Easy Cannoli Recipe

Liz Capozzoli, recipe developer and food blogger at OwlBbaking, is a self proclaimed dessert lover who enjoys trying out new and classic recipes. Her Italian ancestry is often an inspiration for her baking projects, and these cannolis are no exception. The dessert is typical in Sicily, but you don't need to be in southern Italy in order to enjoy this tasty treat. Cannolis might appear to be one of those sweets that are easier to buy than make, but with Capozzoli's simple recipe on deck, you won't hesitate to whip them up for your next gathering.

According to Capozzoli, "This recipe is easier than traditional cannoli recipes, because you don't have to make the shells. Cannoli shells are made by deep frying dough over a metal mold ... [which] always adds a lot of work." Instead, Capozzoli opts for store-bought shells, noting that they "taste just as good, and they're ready to go when you are!" We're always game for a shortcut, as long as it stands up to a taste test, and Capozzoli approves of this one. We're even more on board when she remarks, "What I like most is that this feels like a very fancy dessert, but it was so easy to make!" So, why not whip up some cannolis to impress your next guests?

Gather the ingredients to prepare this easy cannoli recipe

Gather the ingredients for this easy cannoli recipe. First off, you'll want to pick up a box of pre-made cannoli shells. These will make the entire process infinitely simpler. You might find them in the baking section of your supermarket or in a specialty Italian food shop. Next, the classic cannoli filling is mainly composed of whole milk ricotta cheese. This fresh cheese has a neutral flavor and creamy texture that works well in desserts. Capozzoli recommends the Galbani brand, if you can find it, "due to its ideal moisture content." She describes it as being drier than other brands, "which is ideal for cannolis." For the best results, drain the ricotta in a sieve overnight.

Powdered sugar is used to sweeten the ricotta while maintaining its smooth consistency. (Save some extra to dust the cannolis when they're ready to serve!) A pinch of cinnamon will add a warm earthy flavor to the filling without taking over. Finally, some mini chocolate chips are incorporated into the filling and are also sprinkled over the sides for a chocolate touch and a bit of crunch. If you want to switch it up, Capozzoli remarks, "Aside from chocolate, I like to add chopped pistachios (unsalted), or chopped-up dried fruit." If you don't care about sticking to the classic flavor profile, Capozzoli says, "These might be untraditional, but some other great toppings to play with could be shredded coconut, a drizzle of caramel, or fresh fruit."

Start by making the cannoli filling

First of all, you'll start by making the filling for the cannolis. Set out a large bowl, and add the whole milk ricotta, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and ¼ cup of mini chocolate chips. With a spoon or spatula, mix everything together until the ingredients are well combined. If the mixture appears loose, Capozzoli recommends chilling it in the refrigerator for an hour to help thicken it up. She remarks that this step is especially necessary if you didn't have time to drain the ricotta overnight.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag, and fill the cannoli shells

Next, with the help of a spoon, carefully transfer the ricotta mixture into a large piping bag. Alternatively, a disposable Ziploc bag with the tip cut off makes a great substitute. Now, pick up one of your cannoli shells, and insert the tip of the bag halfway into the hollow center. Squeeze the bag to fill half the shell, while slowly pulling it out. Capozzoli says, "Stop filling once you reach the edge of the cannoli shell." She recommends leaving about ⅛-inch free at the edge and explains, "That way, the ricotta mixture has some room to settle without spilling out the sides." Repeat the same process on the other side of the shell without overfilling the cannoli. The filling should be sufficient for six shells.

Sprinkle the cannolis with mini chocolate chips

Once you've finished filling up all of the shells, you should have no more ricotta mixture remaining. In case you happen to still have some, extra cannoli filling is great to have around. Now, sprinkle ½ cup of mini chocolate chips over the ends of the cannoli shells where they can stick to the filling. If you want to try one of Capozzoli's suggestions and add pistachios, coconut flakes, fruit, or a caramel drizzle, now's the time.

Dust the cannolis with powdered sugar, and serve

Add the final touch by dusting some powdered sugar over the top of the cannolis. Not too shabby! Serve up these delicious treats immediately before the ricotta mixture starts to get runny. Capozzoli points out that the filling can even be made the day before, but she warns, "Do not fill the shells until [you are] ready to serve, or you'll end up with soggy cannoli!"

Aside from their stellar appearance, Capozzoli loves that "the ricotta mixture is only slightly sweet, making it a great treat to enjoy any time." We're sure you'll feel the same way once you have a bite. This is such a delicious dessert and makes a really impressive presentation!

Easy Cannoli Recipe
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Cannolis might appear to be one of those sweets that are easier to buy than make, but with this recipe on deck, you won't hesitate whipping them up for guests.
Prep Time
Cook Time
plate of cannolis
Total time: 15 minutes
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk ricotta cheese, drained in a sieve overnight
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 pre-made cannoli shells
  1. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and ¼ cup of mini chocolate chips until combined. (If the mixture looks loose or runny, chill for 1 hour while it thickens.)
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large piping bag or a disposable Ziploc bag with the tip cut off.
  3. Insert the tip of the bag halfway into a cannoli shell, and squeeze the filling into the shell until it comes out from the opening, leaving a ⅛-inch edge. Repeat with the other side.
  4. Once all the cannolis are filled, sprinkle the ends with the remaining mini chocolate chips.
  5. Dust the shells with powdered sugar.
  6. Serve the cannolis immediately.
Calories per Serving 956
Total Fat 56.1 g
Saturated Fat 15.4 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 35.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 98.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
Total Sugars 32.4 g
Sodium 889.4 mg
Protein 13.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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