Cannoli Dip

Gloriously easy Cannoli Dip is the make ahead, no-bake sweet treat for all your gatherings year-round!

This Cannoli Dip recipe couldn’t be any easier or more delicious AKA it tastes like decadent cannoli filling without all the work!  This dessert dip is also make ahead friendly so it’s ideal for entertaining, the holidays (hello Valentine’s Day!), barbecues or any potluck all year round.  This Cannoli Dip is a sweet, rich and creamy indulgence made with just a few ingredients in less than 10 minutes once the ricotta has strained. To make, two types of Italian cheeses – ricotta and mascarpone- are whipped together with powdered sugar and vanilla until ridiculously smooth and creamy then studded with chocolate chips. Serve it up with cannoli chips, waffle cookies, broken waffle cones, chocolate chip cookies, strawberries etc. and watch it disappear in a flash.

I love an impressive yet deceptively easy dessert dip or dessert “appetizer” – and so does everyone else!  Try these favorites: Cherry Cheesecake Dip, Key Lime Cheesecake Dip, Pumpkin Pie Dip, Chocolate Fondue and Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball.  

pin this recipe to save for later

how to make cannoli dip recipe video

showing hot to serve ricotta dip with a top view of dip in a bowl with waffle cookies, strawberries and chocolate chip cookies

CANNOLI DIP recipe

Cannoli Dip has been on my bucket list to share for quite some time because who doesn’t love cannoli?! Especially this downright swoon worthy version that’s SO much easier to make than traditional cannoli and every bit as delicious, in my humble opinion.   

Cannoli is probably one of our most popular Italian dessert recipes of all time. However, there are few who own the right kitchen equipment (cannoli metal tubes) or patience for the labor-intensive process of mixing the dough, rolling out perfect disk-shaped pieces, painstakingly wrapping the dough around the tubes, frying each one and then stuffing with the decadent filling.

So today, I bring you Cannoli Dip, a nod to the classic dessert that’s accessible to everyone! 

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • It’s the perfect no bake dessert!
  • It’s made with easy to find ingredients.
  • It can be whipped up in 10 minutes after the ricotta has strained.
  • It’s made in one bowl – which means only one dish to clean!
  • It’s made with ricotta and mascarpone (instead of all ricotta) for an extra creamy, extra decadent, smooth texture.
  • It can be made and stored in the fridge for days before serving.
  • It’s a crowd favorite for every occasion: entertaining, baby showers, bridal showers, potlucks, barbecues, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, etc.  
  • It feeds a crowd (can be doubled too!) but can also be halved if needed.
  • It can be served with anything from waffle cookies to Graham crackers to strawberries – no need to hunt down cannoli shells!
cannoli dip on a platter showing how to server with waffle cookies and strawberries

Ingredients for Cannoli Dip

Cannoli Dip is made with just a few ingredients, all of which are easy to find at your local grocery store.  With so few ingredients, it’s important you don’t skimp. Let’s take a quick look at what you’ll need for this dessert dip:

  • Ricotta cheese:  an Italian whey cheese and the base of traditional cannoli filling and thus our dip! Please use whole milk ricotta or else the dip can be runny and lack flavor.  I have heard that the ricotta we buy in our American grocery stores tastes nothing like ricotta you purchase at an Italian market.  If you have the chance to purchase either brands Sierra or Polly-O ricotta cheese at a specialty market, use that!
  • Mascarpone cheese: is the secret ingredient that combines with the ricotta cheese to make the dip lusciously smooth, thick and creamy without tasting grainy!  Mascarpone is a soft Italian cheese usually located with the specialty cheeses in a round 8-ounce tub.  It’s a rich, creamy cow’s milk cheese that is somewhere between butter and cream cheese in terms of texture so it whips up like a dream and holds its shape beautifully.  Mascarpone has a delicate, subtle flavor that adds richness and creaminess to the dip without distracting from the flavor. 
  • Powdered sugar:  is used to sweeten the dip.  I recommend sifting the sugar first or directly into the mixing bowl to avoid any lumps.  Powdered sugar is used instead of traditional superfine sugar so it mixes seamlessly into the creamy dip.
  • Extracts:  both vanilla and almond extract add a superb depth of flavor to the dip.  If you don’t keep almond extract on hand, you may skip it.
  • Mini chocolate chips:  make sure you use mini chocolate chips, regular sized are too big and chunky for this delicate dip.  Another option is to process regular chocolate chips or chocolate in your food processor a bit.  
up close of cannoli dip recipe showing how creamy it is

DO YOU HAVE TO USE RICOTTA CHEESE in this dip?

