Cannoli Made Easy

by candy47

Crispy shells with a rich and creamy ricotta cheese filling. Cannoli are usually found in Italian pastry shops, but they're so easy to make at home.

I grew up in a New Jersey town where Italian bakeries and pastry shops were on every corner, and it's still that way today. Italian pastries, especially cannoli, are a food staple in any Italian household. But if like me, you don't live anywhere close to an Italian pastry shop then you're left to your own devices and must make these delectable pastries at home. You'll be surprised at just how easy they are to make.
The classic no frills cannoli consist of cylinder-shaped deep fried pastry shells then filled with sweetened ricotta cheese, however the variations are endless.

The Shells

Making cannoli shells depends entirely on your level of ambition. There are a lot of ingredients, a lot of mixing, rolling out dough, deep frying and it's just plain time consuming. My perfect recipe for cannoli shells is to buy shells ready-made from the folks who know how to do it.  Ferrara has been making cannoli shells since 1892, I feel confident when ordering their shells.  They come in regular size and miniature

Homemade Cannoli Shells

Both with video

But if you want to dive into the task of making the shells yourself, here are two excellent recipes.

  1. You might have seen chef Alex Guarnaschelli on the Food Network channel.  This is her recipe for

    Homemade Cannoli Video

  2. Rachael Ray with guest chef Cake Boss Buddy Valastro making

    Cannoli Shells Video


The Filling

Basic recipe for about 16 large cannoli
  • 2 lbs. ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg (or cinnamon)

Drain liquid from ricotta. Combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. You can use a food processor or electric mixer. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cannoli with Chocolate Chips
Cannoli with Chocol...

Start with the basic filling recipe then add decorations

I like to prepare a batch of the basic filling as above, then after the shells are filled sprinkle various toppings on just the ends. Your tray of cannoli will look colorful and pretty, and all you did was make one basic filling.  Here are just a few ideas for decorating...


  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Chopped pistachios, cashews, almonds...any nuts
  • Candied citrus and cherries
  • Sprinkles - the kind you use on ice cream
  • Toasted coconut
  • Crushed candy canes, nice for Christmas
  • Butterscotch get the idea!


Sicilian Cannoli
Sicilian Cannoli
Italian Cannoli
Italian Cannoli

Tuscany inspired, 14" serving platter to showcase your homemade cannoli

Melamine - safe for outdoor parties!
Certified International Corp Tuscany ...


  • The shell of a cannoli should be crisp and crunchy but not hard, it should never be soft or soggy, that's why they should be filled just before serving.
  • The filling should be thick and creamy, without chunks, and it should not be too sugary or runny.

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Updated: 09/16/2016, candy47
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candy47 on 09/16/2016

The filling is really easy and can be altered in so many ways. It's the shells that are time consuming with no room for error. That's why I like pre-made shells.

Susan on 09/16/2016

I've never tried making cannoli, but it sounds so easy with the store-bought shells. Thanks for the inspiration and the easy recipe!

candy47 on 09/15/2016

The pre-made shells make it so easy!

katiem2 on 09/15/2016

Nice recipe for making a good yet simple cannoli, my kids love them and I have never attempted to make canolies, now I know I can

candy47 on 11/03/2015

Try them CarleyClagg, I think you'll like the sweet cheese filling.

CarleyClagg on 11/03/2015

Good article! Canolis always look good to me, but the "cheese" part has always kind of weireded me out. I'll definitely have to give them a try. I bet they would be good with the chocolate chips!

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