lemon ricotta strawberry muffins

Sometimes it bothers me that I can’t buy any locally produced food. I get to thinking that if food can’t be grown here, maybe we shouldn’t live here. Clearly it’s an unenvironmental place to live if everything from greens to beef to beans has to be shipped here.

Then I remember that I’m here for an environmental reason. I work for a radioactive waste disposal site. And it’s here because there aren’t a lot of people here. Do you want radioactive waste stored anywhere near your city? Probably not. (Although the truth is that most of the locals here appreciate the repository’s presence, as it brings good jobs to the area and has had no environmental effect.) And there aren’t a lot of people here because stuff doesn’t grow here.

The upshot of this is that I have no qualms about buying California strawberries or Florida peaches. If I tried to follow a 100-mile diet in southern NM, we’d have to survive on pecans. Even the state’s prized green chiles are grown almost 200 miles away. I draw the line at Chilean berries, but anything from the US or Mexico is fair game.

If you try to eat local and you live farther north, you probably don’t have strawberries yet. When you do, here’s a great way to use them. These light, tender muffins are fragrant with lemon and studded with sweet berries. We enjoyed them while sitting outside in our sunbaked parched desert.

One year ago: Cauliflower Cheese Pie with Grated Potato Crust
Two years ago: Pan-Roasted Asparagus
Three years ago: Hazelnut Dried Cherry Biscotti

Printer Friendly Recipe
Lemon Ricotta Strawberry Muffins (adapted from Mollie Katzen via Apple a Day)

Makes 12 muffins

I substituted ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour for an equal amount of the all-purpose flour.

2 cups (9.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1½ cups strawberries, chopped

1. Heat the oven to 350ºF. Spray the bottoms only of a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

2. In a medium bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Whisk in the eggs, ricotta, buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice, and butter. Pour the ricotta mixture into the flour mixture and fold until the flour is evenly dispersed but not completely mixed in. Add the strawberries and fold until the flour is moistened (some lumps are okay) and the strawberries are evenly distributed.

3. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 18-22 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then use a thin-bladed knife to remove the muffins from the pan.


  1. I feel the same way you do about trying to follow a local diet; not really possible in the desert. Strawberries plus 100-degree heat…right. I’m so glad you loved the muffins!

  2. We don’t get strawberries here until June, but I’m definitely going to have to make these. We also eat California strawberries, but there’s nothing like a strawberry you picked yourself. Please don’t try to survive on pecans alone!

  3. Mmm these look great Bridget! I love the flavor combination in these. I made some lemon raspberry ricotta pancakes once and they were fabulous. So I am sure these muffins are too!

  4. Yum! Lemon and strawberries, or any kind of berry for that matter is one of my favorite food combinations. These look fabulous!

  5. I still have some strawberries in the freezer from when we accidentally picked 9 pounds of them last year that could probably find their way into these. Or these thinned into pancakes. Hmm.

  6. These look fresh and inspired. I can’t wait to try them out!

  7. yum! Those look delicious!

  8. These muffins look great! Perfect for mother’s day brunch!

  9. I just made a similar recipe for Easter but with blackberries – they’re fantastic. I’d love to try it with strawberries next time.

  10. My hubby loves ricotta! I can’t wait to surprise him with these!

  11. i have so many yummy california strawberries i can’t wait to make these muffins, it will be the perfect way to use to remaining strawberries before they go bad.

  12. Been looking for a new muffin recipe to make this week. These look perfect. I even have all the ingredients including fresh strawberries.

  13. I’m really disappointed mine didn’t turn out well. They ended up baking some kind of oil/grease out of them, and were pretty gross when I ate them. It was strange, they didn’t have any kind of muffin/cupcake kind of taste or texture, they were almost like cheeseball pastries, which I really dislike. Any troubleshooting tips?

  14. bridget says:

    Kay – That’s really odd. I can’t imagine why they would be greasy, considering that they have about half the fat of most muffin recipes. Do you measure your flour by weight or volume? It’s possible your flour measurement was too low.

  15. I made these with my son last night. It was pretty good. I followed your exact recipe except I used 4T of vegetable oil instead butter b/c I forgot to melt my butter to let cool. With a 2.5-year-old, I couldn’t really make him wait any longer to prepare the butter because he’s been waiting all afternoon to make them with me. Anyway, my muffins tasted great (and I’d definitely make them again) but they were a bit too moist…kind of like moist and dense. I thought they looked fluffier than that in your pictures. Do you think it’s because I used vegetable oil? I know 4T of melted butter has a slightly different volume than 4T vegetable oil but I didn’t think it’d make that much difference. Or maybe b/c I over-stirred it b/c I let my son do a bit or stirring?

  16. bridget says:

    Bubblybunny – They were a little moist and dense for me too, which I think is due to the ricotta. However, I could see the oil making it more so. A moist feeling in muffins/cakes/etc. often comes from fat, and oil has more fat than butter (butter is 20% water), so oil makes things more moist than butter.