A buttery and delicate cookie shell stuffed with smooth ricotta cream filling makes these Homemade Cannolis a perfectly balanced delight. Studded with chocolate chips and drizzled with rich chocolate, this healthier take on a classic dessert achieves an ideal combination of crunchy, creamy, bitter and sweet.
The Best Homemade Cannoli Shells and Filling
There’s nothing quite like a classic Italian dessert, and these homemade cannolis are no exception. With smooth ricotta cream and a crispy, buttery homemade shell, these little pastries have stood the test of time for a reason – because people just can’t get enough of them! The little punch of bittersweet richness from the chocolate chips and chocolate drizzle pairs wonderfully with the lighter flavors of the cream filling and cookie shells.
Homemade cannolis are a simple but elegant dessert with a definite wow factor. At your next dinner party, impress your guests by bringing out a plate of these sophisticated pastries. They’re also a delightfully decadent way to treat yourself!
What Are Cannolis?
Cannolis are a classic Italian dessert featuring a tube-shaped pastry shell and a creamy filling with ricotta cheese as its base. While cannoli shells are traditionally fried, the shells in this recipe are baked instead to make them a little healthier than the Italian original. Cannolis in restaurants often feature some kind of chocolate to create a more complex flavor profile.
We’ll start with the ingredients to make the shells, then move on to the filling. You can find exact amounts for all the ingredients in the recipe card.
For the Shells
- Egg Whites
- Canola Oil: Do not substitute with other cooking oils.
- Butter: Melt the butter before adding it.
- Vanilla Extract
- All-Purpose Flour
For the Filling
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Any other cream will not form stiff peaks and will leave your filling runny.
- Ricotta Cheese
- Cream Cheese: Let it warm to room temperature before using it.
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Orange Zest: Use freshly grated zest for the best results.
- Mini Chocolate Chips: I used semisweet to offset the lightness of the rest of this dessert.
Do I Have to Drain the Ricotta?
I used ricotta straight out of the container when I made these and they turned out great! Some people like to strain the ricotta before using it, but this step isn’t necessary. You can experiment with both methods to figure out which gives your filling the best consistency.
How to Make Cannolis From Scratch
Get restaurant-quality baked cannolis in less than half an hour! Follow these steps so they look and taste like something straight out of your local pastry shop.
- Prepare Your Materials: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray and set them aside.
- Whisk the Batter: Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, canola oil, melted butter and vanilla In a medium-sized bowl until everything is thoroughly combined. Add in the flour and continue to whisk until your batter is smooth and all the lumps are gone.
- Create the Cookies: Spoon 4 to 5 mounds of batter onto each baking sheet spaced at least 2 inches apart. Use about 3 teaspoons of batter for each. Spread each cookie with the back of the spoon until it’s about 4 inches in diameter.
- Bake: Bake the cookies for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.
- Form the Tubes: Loosen your cookies from the baking sheets using an offset spatula and shape them into hollow tubes. You can use a round metal utensil and wrap the cookies around that. Make sure you do this before they cool, while they are still able to be shaped.
- Let Cool: Set the tube-shaped cookies seam-side down and let them cool.
- Start On the Filling: Place the heavy whipping cream in your mixer’s bowl and beat it on high speed for about 4 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.
- Chill: Put the cream in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
- Beat the Filling: Beat together the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and orange zest in a large mixing bowl until the mixture turns smooth and creamy.
- Add Whipped Cream and Chocolate Chips: Fold the whipped cream and chocolate chips into the cheese mixture.
- Assemble and Serve: Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a wide round or star-shaped tip and pipe the filling into the cannoli shells. Serve the cannolis immediately or wait to assemble them until you plan to eat them.
These simple cannolis make a natural canvas for your culinary creativity. Here are some fun ways to update this classic pastry.
- Go Traditional: These cannolis are healthier than classic cannolis because the shells are baked instead of fried. Go for traditional fried shells if you want to be true to the Italian original.
- Add a Little Kick: Try stirring a little bit of cinnamon into the batter for the shells to up the flavor complexity. This can also help to bring out the sweet notes in the cream.
- Decorate the Ends: The cannolis you see in restaurants may have some kind of decoration studded along the exposed cream at both ends. You can dip the ends in extra chocolate chips, toasted almonds or pistachios, candied fruit or ginger, or anything else you think sounds promising. Just make sure you chop them finely enough that they don’t start sliding off under their own weight.
- A Little Drizzle: You can add a drizzle of chocolate sauce like I did, or go for another flavor like salted caramel or tangy raspberry. You can also try gently folding raspberry compote or salted caramel directly into the filling.
Tips for Success
The perfect cannoli has never been this easy to achieve. Keep these things in mind to impress your friends and family with a professional-grade pastry.
- Don’t Over-Mix the Filling: Once the whipped cream has been added to the ricotta base for the filling, push that mixer far away. In fact, you don’t even want to stir the filling at this point. The whipped cream and chocolate chips need to be folded in gently or your filling could end up ruined.
