Light and fluffy ricotta pancakes are the perfect breakfast treat! Each griddle cake is made by folding whipped egg whites into a citrus-infused cheese batter and cooked until golden brown. Served with delicious blueberry compote to pour on top.
Ricotta pancakes are an Italian twist on classic buttermilk pancakes. This recipe makes for a light and fluffy texture by folding in whipped egg whites instead of baking soda. For added flavor, lemon and orange zest are concentrated with essential oils and mixed into the batter for delightful citrus notes.
The pancakes are lightly sweetened with honey, to complement the mild and creamy cheese. Instead of maple syrup, I’ll show you how to make homemade blueberry compote. That’s just a fancy way of saying cooking down the berries in orange juice to make a sauce. The berries pop as they simmer, adding a deep purple color to the topping.
How to make ricotta pancakes
- Whisk together honey, orange zest, lemon zest, egg yolks, ricotta cheese, and salt.
- Whisk in the flour until just incorporated.
- Whisk egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks are formed.
- Gently fold in whipped egg whites into the flour mixture.
- Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Grease a pan with melted butter, oil, or cooking spray.
- Add ¼ cup pancake batter and cook until golden brown.
- Serve with blueberry compote, and top with powdered sugar if desired.
What is ricotta cheese?
Ricotta cheese is spreadable because it’s high moisture and has a mildly sweet flavor. Traditionally it is made from “recooking” the whey that’s separated from the cheese curds from cows, goat, sheep, or buffalo milk. Most commonly you’ll find ricotta cheese in the markets made from coagulated and strained whole cows milk instead of whey.
Because it’s easy to mix with other ingredients, ricotta is the perfect base to add to pancake batter. The creamy cheese keeps these pancakes moist and tender, with a custard-like middle. Plus extra protein!
What makes these pancakes fluffy?
When making lemon ricotta pancakes that include a mild and creamy cheese, you have to find a way to make them fluffy and tender. A small amount of flour is added to the batter, compared to traditional pancake recipes. Since there’s not much acidity in the batter, this prevents the pancakes from becoming tough and rubbery.
There are no chemical leavening agents like baking soda or powder in this recipe. For these ricotta pancakes, I use an egg foaming technique. The egg whites are whipped until medium-firm peaks are formed and then gently folded it into the batter, similar to making a mousse or meringue. This method makes the pancakes incredibly light and fluffy with a golden brown exterior.
How to make a blueberry compote
A compote is whole pieces of fruit cooked in a sweetened syrup. For this recipe, it’s a simple reduction of blueberries, fresh lemon juice, orange juice, citrus zest, honey, and mint. The mixture is simmered on the stovetop until the blueberries become tender, burst and create a lightly thickened sauce.
It only takes about 20 minutes to make and then you have a tasty sauce that you’ll be licking from the spoon! Any of your favorite stone fruits or berries can be added with the blueberry or switched out, like strawberries, blackberries, peaches, or nectarines.
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The trick to light and fluffy pancakes
This recipe uses egg whites that have been whipped to incorporate more air bubbles into the batter. Very gently fold egg whites into the pancake batter a third at a time. This will help retain as many air bubbles as possible. Never press the pancakes down in the pan when cooking, otherwise, they’ll become dense and flat.
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Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Compote
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 16 mint leaves, whole
- pinch kosher salt
- 3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 4 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- In a medium saucepan, combine orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, honey, and mint.
- Heat over medium-high heat, until boiling, for 6 minutes stirring occasionally. The syrup should be slightly thickened and reduced to about ½ cup.
- Turn off the heat and add a pinch of salt, stir to combine. Carefully remove and discard the mint leaves.
- Add 3 cups of blueberry and stir to coat with the syrup.
- Over medium heat, cook the blueberries until a dark purple thickened sauce forms, about 12 to 15 minutes. Make sure to keep a close eye on the compote, stirring as needed to make sure the sides and bottom of the pan do not burn. The blueberries will pop and large pieces will remain in the compote.
- Cook the compote longer if you want a thicker jam type sauce. If it gets too thick, add a little bit of water until you achieve the right consistency.
- Keep warm to use as a topping for the pancakes. Makes 1 cup of compote and can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, orange and lemon zest, egg yolks, ricotta cheese, and salt. Add flour, whisk until just combined.
- Place the egg whites in a bowl. Using an electric mixer to whisk on medium-high speed until medium-firm peaks are formed approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add about ⅓ of the beaten egg white into the batter, gently folding until just mixed. Fold the remaining whites ⅓ at a time, ensuring not to deflate the batter as it should be light and airy.
- Lightly grease a nonstick pan or griddle with cooking spray, melted butter or oil.
- Set the pan over medium heat until hot.
- Add about ¼ cup of batter on the pan, 2-inches apart. Cook each pancake for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until the bottoms are golden brown and the edges are set. The cakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched.
- Lightly grease the pan between batches as needed.
- Serve pancakes with warm blueberry compote.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten-free baking flour.
- Blueberry compote sauce can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.
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