Cannoli Dip

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Cannoli Dip is our new favorite dipping dessert; think: the inside of a cannoli, but in dippable form! Grab your favorite cookies, crackers, or broken-up waffle cones, and dig in!

Love dessert dips? Us too! Be sure to try this brownie-batter flavored Dessert Cheese Ball or three-ingredient Fruit Dip next.

Cannoli Dip with cookies for dipping

Cannoli Dip Recipe

When we went to Italy a few years ago, “trying gelato in every single flavor” was at the top dessert bucket list. Next on that list? Eating all the cannoli!

What Are Cannoli?

If you aren’t familiar, cannoli are famous Italian pastries. They start with tube-shaped fried pastry dough and then pipe a sweet and creamy filling into the shell. The filling contains ricotta cheese among other ingredients. Once filled, the ends of the cannolis are dipped in miniature chocolate chips, chopped pistachios, etc. and the pastries are lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

The cannoli in Italy did not disappoint! And since coming home, I’ve made them a few times for my family. While they’re fun to make, the shells are time intensive to prepare and can be a bit particular. Not the easiest dessert to whip together when the intense cravings hit! So instead, I whip up a similar filling, make it into a dippable consistency, and enjoy it with waffle cones or cookies. And so, we have Cannoli Dip — all the flavors and a fraction of the work!

And just to be clear — this Italian Cannoli Dip Recipe isn’t an authentic Italian dessert, but certainly inspired by their famous pastries.

QUICK TIP

If you don’t speak fluent Italian, here’s a mini-lesson. Cannoli is actually the plural of  the Sicilian word cannolo, which translates to ‘little tube.’ Why do we never refer to a single cannolo? Well, that one is obvious: because you can never eat just one!

Process shots: remove excess moisture from the ricotta; mix with mascarpone; add in sugar, salt and vanilla; whip until thick and creamy

What Is Cannoli Dip Made Of?

This dip contains ingredients similar to what you’d find in the filling of cannoli, so the texture and flavors are pretty on point. Here’s what we’ve got:

  • Ricotta cheese. Pick a full-fat high-quality ricotta cheese — this way you won’t need to strain off too much excess liquid. Better ricotta provides a richer flavor in this dip. While ricotta can have a slightly gritty texture, Cannoli Dip without ricotta would be too sweet and not taste similar to actual cannoli–which is what we’re going for in this recipe!
  • Mascarpone cheese. If you aren’t familiar, mascarpone cheese, it’s similar to cream cheese but uses a base of whole cream rather than milk (so you know this is going to be good!). It can be found usually in one of three places in the grocery store: the deli counter, in the dairy section (near the cream cheese or sour cream), or in the specialty foods section (near fancier cheeses like brie). See “quick tip” box below.
  • Powdered sugar. This sugar melds nicely with the cheeses instead of becoming grainy like granulated or brown sugar.
  • Vanilla extract. This adds a nice flavor complexity.
  • Fine sea salt. Salt intensifies flavors and balances all the ingredients nicely.
  • Miniature Chocolate Chips. These mini chips add such a great flavor to the dip and a nice texture.

QUICK TIP

Cannoli dip with mascarpone cheese is divine! We love mascarpone cheese so much that it’s made its way into a myriad of recipes on the site, including this Honey and Banana SandwichBaked Ziti, and my favorite Pumpkin Pie Recipe. In a pinch, you can make Cannoli Dip with cream cheese (using full-fat, brick-style), but I highly recommend mascarpone if you can get it. Yes, Mascarpone Madness is a real thing!

VARIATIONS

Instead of adding miniature chocolate chips, try adding in coarsely chopped pistachios! You can also flavor this dip exactly how your favorite cannoli taste — add in some orange zest or lemon zest or orange/lemon extracts or season with cinnamon and/or a touch of allspice

Process shots: add mini chocolate chips; fold into the cheese mixture.

What To Dip In Cannoli Dip

  • Waffle cookies: While the flavors aren’t quite the same, broken waffle cones, pizzelle waffle cookies, or waffle butter cookies (from Trader Joe’s) are amazing with this dip!
  • Cookies: We also love crunchy chocolate chip cookies or vanilla wafers in this dip.
  • Other great ideas: Try unfilled packaged cannoli shells, pretzels, graham crackers, animal crackers, vanilla sandwich cookies.

How To Make Cannoli Dip

 I’ve never seen Cannoli Dip in stores–all the more reason to make it yourself! The full recipe is below, but here are some tips:

  • Use full-fat dairy products. In order for this dip to whip into a nice, creamy consistency, it needs whole milk ricotta and whole mascarpone cheese (we need the fat from the whole milk for whipping). Low-fat products won’t yield consistent results.
  • Use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer. Unfortunately, this dip doesn’t thicken without one or the other. We need high-speed whipping capabilities to get the right consistency.
  • Presentation tip: Add the dip to a bowl. Place the bowl on a large plate or platter and fan out the dippers surrounding the bowl. Sprinkle a few extra miniature chocolate chips on top of the dip. Give everything a light sprinkle of powdered sugar (use a fine-mesh sieve to lightly sprinkle the sugar on top).