- Mold the Cookies: For perfectly tube-shaped cannoli cookies, you will need metal cannoli molds or a small collection of rounded metal objects. I used the handles of my round metal spatula and serving spoons.
- Watch Your Fingers: You will have to work fast to get those cookies around the molds. Be careful not to burn your fingers in the process.
- Fun Size: You can make the cookie mounds slightly smaller to give you more cookies. Just make sure they’re not so small that your piping tip breaks the shells when you add the filling.
When you’re storing the cannolis, make sure to store the shells and the cream separately. Putting filled cannolis in the fridge will leave you with soggy shells. The shells should be kept at room temperature in an airtight container, and they’ll stay good for about 1 week. The filling should last in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for about 5 days.
Can I Freeze These?
I don’t recommend freezing cannolis. Frozen and thawed cannoli filling will separate or curdle, ruining the texture and taste. Thawing cannoli shells will leave them soggy and unappetizing. If you think you’ll have leftovers or want to make them ahead of time, follow the storage instructions above until you’re ready to put them together.
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 tablespoons cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 3 tablespoons semisweet mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Lightly grease two baking sheets with baking spray; set aside.
- In a medium-size bowl whisk together the egg whites, sugar, canola oil, melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Add in flour and continue to whisk until smooth, and no lumps appear.
- Spoon 4 to 5 mounds of batter onto each baking sheet, using 3 teaspoons of batter for each.
- With the back of the spoon, spread each cookie to about 4-inch diameter.
- Space the cookies at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until edges begin to brown.
- Using an offset spatula, loosen cookies from baking sheet and shape into tube form. You can use a round metal utensil and wrap the cookies around that.
- Set cookies seam-side down and let cool.
- Place the heavy whipping cream in your mixer’s bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks form; about 4 minutes.
- Put the cream in the fridge until ready to use.
- In a large mixing bowl beat together the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and orange zest until smooth and creamy.
- Fold in the cream and chocolate chips. DO NOT MIX OR STIR – FOLD IT.
- Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a wide round tip and pipe filling into cannoli shells. Serve immediately or or wait to assemble until you plan to eat them.
- To Store: Do not store assembled pastries. Store the empty shells at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Store the filling in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Do not freeze.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
52 comments on “Homemade Cannolis”
Hi Katerina, this look absolutely amazing! Printing out this one 🙂
Did a Taste Test with my family. Made three different recipes for cannoli shells and this one came in First Place with everyone! The others were a traditional fried shell and a baked shell using a traditional recipe.
This recipe was the best because 1) tastes great. 2) the crispiest, which we all loved, and to top it off 3) it is the easiest and fastest recipe to make. This is the only recipe I will be using from now on!
great recipe! i was a little wary at first about the shells holding their shape but i’m happy to say that i was pleasantly surprised!
I’m making this for a restaurant, can they fry the cannoli before they serve them
I found it very helpful to set my oven to 300°F and put the dollops around 4-5 inches apart (do not spread! They flatten out by themselves quite nicely). I then only put them in for 6 minutes then allowed them to cool for a few seconds (just long enough to handle them and not burn you) before rolling them. I didn’t even need to put a brace inside :)! If i let the shells cook longer they start to burn or get just crisp enough to not be able to handle.
ya know, i have may questions about life…
one is, recipes that dont list there difficulty level and never take the stated time to create…
and your part three was, to make the cannoli cookies 4/5 at a time, not 10, cause like you said, there a pain to get off the tray and to roll…:(
Is there any reason that I couldn’t use a cupcake tin for the cookies? I do have cannoli forms but just wondering if these could be made as cups with the filling?
Hi Candi! Well, I haven’t tried that, but why not! Sounds a lot more interesting! And easier!! 😀
What do you use if you don’t have canolli tubes?
Hi Anna! Any round metal utensil such as the handle of a ladle – I used that before I bought the tubes. The handle of a whisk would work, too, if it’s round and thick. I’m also thinking, if you have a round piece of wood, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, you can cover that with aluminum foil and try it that way, too. I hope this helps!
Thanks! This helps so much!
Great Pic BUT i tried making them toady and the shells came out great but the filling is like soup!!! I can’t thicken it up…. I tried adding a bunch more icing sugar like 2 cups and then more cream cheese and to no avail its like soup.. It tastes good but can’t fill the canoli.. any suggestions and are your measures right??
I have never made Cannolis but your recipe has prompted me to try!! Question: Apparently you do not strain the Ricotta, just blend all together? I want mine to be a little sweeter then the usual Cannoli..any additional suggestions? Looking forward to your response. Nanc
No, I don’t strain the ricotta…you can, but it’s not necessary. Did you want to sweeten the filling or did you want to sweeten the cookie itself? You can sweeten the filling by adding more powdered sugar, however I think the filling is sweet enough. Make it according to the recipe, and then adjust to taste. Also, this recipe is not for your traditional cannoli, but it’s a recipe for cannoli that is baked and lower in calories. If you have any other questions, just let me know! Thank you!!
