BEST Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe

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Holy Cannoli! This is the BEST Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe! It comes straight from Sicilia, Italy, from my friend Lili. See the step-by-step photos of the entire process! This is a special recipe loved by everyone in our family. I know you will love it too!

6 cannoli on a plate with pistachios and chocolate chips on the ends
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If you love authentic Italian desserts, you will also love Sweet Ricotta Pie, Classic Italian Tiramisu (without alcohol), Zeppole Recipe (Easy Italian Donuts), Chiacchiere di Carnevale Recipe (Italian Fried Pastries), Authentic Italian Wedding Cookies (Anginetti), and Bomboloni Recipe (Italian Donuts with Cream Filling).

BEST Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe

Who doesn’t love Italian cannoli? The crunchy fried pastry shell is filled with creamy sweet ricotta filling dipped in various fun toppings to decorate the ends.

You will be surprised by how easily this popular Italian dessert comes together! This recipe is straight from Sicily, the motherland of cannoli.

My dear friend Lilli shares this family recipe with all of you! I hope you love it as much as we do. Add this to your Italian ‘must-have’ recipes!

Simple Ingredients

Cannoli Dough 

  • All-purpose flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Confectioners sugar (granulated is fine as well) 
  • Pinch of salt
  • Egg 
  • Butter 
  • Marsala wine, more if needed
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
  • Egg, well beaten for egg wash


  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt

Optional decorations for the ends:

  • candied orange slices
  • crushed pistachios 
  • chocolate chips

See the recipe card for quantities. See bottom of post for step-by-step photo instructions.

Where in Italy do cannoli come from?

Cannoli are a classic and traditional dessert from Sicily. The singular form of cannoli is cannolo (Italian: [kanˈnɔːlo]; Sicilian: cannolu [kanˈnɔːlʊ]), a diminutive meaning ‘little tube’, from canna, ‘cane’ or ‘tube’.

The traditional cannoli originated in the Sicilian city of Palermo.

It is believed that the cannoli’s filling originated with the Saracens, an ancient Arabic population when they brought sugar cane to the region.

This popular dessert was then served at the popular celebration of “carnivale” a festival celebration before lent. For festival goers, the cannoli became a symbol of fertility.

More delicious Italian dessert recipes

Cannoli on a plate with pistachios and chocolate chips on the ends on a white plate.

How to Make CANNOLI SHELLS from Scratch

You CAN make CANnoli. It is easier than you think! The process is pretty simple.

We start with our crunchy, deep-fried pastry dough; yes, you can buy the pre-made shells if frying isn’t your forte.

We then mix our filling all in one bowl and fill the insides of the shells. The hardest part is making the shells; as I said, you can buy them if you wish to cut out that step.

Cannoli shell A great cannoli’s shell provides texture while the cream filling imbues its sweet and creamy flavor.

How to Make Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe Step-by-Step Instructions with Photos

Instructions on mixing dry ingredients for Italian Cannoli.

Top left to bottom right. Add dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and combine until incorporated. Add egg and butter and crumble by hand. Butter will remain in small chunks. Slowly add wine a little at a time and mix to form soft slightly sticky dough.

Resting dough for Italian Cannoli.

Top left to bottom right. After mixing the dough into a uniform mass move to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. This will get the gluten working in the dough. Then, cover with plastic and a cloth and rest for at least 30 minutes.

Cutting out cannoli dough.

Top left to bottom right. Roll out the dough after it has rested. Whether you are using a pasta machine or rolling pin make sure your dough is thin- this will help it get the bubbles in the crust. You can roll it out a little more after you cut the round shape with a cup, if needed.

Wrapping Cannoli dough around a metal tube.

Top left to bottom right. Carefully wrap each dough circle around the cannoli form. Do not press it onto the form. You want a little wiggle room for the dough to puff up in the frying oil.

Make sure to use egg wash to press the edges of the dough together before frying, or it will come off of the form when it hits the hot oil!

Carefully fry the dough. Use tongs to handle the cannoli form.

Always start with just one to make the temperature is right and you get a feel for how it moves in the oil.

Add up to 4-6 at a time depending on your pot size.

Plating and filling cooked cannoli.

Top left to bottom right. Let the fried dough cool and take off molds. Do not fill the shells when they are hot!

Make the filling while the dough cools. It is important that you strain the ricotta well or it will make the shells soggy (see tips above).

