Sicilian Cannoli are a must have treat for Christmas in many Italian households. After a number of trial runs, I figured out a recipe that reminds me of the cannoli I grew up.
Ricotta- Ricotta is generally the main filling ingredient in cannoli. Make sure to strain it overnight to remove excess liquid.
Mascarpone- This Italian cream cheese provides nice tang and richness to the filling. You can substitute with more ricotta, but I strongly prefer using half mascarpone.
Flour- I really like the result with 00 flour for this recipe but all-purpose flour works well too!
Sugar- I like to use powdered sugar so it dissolves into the filling. Some cooks also suggest superfine sugar. Avoid granulated sugar.
Flavorings- During recipe testing, I found that too much vanilla or cinnamon can ruin the filling. I suggest using only a small amount, but feel free to add more per your own taste.
Candied orange peel- I like the addition of candied orange peel in the filling, but it is optional. I saw some recipes that used lemon zest or orange zest instead. You can also omit it all together and stir in a couple handfuls of chocolate chips.
Toppings- I like to dip my cannoli in chocolate chips and pistachios. You can use one or the other, or even try mini chocolate chips for an extra cute look.
The first step in making cannoli is straining the ricotta (1). It’s important because you don’t want the filling to be too loose and watery. Place the cheese in a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Place a weight on the top to encourage the excess liquid to drain out. I use a plate and a jar. Place in the fridge overnight.
To finish the filling, combine all ingredients in a food processer and blend until smooth and creamy. You can also whisk everything together by hand as shown here, but I find the texture is best in the food processer (2).
To make the shells, first whisk together the dry ingredients (1). Toss in the cubed butter. Then cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or pulse in the food processer (2). Mix together the wet ingredients in another bowl and stir into the dry ingredients (3-4). Add more marsala, as needed. Form into a disc and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours before rolling it out.
To roll out the dough, I suggest using a pasta machine if you have it (5). Otherwise, you can roll it out by hand. As you roll out the dough, cut 4-inch rounds with a pastry cutter (6). Then wrap around the cannoli molds and seal with a bit of egg white (7).
Deep fry the cannoli shells for 1-2 minutes at 350F or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack and remove molds from shells (8). When cool, pipe in filling and decorate as desired.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
- Wait until serving to fill the cannoli so that the shells stay crispy.
- Store the cannoli filling in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
- Store the cannoli shells in an airtight container at room temperature for up a week.
- I don’t suggest freezing the filled cannoli, however, you can freeze raw cannoli shell dough and defrost it when you’re ready to use it.
Cannoli filling is made of ricotta and sometimes mascarpone cheese. It’s sweetened with sugar and may contain a small amount of vanilla or cinnamon. You can add in candied citrus peel or chocolate chips, as well.
The average cannoli is roughly 250-350 calories each.
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Sicilian Cannoli (Cannoli Siciliani)
- Total Time: 32 minute
- Yield: about 2 dozen cannoli 1x
Sicilian Cannoli are a must have treat for Christmas. This recipe reminds me of the delicious cannoli I grew up.
- 16oz full-fat ricotta cheese (450g)
- 16oz mascarpone cheese or more ricotta (450g)
- 1 cup powdered sugar (140g)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (¼ tsp fine salt) (2g)
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract, or to taste
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon, or to taste
- ¼ cup chopped candied orange peel, or more to taste (optional) (45g)
- 1 ¾ cup 00 flour or all-purpose flour (265g)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (25g)
- ½ tablespoon cocoa powder (3g)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or ½ teaspoon fine salt (4g)
- 2 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes (30g)
- 1 large egg
- ¼ to ⅓ cup marsala wine (60-80ml), or as needed
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar (10ml)
- 1 egg white, for sealing dough
- Oil for frying, such as cannola or vegetable
- Semisweet Chocolate Chips (regular or mini size) (optional)
- Pistachios, toasted, roughly chopped (optional)
- Powdered sugar
- Strain ricotta: Place ricotta in a fine mesh sieve lined with a piece of cheesecloth. Place over a bowl to catch the liquids. Place a small plate weighted with a can or jar on top. Refrigerate overnight to drain the excess liquid.
- Mix filling: Combine strained ricotta, mascarpone, sugar, salt, vanilla and cinnamon in a food processer and blend until smooth. Stir in candied orange peel. You can also whisk together filling in a bowl as depicted above; however, it will not be as smooth and creamy as in the food processer. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Combine dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa and salt.
