My stepfather was Sicilian American and knew a thing or two about food. I sometimes take for granted how lucky I was to have him in my life. He would have never called himself a foodie, but he could cook anything and he would drive all over town to find the best Italian meats, cheeses and pastries, including cannoli.


A few years after leaving home,  I started making cannoli on my own using cannoli shells purchased at a specialty shop.  Because I never had to worry about making the shells, I got pretty good at making filling and am happy with this recipe.  I use the best whole milk ricotta cheese I can find, but I usually cheat and add a small amount of cream cheese for extra smoothness.  Making the shells from scratch requires cannoli forms and the motivation to deep fry, but if you have the time and patience the shells are worth it.  Otherwise, just buy Alessi.

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Small Batch Cannoli Recipe using homemade shells. Feel free to skip the more time consuming method and use store-bought!
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 oz heavy cream (optional)
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels
Cannoli Shells -- Use Store Bought or This Recipe
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (8 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine plus water if needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Oil for frying
  1. Place ricotta cheese on a stack of paper towels and blot out any excess moisture. If you use good ricotta, you probably won’t get much drainage. Transfer to food processor. Add cream cheese and process until smooth and creamy. Scrape sides of bowl. Process a little more, then add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and lemon juice; process for another 30 seconds.
  2. In a medium size bowl, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the cheese into the whipped cream. Stir in the chocolate chips. Fill the shells before serving.
  3. To make shells, mix flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture is mealy. Combine egg yolk, wine and vanilla and add to processor. Pulse until mixer comes together. If mixture still seems too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Empty onto a sheet of waxed paper and shape into a ball. Let stand for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
  4. Roll dough as thin as you possibly can -- you might want to do this in smaller portions. For instance, break off some dough and roll it paper thin rather than rolling the whole ball. If you want, you can even break off little sections and then press them as thinly as possible with your hands. I've found that way the easiest. But if you want to cut them, roll out the dough and using edge of a bowl or large mouth wine glass, cut circles of dough. You can make them any size you want – I found the smaller cannoli easier to work with and by small, I mean about 3 inches across.
  5. Roll each circle of dough around a metal cannoli tube, overlapping the ends and press to seal. Try not to press the dough on too tight or the cannoli shell will be more difficult to remove.
  6. Fry two at a time in about a 1/2 inch of oil (about 360 degrees F.) for approximately 1-3 minutes, turning to brown all side. Remove from oil and set on paper towels to drain. Let cool for a few minutes, then carefully slide from tubes.
  7. Makes about 6 to 8 depending on how big you make them or how many you mess up.



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  1. says

    Those look fantastic!
    There are some really good Italian restaurants in Chicago. I think I’ll try cannoli the next time I’m there. I’ve never found a good smooth Ricotta cheese, so I doubt I’ll ever make these. 🙁

  2. Gigi says

    If you have a pasta roller (either as an attachment for a KitchenAid mixer or the stand-alone unit) you can use that to roll the dough. Much easier if you have a motorized version!

  3. Juli says

    My birthday was yesterday, and my (Italian) mother made cannoli for dessert. They had dried cherries in the filling (no chocolate – it’s not a favorite of mine) and crushed pistachios on the ends. They’re one of my favorites and they were delicious!

  4. says

    I haven’t had these in years, and never attempted to make them on my own. But I have always thought of doing a veggie cannoli. Sounds good if done right, you know?

  5. says

    I have a new pizzelle maker that I planned on making cannoli with. I am so glad you posted thid filling recipe. Now I won’t have to look any further for one. Thank you!

  6. says

    Love canolli! And that one looks about perfect! Homemade shells, just fried are so good I can eat them without the filling! You’re gonna have fun in the Cannolerias ;)!

  7. says

    Anna, I absolutely love cannoli! The last time I ordered it at a restaurant, the waitress talked to me for 5 minutes about how bad cannoli is for you! I’ll have to try to make it myself, this time without the lecture 🙂

  8. Fallon says

    I LOVE Cannolis! My boyfriend introduced them to me and I knew I had to learn how to make them on my own. I’m still trying to find the filling I like.. I can’t get the cream thick! Your recipe looks awesome. I wonder instead of cream cheese.. if mascarpone would work too? I also never tried whipping cream into the filling? Is that how they make it thick?