Fill shells with ricotta filling in a pastry bag (or a sandwich bag with the tip cut off).

Dip the ends in your favorite toppings. I love crushed pistachios and chocolate shavings or chocolate chips. Enjoy!


  • Fresh is best. As with other fried doughs, they are best when made fresh. Luckily, they store well in the fridge.
  • Don’t pre-fill the shells. You can make the shells ahead of time, but do not fill them until ready to serve.
  • Feel thedough. This dough is similar to pasta dough. It is firm and springs back slightly. For best results, you will want to roll your dough out reasonably thin- about 1/16-inch.
    • This will make them thick enough to fry and still flaky. You can use a rolling pin or a pasta maker.
  • Be careful when you fry. Your oil should stay at 375 F. If the dough gets too puffy it will retain oil and be too greasy. Use tongs to move the dough around and create an even fry.
  • Use paper towels to remove shells. The mold will be very hot when you remove the shells for the next batch. Do not use your bare hands! Use a couple of paper towels to handle them.
  • Fill the shells. Use a pastry bag to fill the cannoli with ricotta filling. If you don’t have a pastry bag, a plain old Ziploc bag with the tip cut off will do!

Equipment for Homemade Cannoli

Here is the CANNOLI MOLD I use for making the shells. You can use these molds to make other pastries and even your own ice cream cones!

These are the PRE MADE SHELLS I recommend- no matter where you buy them, they are a little bit expensive because of the labor that goes into making and storing them since they break easily. This is the best deal I’ve found for the quality.

Cannoli on a white plate and a piping bag.

How to Make Ricotta Filling for Sicilian Cannoli Recipe

Cannoli filling The filling in cannoli traditionally consists of ricotta.

The soft and naturally mild cheese is then sweetened with sugar or honey and sometimes a little cinnamon and vanilla.

Before we dig into the process- let’s talk about ricotta cheese- the show’s star in this filling.

What is Ricotta Cheese?

So, ricotta translates to recooked in Italian, and ricotta is called a “whey cheese.” When you make cheese, you separate milk into two distinct things.

The solids, called curds, will be separated out and pressed to form cheese.

And you have the liquid that is left behind, called whey.

Most cheeses we know and love are made from the curds but, traditionally, at least, ricotta is made from the tiiiiiny bit of curd left behind in the whey.

Cheesemakers make whatever cheese they want with the curds, and then repurpose the leftover whey to create ricotta (among other whey cheeses).

To do this, the whey is heated—usually after a small addition of whole milk and some form of vinegar or citrus juice—and the remaining curds start to coagulate.

The curds will become larger and more solid, and eventually, the pot will be emptied into a portion of cheesecloth and strained.

Once the cheesecloth empties any remaining whey, you’ll look at a bunch of fluffy, white ricotta.

How Ricotta Cheese is Typically Made in the United States? n the States, we tend to make ricotta from whole milk instead of whey.

In this case, the process is the same as making any other cheese—you heat the milk, coagulate it in some way, and then strain the curds from the whey to form a soft, fresh, spreadable cheese product.

Source: Bon Appetite

Now back to the ricotta filling for the cannoli…


This process is surprisingly simple!

  • Buy good quality whole milk ricotta cheese. Higher-quality ricotta has less additives and stabilizers. This ensures a smooth and creamy filling. If you’ve ever had very grainy ricotta, you know what I mean.
  • Strain your ricotta well! This will ensure that the filling stays firm and doesn’t create a soggy crust.
  • Whip it! Use an electric mixer to make the filling extra smooth.
  • Use a plastic bag or pastry bag to fill the shells. This will cause less mess and ensure the filling stays inside the cannoli instead of touching the outer part of the shell.
  • Not too sweet! Don’t add too much sugar, or it will loosen the ricotta and cause it to be runny.
Cannoli on a white plate with a piping bag.

How to Strain Ricotta

How do you strain ricotta with paper towels?

Place the strainer (or colander) over a large bowl so that there is at least an inch or two of space under the strainer above the bowl.

Place a few layers of cheesecloth (or strong paper towels) over the strainer.

Spoon ricotta cheese on top of the cheesecloth and fold the cheesecloth around cheese to contain it. Leave it covered in the fridge for 4 hours overnight.

How to Fix Runny Cannoli Filling

Quick Fix. If you already prepared your cannoli filling following the recipe and it still turned out watery, you can still salvage the cream.

