Cannoli Shells – a homemade cannoli shell pastry dough (a Sicilian pastry), that is crisp, light, and flaky, formed in the shape of a tube, in a variety of lengths, that can be baked, fried in oil, or air-fried, then filled with a rich ricotta mixture of choice that often includes chocolate morsels, and often citron or freshly zested citrus.
Why You’ll Love The Homemade Cannoli Dough
I keep recipes simple and this particular family Signature recipe is 4+ generations shared from my Sicilian Great Great Nonna, all the way to my Nonna and now to me!
My Nonna and Nonno immigrated to the USA bringing all their fabulous recipes with them, from their families which are now my signature Italian recipes.
Often I give them a quick upgrade without changing the taste, but making them either healthier or easier to make and I’ve done just that with my Nonna’s recipe for the cannoli pastry tubes that we fill with delicious ricotta filling!
- A very easy recipe, replacing the over-priced stale counterparts sold on the shelves or retailers
- Can be and should be made in advance
- This recipe shares how to air fry the dough, however, you can also FRY or BAKE these as well!
- You won’t be frying the dough in oil (but of course, you can if you prefer)
- Easy to find ingredients are used in the simple cannoli dough recipe
- It’s transportable
- Cannoli pastry can be filled with any filling of choice
- Can be made in a variety of sizes
Equipment Needed To Make Homemade Cannoli Shell
Now the kitchen essentials you need to make the air-fried shells are very straightforward.
Please note, that if you don’t have items, I’ll share alternates and you can just tweak the recipe around those other items.
- A large mixing bowl
- Rubber Spatula
- Measuring Cup
- Measuring Scoops
- Rolling Pin
- A Fork or a sturdy wooden mixing spoon
- Pastry brush
- Small bowl
- Baking Tray (Only if you are baking the shells)
- Parchment paper (only if you are baking the pastry tubes/shells)
- Cutting board or a flat surface that you can work on
- Cooling Rack
- Air Fryer (or deep fryer, or deep frying pot, or oven)
- Cannoli Forms (molds, pins, tubes)
Ingredients For Your Cannoli Shells
Remember basic ingredients create an incredible shell and there are no funky ingredients in this recipe for cannoli pastry shells!
How To Make Cannoli Shells
Now let’s quickly step through the process of preparing the homemade cannoli shell pastry dough.
Remember, I am sharing my version of air-fried shells for cannoli, but you can also bake, or fry the exact same dough and I will share that in the recipe last the bottom!
Step 1 Prepping the Air Fryer For Air-Fried Shells For Cannoli
Start by using a pastry brush to treat the inside of the air fryer basket with unrefined coconut oil making sure the dough will not stick.
Next preheat the air fryer while you prep the dough!
Step 2: Cannoli Dough Prep
Using a large bowl, place shortening, and whisked eggs together. Mix.
Then you’ll add in the wine and cinnamon.
Next mix in the flour and then the sugar.
Step 3: Cutting Out The Homemade Cannoli Shell Pastry Dough
Dust your work surface with flour and divide the dough in the bowl in half and work with each portion separately.
Place the portion of dough on your prepared workspace.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle, 1/16″ thick (this keeps them crispy, flaky, and authentic)
Using a lid of a storage container or a dip container cut out your cannoli rounds by placing the lid on the dough and giving it a twist to cut it out.
Then, using a cannoli form place the form in the middle of the cut circle, then, bring the dough from each side onto the pin, meeting in the middle.
Carefully brush the surface area of the wrapped cannoli form (the cannoli pastry dough only) with the whisked egg yolk to seal and give great color.
Place that on a tray, or plate, and work on the rest of the dough, cutting, and wrapping on the other cannoli pins until all the dough is used.
Depending on your air fryer basket size, place anywhere from 3-to 6 cannoli pastry tubes into the preheated, and treated nonstick basket, and begin preparing the air-fried shells for cannoli.
You are expecting the shell to be golden brown before you remove it from the air fryer basket.
Remove to a cooling rack, and allow them to cool for about 1 minute or so while you add the other cannoli pastries into the air fryer.
Working with the slightly cooled cannoli pastries, carefully remove the pastry from the pin and replace the cannoli shell with the cooling rack.
Continue the above process for all of the cannoli dough portions.
Once Cooled (about an hour) fill each with your choice of cannoli filling!
What To Serve With Your Homemade Cannoli Shell Pastries
There are endless options for filling the cannoli pastry shells so this will very much drive what you serve with the pastry as a side, dessert, or cocktail because of the filling!
Remember just because it is a cannoli shell doesn’t mean you have to fill it with typical filling!
When we serve our Italian cannoli dessert, we often add a fresh side of fruit or melon.
