Made with traditional ricotta cheese and a couple flavorings, cannoli dip is the perfect crowd-pleasing 10-minute dessert. It’s also known as cannoli cream, and you can use it to fill cannoli shells.
Ahh, cannoli. The swoon-worthy crisp pastry with a creamy filling is one of those things that we all ogle in bakeries. Did you know that you can easily make cannoli cream at home?!
The first time I saw cannoli dip and chips was at Wegmans back home in Buffalo, and oh boy is it good! It’s perfect if you need dessert for a party and don’t have time to whip one up, but of course you pay a premium for the convenience.
Me being me, I wanted to try my hand at a homemade version. Fast forward about five years and here we are, lol!
Traditional cannoli cream is made with ricotta cheese. You’ll frequently see mascarpone added to for richness and smooth texture. Here we add a bit of heavy whipping cream for creaminess and decadent flavor. And you can flavor it in a number of different ways, but we’ll get to that later.
You can use this cannoli cream as cannoli dip or make it filled cannoli. But what you’ll really love about this recipe is how quick and easy cannoli cream is to whip up!
And when you want to serve it as cannoli dip, you don’t even have to strain the ricotta (although if you want to make filled cannoli, I recommend straining it to remove the excess liquid).
This dessert is perfect for any time of year. It’s a good one to bring to a potluck with a ton of different cookies for dipping. And it’s great for game nights, birthday parties, holiday parties, or gatherings of any kind. It’s always a favorite!
The Best Easy 10 Minute Cannoli Dip Recipe
You can serve cannoli dip with broken up waffle cones or cannoli shells for a 10-minute dessert that has all the flavor of the Italian classic in a fraction of the time!
And if you prefer to make filled cannoli but don’t have time for the whole process, ask your local bakery (or the bakery at your local grocery store) if you can buy pre-made cannoli shells.
I was able to put in an order to purchase both regular and mini-sized cannoli shells from the bakery at my local Publix.
Ingredients in Cannoli Cream
In this section, I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), please see the recipe card below.
- Ricotta cheese – traditional cannoli is made with ricotta cheese, not mascarpone; if you’re making cannoli filling you will need to strain the ricotta overnight to remove excess whey, however, if you’re making cannoli dip, straining the ricotta is optional
- Powdered sugar – adds sweetness and helps thicken the mixture; I also like to sprinkle a little on top as a garnish
- Heavy whipping cream – for rich flavor and creamy texture
- Vanilla extract and orange zest – these are the flavorings we use here; alternatively, you could use almond extract or ground cinnamon
- Semisweet mini chocolate chips – or you can use finely chopped chocolate
Cannoli is actually Sicilian in origin (not Italian), and from there made its way to Italy. Citrus (such as orange), is a traditional flavor, but usually in the form of candied orange peel.
How to Make Cannoli Cream
For best flavor and texture, strain the ricotta in the fridge overnight. (See the recipe card below for detailed instructions on how to do this.)
- Add all ingredients (except the chocolate chips) to a large bowl.
- Use a handheld electric mixer to beat until well-combined, smooth, and creamy. Alternatively, you can beat everything together using a stand mixer.
If you’re using this as dip, stir in all but 1 tablespoon of the chocolate chips, reserving them for the top. If you’re using this as filling for cannoli shells, stir in all the chocolate chips.
The cannoli cream is now ready to serve as dip or to make filled cannoli.
Flavor Variations on This Recipe
This cannoli cream is flavored with vanilla, orange, and chocolate.
If you prefer, you can omit the orange zest and add ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or ½ teaspoon almond extract.
The mini chocolate chips are optional.
You can also garnish with chopped pistachios or almonds if you like.
Store cannoli cream in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Once you make filled cannoli, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, but note that they’re best on the first day they’re made (while the pastry shells are fresh and crisp).
What to Serve with Cannoli Dip
The sky is the limit! Here are a few ideas for dippers that are perfect with cannoli dip:
- Waffle ice cream cones, broken into chip-sized pieces
- Cannoli shells, broken into pieces
- Pizzelle cookies
- Mini crunchy chocolate chip cookies
- Vanilla wafers
- Graham crackers
- Fresh fruit, such as strawberries
Cannoli Filling FAQs
Is Mascarpone or Ricotta Better for Cannoli?
