Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese Ravioli Filling (no egg)

Whether you use homemade ravioli dough or store-bought wonton wrappers, take 5 minutes to mix up a small batch of this easy ricotta ravioli filling. Kissed with a little lemon zest and made without egg, this whole milk ricotta filling for ravioli is loaded with pure, fresh flavor especially when paired with a homemade tomato pasta sauce.

black dish with tomato sauce covered cheese ravioli and fresh basil leaves.
Whole milk ricotta is the key to the best ravioli filling.

Every year for the holidays, we roll out homemade ravioli dough or homemade pasta for Thanksgiving or Christmas. (We are Italian – every holiday is celebrated with pasta). And while some in the fam prefer meat ravioli, and others my unbelievably good butternut squash ravioli, it’s this classic 5 minute ricotta cheese ravioli filling that is the real winner.

This recipe makes a creamy ricotta stuffed ravioli (despite having no eggs) in less than five minutes.

You’re going to love how fresh it is.

Best type of ricotta for ravioli filling

Cheese and I have a long standing relationship. It’s literally my favorite food and love it so much that I worked a second job at a gourmet food store in the late 80’s all because of its amazing cheese counter.

I learned a lot in the year I was there…including the fact that there are many different kinds of ricotta cheese. And I’ve even gone as far as to develop my own homemade ricotta cheese recipe. It would be so good in cheese ravioli!

Cow milk or sheep’s milk ricotta. There’s even goat and water buffalo ricotta. Most grocery stores carry cow’s milk ricotta which is less sweet than ricotta made from sheep’s milk. Dryer, crumbly ricotta salata, which is similar to feta cheese—try it in my fall panzanella salad recipe—is made from sheep’s milk.

Whole milk, part-skim, skim ricotta. Each made from milks of different fat levels.

Ricotta con latte (which I use in my ricotta dumpling soup recipe). Ricotta with heavy cream so it’s a creamier, richer and wetter cheese.

My Italian grandmas, their sisters, their daughters, my mom and I all swear by whole milk ricotta for classic cheese ravioli filling


The difference between whole milk and part skim ricotta

Part skim ricotta is as it sounds. It’s ricotta made with part skim and part whole milk whereas whole milk ricotta is made solely using whole milk. Whole milk ricotta has a richer mouthfeel because of the additional fat but if you prefer part skim ricotta, you will be just as successful with this recipe.

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What you’ll need

ingredients to make cheese ravioli filling.
Ignore the eggs in the photo above…you aren’t going to use them.

It’s a short ingredient list!

Here’s an overview of you’ll need:

  • Whole milk ricotta. More on that below!
  • Parmesan cheese. Fresh grated is best and please no green can!
  • Seasonings. A pinch of nutmeg with salt and pepper.
  • Lemon. Adds some bright acidity that balances so well with the ricotta and any sauce you ladle on top.

How to make ricotta ravioli filling

white bowl with a wooden paddle stirring cheese ravioli filling.
  1. In a medium mixing, bowl combine the ricotta, parmesan cheese, seasonings, parsley and lemon zest.
  2. Stir until creamy.

It doesn’t get easier than that!

Cheese ravioli filling tools

My favorite tool for filling cheese ravioli is a small baby or espresso spoon. Most ravioli molds take about 1 Tablespoon of filling but I have found that it’s easier to add ricotta filling and much harder and messier to take it away.

A pastry bag fitted with a tip or a resealable bag with the corner clipped also worked but you don’t have as much control in my experience.

Fresh ravioli dough tips

This ricotta ravioli filling inside my no fail ravioli dough recipe are a winning duo. Here are some tips for best results.

three steps to knead pasta dough.
  • Lightly flour the dough and board before kneading.
  • Knead ravioli dough until smooth by rolling by pulling it towards you, make a quarter turn, and push it away. You can also use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  • You want your finished dough to be a soft, smooth ball that is a touch sticky. This is a “feel” thing that can change with the weather and humidity in your house. For more info on that, visit my homemade pasta dough recipe.
  • Allow the dough to relax, covered with a damp dish towel or wrapped in plastic wrap for 15-20 minutes before filling.

How to seal and fill cheese ravioli (without air pockets!)

Hand measuring ravioli stamp on dough.
Use a ravioli stamp as a “marker” for the filling.

Here are some tips to making and rolling ravioli that doesn’t burst while cooking.

  • Dough thickness. Whether you’re using a Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment (as I am here) or a hand crank pasta machine (the Marcato Atlas is my favorite), you want a thin enough sheet of dough that you can see the outline of your hand when you hold it up to the light.
  • Fill lengthwise. Place the ravioli filling down the long side of rolled dough and fold the other half over top. Now you only have 3 sides to “seal”.
  • Water. “Painting” around each ravioli with water either with your finger or a brush offers acts as a glue for the top layer of dough to seal the ravioli.
  • Sealing tool. A ravioli mold comes with a little roller that simultaneously seals and cuts the ravioli 12 at a time. So cool!