Dessert Suggestions to Pair
This is the filling fun, and here I suggest ricotta or a ricotta mascarpone filling, but be creative as you can fill the pastries with anything you like even ice cream, making a non-traditional dessert!
Cocktails To Add To Serve
We often serve Amaretto Liqeuer with a drip of cherry juice, other times a glass of dry white or dry red wine, suffice.
Frangelico and Limoncello are also amazing as a cocktail, after-dinner drink with the flaky, crisp, filled cannoli pastries.
- Rather than air frying the cannoli pastry shells, you could fry them in oil and then place them on a cooling rack with paper towels below or right atop paper towels.
- You can bake the cannoli shell pastries in the oven if you prefer on cookie trays
How To Reheat and Store Cannoli Shells
If you are making these for a group as the dessert, I will doubt you will have any left, but on the outlandish chance that there are actually unfilled cannoli pastry shells left, I will share how to store them!
Best Way To Store A Homemade Cannoli Shell
Use an air-tight container and place a paper towel in ONLY after these are completely cooled.
That will keep the shells nice and crisp.
How Long Will Cannoli Shells Last In The Fridge?
We don’t keep the shells in the fridge, because they will get soft.
Can I Freeze Cannoli Pastry?
You can freeze the pastry after it has been properly cooled, using an airtight container stacked tight!
Cannoli Pastry FAQs
Can I make cannoli dough without wine?
Yes. Use vinegar instead.
Do cannoli shells need to be kept in the refrigerator?
No. Keep them in an airtight container, in a cool dry area, making sure to leave a paper towel in the container to keep the moisture from the cannoli shells!
Can I bake the Cannoli Dough Recipe Instead of Using the Air Fryer?
Can I Fry The Homemade Cannoli Shell Pastry Dough?
Yes, use the oil in a frying pan, preheat it, and then fry each to a golden brown, but make sure to put fork tines throughout to keep the pastry from puffing up!
Other Italian Dessert Recipes You’ll Love
Make Sure To Come Back And Tell Me How Your Cannoli Shells Turned Out
- 4 Tbsp Crisco Stix (shortening) or Cold Butter can be subbed
- 2 Large Eggs (cracked + beaten)
- 1/2 C White Sweet Wine
- 1 Tbsp Of Cinnamon
- 3 C All Purpose Flour
- 1/4 Tsp Salt
- 1/4 C Sugar
- Workspace Dusting = additional flour that is NOT part of the recipe, use just a tablespoon at a time, you don't want to dry out the dough.
- Before Baking - For Cannoli
- 1 Egg Yolk + 1 Tbsp Water (Cracked, separated, whisked)
- Preheat the air fryer to 400° F
- Treat the inside air frying basket with a bit of refined coconut oil on a pastry brush to make certain that the pastry will not stick to the surface (you may have to do this again after the first dozen
- Using a large bowl, place shortening, and whisked eggs together.
- Now add in the wine and mix to combine
- Add in the cinnamon and mix.
- Next mix in the flour then the sugar
- Dust your work surface with a tablespoon of flour
- Divide the dough in the bowl in half and work with each portion separately.
- Place the portion of dough on your prepared workspace
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle, 1/16" thick (this keeps them crispy, flaky, and authentic)
- Using a lid of a storage container or a dip container cut out your cannoli rounds by placing the lid on the dough and giving it a twist to cut it out.
- Then, using a cannoli form place the form in the middle of the cut circle, then, bring the dough from each side onto the pin, meeting in the middle.
- Carefully brush the surface area of the wrapped cannoli form (Ithe cannoli pastry dough only) with the whisked egg yolk to seal and give great color.
- Place that on a tray, or plate, and work on the rest of the dough, cutting, and wrapping on the other cannoli pins until all the dough is used.
- Depending on your air fryer basket size, place anywhere from 3-to 6 cannoli pastry tubes into the basket, and program for 4 minutes.
- However, if at the end of the 4-minute cycle the dough does not appear to be golden brown, provide an additional 2 minutes of time then remove (at this point the cannoli pastry tubes should show golden brown.
- Remove to a cooling rack, and allow them to cool for about 1 minute or so while you add the other cannoli pastries into the air fryer.
- Working with the slightly cooled cannoli pastries, carefully remove the pastry from the pin and replace the cannoli shell to the cooling rack.
- Continue the above process for all of the cannoli dough portions.
- Once Cooled (about an hour) fill each with your choice of cannoli filling
- Enjoy. ~ Dana XO
As you work with the air fryer, through the process, the air fryer will fry each batch a bit faster, so your cooking time will reduce.
Remember to treat your air fryer basket to an additional brushing of nonstick oil of some sort, I prefer refined Coconut Oil for its high smoke point tolerance (400°F).