Traditionally, cannoli filling is made with ricotta cheese. The cheese is strained to remove excess whey, and then mixed with the other filling ingredients.
Can I Use Mascarpone or Cream Cheese Instead of Ricotta for Cannoli?
Yes, you can!
We use ricotta cheese to make this cannoli cream. However, if you prefer, you can use 24 ounces of mascarpone or 24 ounces of cream cheese instead (or a mix of both).
If you use mascarpone or cream cheese, there’s no need to strain it overnight.
Do I Have to Strain the Ricotta to Make Cannoli Filling?
If you plan on using this as cannoli filling (instead of dip), I recommend straining the ricotta to remove the excess whey, which can cause the cannoli cream to be watery.
However, if you will be serving this as dip, technically, it’s your choice whether you want to strain the ricotta.
However, either way I still recommend straining the ricotta!
That’s because purpose of straining ricotta for making cannoli cream is two-fold:
- To make it less watery (because watery cannoli filling will make the cannoli shells soggy faster!).
- To make the filling less grainy. This is why I like to strain the ricotta even if I’m making cannoli dip (not filling).
More Easy Dessert Recipes
Cannoli Dip Recipe (aka Cannoli Filling or Cannoli Cream)
Dipper Ideas to Use This as Cannoli Dip:
- Waffle ice cream cones broken into chip-sized pieces
- Cannoli shells broken into pieces
- Pizzelle cookies
- Mini crunchy chocolate chip cookies
- Vanilla wafers
- Graham crackers
- Fresh fruit such as strawberries
To Use This as Cannoli Filling:
- 25 to 30 regular-sized cannoli shells
- Mini chocolate chips or chopped nuts (for dipping the ends in)
The Night Before:
- Strain the ricotta. Place a strainer inside a bowl, and line the strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters so that they hang over the outside of the strainer.
- Scoop the ricotta into the lined strainer and fold the cheesecloth or coffee filters over the top of the yogurt. Cover with plastic wrap and put a plate on top. Put something heavy on top of the plate to help press the liquid out of the ricotta.
- Let the ricotta sit like this in the fridge for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours.
To Make the Cannoli Cream:
- Add all ingredients (except the chocolate chips) to a large bowl and use a handheld electric mixer to beat until well-combined, smooth, and creamy. If the cannoli filling is too thick, add a splash more cream; if it’s too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.
- If you’re using this as dip, stir in all but 1 tablespoon of the chocolate chips, reserving them for the top. If you’re using this as filling for cannoli shells, stir in all the chocolate chips.
- If Using Cannoli Cream as Dip: Transfer the cannoli cream to a serving bowl, sprinkle on the reserved chocolate chips, and sprinkle ½ tablespoon powdered sugar on top. Serve with the dippers of your choice.
- If Using Cannoli Cream as Filling for Cannoli Shells: Transfer the cannoli cream to a piping bag and pipe it into cannoli shells. If desired, dip the ends in mini chocolate chips or chopped nuts, and sprinkle ½ tablespoon powdered sugar on top.
- Straining the Ricotta: If you plan on using this as cannoli filling (instead of dip), I recommend straining the ricotta to remove the excess whey, which can cause the cannoli cream to be watery. However, if you will be serving this as dip, straining the ricotta is optional (but recommended for best flavor and texture).
- Variations on the Flavor: Here we flavor the cannoli cream with vanilla, orange, and chocolate. If you prefer, you can omit the orange zest and add ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or ½ teaspoon almond extract. You can also garnish with chopped pistachios or almonds if you like.
- Storage: Store cannoli cream in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Once you make filled cannoli, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, but note that they’re best on the first day they’re made (while the pastry shells are fresh and crisp).
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 4 cups of cannoli cream. If you’re serving it as dip, each serving is about ¼ cup for a total of 16 servings. If you’re using this to fill cannoli shells, you will get about 25 to 30 regular-sized cannoli.
- Nutrition Information: The nutritional information for this recipe was calculated for the cannoli cream only, not including the dippers or cannoli shells.