Holy Cannoli! This is the BEST Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe! It comes straight from Sicilia, Italia 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!
- Why I love this recipe
- Where in Italy do cannoli come from?
- How to Make CANNOLI SHELLS from Scratch
- TIPS for SHELLS
- Products Needed
- How to Make Ricotta Filling
- What Exactly is Ricotta Cheese?
- TIPS for FILLING
- How to Strain Ricotta
- How to Fix Runny Cannoli Filling
- What can I Substitute for Ricotta?
- What Else Can I use to Fill Cannoli Sheels?
- Can I Make Cannoli Ahead of Time?
- Storing Options
- Traditional Toppings
- Story about these Cannoli
- Step by Step Instructions with Photos
- Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe
Why I love this recipe
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.
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!
- All purpose flour
- Cocoa powder
- Confectioners sugar (granulated is fine as well)
- Pinch of salt
- 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 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 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.
How to Make CANNOLI SHELLS from Scratch
You CAN make CANnoli. It is easier than you think! The process is fairly 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.
TIPS for SHELLS
- Fresh is best. As 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 the dough. 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 fairly thin- about 1/16-inch thickness.
- This will make them thick enough to fry and still flaky. You can use a rolling pin or a pasta maker.
- 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 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!
Here is the CANNOLI MOLD I use for making the shells. You can use these mold to make other pastries and even your own ice cream cones!
This 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.
How to Make Ricotta Filling
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 in to the process- let's talk about ricotta cheese- the star of the show in this filling.
What Exactly is Ricotta Cheese?
So, ricotta actually translates to recooked in Italian, and ricotta is what’s called a "whey cheese." When you make cheese, you separate milk into two distinct things.
You have the solids, called curds, which will be separated out and pressed to form cheese.
And you have the liquid that is left behind, called whey.
Most cheeses that 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 to make 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 cheese cloth is emptied of any remaining whey, you’ll be looking 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.
Now back to the ricotta filling for the cannoli...
TIPS for FILLING
This process is surprisingly simple!
- Buy good quality whole milk ricotta cheese. Higher quality ricotta has less additives and stabilizers. This insures a smooth and creamy filling. If you've ever had very grainy ricotta you know what I mean.
- Strain your ricotta well! This will insure 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 shells. This will cause less mess and make sure 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.
How to Strain Ricotta
How do you strain ricotta with paper towels?
Place 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 cheesecloth around cheese to contain. Leave it covered in the fridge for 4 hours to 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 little more sugar.
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
- 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 they 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.
Cannoli are best enjoyed fresh! However, you can store them in the fridge for one or two days.
Feel free to be creative with what you dip 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
Story about these Cannoli
One of the things Italian women love to do is talk about recipes and food! Surprise, surprise.
This is a recipe that my Sicilian friend, Lilli, shared with me. We were talking on the beach one day and she described the easiest most mouthwatering cannoli recipe to me.
She described how she still makes this recipe with her mamma. It is tried and true and absolutely delicious!
I love sharing family recipes with you and I can't wait for you to make these amazing cannoli and share them with you and yours!
Step by Step Instructions with Photos
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Made with Amore, Elena.
From My Cucina to Your Table. Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)! You may also like: How to Make Homemade Ravioli- Italian Recipe!
More Delicious Sweet Recipes for YOU
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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!Print
- 2 cups (240 g) all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoons (5 g) cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) confectioners sugar (granulated is fine as well)
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg, well beaten
- ⅛ cup (25 g) cold butter, cut in cubes
- ¼ cup (60 g) 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)
- ¾ cup (75 g) powdered sugar (if you use granulated it won't be as smooth)
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup (80 g) 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Heat a large pot with 1 ½-inches vegetable oil to 345 - 355 degrees. Working with half the dough at a time (and keeping other half covered in the bowl) roll 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.
- Using a 3 ½ to 4-inch cookie cutter (or shape of a round glass cup), cut dough into rounds. Wrap individual dough circles around each cannoli form, brush about ¾-inch of one end lightly with beaten egg (use a pastry brush or just your fingertip). Press edge to opposite side to seal the dough together around the cannoli form.
- Using metal tongs, carefully immerse shell in preheated oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, about 1 - 2 minutes (be sure to watch oil temp so oil doesn't get too hot and burn shells. You can fry up to 6 at a time).
- 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.
- Let forms cool and repeat process with remaining dough circles. You can shake excess flour from the scraps, press back together, cover in bowl and let relax at least 10 minutes then reuse.
- 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).
- 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).
- Transfer filling into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe filling into cooled cannoli shells. You can also use a spoon or a sandwich bag and cut off the tip.
- 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.
- For best results, fill your cannoli just before serving — or at the table in front of your guests! Mangia! (Eat!)
- Prep Time: 20 minutes + dough rest time
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Sweet
- Method: Italian
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: cannoli, Italian deseert, ricotta, Sicilian cannoli, sweet recipe, Italian dessert