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Hi Bold Bakers!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: This Lemon Ricotta Pancakes Recipe with Macerated Blueberries makes the next-level fluffy pancakes. These addictively flavorful pancakes are enriched with fresh Homemade Ricotta, well balanced with zesty lemon and floral blueberries.
My previous pastry-chef job in a Michelin-starred restaurant and catering business in San Francisco had strongly proven me that for most people, pancakes are the star of almost every single morning. Now, I can’t wait to show you how these humble yet luscious ricotta pancakes can become your irresistible choice anytime!
Spoiler alert! In under an hour, your new favorite Lemon Ricotta Pancakes Recipe may have you not wanting to return to normal pancakes ever again!
Table Of Contents
What Are Lemon Ricotta Pancakes?
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are a variation of a popular breakfast food, with the addition of ricotta cheese and lemon zest making them restaurant-level special. They are essentially enriched Buttermilk Pancakes with an extra-moist texture and a citrusy twist.
Common toppings for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes include syrup, whipped cream, butter, or fruit. In my recipe, we are using macerated blueberries because you can never go wrong with a lemon and blueberry flavor combination! The zinginess and floral sweetness complement each other beautifully.
These pancakes are believed to originate from Italy, where ricotta is used in many dishes and desserts, but they are enjoyed all over the United States and the rest of the world.
Why Add Lemon and Ricotta to Pancakes?
Lemon and ricotta elevate the flavor, aroma, and texture of regular pancakes.
- Lemons store citrus oil in their peels. Once they are zested, their intoxicating lemony flavors are released.
- The bursts of freshness from lemon zest perfectly balance out the sweetness in both the pancakes and macerated blueberries.
- Ricotta is a rich, creamy, and slightly tangy Italian whey cheese. It can be hard to find, but you can easily make it at home using my How to Make Ricotta Cheese recipe.
- Be sure to use fresh, room-temperature (70°F/21°C-76°F/24°C) ricotta for the best results.
- Flavor-wise, ricotta cheese makes pancakes better balanced, because it adds a mild tang and a savory nutty-cheese hint.
- In terms of texture, ricotta cheese adds extra moisture to yield extra fluffy and tender pancakes.
Important Ingredients for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Why
- Granulated sugar (aka white sugar):
- Granulated sugar is a key ingredient for sweetening pancakes and producing a golden brown color.
- Sugar also binds with the water content in the batter, slowing down the gluten formation process which results in tender pancakes.
- Baking powder:
- Most baking powder on the market is double-acting, which means it gets activated immediately when mixed with wet ingredients and also from heat while baking.
- That being said, DO NOT let the pancake batter sit for too long, or else it will lose its effectiveness to rise properly.
- Baking powder contains dry acid, or cream of tartar, so it can activate and leaven baked goods with any liquid even if it isn’t acidic.
- Did you know you can make baking powder at home? Try out my ‘How To Make Baking Powder’ post to learn more!
- Baking soda:
- Baking soda doesn’t contain acid, so it activates ONLY when mixed with acidic ingredients like buttermilk.
- It reacts with acid from buttermilk, creating air pockets to make pancakes rise.
- Baking soda also reacts with hot sugar during baking to give the pancakes golden and crispy edges.
- Try out my Homemade Baking Soda recipe!
- Eggs enrich flavors, provide an emulsifier from yolks to bind all ingredients homogeneously, and retain air from egg whites to make pancakes fluffy and soft.
- Always use large, room-temperature eggs when baking unless specified otherwise. This is because room-temperature eggs mix better in the batter.
- Buttermilk contains acid to break down protein in flour, not only tenderizing pancakes but also producing smaller air bubbles to lock in moisture in pancakes more easily.
- Buttermilk, plain yogurt, and sour cream can substitute one for another and you can make them at home. A good rule of thumb is to use up to three-quarters of the required amount, and then adjust it accordingly to get the same consistency as the recipe.