Drain the runny filling, thoroughly squeeze additional whole milk ricotta and add the dry cheese to the mixture.

If it needs a little extra sweetness, adjust by adding a bit more sugar.

Cannoli on a white plate.

What can I Substitute for Ricotta?

Honestly, I’m an Italian purest, and it hard to think of cannoli without ricotta! However, I will provide you with some options:

  • Whipped cream cheese
  • Mascarpone
  • Cottage Cheese (this would be a ‘healthy version’)

What Else Can I use to Fill Cannoli Sheels?

Cannoli filled with smooth Italian pastry cream aren’t traditional but provide a delicious variation. Fill your crispy, sweet, cannoli tubes with these delicious creams:

Can I Make Cannoli Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can make cannoli ahead of time. Here is all you need to know:

Make the shells ahead of time. Fried cannoli shells store well both at room temperature and in the freezer.

If you’re not serving them within a few days, freeze the shells for maximum freshness.

Store in an air-tight container or zip lock bag at room temperature for two days, if longer, freeze in freezer bags.

Make the filling ahead of time. You can make the filling a day or two in advance and refrigerate it, but remember: Don’t fill the cannoli until just before serving time.

Storing Options

Cannoli are best enjoyed fresh! However, you can store them in the fridge for one or two days.

Traditional Toppings

Feel free to be creative with what you dip in the ends of the cannoli it can make them unique and fun! The most traditional and authentic toppings for cannoli are:

  • chocolate shavings or chunks
  • candied orange peel
  • crushed pistachios
  • marinated cherries
Cannoli stacked on a white plate.

A story about these Italian Cannoli

One of the things Italian women love to do is talk about recipes and food! Surprise, surprise.

My Sicilian friend, Lilli, shared this recipe with me. We were talking on the beach one day, and she described me the easiest, most mouthwatering cannoli recipe.

She described how she still makes this recipe with her mamma. It is tried and authentic and delicious!

I love sharing family recipes with you, and I can’t wait for you to make these fantastic cannoli and share them with you and yours!

Made with Amore, Elena.

From My Cucina to Your Table. Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)! You may also like: How to Make Homemade Ravioli- Italian Recipe!

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Cannoli lined up on a white plate.

Try these delicious Authentic Sicilian Cannoli soon! They will make you feel as though you’re in a village in Sicily enjoying a sweet treat.

Don’t forget to leave a STAR rating and REVIEW after making the recipe! I look forward to hearing from you!

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Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe

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5 from 5 reviews

Who doesn’t love Italian cannoli? The crunchy fried pastry shell filled with creamy sweet ricotta filling dipped in a variety of fun topping to decorate the ends. You will be surprised by how easy this popular Italian dessert comes together! This recipe is straight from Sicily, the motherland of cannoli. 

  • Total Time: 40 minutes + dough rest time
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


Units Scale

Cannoli Dough 

  • 2 cups 00 flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar (granulated is fine as well)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1/8 cup cold butter, cut in cubes
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine, more if needed
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for frying (about 8 cups)
  • 1 egg, well beaten for egg wash to seal the dough around the cannoli form sticking


  • 3 cups ricotta cheese, stained (no liquid)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar (if you use granulated, it won’t be as smooth)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional, but traditional, to put in the filling. I prefer without)

Optional decorations for the ends:

  • candied orange slices
  • crushed pistachios
  • chocolate chips


Cannoli Shells

  1. In a large mixing bowl sift in flour, cocoa, powdered sugar and salt. Add egg and butter start to work with hands. Mix until crumbly and butter is in small pieces. Add marsala wine little by little until dough comes together. You may need to add a little extra wine here to create a soft doughy mixture. 
  2. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface for an additional 10 minutes.  Shape the well mixed dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  3. Heat a large pot with 1 1/2 inches vegetable oil to 345 – 355 degrees. Working with half the dough at a time (and keeping the other half covered in the bowl) roll the dough out very thinly onto a well-floured surface (nearly 1/16-inch). You can use a pasta machine to roll it out thin or a rolling pin will do. 
  4. Using a 3 1/2 to 4-inch cookie cutter (or shape of a round glass cup), cut dough into rounds. Wrap dough circles around each cannoli mold, and brush about 3/4-inch of one end lightly with beaten egg (use a pastry brush or just your fingertip). Press the edge to the opposite side to seal the dough together around the cannoli form.
  5. Using metal tongs, carefully immerse the shell in preheated oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, about 1 – 2 minutes (be sure to watch oil temp so the oil doesn’t get too hot and burn shells. You can fry up to 6 at a time).
  6. Remove from oil using metal tongs to grasp the cannoli shell (let oil from inside forms drain back into pot), transfer to paper towels to drain. Use metal tongs to hold mold (or folded layers of paper towels) and wrap a paper towel around shell to carefully slide off of form.
  7. Let forms cool and repeat the process with the remaining dough circles. You can shake excess flour from the scraps, press them back together, cover in a bowl and let it relax at least 10 minutes, then reuse.
  8. Allow to cool on a wire rack then fill with cannoli filling and decorate as desired (with melted chocolate on edges, chopped pistachios, mini chocolate chips or dust tops with powdered sugar).