    I’m so glad to see you made a post on cannolis!

  9. says

    On my mom’s side I have a Sicilian Italian heritage — grew up eating these in New York at the best small italian bakeries– absolutely love them. recently tried them at Cinzetti’s here at Kansas City — and definitely a grainy filling. Must be smooth — you are so right.
    But I still ate two … they were mini ones so that’s okay right? LOL!

  10. says

    Anna – Canolis are to me like pumpkin is to you. And I’ve had the best and I’ve made them from scratch. No matter what I do I don’t like them. But your photo is beautiful.

  11. says

    Yummm, Cannoli Siciliani! I’m from NY so I was spoiled my whole life with excellent Cannoli! Once I moved to Florida I was shocked to see how badly some people could mess this pastry up. If the shell isn’t crisp, and the filling is too tart, its just BAD. I did a mini semester abroad in Italy this past summer for Art History, but my host institution was actually a Culinary School, so we took some culinary classes. Below is the link to the recipe I got from culinary school, filling made with Ricotta. SLURP! This cannoli was different from the ones I grew up with – the filling was not quite as thick, but they were stilllll delicious. Feel free to give this one a try! —

  12. Pearl of the Dark Age says

    I’ve been dying to try cannoli ever since I saw them on the show “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Deciding I’d rather make them from scratch than go out and buy them pre-made, I found this recipe while I was browsing the net. This is the one I want to try! So, I went out and bought myself cannoli tubes (aka forms) at Bristol Farms, and I bought the ricotta at Trader Joe’s. I thought I’d try mascarpone instead of cream cheese, so I hope that’s okay. I’ll be writing this comment as I make it…

    I just finished making the filling. It tastes great! I added white chocolate sauce instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips. It has a tiny, tiny amount of graininess to it from the ricotta still, too. Please keep in mind I don’t own a mixer, blender, or food processor. This is all done by hand… Now, to make the shells!

    The dough is a little damp, but it seems alright. I am eating my dinner now as I wait for 30 minutes to let it sit. The next part should be easy, I think.

    Well, I’m all done, and it all turned out pretty good for a first timer. I think next time I won’t skimp out on the whipped cream, and I’ll try to make my shells a little thinner. Thanks to you and Sal for the recipe! I really appreciated it!

  13. says

    Pearl, thanks for telling me about your cannoli making experience. About the graininess, that could either be from the white chocolate in the sauce or (like you said) the ricotta. I find that different brands of ricotta have different textures. I haven’t bought any in a while, but there’s a brand called “Polly O” that usually mixes up pretty smooth. Also, the food processor helps in that department. You could still get it smooth beating by hand, but it would take more elbow grease.

    Congratulations on making the shells! They take a lot of practice, and I have to admit I usually just buy the pre-made ones. The scratch ones taste so much better, though.

  14. Pearl of the Dark Age says

    You’re very welcome, and thank you, Anna, for replying! I feel special! I honestly didn’t mind the texture at all. I’m certain it is from the ricotta, as the ricotta does have the same exact texture… I don’t know if they sell Polly-O in Southern California. I’ll have to look around.

    I used to have a blender, but I dropped it on one sad, sad day… I miss that blender. It may have been that avocado green that used to be popular decades ago, but the pitcher part of it was made from old-fashioned quality glass you just can’t find anymore. I guess technically I do have a mixer, too, but that belongs to my mom, and I didn’t feel like going through the hassle of getting it.

    I guess with the shells I had beginner’s luck, or maybe they’re just not that hard for me to make. I don’t know. I didn’t like putting the dough on the wax paper, because the wax paper stuck to it like no one’s business! Maybe I’ll just use my cutting board next time. Oh, and I also sprayed the cannoli tubes with canola oil before wrapping the dough around it. That might be why I had such an easy time with it.

    I had a lot of fun making it, even if I didn’t have so much fun cleaning up after. No one in my household wanted to eat the cannoli I made, because they all said they were on a diet. I enjoyed every single one! They’re delicious, and I offer my gratuities again to you for the recipe! Thank you!!!

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