Macerated Blueberries for Topping:
- Macerated blueberries (soaking them in liquid) not only pack great sweet and tart flavors but also add an indigo pop of color to your pancakes.
- Either fresh or frozen blueberries will work well in this Lemon Ricotta Pancakes Recipe.
- Granulated sugar: Sugar doesn’t need to caramelize in this recipe so sugar-free substitutes from my chart will work.
- Lemon juice: Freshly-squeezed lemon juice is the best but bottled lemon juice will also work.
Mix-Ins and Extras:
- To add extra butteriness and golden brown color to your pancakes, heat a knob of butter in your pan.
- You can use Homemade Butter (salted or unsalted) or store-bought butter or ghee.
How To Make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Make The Macerated Blueberries:
- Using lemon juice and sugar helps draw out the liquid and intensify the flavor of blueberries.
- If using frozen blueberries, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature. Be aware that there may be texture differences between refrigerated and room-temperature blueberries during the maceration process.
Make The Pancake Batter:
- Mixing dry ingredients thoroughly can disperse everything evenly.
- Mixing wet ingredients separately contribute to a smooth batter.
- Whisking dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately before combining can incorporate extra air to make pancakes fluffy and avoid toughening gluten.
- Mix pancakes’ dry ingredients and wet ingredients until JUST combined. A few lumps are ok and will work themselves out.
Cook The Pancakes:
- Cook pancakes in the center of the pan and over medium-low heat to avoid uneven or over-cooking.
- Cook until bubbles form on the top, the sides turn slightly brown, and the bottom is nicely browned. Flip and cook until the other side is also golden brown.
- Keep pancakes warm under a clean tea towel or a vented splatter cover to prevent pancakes from getting mushy from the steam.
Gluten-Free Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Good news – you can make this delicious Lemon Ricotta Pancakes Recipe gluten-free! Substitute the all-purpose flour with Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend, Almond Flour, Oat Flour, or coconut flour.
- Substitute Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend for all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio.
- Substitute almond flour starting at 1:1 for all-purpose (white) flour. More resting time before baking will help hydrate almond flour to bind all ingredients better, or ½ – 2 tsp xanthan gum or cornstarch in each cup of almond flour will also work as a binding agent.
- A good starting point is to substitute ¼ cup (1 ounce) of coconut flour for every cup of almond flour. You will also need to add 1 egg for every 1/4 cup of coconut flour used in addition to the eggs called for in the original recipe.
A good rule of thumb when substituting flour is to hold back some liquid by using up to three-quarters of the required amount in one go and adjusting accordingly to get the same consistency. This way, you can achieve a smooth cake batter even with different flour textures.
For more information on how to substitute these different flours, check out my ‘Guide to the Best Gluten-Free Flours’.
Can I Make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes In Advance?
Unfortunately, you CANNOT make this pancake batter ahead of time and let it sit out without affecting its ability to rise effectively. Since baking powder activates the moment it’s combined with any type of wet ingredients, it’s best to cook them off immediately.
However, you can make the batter in advance by omitting the baking powder and baking soda until you’re ready to cook them.
- You can store the batter without baking soda and baking powder in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- When ready to cook, sprinkle the baking powder and baking soda over the batter and gently fold using a silicone spatula. Make sure to just fold until combined, being careful not to overmix.
How To Store Leftover Lemon Ricotta Pancakes:
- Room temperature: You can leave your Lemon Ricotta Pancakes out at room temperature for no more than 2 hours.
- The best way to store leftover pancakes is in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Reheat: To reheat pancakes from the fridge, use a hot skillet or microwave for about 30 seconds.
- Freeze pancakes with pieces of parchment paper placed in between to prevent sticking. Wrap the stack of pancakes in foil and place them in a resealable bag for extra protection from moisture.
- Reheat in the microwave: To reheat from frozen, place your pancakes on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Reheat on the stove: You can also heat them in a skillet, but you will want to thaw your pancakes overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature before cooking.
