Italian Ricotta Cookies (low FODMAP)

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Hey Friends!

You may or may not know this–or perhaps you might have guessed with my last name, “Scarlata” that I am married into an Italian family.  My husband’s dad, Tony, is 100% Italian and I have so many fond memories with his parents and uncle over the years. My husband Russ’ grandmother (Nana Scarlata) was an amazing cook and she loved to see anyone eat her delicious home-cooked foods! I remember my first visit to Nana’s home included a very large Sunday dinner that was SO good–but so filling!  I actually went straight home and fell fast asleep at 5 PM. Ha!

We love to incorporate Italian foods into our holiday menu.  Antipasto is a must… and Russ’ brother Al is the king at making it for all of us. This year we will have raviolis and meatballs–Russ is on a mission to serve them this year. And, I thought I would try my hand at a low FODMAP ricotta cookie. Because, I am all about the holiday sweet treats!

And, I nailed it.

Yes, this cookie recipe contain one cup of ricotta cheese.

Is ricotta cheese low FODMAP?

It’s all in the portion size, just like most foods and FODMAPs!

This section contains some updates from the original post.

Although ricotta cheese is listed as a “yellow light” in the Monash app– this recipe contains 1 cup for 2 dozen cookies, which equates to a small (and acceptable) amount per serving (2 cookies).

Ricotta cheese can vary in the lactose content depending on the product, most range from 2- 3 grams per serving which is noted as 1/4 cup in the US.

When the ricotta cheese is strained well, there will be less lactose (the lactose is in the wet part of milk). The lactose in ricotta cheese should be noted on the sugar line of the nutrition fact panel. The ricotta cheese I selected had 0 grams of sugar per serving, which prompted me to think it was very low lactose, initially. US labeling laws can note that something has zero grams on the nutrition fact label but the product may still contain up to 0.5 grams of that nutrient. However, after doing a bit more research, the item I purchased likely has 3 grams of lactose per serving, this amount was noted in the carbohydrate line of the nutrition panel vs. the sugar line. Not sure why the manufacturer did that–but lactose is the primary carbohydrate in cheese.

So how does the ricotta in my recipe work for those on a low FODMAP diet?  Let’s do some math!

1 cup of ricotta cheese in my recipe (depending on the product you use) would contain 8- 12 grams of lactose.

If you divided the 8 grams of lactose by the 24 cookies, this equates to 0.3 grams of lactose per cookie or 0.66 grams for 2 cookies, and you are below the Monash University FODMAP cut off for lactose (see info below).

If the entire recipe contains 12 grams of lactose (example: if you used a product with 3 grams of lactose per 1/4 cup serving), this would equate to 0.5 grams of lactose per 1 cookie or 1 gram of lactose per 2 cookies.. still okay for low FODMAP diet followers in my book!

So, again, I will come at you with my mantra, “please don’t over-restrict your diet unnecessarily!”

How much lactose is allowed in a food to be deemed low FODMAP per Monash U? < 1 gram of lactose per serving, reference here. 

For my ricotta cheese cookies, I used Calabro Part Skim Ricotta cheese that I purchased at my local Whole Foods market. This product list zero grams of sugar but likely contains 3 grams of lactose as noted by the 3 grams of carbohydrate listed on the nutrition facts panel.

For those of you trying to find a very low lactose ricotta cheese, and can’t find one low enough in lactose for your personal tolerance, another option to try is Friendship Farmer Cheese. This cheese option is very low lactose and has a similar consistency and flavor –slightly drier–than ricotta cheese. If you choose to try this–I might cut back on the gluten free flour blend a bit and use 2 cups. Where can you friend Friendship Farmer cheese?  This links to their store locator. 

When reading a label for a food product made only of traditional cow’s milk (no fruit or other sweeteners added), such as many cheeses, plain yogurt, and plain milk, then the sugar column on the nutrition fact label will typically represent the amount of lactose in the product. Lactose is the sugar in milk products. When it comes to ricotta cheese ingredients–some products add other carbohydrates such as xanthan gum–I like prefer to use one with just milk and vinegar.  The vinegar curdles the milk and when this happens most of the lactose is drained off with the liquid, leaving the final ricotta cheese low-ish in lactose.

So there is that.  If my explanation is confusing to you–please just leave me a comment or question. I am happy to help you.

Now…for those interested, here are my yummy low FODMAP Italian Ricotta Cookies.

