Cannolis are one of my favorite Italian dessert recipes! My homemade cannolis start with a scratch made shell filled with the best creamy filling!
This heavenly treat definitely takes time and patience, but every ounce is worth it!
Why this recipe works:
A cannoli is an Italian pastries in the form of hard tubular shells filled with sweetened ricotta cheese and often containing nuts, citron, or chocolate bits.
- The wonderful flavor and texture of a good cannoli is so hard to describe. It's something you should really experience.
- The shell is a pastry that you fry. It is only slightly sweet. I suppose it's taste is similar to an unfrosted donut, but the texture is crisp and thin.
- The filling isn't overly sweet either. Some people might have a hard time with a pure ricotta filling. I wanted mine lighter and creamier, so I also used heavy cream and mascarpone cheese.
- Since I think every cannoli needs a good crunch, inside and out, I used mini chocolate chips and crushed pistachios. YUM!
Making homemade cannolis isn't exactly difficult, but there's some equipment needed in order to make the process easy and consistent. It takes a bit of time, too, since you have to make the cannoli shells and the cannoli filling.
I highly recommend grabbing a friend and making an experience of the process!
There are two main components: the cream and the shells.
My filling recipe consists of:
- heavy cream
- mascarpone cheese (I prefer the Trader Joe's brand and use it for my mascarpone frosting)
- ricotta cheese
- confectioners sugar
- pure vanilla extract
- lemon zest and orange zest
- pistachio flavor - optional but highly recommended
My shell recipe consists of:
- flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon
- an egg plus an egg yolk
- sweet Marsala wine - it ain't a cannoli if you don't use this ingredient!
- vinegar and water
How to make them:
I'll try to simplify the process of how I make my Italian cannoli and give you a good summary, since the recipe below is super thorough and I included a ton of process photos.
- Start by making the filling. I like to use the stand mixer to get it light and fluffy. The filling needs to chill at least a couple hours or over night before it gets stuffed into the shells.
- Next you'll make the dough for the shells. This dough will need to be kneaded for about 10 minutes. You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer with a dough hook. You'll want to wrap the dough and let it rest for about an hour, refrigerated, until you're ready to make the shells.
- The dough must be rolled out extremely thin. The thinner the dough, the crisper and lighter the shells will cook. I like to use my pasta roller, but if you're talented you can roll by hand.
- To cook the shells, you must first wrap the dough around cannoli tubes. Then, you'll deep fry the dough while wrapped around the tubes for only about a minute. Once they're removed from the oil and cool enough to handle, you'll slide the tube out and repeat, repeat, repeat. This is why it's best to make the shells with a friend.
- Now you can finally fill the shells with the cream filling. Add as many chocolate chips and nuts to the filling and then dip the ends in the chocolate to make them extra pretty.
CLICK TO PLAY RECIPE VIDEO
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (unsifted)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
- 3 Tbs unsalted butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
- 1 egg (slightly beaten)
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup sweet Marsala wine
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1 egg white (slightly beaten)
- Oil (for deep frying (about 1 quart))
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 16 ounces Ricotta cheese (whole milk)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- zest from one lemon
- zest from one orange
- ¼ teaspoon pistachio flavor (optional)
- 10 ounces mini chocolate chips (less if you don't add them to the filling)
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
To make the Ricotta filling:
- Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip heavy cream using whisk attachment until peaks form. This takes just a few minutes. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add mascarpone cheese to stand mixer bowl and blend until light and fluffy, just for a minute or two. Transfer mascarpone to the bowl with the whipped cream.
- Add ricotta to the stand mixer bowl and blend ricotta cheese until smooth. Mix in powdered sugar, vanilla, and zest. Fold in previously whipped heavy cream and mascarpone cheese along with pistachio flavor (if using).
- Cover and chill several hours or chill overnight.
To make the cannoli shells:
- Whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter. Make a well in the center and add the egg and and the egg yolk, wine, vinegar, and water. Mix with a fork to combine or use your hands to mix, if needed. Knead by hand or with a dough hook in your stand mixer for about 10 minutes. Form into a ball, wrap dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour.
- Roll out a rounded tablespoon of dough, press flat into a disk shape, and coat both sides with flour. You can try to roll it by hand, but I find it ideal to run through my pasta roller. The goal is to create flat ovals that are about 4-6 inches long, and the thinner and more uniform, the better they will cook.