Yes, ricotta is essential to the authentic taste of cannoli filling so please don’t substitute it.  Even if you don’t like ricotta or sometimes find it grainy, it takes on a smooth, creamy, luxurious texture once drained and combined with mascarpone.

Can i use cream CHEESE?

Cream cheese is a bit too strong and overpowering in this recipe and is not a good substitute for mascarpone.  So, unless you want your dip to taste like sweetened cream cheese, I don’t recommend it.

How to make cannoli dip

This Cannoli Dip can be summarized in 4 easy steps:  

  1. Strain the ricotta cheese.
  2. Cream ricotta and mascarpone together.
  3. Beat in powdered sugar, almond and vanilla extracts.
  4. Fold in mini chocolate chips.

Let’s take a more in-depth look (full recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

Step 1:  How to strain ricotta cheese

Straining the ricotta cheese is crucial to create a lusciously thick, creamy Cannoli Dip. This step will prevent a runny dip, even after storing for days.

To strain, place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Line the strainer with cheesecloth, coffee filter or paper towels.  Add the ricotta to the cheese cloth and top it with parchment paper or plastic wrap.  Top that with something heavy to press the liquid out.  I have used a Costco jar of pickles, olive oil with a Dutch oven lid on top, etc. Let the ricotta drain 1-2 hours at room temperature.

a collage showing how to make cannoli dip recipe by adding ricotta to a fine mesh strainer, topping with a heavy bottle and straining excess moisture over a bowl

Step 2:  Cream ricotta and mascarpone together

Add the ricotta and mascarpone to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  You can also use a handheld mixer, but the stand mixer eliminates any elbow grease and makes for an extra fluffy dip.

Beat the ricotta and mascarpone together on medium-high until smooth. Continue to beat until you see the mixture start to thicken, you can’t miss it, about 3-5 minutes.

showing how to make Cannoli Dip recipe by beating ricotta and mascarpone together until fluffy

Step 3:  Beat in powdered sugar, almond and vanilla extracts

Reduce speed and beat in the extracts, cinnamon and nutmeg. Just a pinch of each elevate the dip.  Next, slowly beat in the powdered sugar in batches until smooth.  You may need to fold in any powdered sugar clinging to the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

showing how to make cannoli dip recipe by beating in vanilla extract, almond extract and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy

Step 4:  Fold in mini chocolate chips

Using a spatula, fold in the mini chocolate chips. 

showing how to make cannoli dip recipe by stirring mini chocolate chips into the creamy ricotta/mascarpone dip

step 5:  serve

Serve immediealty or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Dig in with your favorite dippers!

cannoli dip on a platter showing how to server with waffle cookies and strawberries

HOW TO prevent runny or grainy cannoli dip  

This Cannoli Dip recipe is beautifully simple, which means it’s important to pay attention to the details, especially using whole milk ricotta. In order to prevent a runny or grainy dip, please follow these guidelines:

  • Use whole milk ricotta.  The fat is necessary in order for the dip to whip up rich and creamy, similar to how heavy cream is needed to make whipping cream.  Skim or low-fat ricotta, on the other hand, will not whip up thick and creamy, instead, the fat will separate from the liquid resulting in a runny dip.
  • Use fine grain ricotta. Ricotta brands can vary in texture depending on how they’re prepared from creamy-like consistency to cottage cheese-sized grains.  Splurge on a highly quality fine grain brand like Shamrock so it will beat up super silky smooth.  
  • Use very fresh ricotta.  Ideally, don’t make this recipe with leftover ricotta from manicotti or lasagna.  Instead, use a freshly opened container, otherwise you may need to drain the ricotta longer. 
  • Strain the ricotta cheese long enough.  If you don’t drain off enough moisture, then the dip is destined to be runny or flat instead of creamy and fluffy.  Drain the ricotta until it holds its shape pretty well to eliminate any potential problems.
  • Whip until the dip starts to thicken.  The ricotta and mascarpone will whip together quickly, but will look thin.  Continue to beat until the mixture looks thick and creamy. 
  • Use a stand mixer or hand mixer.  You really need the power behind a stand mixer or hand mixer to get the dip extra thick, smooth and creamy instead of beating by hand.
up close of cannoli dip on a waffle cookie dipper showing what to serve it with

