Pizzelle Cannoli

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If you love cannoli but don’t want to make and fry the shells, try this innovative Pizzelle Cannoli variation. It’s made with rolled Pizzelle cookies and sweetened ricotta cream, and the cookies are easy to make and sturdy to handle.

Mock italian cannolis with pizzelle on top of a blue cutting board covered in powdered sugar.


 

Traditional cannoli shells are made from deep-fried pastry dough. They are light and shatteringly crisp which makes them both delicious and delicate. I was looking for an easier way this holiday season.

This creative cannoli recipe uses rolled up Pizzelle cookies (the flat, waffle-like cookies that are cooked in a press similar to a waffle iron) as a crispy shell for the cannoli. As long as you have a pizzelle iron, these pizzelle shells are much easier to make and handle than traditional cannoli shells.

Equipment and ingredient notes

  • Pizzelle iron: Modern versions of pizzelle makers are just like waffle makers. They’re silvery, shiny, and beautiful, and they also make cookies! We rounded up the best pizzelle makers you can buy, and our top pick is the one I own and love – the Cuisinart Pizzelle Press.
  • Vanilla extract: Substitute anise extract or almond extract for the 2 tsps vanilla extract. For lemon, use 1 tsp lemon oil instead of lemon extract (lemon extract doesn’t have enough flavor).

Do you need a pizzelle maker to make pizzelle?

I tested some of the most popular hacks on the Internet to see if you can make pizzelle without a pizzelle iron—and none of them worked! I tried making them in a waffle maker, the oven, and stovetop. The waffle maker made pizzelle-flavored waffles, and the oven and stove top both led to pizzelle-flavored pancakes.

We rounded up the best pizzelle makers you can buy, and our top pick is the one I personally own and love – the Cuisinart Pizzelle Press. You can buy it at Walmart for $46.99. If you’re not looking to spend a ton of money, the Dash Mini Pizzelle Maker is a great option, too. It’s so cute—and it’s only $9.99 at Target!

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. 
Cream beaten to soft peaks.
  1. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta, powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Fold in whipped cream, cover, and refrigerate while making the Pizzelle cookies.
Ricotta cream filling for pizzelle cannoli.
  1. Preheat Pizzelle iron and lightly coat it with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and baking powder. Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter onto the Pizzelle iron and close. Bake as directed by the manufacturer or until golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Making pizzelle cookies in a pizzelle maker.
  1. Using a nonstick spatula, remove one pizzelle, leaving the second still on the open press, carefully wrap around a ¾” wooden dowel and pinch where the ends of the cookie meet. Hold until pizzelle is cool enough to retain its shape as a cannoli tube, using a kitchen towel if necessary to prevent burning your fingers. Repeat with second cookie on press and all remaining batter.
Rolling a pizzelle cookie around a dowel.
  1. Remove filling from the refrigerator and fold in chocolate chips. Using a pastry piping bag fitted with only a large coupler and no tip, pipe the filling into each side of a cooled pizzelle. It is okay if the filling does not go all the way through the middle of the cookie. Garnish with additional chocolate chips and dust with powdered sugar if desired. Serve immediately or chill until serving time.
Filled pizzelle cannoli dusted with powdered sugar.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 36 cannoli (12 servings of 3 cannoli per person). The recipe may be halved.
  • Storage: Store leftover cookies covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: The prepared cannoli shells will keep, unfilled, for up to two weeks if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Unfortunately, the shells cannot be filled in advance because the ricotta cheese filling will make the cannoli soggy.
  • More cannoli fillings: I love the sweetened ricotta cheese filling, but you could also do whipped mascarpone, straight whipped cream, or even classic French pastry cream.
  • Finishing touches: Sprinkle the ends of the cannoli with a cup of mini chocolate chips, chopped pistachios, dark chocolate shavings, or finely chopped candied orange zest. Or, add a drizzle of melted chocolate and a dusting of powdered sugar or ground cinnamon.
Pizzelle cookies cooling on a baking rack.
Classic Pizzelle cookies are lightly sweetened and flavored with vanilla extract or anise extract. All you need are 6 ingredients and 1 pizzelle maker!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you really need a pizzelle maker to make pizzelle cookies?

I tested every internet hack I could find to see if you can make pizzelle without a pizzelle iron. None of them worked! I tried making them in a waffle maker, in the oven (between 2 baking sheets), and in a skillet (flattened with something heavy on top). The waffle maker made pizzelle-flavored waffles, and the oven and stove-top both led to pizzelle-flavored pancakes. If you’re going to make pizzelle, you need a pizzelle iron.

What does cannoli mean in Italian?

Cannoli is the plural of the word cannolo which means “little tube.”

What does pizzelle mean in Italian?

Pizzelle comes from the word pizze which means round and flat, like a pizza. The elle part of the word means small (the diminutive). So pizzelle are small and flat.

What is the oldest cookie in the world?

