This homemade vegan Italian cannoli recipe will take you straight to Sicily, the mother land of authentic cannoli siciliani. Our vegan version is every bit as delicious as the traditional cannoli.
Our filling is made of vegan homemade ricotta and is sweet and creamy. The shell, is every bit as bubbly, light and crisp as the traditional one, but without eggs, lard, or butter. We do not compromise on taste, and neither should you.
🍓 Ingredients & substitutions
Ingredients for the vegan ricotta
Soy milk: get unsweetened, organic, natural soy milk. Check the ingredients label, there should only be water and soy beans. It might not curdle if it contains other ingredients.
Apple cider vinegar: can be replaced by lemon juice, but it's easier to use apple cider vinegar because you don't have to squeeze it, and remove the pulp or the seeds.
Ingredients for the vegan cannoli filling
Homemade vegan ricotta: making this at home will make your vegan cannoli recipe delicious. It's flavour is very neutral, and very similar to the traditional Italian cannoli flavour. Do not replace it with cashews, tofu, soy yogurt, or anything else. It's cheap and easy to make at home.
Sugar: use regular white sugar for authentic cannoli taste and texture. You could replace it with other sweeteners, like brown sugar, or syrups, but we don't see the point as the recipe will only be a little bit healthier, but a lot worse in taste and texture.
Dark chocolate chips: get the small ones that look like little drops. Make sure they are vegan.
Grated orange zest: this is optional, and a lot of traditional cannoli recipes don't add this to the ricotta. We recommend it, especially for non-vegans, or new vegans, that are not used to the mild soy ricotta flavour.
Ingredients for the vegan cannoli shell
Flour: use cake flour to get a shell that is light and crisp like the traditional cannoli shell. You could replace it with other less refined flours, but you won't get a light shell.
Sugar: as for the filling, use standard white sugar.
Fat: we use our homemade margarine for this recipe. We make it by blending together 100 ml of sunflower seeds oil and 50 ml of soy milk. You can also use store bought margarine or vegan butter.
Marsala or wine: marsala, a fortified Sicilian wine, is used in most authentic Sicilian cannoli recipes. But marsala is hard to find outside of Italy. Some people use wine, sometimes red, sometimes white, depending on the local tradition in Sicily. We tested all recipes, and our best result was with sweet red wine. It's easier to find than marsala, it's cheaper, and it yields a great result making the shells light and full of bubbles.
Cacao powder and cinnamon: we use them to give colour and aroma to the dough. Use both. Some people add vanilla, we don't like it in our shells.
Oil for frying: in the traditional cannoli recipe, people fry the cannoli in lard. since our cannolis are vegan, we do them without lard, and instead we fry them in vegetable oil. Pick a frying oil that can handle high temperatures.
Ingredients for the cannoli toppings
Pistachios: unsalted and crushed.
Candied orange peel: we use our homemade orange peel, but you can use store bought. You can also add candied cherries.
Powdered sugar: used to sprinkle on top, makes the cannoli extra cozy and delicious.
Cheese cloth: to filter the ricotta. You can replace it with a clean and white kitchen cloth. Just make sure it doesn't smell like washing detergent.
Cannoli forms/tubes: you can find them on amazon. You can replace them with homemade tubes, made with rolled aluminum paper, wrapped in parchment paper. But it's going to be a bit of a project.
Round pastry cutters: you can replace them with a knife.
Pastry piping bag: to help you fill the cannoli, but you can also use a spatula.
Rolling pin: you could use a pasta making machine to roll the dough, but we prefer the rolling pin.
