Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe (Homemade Cannoli Cream)

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This easy to make traditional cannoli filling recipe makes a delicious dessert and you can use it several ways. From stuffing it inside of cannoli shells, enjoying it with graham crackers, on a fresh pastry…or even eat it right off of the spoon!

white tray with cannolis and topped with powdered sugar and chocolate chips

This post has been updated from it’s original publish date of July 13, 2019. It has been updated to provide better photos, additional helpful information and step by step instructions.

How to make cannoli cream filling

My Italian great grandmother was from the island of Sicily. Shortly before she passed away, she shared a number of her delectable recipes with us.

And with each simple recipe, came a story. Italians are pretty wonderful with their story telling and nostalgia. So whenever I recreate a recipe from years ago, I’m filled with many great memories.

Those memories are often times filled with family, a table full of excessive amounts of food, and of course good wine. Hearty laughter fills the room while little ones run around the table.

I believe in the importance of family meal times. And memories created while breaking bread together. This is why I am on a mission to recreate some of these recipes (and memories) for my little family.

This recipe does not require any fancy ingredients or equipment like a mixer or whisk attachment. Although a pastry bag is super helpful and recommended for filling the the cannoli shells.

I also use pre-made cannoli shells for the sake of simplicity. So no need to roll out the dough with a rolling pin, use a cannoli mold or deep fry the shells in vegetable oil.

This version is simplified so you can enjoy the family meal together! And saves your work surface for rolling out homemade pasta noodles instead!

white bowl filled with the cannoli filling cream and cookies to the side.

Authentic Cannoli Recipe

The authentic Italian dessert recipe traces its origins to Sicily, Italy, where it has been a beloved dessert for centuries. Thought to have been introduced during the Arab rule of Sicily, which spanned from the 9th to the 10th centuries, cannoli have evolved over time to become a quintessential Italian treat.

The word “cannolo” itself means “little tube” in Italian, referring to the pastry’s characteristic tube-like shape. Originally, cannoli were enjoyed primarily during Carnevale, a festive period leading up to Lent, but they have since become a year-round indulgence.

Traditional cannoli consist of crisp, fried pastry shells filled with a sweet, creamy ricotta-based filling, often flavored with citrus zest, vanilla, or cinnamon. This iconic dessert has spread beyond Sicily to become popular worldwide, while still retaining its essence of Italian culinary heritage.

Our version is simplified by using store-bought shells.

What You’ll Need

Simple & easy to find ingredients are all you’ll need to make your own homemade cannoli cream. You can easily find the cannoli shells at a local Italian market. If you don’t have one nearby, they are easily sourced online.

*Here’s some options: mini cannoli shells or full size cannoli shells.

ingredients for the cannoli filling in small bowls

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list in the recipe card below.

Step-by-step instructions

This traditional sicilian cannoli filling is a fun way to enjoy the flavors of the classic Italian dessert, without an overly complicated recipe.

What I really like about making this cannoli recipe, is the simplicity of it. I’m not usually one for making a recipe overly complicated, so you can easily make this recipe without having to find fancy ingredients!

The sweet ricotta filling can be made ahead of time and can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days before it no longer tastes fresh.

However, I would not recommend filling the cannoli tubes ahead of time because they can become soggy. And you definitely want a crispy shell.

adding the powdered sugar to the ricotta cheese for the cannoli filling recipe.
adding the orange zest to the cannoli cream mixture.
adding the vanilla to the top of the ricotta cannoli cream filling mixture.

Begin by stirring the powdered sugar with ricotta cheese a little at a time in a large mixing bowl. You may not need all of the sugar if the mixture starts to become watery.

If desired, you may strain the ricotta cheese ahead of time. Our family has never done this, but I know some prefer a thicker cannoli mixture.

Next, gently fold in the orange zest, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips.

adding the chocolate chips to the cannoli filling dip.
using a pastry bag to fill the cannoli shells.
freshly filled cannoli shells with the cannoli filling recipe. Chocolate chips are scattered around the cannolis.

If you’re going to use this cannoli filling cream as a dip, then add to a serving bowl and use your favorite pastries, graham crackers, or cookies to serve.

If making cannolis, take some pre-made cannoli shells and a pastry bag for filling easily. You could also fill a large sandwich bag or other plastic bag and cut the tip off to fill these if you don’t have a pastry piping bag handy.

Top off with additional mini chocolate tips on the ends if desired. Sprinkle with a little more powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

For best results, serve immediately.

cannolis stacked on top of each other on a white plate.

How to store leftovers

If you have extra cannoli cream, it can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days in an airtight container or glass bowl with plastic wrap. However, be sure to store the cream before filling the cannoli shells. The shells will become soggy if stored with the cream filling.

It is also normal for the cannoli filling cream to become a little watery during storage time. Just be sure to give it a gentle stir before enjoying.

For even more delicious recipes, you may like these desserts:

biscotti over a mug of coffee.

Almond Biscotti

strawberry frosting over the chocolate nutella cupcakes.

Nutella Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

variety of mini jam tarts on a white serving platter.

Mini Jam Tarts

Cannoli Variations

This cannoli dip is a fun take on the Italian classic dessert. I will make it every once and awhile for my husband and children to eat with pastries for a sweet treat. Or filled inside of the cannoli shells as part of the family style meal.

Here are a few more varieties to try out:

  • Spread this filling over an Italian pastry or on a croissant for a decadent breakfast. Served with your own homemade cafe latte.
  • Use chocolate shavings on the ends of your cannoli instead of chocolate chips.
  • Or use chopped up pistachios on the end.
  • Make it with or without the orange zest – although the zest is what makes it more authentic.
  • Replace the orange zest with lemon zest.
  • Drizzle melted chocolate over the cannolis.
bowl with the cannoli cream and sugar cookies to the sides.

FAQ (frequently asked questions)

What is cannoli filling made of?

Ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, orange zest, vanilla, and chocolate chips are used in this cannoli filling recipe.

How do you stuff a cannoli?

Use a pastry bag for ease of filling a cannoli shell. A gallon size ziplock bag will also work in a pinch, just be sure to add the filling first, and then cut a small tip off of one ends of the bag. Then pipe it into the cannoli shells.

want more recipes?

Check out the recipe index where you can discover more homemade recipes from my homestead!

serving bowl with the cannoli filling cream and broken up waffle cones to the side.

Cannoli Filling Cream

Cannolis are an Italian pastry with a sweet, creamy filling made from ricotta cheese. This homemade cannoli filling dip can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for later.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Author Mary Woita
Servings 6
Calories: 247kcal



  • In a large bowl, add the ricotta cheese.
  • Begin stirring in the powdered sugar a little at a time. You may not need all of the sugar if the mixture becomes watery.
  • Gently fold in the orange zest, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips.
  • If using cannoli shells, you can fill them now. The easiest way to do this is by using a piping bag. You could also use a gallon size storage zip bag by filling with the cannoli cream and cutting a little tip off of one end.


Add a little of the powdered sugar at a time. You may not need the full amount if the mixture starts to become watery.

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