The oldest known cookies in the world are Pizzelle, a small, flat cookie from Italy. Centuries ago, a small village called Colcullo was overrun by snakes. They were driven out by a Benedictine monk named San Domenico. The village celebrated with pizzelle and the Festival of the Snakes (or the Feast Day of San Domenico), still held every year on May 1st. Snake lovers, bring your own snake!

More sweet treats

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Mock italian cannoli with pizzelle on top of a blue cutting board covered in powdered sugar.

Pizzelle Cannoli

If you love cannoli but don't want to make and fry the shells, try this innovative Pizzelle Cannoli variation. It's made with rolled Pizzelle cookies and sweetened ricotta cream, and the cookies are easy to make and sturdy to handle.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Calories 612
5 from 79 votes

Equipment

  • Pizzelle iron (see note 1)

Ingredients 

For the filling:

For the cookies:

Instructions 

To make the filling:

  • Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. 
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta, powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Fold in whipped cream, cover, and refrigerate while making the Pizzelle cookies.

To make the cookies:

  • Preheat Pizzelle iron and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and baking powder.
  • Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter on to Pizzelle iron and close. Bake as directed by manufacturer or until golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Using a nonstick spatula, remove one pizzelle, leaving the second still on the open press, carefully wrap around a ¾” wooden dowel and pinch where the ends of the cookie meet.
  • Hold until pizzelle is cool enough to retain its shape, using a kitchen towel if necessary to prevent burning your fingers. Repeat with second cookie on press and all remaining batter.
  • Remove filling from the refrigerator and fold in chocolate chips. Using a pastry bag fitted with only a large coupler and no tip, pipe the filling into each side of a cooled pizzelle. It is okay if the filling does not go all the way through the middle of the cookie.
  • Garnish with additional chocolate chips and dust with powdered sugar if desired. Serve immediately or chill until serving time.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Pizzelle iron: Modern versions are just like a waffle maker: a silvery, shiny, beautiful waffle maker that makes cookies. I have this pizzelle iron (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link).
  2. Vanilla extract: Or substitute anise or almond extract. For lemon, use 1 teaspoon lemon oil instead of lemon extract (lemon extract doesn’t have enough flavor).
  3. Yield: This recipe about 36 cannoli (12 servings of 3 cannoli per person). The recipe may be halved.
  4. Storage: Store leftover cookies covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 612kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 15gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 272mgPotassium: 221mgFiber: 2gSugar: 37gVitamin A: 1097IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 245mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

    1. Hi Jeannie, thank you for the question! I haven’t tried it myself, but I don’t see why store-bought pizzelle couldn’t be microwaved and shaped when warm. I hope this helps! – Meggan

  1. This dough sticks to my pizzelle maker. I have mad many pizzelles with this machine and Never had them stick. I made shells before with my pizzelle recipe with no problems.Thought I would try your recipe. I should have checked my recipe first. Your recipe has 1/2 cup more flour. Batter too thick. I spray them with Pam like I always did. Very upset!

    1. Hi Joyce, I’m sorry you found the batter to be too thick. I hope you were able to adjust it to your liking. Sorry again. – Meggan

  2. LO-CARB VERSION CAME OUT FANTASTIC!
    I substituted Splenda for the white sugar. Used Swerve (or Truvia) confectioners sugar for the confectioner sugar and Carb-Quick instead of flour (sifted, clumpy stuff removed). Also used half ricotta and half cream cheese (just cause I like cream cheese. I had to get the pizzelles off a little sooner cause they got too crispy to roll on the cannoli molds. After they cooled and held their shape I put them in my air fryer with the mold still in it for around 3 minutes which got them super crispy! They are about 1.6 net carbs each when using 1/2 cream cheese version and if using nothing but the ricotta they would be about 1.3 net carbs each. Carb quick has some hard chips in it, I think must be shortening which I removed by sifting it. Not sure if those would have interfered with the cute imprint on the Pizzelle Maker. They didn’t hold their shape real well in the air fryer without the mold.5 stars

    1. Hi Sylvia, I’m so glad! I love this! I haven’t used Carb Quick myself, so thank you for the tip on sifting. Thank you so much for the comment, I hope this helps other readers adapt the recipe for their sweet, low-carb needs! Thank you again! – Meggan

  3. I made them with gluten free flour. I am Italian and have not been able to have a cannoli for over six years! The recipe is fantastic! The first bite threw me off a little bit because my memory of a true Italian cannoli taste was testing me. These are definitely unique in their own but it only took me eating three to appreciate them for themselves! LOL! The shell was a perfect thickness. The filling mildly sweet with a lighter consistency then a traditional ricotta filling. I will definitely make these again and tweak the recipe a little bit in hopes to get that true authentic Italian taste! Thank you, Merry Christmas!5 stars

    1. Hi Cindy, the cookies will keep for a week at least at room temperature (air-tight container), and the filling should be fine for 4 or 5 days if not longer (refrigerated). Hope this helps! – Meggan

  4. Oh man! This is such a GREAT idea! Just got into making pizzelles and was looking for new ways to use them. Thank you so much!5 stars

  5. Looks to me like you may need to re-read this recipe. How could you publish this recipe? It looks like the cookie recipe and cannoli recipe are written together!!!