Cannoli Filling

  1. Whip the ricotta with a hand or a stand mixer, about 2-3 minutes. Sift the powdered sugar into the ricotta. Gently fold in the powdered sugar with a wooden spoon or spatula until smooth and combined. Then, fold in chocolate chips (if using). 
  2. Transfer the filling into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe filling into cooled cannoli shells. You can also cut off the tip with a spoon or a sandwich bag.
  3. Add the ricotta filling to a pastry bag. Squeeze it into the shells from each side, then dip in your desired topping (crushed pistachios, orange peel, or chocolate chips), and finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.
  4. For best results, fill your cannoli just before serving — or at the table in front of your guests! 
  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes + dough rest time
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Sweet
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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  1. Hello, I tried the 2x recipe but was left with a bowl which was more like crumbly flour than a dough. Im not sure if two eggs and 1/2 cup of Marsala are enough to turn the dry ino a dough. Did I mix it wrong? I just dumped the eggs on top of the flour and tried mixing. Thanks for your feedback!

    1. It is best if you slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry to form the dough. Make sure to scramble the eggs first, or in a little well in the flour mixture.

  2. I only wish that this recipe would have contained the directions for the settings used when using a pasta machine for rolling out the dough.

  3. In your cannoli shell instructions you left out an important step…….after cutting the 4” rounds you have to roll them out with rolling pin fairly thin in an oval shape and then wrap them around the cannoli tube seal with egg wash and then fry.

    1. Happy you enjoyed the recipe! Since I roll the dough out thin to start, I do not roll it again since it is already thin enough. If yours isn’t thin before cutting, or you want it even thinner- you are absolutely right; you can roll it out more with a rolling pin. That is a great method to use. Thank you for the suggestion. Enjoy the cannoli.

  4. How are you measuring your ingredients? I am trying to make this recipe and I generally choose to use weights when baking, but most of these make no sense. 1/4 teaspoon of cocoa powder is nowhere near 5 grams. Also, the powdered sugar measurements are way off compared to grams as well. I am going to go by the weights and hope for the best but it is a major difference and that is why it piqued my interest to even check. The weights compared to the measurements make this recipe very confusing.

    1. Hi Michael, I see your confusion. You are right- the grams got messed up when I went back and forth between metric and U.S. editing the post a couple of days ago! The easiest way is to keep the grams or the cups and then use the conversion button on the recipe card to go back and forth between the two. This is a phenomenal recipe, and I hope you can try it. Enjoy!

      1. You may want to correct the ricotta to say “strained” rather than stained.

        Also, your recipe does not specify what type of ricotta should be used. Is it whole milk, skim, non-fat?

        My Sicilian friends tell me that the ricotta should be goat ricotta. Is that true?

        Last question–I prefer precise ingredients, if I were to follow you weights version of the recipe–will that still be accurate?

      2. Use full fat ricotta. If you can find that type of ricotta you can use it, but it is less common in the United States. Enjoy.

      3. Should a full fat butter (like an imported IRISH or other European butter) be used instead of the regular butter?

        Also, your recipe does not say whether the butter should be salted or non salted. Which is it?

  5. We made this recipe for an episode of our home cooking podcast, Three Kitchens, and it turned out great! We made our own wooden dowel cannoli forms; deep fried using coconut oil; and switched up the filling with a coconut whipped cream due to a dairy sensitivity. Fantastic!

    1. Hello! The marsala wine is used to leaven the dough with a bit of acidity. You can use any type of wine. You can also use a little red wine vinegar mixed with grape juice to equal the same amount of liquid (this will alter the taste a bit). I hope that helps!