5 Minute Cheat’s Ricotta Cannoli!

5 Minute Cheat's Ricotta Cannolis! // The Sugar Hit


There is no bad kind of cannoli. Even the worst possible iteration – the soggy cannoli – is still pretty damn delicious. Because the heart and soul of the cannoli is the filling. There’s your classic ricotta cream, the less traditional mascarpone, and then the even less traditional thick custard filling (strangely common in Australia – I’ve seen both vanilla and chocolate). For me, there is no contest, it’s all about that ricotta cream.


Something utterly magical happens to ricotta when you monkey with it just a little. The transformative process takes 2 minutes. All you have to do is throw your ricotta (this is a rare instance where the tubbed stuff works fine) into a food processor with a little sugar and whatever flavourings you like, and blitz. All of a sudden, the curd-y, savoury cheese, becomes an unbelievably smooth cream – rich, nuanced, sweet, milky and fresh – which can be summed up in one word: lush. It’s so lush!


5 Minute Cheat's Ricotta Cannolis! // The Sugar Hit


5 Minute Cheat's Ricotta Cannolis! // The Sugar Hit


The fact that the filling is what the cannoli is all about, and that what makes, in my opinion, the very best filling of all takes only 2 minutes to prepare, does render the cannoli shell something of a problem. You see, the cannoli shell is a bit of a beast. It takes kneading, resting, rolling, shaping, frying. You need special metal or wooden cannoli moulds. And if you want to proceed at any kind of pace, you will need a lot of moulds.


All this? For the crunchy shell, which serves as a mere vehicle to that filling? Honestly, I’m not one to shy away from a kitchen project. Spending an afternoon frying cannoli shells doesn’t actually sound like a terrible time to me. But the thing is, without all that action, these desserts go from a half-day project, to a five minute wonder. And ricotta cannoli in five minutes? It’s just too good to resist. So, I buy the shells.


5 Minute Cheat's Ricotta Cannolis! // The Sugar Hit


5 Minute Cheat's Ricotta Cannolis! // The Sugar Hit


Yep I said it! Store bought shells! Get yourself down to the nearest excellent Italian grocer, shy away from any Sicilian nonnas who will surely shake their heads in disgust at your purchase, and grab a box of pre-made shells. I was skeptical at first, but damn it all if those premade shells aren’t just as good as anything I’ve had in a bakery! And I got to eat them still super-crisp and freshly piped. And the whole thing took me no time flat!


These are almost too good to be true, except that they are true. My Wednesday gift to you!


xx Sarah.


5 Minute Cheat's Ricotta Cannolis!
Serves: 10 cannolis
  • 10x store bought cannoli shells (about 10cm /4in long)
  • 500g/ 1lb ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar (aka superfine sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • optional: chopped pistachios, chopped dark chocolate
  1. Place the ricotta, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest into a food processor and blitz until smooth (about 20 seconds).
  2. Transfer the ricotta cream to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Fill each cannoli, starting from one end, squeezing filling into the middle and out, and then turning it round and filling the other end.
  3. If desired, dip the edges of the cannolis into chopped pistachios and dark chocolate.


  • I’m Italian and I agree that what happens to ricotta when you transform it into the cannoli filling is MAGICAL. Also…I’ve been too lazy to try homemade because of the shells but you’re right, I need to just go buy some and let myself enjoy some delish cannoli!

  • These look delicious! Ricotta fillings are definitely better than those lemon custard ones. But since I’m both Italian and a grammar nut, there’s one thing I have to point out: cannoli is the plural of cannolo. So ‘cannolis’ isn’t really a word (sorry, I’m quite obsessive about these things for some reason).

      • Innocent mistake, Sarah:) I speak Italian and I also catch myself adding S to the Italian plural words when I’ve been writing a lot in English. Just part of being multilingual. Please don’t face palm yourself, it’s a well written article:))

    • I noticed that too, Claudia. In Italian S is not used for plural words. Sadly, I don’t think there are a lot of Italian-Americans even familiar with the Italian language these days. I think it’s nice that you’re taking the time to educate people about it:)

  • I love Lucca Ravioli, an Italian shop in SF that our cooking school instructor in Florence recommended. I’ll have to check to see if they have premade shells!

  • I want to make these cannolis to take on a sailing trip. Can I make the filling four days ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator of my boat?

  • I love you. I’ m having a gathering for my daughters 20th birthday and am cooking like a mad woman – why do I do this to myself. When I was in the deli looking for all the bits and pieces required I came across the cannoli shells. Quickly googled cannoli fillings and presto!! And just when I was doubting myself I read your blog. Thankyou thankyou.

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