    1. Hi Judy, they are written together because you make the cream first and while it’s chilling, you make the cookies. The recipe is a step-by-step to get that accomplished. I just read through it and it made sense to me, but I can add some category headings to make it clear. I’m sorry about that! Thanks for letting me know. -Meggan

    1. Hi Judy, I’m not sure. You could definitely try it. I haven’t made these with almond flour so I can’t say for sure! -Meggan

  6. I have Celiacs Disease and I have to eat Gluten Free. I’m wondering if you have a gluten free recipe for the pizzelles?

    1. Hi Janice, I don’t have a recipe for GF pizzelles, but I could work on it. It will probably take a couple of months, but I’ll put it on the list! Such a great idea. Thanks for the question. -Meggan

    2. Hi Janice! New plan, one that shouldn’t take quite so long! I picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten free flour today. I’ll use my existing recipe for pizzelles and just swap in the GF flour. Hopefully I can do this by the end of the week and report back! Stay tuned, thanks for your patience! -Meggan

  7. I can replace Ricotta in this recipe by cottage or cream cheese to make this dish, can’t it? I run out of ricotta and i don’t know which substitute is better.

    1. Yes you can! I think either one would be good. Cottage cheese probably has the most similar texture, but cream cheese probably has the more similar taste. Both would be good.

  8. Sorry, But this is not a true Italian Pizzelle recipe. Never would one add baking powder or powdered sugar in the dough!!!
    Yikes!!!

    1. I would never claim to know anything about authentic pizzelle, but I do appreciate hearing that the batter should not contain baking powder and powdered sugar. I obviously have no experience with authentic cannoli either. :) If you have authentic recipes for either that you’d be willing to pass along, I’d gladly take them! Thanks for your comments.

    2. Hi,
      I am Italian and we do put baking powder in the dough for pizzelle. Also, the powdered sugar she uses is not for the dough but for the ricotta filling.

      I have to try this recipe. I also have a question for Meggan: I usually make my pizzelle with anise seeds – would this still be good to fill with ricotta or should I omit it?

    3. Hi Joanne! I think it would be delicious with anise seeds! Thank you so much for your comment, I hope you have a happy holiday! Take care! – Meggan

    1. Hi Beth, thanks for the head’s up. It’s kind of like playing whack-a-mole! I think I can find them through a google image search, though, so I’ll look into it. Thank you so much!!! And I can promise you that I never used anyone else’s photos, obviously. :)

    1. Hi Denise, if your filling seems runny, I would try to thicken it up by remove some of the excess liquid. You could pour the filling over a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve, some cheesecloth, or even pile it on paper towels. That should soak up some of the extra cream. I’m sorry you had that issue. Makes me wonder if there is variance among ricotta cheese, maybe some producers have more or less water than others. I should probably recommend using less heavy cream overall and adding more if the mixture is too thick. Thanks for your question and I hope this helps!

    2. You need t o let just your ricotta strain over night over cheese clothe in a bowl as it is high in water content and squeeze out the moisture frequently. Then once it looks dryer then It was assemble your filling as stated in recipe.5 stars

  9. The real name is FERRATELLE , a tipical Abruzzo recipe. You can try also BRIGIDINI, this time a tipical Tuscany recipe that you can do with the same tool. bye ;-)

    1. Hi Anna, thanks for these tips! I’ll research the recipes for sure. :) Always good to hear from a native! Take care.

    1. Hi Sharon, here is what I would do if I wanted to make the cannoli in advance. I’d make all the components and store them separately and then assemble them at the last minute. The cookies will keep for a week AT LEAST at room temperature (air-tight container), and the filling should be fine for 4 or 5 days if not longer (refrigerated). I just wouldn’t assemble them until you need them because the cookies would probably get soggy after a day or so. Not as bad as actual cannoli, but I’m assuming after a while that would happen. I’ve never actually made these in advance. I do think if you made them in the morning and refrigerated them until the afternoon, that would be fine. I hope this helps. Good luck!

  10. My very own shout-out! I am blushing. :) I love your cannoli interpretation. Deep frying is all well and good, but I have a hard time believing the authentic shells are better than delicious pizzelle cookies. This is genius!5 stars

  11. Meggan, this is such a fun post! I’m all for cheat’s versions of things, especially if they end up looking as good as these. I saw an Italian chef make a similar filling for pancakes recently at a food show – he added chocolate sauce to his so I guess it’s more or less the same taste you end up with. I don’t have a pizzelle press but I do have a pasta maker … maybe I should give that version a try!5 stars

  12. Meggan, this is such a fun post! I’m all for cheat’s versions of things, especially if they end up looking as good as these. I saw an Italian chef make a similar filling for pancakes recently at a food show – he added chocolate sauce to his so I guess it’s more or less the same taste you end up with. I don’t have a pizzelle press but I do have a pasta maker … maybe I should give that version a try!5 stars

    1. Thanks so much, Matt! They were super tasty, a big hit with the guys around here. :)