Classic Cannoli

This classic cannoli is a traditional Italian dessert made with crisp homemade shells filled with a mix of ricotta, sugar, cream, and chocolate chips.

Sheet pan of 2 dozen cannoli filled with sweet ricotta filling and chocolate chips

All we know about this cannoli recipe is that the author’s father opened his own pastry shop in 1961 after working for several years at DeLillo’s, located on 187th Street in the Italian section in the Bronx. We can only assume the recipe below is based on the cannoli sold at that shop. Based on our experience with this recipe, we can also assume that the lines went out the door for the cannoli. Originally published August 24, 2004. Renee Schettler Rossi

Classic Cannoli

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 45 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes about 20 cannoli
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Special Equipment: Cannoli cutter (an oval-shaped cookie cutter); cannoli rod


  • For the cannoli shells
  • For the cannoli filling


Make the cannoli shells

Heat the oil in your deep fryer to 320° F (160°C).

With a mixer, combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, lard, rum, honey, salt, cinnamon, egg, and just enough water so that it attains a dough-like consistency. (The amount of water you need to add will vary according to the outside temperature and humidity.)

Roll the dough to the thickness of pasta (which is about 1/4 inch. Using a cannoli cutter (an oval-shaped cookie cutter), cut out as many cannoli as you can. Arrange several cannoli ovals in a row and place a cannoli rod down the center. Flip the cannoli up and over, sealing the edges where they meet by lightly brushing the dough with egg wash and pressing so the edges adhere.

Deep fry the cannoli shells, being careful not to crowd the oil, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Slip them off the cannoli tube and let cool completely.

Make the cannoli filling

Combine the ricotta, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate.

Assemble the cannoli

Using a large-tip pastry bag, pipe the ricotta mixture into the cooled cannoli. Sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Print RecipeBuy the The Arthur Avenue Cookbook cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

So, I've never actually had a cannoli in my life. But I had a pretty good idea of how they should taste and what texture they should have.

My pastry was probably too thick and my filling was probably too lumpy, but these were surprisingly good given that I really had no idea what I was doing.

It should be obvious that I wouldn't have the appropriate equipment for cannoli making—the cannoli cutter or the cannoli rod—so I improvised. I used stainless steel pastry horns and squeezed a round cookie cutter until it resembled an awkward oval.

Because of my inexperience with these, I can now see the mistakes I made—they should have been rolled out more thinly and they should have been fried a little longer as my shells weren't quite sturdy enough. They were delicious and flaky but couldn't reliably hold that delicious filling.

This recipe made about 20—it was hard to tell exactly how many between all the crumbly bits and the fact that they were eaten as fast as they cooled. I am not sure that I would make this again but that is only because my inexperience with them. They were delicious but I did find it a bit frustrating—pastry isn't my forte and when you add deep frying to that, I might have just been a little out of my depths. Having said that, they were tasty and I love a challenge so this might become one of those crazy bucket list things. But first—I'm going to pick up some from an actual Italian bakery, just to "test.”


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    1. Katie, we can’t speak as to why the author chose to use rum in the cannoli shells instead of the traditional wine, however, we can assure you that these cannoli shells turn out as light and crispy as any we’ve tried.

  1. I’ve made cannoli several times and am always looking for a good recipe. I have had the tubes for frying the shells for decades.

    I find the fillings often way too heavy so I only make a half recipe and then add whipped cream, the real stuff, to lighten the filling. For a bit more of a Sicilian taste I leave out the cinnamon and use some drop of Fiori di Sicilia for a vanilla/orange taste. I also grate good quality chocolate rather than use chips.

    To finish them off, after filling I dip both ends in chopped pistachios. Gives it a bit of a salty taste. Then I dust with powdered sugar.

    For me the most difficult part is getting the shells light enough. This is the first recipe I’ve seen with lard and I am a big lard fan so I am eager to try it. The rum and honey also make this very interesting. The mix of flours also tips this more towards Italian flour. I might try buying some Italian flour at King Arthur rather than mixing my own. They also carry the Fiori di Sicilia.

    1. My Nanny was from Sicily and always had lard in her cannoli shells as well as port or some sweet wine. The cannoli cream is made with impastada- pastry grade ricotta, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, mini chocolate chips. The only thing we have changed is taking out the citron (candied fruit) which no one liked. We also use to shave the chocolate from a large bar but mini chocolate chips makes that unnecessary now.

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