- Add butter: Add butter to bowl of dry ingredients. Toss to coat in flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour to form coarse crumbs. This can also be done in a food processer.
- Combine wet ingredients: In another bowl, whisk together egg, ¼ cup of marsala and vinegar. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add more marsala, a couple teaspoons at a time as needed, until dough comes together. Form into a disc, cover in plastic and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours or up to 1-2 days.
- Roll out dough: Cut off about ¼ of the dough, leaving the remaining dough in the fridge. I find using a pasta machine is the easiest way to flatten the dough, but you can also do this by hand with a rolling pin. If you’re using a pasta machine, start at the widest setting (1 on a KitchenAid). Flatten the dough as much as possible and run through the machine. Run through the widest setting at least 3-4 times, until the dough is smooth and uniform. It may break apart at first, but just fold it back together and run through the machine as needed. Then, move to the 2nd setting. Run dough through this setting once, fold in half and run through 1-2 more times. Repeat to the 3rd setting if using a KitchenAid attachment. The final thickness should be between 1/16 to ⅛ inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough after cutting out shapes.
- Heat oil: Fill a heavy-bottomed pot with high sides, such as a Dutch oven, with about 3 inches of frying oil. Warm to 350F while preparing the dough.
- Cut out dough: Using a 4 inch round cutter, punch out circles of dough. You can re-roll scraps once or twice.
- Wrap dough onto cannoli molds: Place a cannoli mold on top of a round of dough. Wrap around one half of dough. Brush other edge of dough with a little egg white. Wrap over this piece of dough and press down gently to adhere egg white to dough.
- Fry dough: Submerge 4-5 cannoli shell molds at a time into preheated frying oil. Cook 1-2 minutes, until browned and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack over a sheet tray to drain. The tray will catch any excess oil. Once slightly cooled, slide mold out of shell. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Fill cannoli: Using a piping bag or ziploc bag with a corner snipped off, pipe filling into the cannoli. Start on one end, then flip the cannoli around to fill from the other side. Dip in chocolate chips or pistachios, if desired. Dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Depending on your flavor preference, feel free to add a pinch of cinnamon or omit the cocoa in the shells.
Many traditional recipes use lard or shortening instead of butter, but I have not tested this.
If you don’t want to use marsala wine, other cooks recommend trying white wine or water instead, however, this will impact the flavor.
If you don’t have a 4-inch round cutter, you can cut out circles using a sauce turned upside down and a paring knife. You can also cut out square shapes, but I found this more difficult to perfect.
The cannoli filling can be stored in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
The cannoli shells can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
I don’t recommend freezing cannoli, but you can freeze the raw cannoli dough for up to 3 months and defrost it when you plan to fry it.
- Prep Time: 2.5 hours
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Fry
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1 cannoli
- Calories: 250
- Sugar: 8g
- Sodium: 114mg
- Fat: 18g
- Saturated Fat: 9g
- Unsaturated Fat: 9g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 16g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 5g
- Cholesterol: 50mg
Keywords: Sicilian cannoli, cannoli Siciliani, cannoli, cannoli cream with mascarpone
Lena Bendiksen says
Not all the filling ingredients are mentioned in the step by step process.
Sabrina Russo says
Hi Lena! I really appreciate that you took the time to bring this to my attention. I have now added the vanilla extract and cinnamon to the process steps!! So sorry for that error!
Delicious, but filling is somewhat runny even after using well strained ricotta.
Sabrina Russo says
I’m glad they were tasty but sorry your mixture came out looser than mine! Did you strain the ricotta overnight with a weight on top as per step 1? Fresh ricotta is even better (and already dryer), but definitely more difficult to find.
2 pounds of ricotta, substituting for the marscarpone, makes 2 dozen ? Really.?
Sabrina Russo says
Yes. Either use 2lbs of ricotta or 1lb ricotta plus 1lb mascarpone. These are quite small cannoli. My yield is usually just short of 2 dozen, maybe 20-22.
However, there is no such thing as Sicilian cannolis. Just as there is no such pastry as Neapolitan cannolis.
Sabrina Russo says
“Sicilian Cannoli” is a very popular search term, which is primarily why I named the recipe this way. My mother is also from Sicily so I try to keep my recipes fairly authentic. Sorry you disagree, Kathryn! Hope you enjoyed the holidays 🙂
Nancy Russo says
This cannoli recipe is the best! Looking forward to making them for Christmas….
Sabrina Russo says