The classic Italian cannoli is one of the most recognizable European pastries in the world. These Traditional Sicilian Cannoli are actually very easy to make and are served adorned with chopped pistachios or candied fruit.

Cannoli lined up on a slate board, with chopped pistachios and chocolate chips

In as much I like to post British recipes from my childhood, I also like to do the same for my husband given his Sicilian heritage. And Sicily (and the city of Palermo, to be exact) is where he and the cannoli originated!

A closeup of a cannoli studded with chocolate chips

Cannolo (the singular; cannoli is plural) translates to ‘tube’. These little tubes are made from an easy to make dough that is made from flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, lard and a splash of Italian Marsala wine. 

What is the traditional cannoli filling made of?

When it comes to the filling, sweetened ricotta is traditional. However, I have also seen mascarpone cream also used which is not traditional. Garnished with a light dusting of powdered sugar, candied oranges, candied cherries, chopped pistachios and sometimes (and also not traditionally) chocolate chips.

When it comes to making the shells, there really is only one way to form them and that is by using cannoli tube forms that are very inexpensive and easily purchased from Amazon. 

5 cannoli viewed from overhead on a rectangle serving plate

This is about as original as a recipe gets for authentic Cannoli Siciliani. While I have not yet been to Sicily, I have eaten many amazing Cannoli on my various travels to Italy over the years.

Cannoli serving recommendation:

Cannoli can be made ahead, for sure. However, the moisture in the ricotta can make the shell soggy. What I do is make everything ahead and simply fill them right before you serve them. It is important to have the contrast of the crispy shell give way to the soft and fluffy filling.

Butter vs. lard

Lard is always used for making the cannolo shell. If lard is not your thing, butter can be substituted.

Traditional Sicilian Cannoli

5 cannoli on a board dusted with powdered sugar

Crispy fried shells are filled with sweetened ricotta and garnished with chopped pistachios and candied fruit.

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the shell:
  • 1 cup (150 grams) flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered/confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lard or butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons marsala wine
  • Vegetable oil
  • For the filling:
  • 1 ½ cups (114 grams) ricotta cheese, drained in a sieve over a bowl * see note
  • ¾ cup (90 grams) powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup (32 grams) dark chocolate chips
  • Chopped pistachios

Instructions

    1. To a mixing bowl sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon and salt. Mix. Add the lard or butter and use for fingers to rub into the flour mix. Add 1 egg and mix. Add the vinegar and marsala wine. Mix. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with hands until smooth. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
    2. Add the powdered sugar to the drained ricotta, mix well and set aside.
    3. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and break off a small piece. Lightly dust with flour
      use a pasta roller to roll the dough very thin. Number 5 on my machine is best. Or, use a rolling pin.
    4. Use a 4-inch (10 cm) round cookie cutter to cut rounds. Roll the round dough around a cannoli tube and secure the ends with water. Seal well or it will come apart when frying.
    5. Fill a large, high-sided pan ⅔ full with the oil and heat to 350°F/176°C. Use a slotted spoon to carefully submerge 1 cannolo, do not let it sit on the bottom, turning using your spoon. Fry until brown and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and repeat with all of the shells. Remove the tube molds once cooled.
    6. Add the ricotta a piping bag and fill the shells. Add the garnish of your choice (pistachios, candied fruit or chocolate chips to the ricotta. Dust with lightly with powdered sugar

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 242Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 50mgSodium 313mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 10g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.