More tips for the best cannoli dip recipe

  • Use room temperature mascarpone:  It mixes together with the ricotta seamlessly as opposed to cold mascarpone straight from the fridge.
  • Don’t use granulated sugar:  The simple mistake of using granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar will result in a grainy dip.
  • Serve at room temperature:  This dessert dip needs to be stored in the refrigerator, so if making in advance, schedule in time for it to come to room temperature so it can soften up a bit, otherwise it will be pretty firm straight out of the fridge.
  • Soften the dip if needed:  If you find you’ve drained your ricotta too long and the dip is a bit too stiff and not really creamy, you can add a splash of cold heavy cream or half and half and continue to beat until incorporated.   
  • How to thicken your cannoli dip:  If your ricotta and mascarpone are already combined and the dip isn’t as thick as you’d like, continue to beat until thickened. 
  • Can I double this recipe?  This dip makes quite a bit, but it also goes down very easily!  You can easily double the dip if you plan on a large crowd.  You can also half the recipe if needed. 
top view of two hands holding cannoli dip recipe showing how creamy it is

what dippers for CANNOLI DIP?

The beauty about Cannoli Dip is it can be served with anything from waffle cookie crips to cannoli shells, to strawberries to cookies!  Here are a few ideas:

  • Broken cannoli shells or cannoli chips
  • Chocolate dipped cannoli shells 
  • Waffle crisp cookies (these are the ones pictured)
  • Butter crisps
  • Pizzelle cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Milano cookies
  • Ricotta cookies
  • Italian vanilla wafers 
  • Graham crackers
  • Nilla wafers
  • Fresh fruit: strawberries, apples, peaches

Cannoli Dip Variations

  • Use cream cheese if you must:  Mascarpone cheese will give the most authentic cannoli flavor but you may use cream cheese if you can’t locate it.  Please be warned that this will change the flavor profile and taste more like sweetened cream cheese than delicate cannoli filling. 
  • To make a lighter, fluffier dessert dip:  Beat a half cup of heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks then fold into the ricotta/mascarpone sugar mixture.
  • Dip topper: Top with maraschino cherries.
  • Dip add-ins: This dessert dip is delicious in its simplicity or feel free to blend in any of the following:
    • Orange zest
    • Lemon zest
    • Chopped pistachios
    • Candied fruit/orange peel
    • Cherries
    • Sprinkles

How Long Does Cannoli Dip Last in The Fridge?

Cannoli Dip should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If the ricotta is well drained, it will last without any issues or change in texture for up to a week.  If your dip starts to get a little runny after a few days, it’s a sign to drain the ricotta more thoroughly next time if you plan on prolonged storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cannoli Dip?

Cannoli Dip is a no-bake, make ahead, creamy ricotta-based dessert dip perfect for parties.  It tastes like the creamy ricotta filling found in cannoli but in easier to make dip form!  It can be served with all sorts of dippers from broken cannoli shells to waffle cookies, broken waffle cones, chocolate chip cookies, strawberries and more.

What is Cannoli Dip made of?

The primary ingredient in Cannoli Dip is ricotta, just like traditional cannoli filling.  It is then mixed with mascarpone for structure, powdered sugar for sweetness, vanilla extract for flavor and mini chocolate chips for the coveted chocolaty punch.  It differs from cannoli filling which does not use mascarpone because it has the shell for structure and uses powdered sugar instead of superfine sugar to ensure it’s extra creamy and never grainy.

Does Cannoli Dip need to be refrigerated? 

Yes, Cannoli Dip contains dairy in the form of ricotta and mascarpone cheeses so it must be refrigerated or it can spoil. The dip is safe in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, but as always, use your best judgement.  The dip should be brought to room temperature to soften before serving.

Why is my Cannoli Dip runny? 

I’ve addressed this question with tips and tricks in detail in the post.  In short, the main reason Cannoli Dip is runny is skipping or shortcutting the process of straining the ricotta cheese.  The cheese should be strained to the point it holds its shape, usually 1-2 hours in a fine mesh sieve with a heavy object placed over top to press out excess liquid.  Your dip can also be runny if you don’t use whole milk ricotta cheese.  Skim or low-fat ricotta will not thicken when beaten, instead the fats will separate from the liquid and leave you with a runny dip. 

up close of cannoli dip on a waffle cookie dipper showing what to serve it with

WANT TO TRY THIS cannoli dip RECIPE?

PIN IT TO YOUR DESSERT OR holiday BOARD TO SAVE FOR LATER!

