SIMPLE Cannoli Dip

Cannoli Filling inside a crispy Cannoli fried pastry shell

Is there any other Italian dessert as popular as the cannoli?

Cannoli are Italian pastries that consist of a creamy filling made mostly from whole milk ricotta cheese and powdered sugar, among other ingredients.  They are then filled into small fried pastry dough shaped like tubes.   These tubes can be as tiny as your finger to as big as your hand.

Many recipes found online add cream cheese to the cannoli dip. This not only creates a thicker, denser texture but it gives the cannoli a tanginess to it.  The ricotta cheese already has a tang which already needs to be offset a bit.  This can be achieved by the addition of the powdered sugar and mini chocolate chips.

In the event you want to add something to the filling, may we suggest mascarpone, not cream cheese.  This is an Italian version of cream cheese and used widely in this recipe.

Cannoli dip with ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest
These delicious cannoli can be eaten any time.  Some people enjoy them like a donut with their morning coffee, while others enjoy them after a nice Sunday dinner with family.

Many times they come with mini chocolate chips in the filling and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

While we are huge proponents of you making your own fried cannoli shells (go you!), we are taking the simpler approach and buying the shells already made or serving the cannoli dip with some broken up pizzelle cookies, mini graham crackers or strawberries.

3 Important Points to Make about Cannoli filling:

  1. Getting a light and fluffy cannoli consistency requires straining the ricotta cheese.  This can be done by simply placing a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and allowing the ricotta to drain for a few hours.  Even a little liquid will help.  You can also use cheese cloth or paper towels.
  2. Slowly sift the powdered sugar into the ricotta, whisking each time.  No dumping allowed!
  3. Lastly, allow the filling to chill, like a day in advance kind of chill.   The longer the filling sits the better it tastes.
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Cannoli Filling inside a crispy Cannoli fried pastry shell

SIMPLE Cannoli Dip

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  • (1) 15 oz. Container Whole Milk Ricotta cheese
  • ¾ Cup Powdered Sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ Cup Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • Zest from 1 Lemon
  • Serve with: Waffle cones broken into pieces, Pizzelle cookies, Cannoli shells, Strawberries


  1. Place a small wire colander over a bowl. Line it with cheese cloth. Add the ricotta cheese and either pull the excess cheese cloth over it or place a paper towel on top. Place it in the fridge and allow the excess moisture to drip into the bowl. (Do NOT skip this step).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Whisk to completely combine.
  3. In a separate bowl beat the heavy cream and vanilla until fairly stiff.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the cream into the ricotta mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Lightly zest the exterior of the lemon and stir it into the ricotta.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve or insert into cannoli shells.


  • Serving Size: 1

SIMPLE Cannoli Dip - ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla in fried pastry shells
SIMPLE Cannoli Dip - ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla in fried pastry shells

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  • Reply
    August 13, 2020 at 8:42 am

    OK so I made it but the next day it got better and by that evening it was like crack!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Spreading some melted chocolate on the inside of the cannoli shell prevents it from getting soggy! Soooo good!

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