Pro tip

Use two fingers to pat firmly and gently around the filling sealing the ravioli as you go, brushing the air pockets out at the same time.

Other ravioli tools

  • Stamp. This is the ravioli stamp I use, although you do need some hand strength to cut the ravioli. And they come in both round and square shapes, small and large. I love the handmade craftiness of a ravioli stamp ♥️
  • Pastry wheel. I’m not a fan of “one trick kitchen tools which is why I do love a classic pastry wheel to cut ravioli.


TIP

Marking the dough with a ravioli stamp will help you to know where to place the filling.

-Josie + Nina

Cooking cheese ravioli

Since this an eggless cheese ravioli filling, the main objective is for the pasta to be cooked. And it only takes 3-5 minutes.

Cheese Ravioli Cooking Tips

  • Add ravioli to a large pot of boiling water that has been generously seasoned with kosher salt.
  • Once the ravioli float to the top again a second time, cook it in bubbling water for 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove the ravioli carefully with a chinese spider or large slotted spoon to a strainer or warmed bowl. (Don’t pour directly from the pot into a strainer)
  • Test 1 ravioli after 3 minutes checking for firmness (al dente) and for the dough to be opaque.

Best sauce parings

overhead view of black bowl with cheese ravioli, tomato sauce and fresh basil and parmesan.

Cheese ravioli, to me, is best paired with a classic San Marzano tomato sauce. It’s pure and the tomato and ricotta bring out the best in each other.

My kids love cheese ravioli with even more cheese found in this butter and cream sauce recipe. It’s one of our all time favorite pasta sauces.

Finally, if you love a sweet tomato sauce, then this ever popular tomato and butter sauce is a winner.

Ravioli dough alternative

Wonton wrappers are a great alternative to making your own ravioli dough. You can usually find them in the refrigerated produce section of your grocery store or an Asian grocer . They are a little more fragile so make sure to fill them less and seal well with my tips and techniques above.

Serving, Storage & Freezing Tips

Make ravioli the same day you plan to cook it. Lay the ravioli on a floured baking sheet and refrigerated covered with plastic wrap for a few hours

Freeze ravioli. Lay the ravioli on a floured baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm. Transfer to a freezer safe plastic bag. Can be frozen for up to 3 months. 

Thaw.  No need to thaw before cooking!


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black dish with tomato sauce covered cheese ravioli and fresh basil leaves.
5 from 1 vote

5 Minute Ricotta Cheese Ravioli Filling

This homemade ravioli filling is made with whole milk ricotta cheese, grated parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and lemon juice. Ready within 5 minutes! Use my simple homemade ravioli dough for ravioli grandma be proud of.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:5 minutes
Ravioli Dough:30 minutes
Total Time:40 minutes
Servings 4
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Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir to combine until smooth and all the seasonings are incorporated. Start with ½ teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Taste for flavor.
    15 oz whole milk ricotta, ½ cup freshly finely grated parmesan, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, ¼ cup fresh parsley, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 lemon
  • Roll out ¼ of a recipe of homemade ravioli dough using a pasta machine or Kitchenaid mixer pasta roller attachment. Start at setting #1. Fold each end to the middle and repeat this setting). Continue rolling ravioli up to setting #6. Go as thin as you dare but you should be able to see the outline of your hand through the dough when held up to the light.
  • Lay the sheet of pasta dough on a floured board. Use a ruler or ravioli stamp to "mark" one side of the length of the dough. This will help you know where to place the filling.
  • Using a clean tablespoon, fill each ravioli with the cheese filling (up to a tablespoon of filling – use your judgement here to at least ½" of a rim).
  • Use a pastry brush to brush water around the outside edge of each ravioli.
  • Fold the unfilled side of ravioli dough over the filled side.
  • Use two fingers to pat firmly yet gently around the filling. Packing and sealing the filling tightly helps prevent air pockets which helps avoid the ravioli from bursting. Press out the air pockets at the same time.
  • Cut the ravioli using a ravioli stamp or a pastry wheel, pressing down to seal it.

Cooking Instructions

  • Remove ravioli to a floured baking sheet or clean surface. Cover with a dish towel and refrigerate if cooking later in the day. In lightly boiling. heavily salted water (kosher salt), cook the ravioli for 3-5 minutes until the ravioli floats.

Notes

Need a ravioli dough recipe? My homemade ravioli dough is tender yet hearty enough to hold any filling!
SERVING/STORAGE TIPS
Make ravioli the same day you plan to cook it. Lay the ravioli on a floured baking sheet and refrigerated covered with plastic wrap for a few hours
Freeze ravioli. Lay the ravioli on a floured baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm. Transfer to a freezer safe plastic bag. Can be frozen for up to 3 months. 
Thaw.  No need to thaw before cooking.
Two great ravioli pasta sauces are my homemade Italian red sauce or three ingredient tomato sauce.
 
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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