FIND ME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES!  I AM ALWAYS PINNING :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Cannoli Dip

This Cannoli Dip recipe couldn’t be any easier or more delicious AKA it tastes like decadent cannoli without all the work!  It’s also make ahead friendly so it’s ideal for entertaining, the holidays, barbecues or any potluck all year round.  This Cannoli Dip is a sweet, rich and creamy indulgence made with just a few ingredients in less than 10 minutes once the ricotta has strained. To make, two types of Italian cheeses – ricotta and mascarpone- are whipped together with powdered sugar and vanilla until ridiculously smooth and creamy then studded with chocolate chips. Serve it up with cannoli chips, waffle cookies, broken waffle cones, chocolate chip cookies, strawberries etc. and watch it disappear in a flash.
Servings: 12 -16 servings
Prep Time: 1 hr 10 mins

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

Ingredients

DIP

  • 1 15 oz. container (2 cups) WHOLE milk ricotta (do NOT use skim/lowfat)
  • 1 8 oz. pkg. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, recommended)
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

DIPPER IDEAS

  • Cannoli chips or broken shells
  • Pizzelle
  • Waffle cookie crips (pictured)
  • Butter crisps
  • Broken waffle cones
  • Graham crackers
  • Cookies: wafers, Nilla wafers, chocolate chip, Milano cookies, Oreos
  • Biscotti
  • Fruit: strawberries, peaches, apples, etc.

PS – try it on pancakes, waffles, crepes, too!

    Instructions

    Drain ricotta

    • Don’t skip this step or your dip will be runny! Drain the ricotta by placing a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, top with a cheesecloth or coffee filter (otherwise use some paper towels). Add ricotta and top with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Place something quite heavy on top to press the liquid out (jar of oil, Costco jar of pickles, cans with Dutch oven lid on top, etc.). Let drain 1-2 hours at room temperature, until the ricotta holds its shape.

    Make dip

    • Add the ricotta and mascarpone to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (may use hand mixer). Beat on medium-high until smooth and the mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
    • Reduce speed and beat in the extracts, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar in batches until smooth.
    • Fold in the mini chocolate chips using a spatula.

    Serve

    • Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. If the dip has been refrigerated, let it rest for 20 minutes or so at room temperature before serving for the dip to soften a bit. Dust with powdered sugar if desired and serve with your choice of dippers.

    Video

    Notes

    Tips and tricks

    • Ricotta cheese:  You must use whole milk ricotta or your dip will be runny.  The fat will separate in skim or low-fat ricotta.  Ricotta brands can vary in texture depending on how they’re prepared from creamy-like consistency to cottage cheese-sized grains.  Splurge on a highly quality fine grain brand like Shamrock so it will beat up super silky smooth.  
    • Mascarpone cheese: The secret ingredient that combines with the ricotta cheese to make the dip lusciously smooth, thick and creamy without tasting grainy!  Mascarpone is a delicate, soft Italian cheese usually located with the specialty cheeses in a round 8-ounce tub. 
    • Can I use cream cheese?  Please do not use cream cheese instead of mascarpone because it is too overpowering and will make your dip taste like sweetened cream cheese.   
    • Don’t use granulated sugar:  The simple mistake of using granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar will result in a grainy dip.
    • Soften the dip if needed:  If you find you’ve drained your ricotta too long and the dip is a bit too stiff and not really creamy, you can add a splash of cold heavy cream or half and half and continue to beat until incorporated.
    • Storage:   Cannoli Dip should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If the ricotta is well drained, it will last without any issues or change in texture for up to a week.  The dip should be brought to room temperature to soften before serving. If your dip starts to get a little runny after a few days, it’s a sign to drain the ricotta more thoroughly next time if you plan on prolonged storage.

    Did You Make This Recipe?

    Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

    Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

    top view showing how to serve cannoli dip on a platter with waffle cookies, strawberries, Milano cookies, chocolate chip cookies

    Reader Interactions

    leave a review

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    6 Comments

    1. Jan Hebert says

      I will definitely give this a try, it looks amazing! I went to a restaurant not too long ago and one of the items on the menu was Cannoli French Toast, it was french toast with a layer of cannoli filling between slices, yum! I’m sure your dip could be used as the filler. Think I’ll experiment! Jan

      • Jen says

        Loving that idea Jan – sounds perfect for Valentine’s Day!

    2. Stacie says

      I’m a huge fan of Polly-o ny ricotta. Would this work? Thanks so much. Can’t wait to make this

      • Jen says

        Absolutely, highly recommend!

    3. Jenn says

      Can I use whole milk Ricotta double cream?

      • Jen says

        Hi Jenn, I think that would be delicious! If your dip is too thick, then you can beat in some milk if needed.

    5 Secrets to
    30 Minute Meals

    Tips, tricks & recipes to get dinner on the table fast!

    FREE EMAIL BONUS