Easy Cannoli recipe with fresh ricotta filling, and decorated to perfection. Italian bakeries step aside for this at home treat.
I’m not Italian. Not a drop, that I know of anyways.
However, I think I did pretty well with these Cannoli. I mean considering that before this recipe, the only cannoli I had ever eaten were from Disney Epcot Italy!
Those Cannoli left enough of an impression that they’ve been on my mind for years.
I remembered every little bite of that cannoli, down to the little orange candy inside. Finally, I decided I needed to try my hand at making my own from scratch.
Ambitious, maybe. But the results were well worth it!
What is Cannoli?
Cannoli are pastry shells stuffed with a sweet cream filling, usually with Ricotta. Sicily lays claim to being the birthplace of Cannoli although these days they’re considered a broadly Italian dessert specialty.
You need a special metal tube to shape and fry the shells. You can buy the tubes online or make life easier–but an equally delicious route–you can buy premade cannoli shells at the grocery store.
Since this was my first time making cannoli of any kind, and only my second time eating it, I decided to focus on the filling.
What is Cannoli filling made of?
While there are tons of variations on Cannoli filling, virtually all of them include Ricotta cheese and powdered sugar.
Similar to our favorite cannoli dip, I also used mascarpone cheese and almond extract, along with candied orange peel to replicate the Disney version.
My kids ate these up in Disney, and begged me to make them at home. So here it is: An authentic homemade cannoli recipe!
What you’ll Need
- Ricotta cheese
- Mascarpone cheese
- Powdered sugar
- Candied orange peel – Homemade or store bought
- Almond extract
- Optional garnishes: chocolate chips, pistachios, sprinkles, more powdered sugar
How to Make the Filling
Mix ricotta with mascarpone and powdered sugar until fluffy and smooth. Beat in almond extract. Fold in candied oranges. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until ready to use.
To fill the shells with Cannoli filling:
Pipe filling into cooled cannoli shells. Sprinkle with chocolate chips or powdered sugar. Eat immediately! Enjoy!
Cannoli Recipe Tips
- Chocolate Cannoli: I added a little more chocolate by dipping the ends of each shell into melted semi sweet chocolate then allowing it to harden before stuffing with the Cannoli filling. Delicious!
- Cannoli toppings: A little powdered sugar is all you really need for perfectly elegant looking cannoli. The chocolate chips, pistachios, and sprinkles added a little bit more fun to the finished look!
- Can you make Cannoli ahead of time? You can prep the Cannoli filling ahead of time, as much as a day in advance of serving. Once the shells are stuffed with the filling they need to be served right away!
More Italian Recipes
Recipe originally published August 31, 2011. Photos updated 2020.
Cannoli makes for an impressive dessert for any special occasion. It’s fancy enough to wow all the grown ups and kids love them too–especially with extra sprinkles!