Not to be confused with Cannelloni or Cannellini.
Cannolo, plural:cannoli

A basic cannolo lightly sprinkled with confectioner's sugar
Type Pastry
Place of origin Italy
Region or state Sicily
Main ingredients fried pastry dough, ricotta filling
Variations Kannoli (Malta)
Cookbook: Cannolo, plural:cannoli  Media: Cannolo, plural:cannoli

Cannolo (Italian pronunciation: [kanˈnɔːli]; Sicilian: cannula) is an Italian pastry of the Sicily region. The singular is cannolo ([kanˈnɔːlo]; in the Sicilian language cannolu), meaning "little tube", with the etymology stemming from the Greek kanna (reed).[1] Cannoli originated in Sicily and are a staple of Sicilian cuisine.[2][3] They are also popular in Italian-American cuisine. In Italy, they are commonly known as "cannoli siciliani", Sicilian cannoli.

Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta. They range in size from "cannulicchi", no bigger than a finger, to the fist-sized proportions typically found south of Palermo, Sicily, in Piana degli Albanesi.[4]

Typical cannolo as served in America
Cannoli on display


Cannoli have been traced to the Arabs during the Emirate of Sicily,[5][6] with a possible origin for the word and recipe deriving directly from qanawāt. These were deep fried dough tubes filled with various sweets, which were a popular pastry across the Islamic world at the time, from Al-Andalus to Iraq.[7]

Cannoli come from the Palermo and Messina[8] areas and were historically prepared as a treat during Carnevale season, possibly as a fertility symbol; one legend assigns their origin to the harem of Caltanissetta. The dessert eventually became a year-round staple throughout Italy.


The cannoli sold in Italian-American bakeries today usually still contain ricotta, but mascarpone is a less common alternative. Rarely, the filling is a simple custard of sugar, milk, and cornstarch. These changes became standardized when Italians who immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s and discovered limited availability of certain ingredients.

The cream is often flavored with vanilla or orange flower water and a small amount of cinnamon. Chopped pistachios, semi-sweet chocolate pieces, and candied citrus peel or cherries are often still included, dotting the open ends of the pastries.

In some Italian-American families a variant using pizzelle cookies as a shell instead of fried dough has been popular since the 1930s. This variant comes from the regions of Lazio and Abruzzo close to the Monte Cassino which is the area attributed to the development of the pizzelle. In this variant, the cookies while still hot from the press are wrapped around a dowel or other handy round item like a rolling pin, to form the tube and allowed to cool at which point the cookie hardens. This is then filled with a sweetened ricotta filling.

See also


  2. Gangi, Robert (2006). "Cannoli". Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  3. "The Cannoli of Piana degli Albanesi". A Taste of Travel. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  4. "The Cannoli of Piana degli Albanesi". A Taste of Travel. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  5. Madison Books (1 Nov 2007). 1001 Foods To Die For. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 779. ISBN 9780740770432.
  6. Michael Krondl (2011). Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert. Chicago Review Press. p. 102. ISBN 9781556529542.
  7. Paul H. Freedman (2007). Food: The History of Taste (illustrated ed.). University of California Press. p. 159. ISBN 9780520254763.
  8. "Scatti di gusto - 30 cannoli siciliani perfetti per un tentativo di classifica definitiva". Scatti di Gusto. Retrieved 15 October 2014.

External links

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