18 replies on “Italian Ricotta Cookies (low FODMAP)

    • katescarlata

      Hi Tom,
      Sugar (confectioner’s and granulated) are allowed on the low FODMAP diet. The serving size is 2 cookies and the recipe makes 24 cookies. Certainly, as a dietitian I don’t encourage anyone to consume 2 cups of sugar in one sitting…but I do believe eating cookies during the holidays or on occasion as desired brings joy, a key component to wellness.

  • Loretta Bonaccorso

    For those who are lactose intolerant: Trader Joe’s sells a vegan butter called Miyokos Cultured Vegan Butter. I have multiple sensitivities and digestive problems, including IBS D which can be severe. This vegan butter is a very good substitute for baking, cooking, etc. If you’d like to review the ingredients for FODMAP , please do so since amounts, percentages and portion size are still a bit sketchy to me. But just as a “user” it hasn’t caused a bit of trouble in the few months I’ve been using it.

  • Deb

    Kate, thank you once again, for all you do for us!!! These cookies look amazing, so I will add them to my must-try list. I really appreciate your reminders that just because a food is on the FODMAP list, it’s all about portion. Without the reminder, my tendency is to avoid those foods, as I am extremely sensitive to apparently all FODMAPs. And when I eat one that bothers me, it takes 5-6 days for my digestive system to recover. So you would assume correctly that I’m a bit paranoid! The reminders are very helpful to me in expanding my food range. Love that you provided the name of the ricotta also. Every bit of info helps!

    • katescarlata

      Deb, It is very normal to experience food fears when eating food makes you sick. When you are that sensitive–go slow–and work with a knowledgeable dietitian to guide you!

  • dkaj

    Hi Kate, those cookies look delicious. I do have an off-topic question not related to your cookie recipe if you don’t mind. I am curious to know if the fodmaps from garlic and/ or onion would leach into 100% pure butter for flavoring purposes, while still discarding the garlic and/or onion pieces from the sauteed butter. Sometimes we like to use butter vs oil in our cooking so wanted to see if we could swap out the oil for butter and still follow the whole flavor without fodmaps infusion idea. TIA and Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    • katescarlata

      I am not sure this has been looked at specifically –from a science perspective. But, butter does contain water–so it is possible the water-soluble FODMAPs from the garlic and onion could leach into the butter and remain in the final product. It’s possible to sauté in a small amount of oil–then discard, onion and garlic, then add some butter, as a possible option.

  • Karen

    Hello Kate,

    These look yummie! How about mascarpone? Is there such a thing as low Fodmap mascarpone? I love me some tiramisu!! Thanks.

    • katescarlata

      Hey Karen, Mascarpone has about 2 grams of lactose per serving–but I believe a Tiramisu recipe uses A LOT of it –so don’t think it would fit the low FODMAP criteria. But with food intolerance–it’s all so individual–so work to expand your diet as much as possible and fit in your favorite foods when you can–even if that means a few mouthfuls. 🙂

  • Kate

    Sadly, I’ve been calling local markets searching for a Ricotta that would be low in sugar to no avail. Our local Whole Foods doesn’t carry one nor does our local International Market. I’ve had to switch out Ricotta for Lactose Free Cottage Cheese in Lasagna (not the same) so I was excited to see this article….. sad face….I love reading your articles Kate, you give me so many ideas and so much hope. I keep expanding my diet and trying new things. I even added back in a little more celery, although I prefer BokChoy now. Thank you a million times over! Any suggestions whether one can order Ricotta???? I already went to Calabro’s website and that’s a NO from there…..

    • katescarlata

      Another option to try would be Friendship Farmer’s cheese. The flavor and consistency to me is similar to ricotta–and it is worth a try! Here is there store locator: You might try adding 2 cups of flour at first to check the consistency–adding the last amount of flour 1/4 cup of flour only if necessary–but it will dough should be good with the 2 cups with the alternative ingredient. (I will add to the post as well!)

  • Linda

    I’ve found it very hard to find low fodmap recipes with lactose. I was under the impression that it’s somewhat common to tolerate lactose while not being able to tolerate other fodmaps. Since I already have to restrict my diet so much already, and I would like to eat vegetarian, I would really appreciate more recipes that include dairy. Is this a possibility or do you have a suggestion for a place to find such recipes?

    This recipe seems like a great example of the sorts of things I’d love to see, since I can just not worry about fussing to remove the lactose. 🙂

  • Diana

    I made these twice for the holidays and they turned out great both times. First time making cookies with ricotta – and they didn’t irritate my stomach. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Katie

    Hi Kate!
    These cookies are delicious even without the topping. We we’re so excited we had to eat a few right away.
    I apologize in advance if I am missing it but what is the best way to store these being it has cooked ricotta cheese?

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