- Reheat in the oven: Reheat pancakes at 300°F/150°C-350°F/180°C for 5-10 minutes or until warm throughout.
Why use both baking soda and baking powder?
The goal of using both baking powder and baking soda is to make your pancakes as light and fluffy as possible with golden and crispy edges.
- Most baking powder activates when mixed with liquid and exposed to heat to form air pockets to make pancakes rise.
- Baking soda activates when mixed with acidic liquid to create air pockets to help pancakes rise.
- Baking soda also reacts with hot sugar to give the pancakes golden and crispy edges.
Can I substitute buttermilk for whole milk in this recipe?
Buttermilk is an essential ingredient to adding moisture, flavor, and tenderness to your Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. If you don’t have any on hand, you can make my simple Buttermilk Substitute recipe!
How come my pancakes are rubbery? How to prevent rubbery pancakes?
Rubbery or tough pancakes are due to over-mixed batter, dry batter, or over-cooking.
- Over-mixed batter: The number one cause of rubbery pancakes is over-mixing the batter which increases gluten formations to toughen the texture.
- To prevent this from occurring in the future, whisk and fold the room temperature ingredients just until combined.
- Dry batter:
- Flour in different places absorbs liquid differently, depending on how, where, and when it was made, and the type of wheat grain that was milled.
- Note to use up to three-quarters of the required liquid amount in one go and adjust it accordingly to get the same consistency as the recipe.
- Overcooking the pancakes:
- First, make sure to cook pancakes at medium-low temperatures and in the center of the pan to prevent fast or uneven cooking.
- Second, Cook them just until both sides are golden brown and no any longer.
Why are my pancakes sticking to the pan?
Your pancakes may stick to the pan due to insufficient preheating, greasing, or cooking time.
- A preheated pan produces steam in touch with water from the relatively colder batter. The hot air can create a gap in between to prevent the pancakes from sticking to the pan.
- Be sure to swirl the melting butter around for even greasing across the surface of your pan.
- Do not flip too early. Wait until your pancakes are bubbly on the surface and the sides are turning slightly golden brown before flipping the pancake. If you flip it too early, it likely hasn’t developed a crust or skin to detach itself from the hot pan.
Why are my macerated blueberries watery?
- Frozen blueberries tend to have a lot of moisture content when left to thaw in a bowl. I suggest letting them thaw at room temperature and straining the excess water that comes out so that once you combine them with the sugar and lemon mixture, only the sweet inner contents of the blueberries will be left.
- Soft and extra-ripe blueberries can be a bit watery by nature. I recommend using firmer blueberries for the maceration process.
How do I make my pancakes more lemony?
- Lemon zest already packs a lemony punch when incorporated into the batter.
- However, if you want a vibrant pop of lemon flavor, you can add a few drops of lemon extract or an extra splash of lemon juice to the batter.
- If natural lemon extract is hard to find, make it using my Homemade Extracts recipe.
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips:
- Macerating blueberries will take a bit of time but don’t serve until the sugar has dissolved or they will taste grainy.
- If you are pressed for time, gently heat half of the blueberries and all of the sugar over a low flame or in the microwave just until the berries release a bit of juice and the sugar has dissolved. Then, stir this into the remaining blueberries and lemon juice and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Be sure to start with room temperature ingredients for the most even mixing and the best, fluffiest results.
- Some recipes call for only egg yolks, but I like to include both egg yolks and whites for ultimate tenderness and binding power in the batter.
- You can use cooking spray or vegetable oil to cook your pancakes if you prefer.
- Feel free to add a splash of vanilla extract to enhance the overall flavor of the pancakes.
- You can replace blueberries with other fresh berries of your choice. If choosing strawberries or another large berry, half or quarter them before macerating.
- Feel free to top off your pancakes with maple syrup, butter, powdered sugar, or more lemon zest!
- For a fun baking project, try making these completely from scratch with Homemade Ricotta and Homemade Buttermilk!
And don’t miss more everyday baking recipes in my NEW Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook!