How to Make Homemade Cannoli

Italian-made cannoli can be counted among my all-time favorite desserts in this world.  I had my fair share of them on a visit to Italy, and have enjoyed pretty decent cannoli at both Mike’s and Modern in the North End of Boston.  It’s also the dessert I’ve most wanted to write about since Day 1 of food blogging.

When our Gourmet Club hostess announced that she was planning a Tuscan-Themed dinner party, I offered to make the cannoli… shells, filling, the whole bit… I wanted to make them completely homemade and authentic.  So I set out to do research on how this Portuguese-Swede was going to accomplish making this wonderful Italian dessert.  I settled on adapting ideas/recipes from a discussion at Serious Eats and reading few tips from the blog- Eggs on Sunday .

Here’s my version of How To Make Homemade Cannoli (about 16):
The making of the cannoli dough is a snap. Just mix the ingredients together, form into a ball and refrigerate for a couple of hours. At this point, you can make the filling too. My filling consisted of fresh ricotta and imported mascarpone cheese from our city’s Little Italy. The cheeses are mixed with Grand Marnier, cinnamon and powdered sugar. The filling should also chill for a while.
I really, really wanted to use authentic wooden dowels to make the cannoli shells. And by authentic, I mean cutting up my own wood, sanding it down, seasoning it and frying the shells wrapped around the wood. I didn’t get around to doing that. So I bought the metal cannoli tubes, which was a fine alternative.

At this point, you can prepare the oil. Pour it into a deep saute pan (a couple of inches), dip your metal cannoli tubes into the cold oil and let them drain on a rack. Heat oil to 350 degrees F. I used my cast iron pan. Be careful with the temperature… if it’s too hot, the shells will burn, and if it’s too cool the cannoli will turn out soft and greasy.
Divide the chilled dough into 4 pieces. Roll out one piece at a time on a floured surface. You can roll out the dough by hand, but if you have a pasta machine… you might have better luck with getting the dough as thin as you need it. I rolled out the dough first and then ran it through the pasta attachment on my KA Mixer. The first few times it will come out looking like this.
Keep folding it and running it back through until it comes out smooth and thin. The #4 setting on my KA attachment was perfect for me.
You’ll need to cut out circles that are about 4-inches in diameter. I used an oh-so-fancy plastic container.
Don’t worry about the scraps. They can be re-rolled many times. The dough is very easy to work with. Just add flour if it starts getting sticky.
Wrap dough gently around the oiled cannoli tube.
Brush on a little bit of egg white to seal the edges.
Check the temperature of your oil to make sure it’s darn near 350 degrees (trust me). Lower the cannoli gently in the hot oil and let sizzle until golden brown and crispy (about 2 minutes).
Remove fried cannoli shells to a rack to let cool and drain for a few minutes. I folded up a paper towel and wrapped it around the metal part while I gently urged the shell off of the tube.  I didn’t have any problems with the shell sticking to the tubes. 

The shells can be made up to a couple of days in advance. Just make sure they’re kept in a covered container and they should stay nice and crispy.
Place the filling in a piping bag or a large ziploc with the corner snipped. It does not have to look fancy since you’re just going to be dipping the edges in something decorative. Hold the shell in one hand and pipe the filling in the other. Be gentle- the shells will be somewhat delicate.

Don’t fill your shells until a few hours before serving. If you fill them too far ahead, the shells will begin to absorb the moisture from the filling and lose their crunch.
Dip the edges in mini chocolate chips (or chopped pistachios, candied orange peel, etc… get creative!).
Sift powdered sugar on top to finish them off.
Ready to eat!

*This was not an easy project and it was time-consuming, but I do have to say that it was fun… a good learning experience and something I’m glad I experienced.
*Admission… I made two batches of the cannoli shells. The first shells I made were a bit too thick and not quite crispy enough. With the second batch, I made sure to roll the dough very thin, and I cooked the shells for a full two minutes- much better!
*Would I make them again? Sure. It’s always easier the second time around, right?
*And finally, the cannoli were a big hit at our Tuscan-Themed dinner party. Not a cannoli bite was left on anyone’s dessert plate!

The instructions for this cannoli recipe can be found HERE.

92 Responses to “How to Make Homemade Cannoli”

  1. postedApr 25, 2009 3:40 AM

    Oh my gosh…I am beyond impressed! What time would you like me to come over? 😉

  2. postedApr 25, 2009 3:53 AM

    You are a girl after my own heart. I love cannoli and you cannot find one anywhere around here.
    When we first moved here I was searching for cannoli shells to fill at home and at every store I visited, I was sent to the PASTA section. These people didn’t even know what a cannoli was! So frustrating! And funny.
    Anyway. Your cannoli look amazing.
    Great job.

  3. postedApr 25, 2009 4:24 AM

    Your Tuscan-Themed dinner party sounds so fun. The cannoli look delicious!

  4. postedApr 25, 2009 4:49 AM

    Great job with these! Now, I want to make cannoli. Yours look incredible!

  5. postedApr 25, 2009 5:02 AM

    Oh, how I wish I could have tried one! They look incredible!

  6. postedApr 25, 2009 5:08 AM

    Nice job! Making the shells is an art. The pasta maker must have helped, but I’ve never used one.

  7. postedApr 25, 2009 5:12 AM

    oh I love these! Here they re popular too you can find them in every shop. However I bet that homemade are even more yummy. You did a pretty fine job. Wish I was there to taste them. I m sure they re delicious 🙂

  8. postedApr 25, 2009 5:27 AM

    LOVE this post! You did an amazing job from start to finish. I love the powdered sugar picture, They turned out perfectly! I am very impressed Lori! Nice work!

  9. postedApr 25, 2009 5:45 AM

    They are beautiful! My SIL wanted me to make cannoli for our annual family wine pairing dinner. I asked for a different dessert because July will be a crazy month, and I wont have the time to invest. Bummer now because you inspire me to try these. Impressive job! 🙂

  10. postedApr 25, 2009 5:46 AM

    OMG…you took my breath away. FABULOUS job…WOW! I don’t have anyhting like those fancy metal moulds but am thinking about finding a local substitute. Oh well done Lori!

  11. postedApr 25, 2009 5:54 AM

    Those look awesome! Worth the work!

  12. postedApr 25, 2009 6:00 AM

    These look and sound great…and the post is so well done with the step by step instructions, pics, etc. Thanks. Although, I do miss being able to pick up cannoli’s from MIke’s!

  13. postedApr 25, 2009 6:08 AM

    These turned out beautifully and I am totally impressed. I am going to try these I just have to get the tubes. I think I’ll pass on sanding the wood, LOL!

  14. postedApr 25, 2009 6:22 AM

    Lori- These look incredible! You made my stomach growl way to early in the morning. I’ll be sure to read your blog after I’ve eaten breakfast next time!

  15. postedApr 25, 2009 6:37 AM

    Lori these blow the north end outta the water my dear!!! Amazing!

  16. postedApr 25, 2009 7:42 AM

    Those look incredible! Pasta roller is definitely going on my wish list.

  17. postedApr 25, 2009 7:49 AM

    You did a great job on your cannoli. I have made them with the metal tubes and with the wooden dowels that my husband cut and sanded for me. I have to say that the metal tubes work better in being able to distribute the heat more evenly.

  18. postedApr 25, 2009 8:14 AM

    Those look so authentic and perfect! You know, I even liked the crappy grocery store cannoli for some reason, so I’m sure I will absolutely love these 🙂

  19. postedApr 25, 2009 8:40 AM

    Wow. That is a great step-by-step. Yup. they do look like a lot of work, but they also look worth it.

  20. postedApr 25, 2009 8:52 AM

    They look great – I’m super impressed! Did you prefer the cannolis from Mike’s or Modern? I live in Boston and always love to hear people’s opinions 🙂

    • postedApr 25, 2009 9:41 AM

      Kerstin, I like Mike’s and my husband prefers Modern 🙂

  21. postedApr 25, 2009 9:03 AM

    Yum, yum, YUM! Cannolis’s are a fav of mine! I’m a transplanted NY Italian, need I say more?! They are few and far between here in AZ.

  22. postedApr 25, 2009 10:17 AM

    Wow, I’m totally impressed!! You did such a great job. My dad’s favorite dessert? Cannolis!! I’m definitely going to have to make these for him next time I’m visiting home. Of course, I’m going to need to budget myself plenty of time, but it looks totally worth it. Your cannolis look AMAZING. Totally wonderful!!

  23. postedApr 25, 2009 12:10 PM

    Wow, what a fun & yummy post!

    I must say your 1st day of blogging was pretty impressive!!

  24. postedApr 25, 2009 12:53 PM

    Wow, that is a labor of love. But awesome job all around. I’m very impressed and I’m sure your friends were too!

  25. postedApr 25, 2009 1:59 PM

    Lori, Paisan!!! Great job on the cannoli’s! Love all your step by step, great photo’s of the oil and the sprinkling of powdered sugar.
    I use to make them years ago,I even made some chocolate ones by adding good coco powder to the ricotta mixture. Oh to be young and adventurous again, now I just say, “I’ll take a dozen please” at by favorite Italian bakery, who btw, will not fill them till you’re ready to walk out!

  26. postedApr 25, 2009 2:46 PM

    Amazing! I can’t imagine making the dough with the kitchen aid like you did. Looks like a hard process, but the results look worth the effort. What lucky friends you have!

  27. postedApr 25, 2009 4:28 PM

    Wow, girl! Way to go. Making my own absolutely NEVER crossed my mind before. You’ve opened my eyes!

  28. postedApr 25, 2009 3:36 PM

    I always knew cannoli were a lot of work. You’ve definitely confirmed it here. But wow! What incredible pastries you created. Worth all the work, I’m sure!

  29. postedApr 25, 2009 4:39 PM

    Wow! These cannoli look fantastic! You did an awesome job! I may have to make these one day. Thanks for the detailed instructions and photos.

  30. postedApr 25, 2009 4:56 PM

    These look spectacular, and I’m seriously impressed, but you know what I truly appreciate? Your ruby red manicure 😉

  31. postedApr 25, 2009 4:58 PM

    Wow! What a feat! And what a great job you did. Congrats! 🙂 Now can I come over and have some?

  32. postedApr 25, 2009 5:02 PM

    O love projects like this becaus ethe satisfaction is immense afterwards. Great job on these.

  33. postedApr 25, 2009 6:36 PM

    YUM YUM YUM!! those came out so well!! and they look really really delicious!

  34. postedApr 25, 2009 6:44 PM

    Where did you get the metal cannoli cylinders?? I’ve often thought of making them too!

    • postedApr 25, 2009 7:53 PM

      Bunny- I bought them at my local cooking store, but I’m pretty sure that Sur La Table carries them too.

  35. postedApr 25, 2009 7:00 PM

    That’s a stumble worthy post if I ever saw one. YUUUUUUM! You make it sound and look so easy too.

  36. postedApr 25, 2009 7:58 PM

    Absolutely! Perfectly! Gorgeous!!!

  37. postedApr 25, 2009 9:10 PM

    My first attempt at hand rolled cannoli resulted turned out to be a horrible fugly mess. I’ve since purchased a pasta roller, and am about ready to try it again. Thanks for the recipe!

  38. postedApr 25, 2009 8:37 PM

    Well done for persevering, you did a fantastic job!!!!

  39. postedApr 25, 2009 11:43 PM

    Wow those look amazing. You have the patience of a saint. A lot of work but worth it. A wonderful result

  40. postedApr 26, 2009 3:08 AM

    THAT is so cool! I’m so glad you finally got to try it and they came out gorgeous!

  41. postedApr 26, 2009 3:51 AM


  42. postedApr 26, 2009 4:59 AM

    Wow! You go, Girl! Not sure I’d have the guts to try that. They look GREAT!

  43. postedApr 26, 2009 5:08 AM

    Looks like my local Italian bakery. Kudos!

  44. postedApr 26, 2009 5:30 AM

    Is part of making your own molds also getting the saw out and going to town on a tree? If so you mind stopping by my house and taking some of my branches that are on the ground please? 🙂

    Great tip on not filling ahead of time. I got yelled at by my buddy’s grandma for doing that once when helping with a party. eek!

    Looks amazing as usual and so happy it turned out for you.

  45. postedApr 26, 2009 6:36 AM

    Wow … these look good, absolutely perfect!

  46. postedApr 26, 2009 7:55 AM

    OMG!!! I can’t stop drooling. 🙂

  47. postedApr 26, 2009 10:51 AM

    wow chapeau bas l’artiste. It looks like so much work though. Thanks for posting. I would have never thought to use my kitchenaid pasta maker. You can start your own business selling those sweet treats. I’ll be your first buyer.

  48. postedApr 26, 2009 11:35 AM

    Wow, you make it look so easy even though I know I would have major problems executing these! Mine would look nothing like your perfect little desserts!

  49. postedApr 26, 2009 2:30 PM

    Wow, what a great step-by-step! Making good cannoli can be tricky, but yours look just perfect! Just like the ones you eat in Italy!

  50. postedApr 26, 2009 2:30 PM

    These are wonderful! I used to make them when I lived at home. It’s been so many years. Thanks for the memory.

  51. postedApr 26, 2009 2:38 PM

    I love making cannoli at home because you get to eat them right away, that’s when they’re perfect!! Plus, you get to put as much chocolate in as you want 🙂 Yours look lovely. Was this your first try?! They are not easy to master, so I compliment you sincerely because they look great!

  52. postedApr 26, 2009 4:03 PM

    These look amazing and worth the effort.

  53. postedApr 26, 2009 4:45 PM

    You have outdone yourself! Simply Amazing.


  54. postedApr 26, 2009 4:19 PM

    How ambitious of you! Great job!

  55. postedApr 26, 2009 6:47 PM

    I’ve owned a set of cannoli tubes and a bottle of Marsala for about 4 years, and have yet to actually attempt making my own!

  56. postedApr 26, 2009 7:48 PM

    I always learn something new when I come here. Thank you for detailed demonstration!

  57. postedApr 26, 2009 8:00 PM

    Now I know how to do these! Thank-you!

  58. postedApr 27, 2009 6:49 AM

    I knew they would turn out fantastic! They look really nice, not over cooked. And filled, well they look like I could eat them all! Wonderful!

  59. postedApr 27, 2009 9:52 AM

    Wow, these looks amazing! Great post!

  60. postedApr 27, 2009 10:32 AM

    Holy crap, you really did it. As someone who sucks down more than her fair share of cannoli at the Modern everytime she visits Beantown, I have to say, it would NEVER occur to me to try to make my own shells. I’m duly impressed.

    That said, it’s the filling that makes me all fluttery, and my very first published recipe was for a parfait with cannoli cream. I’m adding your shells to my list of things to try and make before I’m 80.

  61. postedApr 27, 2009 11:28 AM

    This is definitely impressive. It’s admirable that you did something so homemade, so old-fashioned by hand like this. Great photos!

  62. postedApr 27, 2009 12:02 PM

    Oh, wow, you made cannoli!!!!!! I love them so and never had a real good one when I buy them. The photos are great! You make it look so doable. I will give it some serious thought.

  63. postedApr 27, 2009 12:49 PM

    oh my gosh, you’re amazing! If you ever find yourself in Philly, you must go to Isgro’s:

    I lived around the corner from them for 2 years. It was dangerous. Your cannolies look incredible!

  64. postedApr 27, 2009 5:30 PM

    If I ever go on to a pioneering reality show, I want you to be my partner. Amazing.

  65. postedApr 27, 2009 7:10 PM

    I agree, that does not look easy at all but things like this always have a way of being “worth it” in the end. I commend you!

  66. postedApr 27, 2009 11:50 PM

    These look fab.

  67. postedApr 28, 2009 6:25 AM

    What a timely post. I just bought the metal cannoli tubes and have been timid about using them. Thanks so much for all the great photos and instructions.

  68. postedApr 28, 2009 11:02 AM

    Cannoli(sp?) was one of the first things I learned to make way back when. I’ve never made homemade shells before not sure I would but the ricotta filling? Now that’s a whole other story. I would make just it and eat it out of a bowl. 🙂

  69. postedApr 29, 2009 5:39 AM

    That looks amazing!! I bet it tastes divine!