I substituted powered sugar for regular sugar it worked
Hi, these look heavenly! How far in advance can I make them? Or at least the components
Hi Miriam! The filling can be made and refrigerated for days – at least 3 days – and just use it when the cookies are ready. The cookies should be made the day that you want to serve them.
Can u tell mr wat powder sugar is thanks
Hi! It’s the same as confectioners sugar. Does that help?
Do you have the nutritional values for these canolis?
HI! No, I don’t have the nutritional values and I’m not able to get them to you right away, but if you’d like, go to this link and just paste in the ingredients – at the end it will show you everything you need to know. https://caloriecount.about.com/cc/account/login.php?accesserror=1&querystring=tab%3Dnew_recipe&ret_page=%2Fcc%2Faccount%2Fflog_add.php%3Ftab%3Dnew_recipe I hope this helps!! THANK YOU!
My cousin showed me Richard Simmons’ cookbook this past weekend and I copied down his recipe for cannoli’s. I searched the internet with hopes that someone had posted it. Found your site and am glad I did. I am going to make these for an Italian dinner party (where half the guests are on diets) but I just might have to make a test batch for my family first!
Make that “test batch” and inhale ’em all! 😉 Hope you all enjoy them!!
Я лишь только посмотрел на эти восхитительные канноли и понял, что они обалденно вкусные!
Катерина, Вы умница! Спасибо! Здоровья и радостей!
I need these gorgeous cannolis! Pinned to make. 🙂
Just made them, the filling is amazing! best filling I’ve ever had! Even from bakery’s and I LOVE how you don’t have to deep fry them! 🙂 delllishious
Hi Karly!! That is awesome!! I am SO glad you enjoyed them! Thank you!!!
I would probably ask for these every night too if I had someone to make them for me. 🙂 So how of the cookies get eaten before being filled? Delicious!
Glad I’m not the only 1990’s fan! Oh, Dave Matthews Band, and Jurassic Park…so much innocence. 😀
These cannolis, however, are far from innocent – I Love them already.
Love the clicks Kate and I just pinned a couple of your photos on Beautiful food photography board. All should be on that board! 🙂 Cannoli looks temptingly delicious my friend!
i still love the Spice Girls 🙂 It’s great how you roll the shells using stuff you already have around the house. I love repurposing things so I don’t have to go buy something new that I’ll use like once a year.
NO wonder the hubby requests these so often!! Who could resist
I grew up with cannoli…and they were never as pretty as yours! These are absolutely gorgeous, Kate! WOW!!!
Zak and Kelly.. LOL! What a flashback. 🙂 I love these cannoli… truly a perfect way to end a meal. 🙂
These cannoli look absolutely delicious. Great job Kate and once again lovely photography. 🙂
Thank you, Nancy!! How’s the land down undah!?! 😉
Very well Thank You! Summer is over, however the weather is still quite warm. Oh……..and Ellen is in the country. Seems like Ellen fever has hit town (I think I may have to do a little dance…….while eating your cannoli of course)
It is awesome that the shells are baked. Less frying is always good. Your cannoli looks perfect! I can’t wait to try them. Thank you.
I agree with everyone else, these pics couldn’t be any more gorgeous! I am not sure I could even make cannoli look that good but the recipe looks awesome.
I really have to go to my parents’ place and find her cannoli tubes cause these cannoli look SO good.
Gorgeous photos, Kate. You’re so very talented to dream up such great foods and take amazing photos of them.
Awww you’re so kind, Kirsten. Thank YOU!! xo
haha! I love it. Girl power, spice world, sweatin’ to the oldies. One thing that’s surely not to ever go out of style however, is this recipe! Deeeelicious! Gorgeous photos as aways too. They look divine!
These are so gorgeous, Kate! Loving your photos!
First: gooorgeous photos!!! Second: no-fry cannoli shells? Oh, I am on it!!
This made me laugh because my husband is Italian! I have yet though to make cannolis. He is more of a tiramisu fan! But these look amazing and I think I need to give them a try for sure!
HOLY CANNOLI, BATMAN! Saw over at Pinterest…knew it was yours (you’re developing your own food photography style, like Naomi at Bakers Royale), pinned & popped on over. Loooove cannoli! xoxo
Thanks, Stacy!! After I uploaded these photos, I thought, “huh? These look like something Naomi would do!!” – which makes me quite happy because I LOVE her photography!! 🙂
Kate: These cannoli are beautiful!!! A real work of art — and it shows very well in your photos!!! I am pinning…
Thank you, Denise!! 🙂
Wow – this is a work of art! They are just stunning and so beautiful! Your photography is just so gorgeous!