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
Today’s herbs of choice are flat-leaf parsley with its beautiful green color, garlic chives from my garden, thyme, red pepper flakes, and rosemary from my neighbor’s garden. (Don’t worry. She said I could pick some anytime I wanted, so I did.)
Do you have a favorite herb? Throw it in! This recipe is totally adaptable so feel free to add what you like.
Here’s a great tip. If you get carried away and buy too many herbs like I do, don’t throw those extra herbs away. Just chop them and put them in a container to freeze. You can add them to your next soup or stew or maybe some salsa.
How to make Baked Ricotta Cheese
Step 1. Prepare the herbs first by chopping or mincing them and then zest the lemon.
Step 2. Pour the ricotta cheese in a bowl. Or you can mix everything right in the baking dish and save yourself some clean up later.
Step 3. Add all the herbs, salt, pepper, and the zested lemon to the ricotta and mix thoroughly.
Step 4. Top with the grated parmesan cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes until the ricotta is hot and bubbly and the top is turning brown.
Step 5. Remove the baking dish from the oven and drizzle the cheese with olive and a sprinkling of sea salt.
This is so colorful, another reason I like baking with herbs!
What to serve with a ricotta cheese dip?
Cut up a baguette into thin slices
Toast slices of a baguette for a crunchy appetizer
Set the baking dish on a cheese board for a tasty alternative to just sliced cheese
Cut up veggies to dip into the creamy ricotta – red and green peppers are perfect for this
Fruits always go well with cheese
Layout an assortment of olives
Depending on the herbs you use, think of using tortilla chips with Mexican flavors, or pita chips with Mediterranean flavors
Tips for making the baked ricotta
Ricotta by itself has a very mild flavor so experiment with your favorite herbs for some great flavors.
Use a good parmesan cheese which will add saltiness to the ricotta.
Getting the top golden brown adds color to this dish and extra flavor.
Use really good olive oil for drizzling over the top.
Try these other flavors and herb combinations
- Cilantro, cumin, and diced jalapeno
- Basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and capers
- Five-spice powder, Thai basil, lemongrass, sesame seeds
Try these other One Hot Oven cheesy appetizers
Do you have a pretty baking dish to serve this Baked Ricotta in?
The great thing about this appetizer is you can mix everything in the baking dish. I love vintage pyrex and luckily you can still find these beautiful casserole dishes. But if vintage isn’t your thing you might like this pretty aqua 32-ounce souffle dish that is perfect for this recipe. My other favorite dish is this mini dark blue pie plate that works for all kinds of dishes.
Herbed Baked Ricotta with Lemon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Chop all the herbs
- Grate the lemon
- Shred the parmesan cheese if you are using a block of cheese, otherwise, packaged shredded parmesan cheese is good to use.
- In a medium-size bowl combine the ricotta, herbs, kosher salt, and lemon zest. This can also be combined directly in the baking dish.
- Spoon the ricotta mixture into a 6' baking dish.
- Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the ricotta
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until hot, bubbly, and golden brown on top.
- When done drizzle the olive oil on top of the ricotta while hot and add a sprinkling of sea salt.
- Serve warm with bread or crackers.
Serve this right out of the oven while hot, ok so not piping hot, but really warm.
Thank you for stopping by the One Hot Oven blog. Please leave a comment to say Hello or just let me know what you are baking these days.
From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory recipes with all my baking friends.
Have any questions or just want to chat about the recipe? Contact me here, and I’ll be happy to help!