- Using an Atlas pasta roller, I processed the dough starting at setting 1.
- Then I continued to increase the setting through to level 6.
- Lightly oil the outside of a tube (oil spray works great).
- Lay the tube on one end of the disc and roll the tube.
- When you reach the end dab egg white on the flap and finish rolling.
- Lightly press the the end with the egg white to seal.
To cook the cannoli shells:
- Heat oil to 350 degrees F. Fry 2-3 at a time (while still wrapped around cannoli form) until golden, about a minute. Remove with tongs and place on paper towels to drain. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, gently slip the form out of the shell. Cool completely before filling. Note: this process is SOOOO much easier if you have one person rolling the cannoli shells and the other person is cooking them.
To fill cannoli:
- Remove ricotta filling from refrigerator. If it appears too liquid to stuff into the shells, whip with a whisk attachment on a stand mixer for about a minute on high speed. That should thicken it up. If you want chocolate chips mixed in with the filling, add about half to the filling and stir.
- Add ricotta filling to piping bag with a wide tube fitting and pipe into each shell. Insert at each end, start filling at the middle of the cannoli and work your way out. To serve, dust with powdered sugar and garnish ends with mini chocolate chips and crushed pistachios.
Can I freeze them?
I think they can be frozen but I never have. I don't know how great the shells will taste once thawed with the filling.
Have been trying to make canolies for years, no luck. This recipe has different ingredients maybe I will be lucky this time. Will let you know when I try this new technique.
I followed the recipe as instructed, the taste is good, my wife enjoyed the taste however didn’t have the Consistency and taste of a cannoli she remembers back in the day.
Is there a way to firm up the cannoli filling, it’s not firm as I expected.
Thank you for your assistance.👨🏻🍳
Cannoli filling definitely varies. You could try reducing the amount of heavy cream and increasing the amount of ricotta.
I added no bake cheesecake and it really helped with the consistency.
Can you mix all the fillings all at once instead of doing step-by-step
it'll work, but I found you get the lightest, smoothest filling by taking the extra steps
Can you mix all the filling ingredients all at once instead of doing All those steps
Hi. Where can I buy a good set of canoli tubes? I purchased some on Amazon and sending them back bc they came all bent and don’t look like a good quality especially for deep frying. Thank you.
I found mine at my local kitchen store. I believe they are Norpro brand. I see bed bath and beyond carries them too.
Hi, I would like to use your cannoli filling recipe in a three layer 8 inch cake. Do you think I should double the recipe for that? Thank you!
If you're only using it for a filling between the layers and not on the outside, I think the quantity should be enough
How much zest do you use from each
I use all of the zest. You can totally reduce the amount, taste it, and continue adding more to suit your liking.
Hello, should the mascarpone be at room temp? Mine never mixed in well.
Gosh, I don't remember if mine was at room temperature. I find that different kinds of mascarpone mix differently. I know this because of my mascarpone recipe. I always use Trader Joe's brand and I'm wondering if that's the difference?
Can I air fry the Cannoli?
I haven't tried that. Not sure it would work as the dough might stick to the base, but if you spray it with oil first it might work!
I need to make 125 mini cannoli’s, approx 2 1/2”...should I double or triple the filling recipe. Thank you in advance!
Oh boy. If it were me, I would double the filling and if it wasn't enough I would just make another batch. Or... you could triple the filling and if you have extra, you can use it for something else! Sorry - not super helpful.
Will a rolling pin work also? I don't have a pasta roller. This looks really good and would like to give it a try.
It will. You just have to get the dough VERY thin.
Does the ricotta need to be strained first?
I buy whole milk ricotta at Trader Joe's and it never has liquid that needs to be strained.
Yes, strain it!
how long will cannoli shells keep fresh how to store
I would store the cannoli shells in an air tight container at room temp. They are definitely the best on the day of and that's how I recommend using them, however they won't go bad for probably a good week. They just won't taste as fresh.
These cute little cigars look awesome and surely delicious. Love to make some for a kids party. They to truly enjoy every bite of it.
You are right Holy Cannoli, these look absolutely amazing.
Holy cannoli is right! The flavors you use for the cannoli cream are amazing!
Love this classic dessert and this recipe looks and sounds amazing! Looking forward to making this tomorrow for dessert! Yum!
It's been a while since I last had cannolis, so I am really looking forward to making these. They look absolutely amazing!