Cannoli Dip FAQs

1What is the filling in Cannoli made of?

The main ingredient in cannoli filling is ricotta cheese. Cannoli filling also typically has sugar and some flavor enhancers like vanilla extract, citrus zest, etc.

2How do I thicken my Cannoli Dip?

This dip should be very thick if the ricotta is properly strained and the mixture is properly whipped. It also thickens as it chills!

3Why is Cannoli filling gritty?

The filling is ever so slightly gritty from the ricotta cheese. The fillings are so creamy and sweet that the ricotta helps to balance everything nicely.

4Is there mascarpone in Cannoli?

There sure is mascarpone in our cannoli dip! We are obsessed with what this ingredient does for flavor and texture. That said, you can use cream cheese in a pinch.

5How do you strain ricotta quickly?

Start by buying a good quality, full-fat ricotta cheese — this will require far less straining right off the bat.

To quickly strain, use a piece of cheesecloth or nut milk bag and place the ricotta mounded in the center. Roll up the top and squeeze out excess liquid over the sink.

6How do you strain ricotta without a cheesecloth?

You can use a laundry bag or paint strainer bag. Or, lay out the ricotta on some paper towel and press out excess liquid with additional paper towels. Depending on how watery the ricotta is, you may need to repeat this process a few times.

Cannoli Dip with cookies on the side

STORAGE

Cannoli Dip Storage

This dip will last nicely in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Note that as it sits in the fridge, it does begin to collect a bit of liquid after the first day. This isn’t a big deal; drain it off and give it a good stir before serving again!

Because of the dairy in this dip, it isn’t a great candidate for freezing and thawing as it will likely separate and become overly grainy.

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Cannoli Dip

5 from 4 votes
Cannoli Dip is our new favorite dipping dessert; think: the inside of a cannoli, but in dippable form! Grab your favorite cookies, crackers, or broken-up waffle cones, and dig in!
Print Recipe

Cannoli Dip

5 from 4 votes
Cannoli Dip is our new favorite dipping dessert; think: the inside of a cannoli, but in dippable form! Grab your favorite cookies, crackers, or broken-up waffle cones, and dig in!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword Cannoli Dip, cannoli dip recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12 servings (with dippers)
Calories 273kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $6.82

Ingredients

  • 1 container (8 oz.) full-fat mascarpone cheese OR cream cheese (Note 1)
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese (Note 2)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Teeny pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
  • For serving: butter waffle cookies, chocolate chip cookies, broken waffle cones, pizzelle cookies, graham crackers or cannoli shells for serving (Note 3)

Instructions

  • DRAIN RICOTTA: Measure out the ricotta and place it on top of several paper towels. Press down with a few more paper towels to remove excess moisture. Alternatively, add ricotta to a cheesecloth and squeeze out excess moisture over the sink.
  • BEAT: Combine ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese (drain off any liquid if there is any on top), vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl fitted to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or add to a large bowl and use a hand mixer). Beat on medium-high speed until the dip is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • CHILL: Use a spatula to gently fold in chocolate chips. Transfer to an airtight container and let chill for 30 minutes or up to an hour.
  • SERVE: Remove dip from the fridge and give it a quick stir. Transfer to serving platter and surround with dippers of choice!
  • STORAGE: This dip will last nicely in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Note that as it sits in the fridge, it does begin to collect a bit of liquid after the first day. This isn't a big deal; drain it off and give it a good stir before serving again! Because of the dairy in this dip, it isn't a great candidate for freezing and thawing as it will likely separate and become grainy.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Mascarpone cheese: This dip is the absolute best with mascarpone, but full-fat, brick-style cream cheese will work in a pinch (you may want a touch more sugar). Mascarpone cheese is richer, creamier, and more flavorful in this dip so try to use it if possible. It can be found usually in one of three places in the grocery store: the deli counter, in the dairy section (near the cream cheese or sour cream), or in the specialty foods section (near fancier cheeses like brie).
Note 2: Ricotta cheese: Pick whole milk, high-quality ricotta cheese -- this way you won't need to strain off too much excess liquid. Better ricotta has a richer flavor in this dip. Low-fat ricotta won't whip up to a thick and creamy dip.
Note 3: Dippers: We like crunchy chocolate chip cookies and butter waffle cookies best! Here are some more ideas:
  • Waffle cookies: While the flavors aren't quite the same, broken waffle cones, pizzelle waffle cookies, or waffle butter cookies (from Trader Joe's) are amazing with this dip!
  • Cookies: Crunchy chocolate chip cookies or vanilla wafers are two other favorites in this dip.
  • Other great ideas: Unfilled store-bought cannoli shells, pretzels, graham crackers, animal crackers, vanilla sandwich cookies.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 273kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15.8g | Cholesterol: 34.8mg | Sodium: 85.5mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 26.2g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was lovely. What a smooth, creamy dip perfect for my book club gathering. It was beautiful, too. 🙂 I served with strawberries, apple slices, butter waffle cookies, and pizzelle cookies. Everyone loved it.

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