📋 Recipe Card
Vegan Cannoli homemade like in Sicily
- Cheese cloth or clean kitchen cloth
- Cannoli tubes
- Rolling pin
- Pastry cutter or a sharp knife
- Pastry piping bag (optional)
For the homemade vegan ricotta
- 3 liters (0.8 gallon) unsweetened soy milk
- 7 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
For the cannoli filling
- 650 g (23 oz) vegan ricotta
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
For the cannoli shells
- 200 grams (1.6 cups) cake flour
- 25 grams (2 tbsp) sugar
- 25 grams (1.7 tbsp) vegan butter or margarine
- 65 grams (2.3 oz) marsala or sweet red wine
- 15 grams (1 tbsp) water
- 1 teaspoon dark cacao powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1.3 litres (0.8 gallons) frying oil
For the toppings
- 6 tablespoons pistachios coarsely chopped
- 16 pieces candied orange peel
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Prepare the vegan ricotta
- In a pot, warm up the soy milk up to almost boiling temperature, then place it into a large glass, wooden, or ceramic bowl.TIP: don't use a metal bowl as it might interfere with the curdling of the milk.
- Add the apple cider vinegar (or the lemon juice) and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Then set aside for 10 minute. The milk should curdle.TIP: don't use a metal spoon as it might interfere with the curdling of the milk.
- In the meantime, put a sieve over a large bowl, then cover it with a pice of cheese cloth, or a clean kitchen cloth.TIP: make sure the cloth is white and it doesn't smell like washing detergent.TIP: make sure the sieve doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl, as we need space for liquid to drain the ricotta.
- After the 10 minutes, pour the curdled soy milk into the sieve, cover it, and let drain for at least 1.5 hours, but better if overnight in the fridge.TIP: place a smaller empty bowl on top of the curdle milk to add some weight and get a better drained, firmer ricotta.
- Once the milk has drained, your ricotta is ready to be used for the cannoli filling.
Prepare the cannoli shells
- While the ricotta is draining, in a bowl, add flour, sugar, cacao powder, cinnamon and mix well.
- Add the vegan butter (or margarine), the marsala wine (or sweet red wine), and the water. Mix with a spatula till you have a dough ball.
- On a worktop, knead the dough ball for about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth dough ball, with a soft consistency, but not sticky. If it's too wet and sticky, add some flour to the worktop and keep kneading until it doesn't stick to your hands. Let rest in a bowl, covered with a plate, for 30 minutes.TIP: when resting, the gluten in the dough relaxes, making it easier for you to roll, and lighter to eat.
- Then with a rolling pin start rolling the dough. Dust the worktop and the rolling pin with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. You should aim for a thin dough, of about 1 to 2 millimetres (0.04 to 0.08 inches).
- Fold the dough on itself several times (5 to 10 times) before flattening it completely. This will make the cannoli shell lighter and full of little bubbles.
- Cut the dough into squares or circles, of the length of the cannoli tubes.
- Wrap the cut dough around the cannoli tubes, then wet the edges with some water before sealing the cannoli dough. Make sure the cannoli are well sealed, or they'll open up while frying.
- Add the frying oil to a pot. The pot should be small, but big enough to comfortably fit one cannolo plus the frying oil.
- Bring the oil to temperature. It should reach 180°C (356°F). The best way to check if the oil has reached temperature is with a thermometer. If you don't have one, dip the tip of a wooden spoon in the oil. If it's starts to bubble, the oil is ready. If the oil smokes, is too hot, and it starts burning. That's not healthy.TIP: make sure the temperature of the oil stays at around 180°C (356°F). If it's too low, the shells will absorb oil. If it's too high, the shells will burn.
- Fry the cannoli, one by one. It takes about 1 minute for each cannolo. Turn them around while frying so that they cook evenly.TIP: if the cannoli break away from the forms, give them a squeeze with your hands to tighten them up around the forms, before dipping them in the frying oil.
- When the cannoli turn light brown, take them out of the oil, let drip the excess oil, and place on a cooling rack on some kitchen paper. They'll darken when cooling.
- When cooled, remove the forms and get ready to fill up the cannoli shells. Only fill up the shells once they are completely cooled.
Make the ricotta filling
- In a bowl, add the vegan ricotta, sugar, vegan dark chocolate drops, and a tiny bit of orange zest. Use a spatula to gently mix. Do not overmix.
