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Homemade Cannolis

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.

Several rows of cannolis with lightly browned shells and creamy filling piped with a star tip

Recipe Ingredients

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
  • Sugar
  • 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.

A top view of three cannolis with a dusting of powdered sugar and chocolate drizzled over the tops

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.

  1. Prepare Your Materials: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with cooking spray and set them aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake: Bake the cookies for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.
  5. 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.
  6. Let Cool: Set the tube-shaped cookies seam-side down and let them cool.
  7. 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.
  8. Chill: Put the cream in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
  9. 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.
  10. Add Whipped Cream and Chocolate Chips: Fold the whipped cream and chocolate chips into the cheese mixture.
  11. 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.

Variation Ideas

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.
A row of cannolis drizzled with chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar

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.

Storage Instructions

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.

A row of cannolis drizzled with chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar

Homemade Cannolis

Katerina | Diethood
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.
4.67 from 3 votes
Servings : 8
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 23 mins

Ingredients
  

For the Cannoli Shells
  • 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
For the Creamy Ricotta Filling
  • 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

Instructions
 

Make the Shells
  • 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.
Prepare The Ricotta Filling
  • 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.

Equipment

  • Oven
  • Stand Mixer

Notes

Adapted From “Sweetie Pie: The Richard Simmons Private Collection of Dazzling Desserts”
  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 243 kcal | Carbohydrates: 23 g | Protein: 4 g | Fat: 14 g | Saturated Fat: 8 g | Cholesterol: 38 mg | Sodium: 61 mg | Potassium: 84 mg | Fiber: 0 g | Sugar: 18 g | Vitamin A: 405 IU | Calcium: 50 mg | Iron: 0.6 mg | Net Carbs: 23 g

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.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cannoli filling, cannoli shell, how to make a cannoli
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52 comments on “Homemade Cannolis”

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. Avatar photo
    Rebecca Smith

    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.

  4. 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…:(

  5. 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?

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Hi Candi! Well, I haven’t tried that, but why not! Sounds a lot more interesting! And easier!! 😀

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