  70. postedApr 30, 2009 7:12 AM

    How fun! I really need a pasta attachment for my KA…

  71. postedMay 7, 2009 8:46 AM

    this was amazing i did these and they tasted great!!!!! Good job:]

  72. postedJul 5, 2009 4:01 PM

    Absolutely cannolicious. Wonderful Job. Thanks for this.

  73. postedJan 21, 2010 4:26 PM
    Mike Lo Verso

    Nice attemp at making your cannolis…heres are some things i do when making my cannolis…when making the shell use marsala in the mix gives the cannoli a nice color nd taste, when ur frying ur shells use grape seed oil it heats up quicker and does not leave an oily taste to ur shells and the pasta should be nice and thin so when your frying it the shell forms bubbles in it giving it that authentic sicilian cannoli look…when making ur mix use FIORELLA RICOTTA (its the best ricotta and there little to no water in it) by using this ricotta no need for mascarpone! shave down some chocolate and throw it into ur ricotta and mix it together and add a pinch of cinamom(not to much just a pinch) and no need for grand marnier in ur mix… let it sit in the fridge until ur ready to fill ur shells! If anyone wants the recipe i use which comes straight from sicily, palermo, and has been used for generations feel free to email me.

    • postedAug 2, 2010 9:32 AM
      Krista Musial

      @Mike Lo Verso,
      I would love to have your cannoli recipe,
      my daughter just loves them, every time we go
      to grandmas we visit a little Italian bakery
      and buy up what they have in the case, which
      is not many if you do not get there early.
      I would like to make them for her Birthday
      please email me the recipe. thank you
      Krista Musial

    • postedDec 16, 2010 10:03 AM
      Rae G,

      @Mike Lo Verso, Mike, I would love your cannoli recipie from Palermo. Please send ASAP so I can make them for Christmas. Thanks.

  74. postedMay 8, 2010 6:16 AM

    i’ve never had cannoli before. looks so yummy. i wish i could taste some. i cant get most of the ingredients as i live in malaysia. 🙁 it looks so so so good! i come fm the land of rice & tropical abundance but italian food, fascinates me!!

  75. postedNov 22, 2010 9:07 AM

    verry well done

  76. postedJan 7, 2011 11:33 AM

    Always wanted to make these as they are a favorite of mine!!

  77. postedFeb 27, 2011 7:29 AM

    Great instructions, but where are the actual ingredients needed?! That would be SUPER helpful when using a recipe…

  78. postedMar 24, 2012 3:04 AM
    Rebecca Allison

    Mike Lo Verso Id love a copy of your reciepe! 🙂

  79. postedApr 14, 2012 5:18 AM

    I was searching so long for a good cannoli recipe, and i finally found it! Thanks a lot for a great recipe!

  80. postedNov 5, 2012 11:42 AM
    Vera Sheldon

    I would like to contact ::: Mike Lo Verso — January 21, 2010 post … He offered to share his Cannoli recipe and would love to get a copy… Can you please help, or if any one else got his recipe if they would share it as well…..Thanks…

    • postedNov 6, 2012 9:09 AM

      I have an email in to him to see if he will share. I’ll let you know if I hear back from him.

  81. postedJan 5, 2013 6:45 PM

    Lori you mentioned wanting to make your own authentic wooden dowels, do you know the process? what kind of wood, does it need to be hollow, and does size matter, there is conflicting information on that one. Interested in hearing your feedback.

    • postedJan 6, 2013 7:59 PM

      I’ve not ventured into that project yet!

  82. postedApr 17, 2013 11:09 AM

    Slacker! Come on! How hard is it to make your own wooden dowels? I’m so disappointed in you. 😉

  83. postedMar 9, 2014 1:46 PM

    You can use an old broom stick to make the Cannoli form, we did in my uncles bakery in Newark NJ. Next time you go a Toscan themed dinner make Panforte, save the Cannoli for when you go to Sicilian themed dinner.

  84. postedJan 23, 2015 12:43 PM

    This recipe looks amazing! We are thinking of doing canolis for a large banquet and I was wondering about how far in advance can they be filled without getting soggy?

    • postedJan 30, 2015 1:11 PM

      I’d fill them the same day.

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