- Put the ricotta cream into a pastry piping bag and start filling the cannoli one by one.
- Fill each cannolo from both sides, starting from the middle and moving outwards, while filling.
- Dip one end of the cannoli into some crushed pistachios, and top the other end with candied orange peel, or half a candied cherry.
- Arrange on a serving platter, sprinkle with powder sugar and enjoy.TIP: Use the leftover dough to make some cannoli nachos. Flatten it, then cut it into triangles, fry it, and serve it with a side of cannoli filling dip. See our variations section.
👨🏻🍳 Top tips
Let the ricotta drain well
For the best cannoli filling, like the one in the authentic cannoli recipe from Sicily, you need to make a well-drained ricotta. While you set the ricotta aside to drain, put a weight on top of it (like a bowl, a can, etc), it will help pressing away the water.
Fold the dough
A pro tip to make a light, crisp and bubbly dough, is to fold it several times while rolling it. Do that for 5 to 10 times and you will get a vegan cannoli shell that is a delicious, light and crisp as the non vegan one, but without eggs and without lard or butter.
Roll it thin
Roll the dough for the cannoli shell 1 millimetre thin if you can. You can do so with the help of a pasta machine, or simply with a rolling pin. Doing so will produce a cannoli shell that will fry faster, and will be lighter and absorb less oil.
Seal them well
Admittedly my first cannoli shell was a disaster. It opened up completely while frying. To avoid that mistake, first, seal the edge of the cannoli with a bit of water, then lightly squeeze the dough around the cannoli tube with your whole hand.
Fill just before serving
If it stays too long in the shell, the filling will make the cannoli soggy. So fill them up at the last minute, just before eating them.
📖 Questions & answers
Traditional cannoli filling is made of "ricotta di pecora", a soft Italian cheese made of curdled sheep's milk. Our vegan cannoli filling is made of curdled soy milk. Trust us, it's as delicious, if not better, than the traditional ricotta.
You can use bamboo canes, or rolled up aluminum foil, wrapped in parchment paper.
Our vegan cannoli are one of the healthiest versions of cannoli you can find. However, they still contain sugar, cake flour, and are deep fried, so enjoy in moderation.
Yes. You can make vegan Italian cannoli without eggs like we do in our recipe.
Yes. You can make vegan Italian cannoli without lard like we do in our recipe. Just use margarine, vegan butter, or regular vegetable oil like sunflower seed oil.
Yes. You can replace wine with half water, half vinegar. We recommend adding either wine or vinegar to make your cannoli shells bubble, just like the authentic Sicilian cannoli recipe.
- Chocolate shell cannoli: dip the edges of the cannoli shell into melted dark chocolate, let it cool, and then fill it up. Delicious! If you are extra indulgent, you can even dip the whole cannoli shell into the chocolate, let cool on a cooling rack, and then fill it up with regular filling. This is going to be messy, but worth it.
- Cannoli nachos: this is by far our favourite variation, and one that we make every time.We make it with cannoli dough left overs. Put all the dough leftovers together, then roll it thin, and cut them in small nachos-like triangles. Deep fry them for like half a minute, and serve next to a bowl of cannoli filing. OMG, this one is just so good!
- Change up the nuts: you can swap the pistachios with almonds or hazelnuts if you prefer.
Cannoli that have been already filled with the ricotta filling don't store well, as the filling with make the shell moist. They will become soggy and lose crunch, and no one likes that. So, if you have filled cannoli left over, store them for a max of 3 hours in the refrigerator.
The best way to store this vegan cannoli recipe is to keep the shells and the filling separate. Store the shells for up to 4 days in a dry corner of your kitchen, covered with a cloth. Do not store them in the refrigerator as they'll get soggy.
Store the vegan cannoli filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The filling might turn slightly off-white with time, but don't worry, it'll taste fine.
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If you have any tips or questions let us know in the comments below!