Air Fryer Cannoli – Recipes From A Pantry

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Air Fryer Cannoli is a modern take on the traditional Italian treat. Light and crispy air fryer cannoli shells are made from premade pie crust and then filled with sweetened ricotta cheese mixture. You’ll love this shortcut recipe for cannoli in air fryer!

the completed air fryer cannoli recipe ready to be served

It’s so easy to make Air Fryer Cannoli shells that are perfectly crispy, light, and flakey using very little oil. Using premade pie crust is the perfect shortcut to enjoy this cannoli air fryer recipe any time the mood strikes.  Preparing cannoli shells in air fryer is so simple, and clean-up is easy compared to deep frying.

The ricotta filling is equally as simple to prepare. It’s light, fluffy, cheesy and perfectly sweetened, so it’s not overwhelming. Savory pie crust combines with creamy sweetened ricotta cheese filling for a traditional Italian dessert that is light and not overly sweet.

Yeap, this easy air fryer cannoli recipe is a modern take on a classic favorite, just like this Air Fryer Sweet Potato Pie, these Air Fryer Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon, and this Air Fryer Fried Ice Cream. 

top down view of the completed air fryer cannoli recipe

Why Make This Recipe

  • Lighter Than Classic Cannoli – Traditional cannoli are deep fried, making them greasy and heavy. This air fryer version is lighter and uses almost no oil. 
  • It’s Customizable – We’re garnishing with chopped pistachios but use any type of nut, chocolate chips, or even sprinkles to make a cannoli you will love.  
  • So Simple – Traditional cannoli filling is made very similarly. The handmade dough is usually made with a touch of marsala wine. Although some time is involved in air frying the cannoli shells, the recipe is straightforward thanks to the simple shortcut of using store bought pie crust dough. 

Ingredient Notes

  • Ricotta cheese – Fresh ricotta cheese should be strained overnight. If you can’t find ricotta cheese, you can use mascarpone. 
  • Powdered Sugar – This sweetens the cannoli filling without becoming gritty.
  • Orange – Add the fresh zest of one to two oranges for a bright flavor.  
  • Salt – A touch of kosher salt enhances all of the flavors. 
  • Pie Crusts – Two refrigerated pie crusts make this recipe super easy.
  • Pistachios – finely chop for garnish.
  • Egg White and Sugar – An egg white, beaten until soft peaks form, and sugar gives the pie crust a nice shine and a touch of sweetness.
  • Heavy Cream  – Use heavy whipping cream to thin the filling if needed.
four cannoli on a plate

Ready to make these air fryer cannoli shells? Gather your ingredients and I will show you…

Handy Tip: Use Good Kitchen Tools!

For the best tools to help make your recipe even easier and more successful, check out my collection of the Best Air Fryer Tools on Amazon.

How To Make Cannolis in Air Fryer

Get the complete ingredients list and instructions from the recipe card below.

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, a half cup of powdered sugar, orange zest, and salt until well combined. 
  2. Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
  3. While the mixture chills, chop the pistachios and place them in a small bowl. Add granulated sugar to a plate.
  4. Roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface and use a 3 ½ inch circular cookie cutter to cut the dough into a circle.  
  5. Wrap the pie crust circles around cannoli molds, pressing firmly to seal. Brush with egg white and then roll on the plate to coat with sugar.
  6. Lightly oil the basket of your air fryer and place the cannoli shells one inch apart from each other. Cook at 380 degrees F / 193 degrees C for 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
  7. Let the cannoli shells cool before removing them from the mold. Repeat until all the shells have been cooked. 
  8. Pipe ricotta into each shell and dip the ends of the cannoli in the chopped pistachios.
  9. Dust the cannolis with the remaining powdered sugar and serve immediately.
image collage showing the first steps for making air fryer cannoli

Who doesn’t love delicious, light, and crispy cannoli shells filled with sweet ricotta….

image collage showing the final steps for making air fryer cannoli

Expert Tips 

  • Store bought pie crust is the perfect substitute for homemade cannoli dough. 
  • Cannoli tubes are essential for helping the air fryer cannoli shells keep their shape while cooking. 
  • Air fry cannoli shells in small batches so they crisp well on the outside. 
  • Prepare your next batch of cannoli shells while the first ones fry
  • Keep the dough circles covered with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out while you cook the other cannolis.
  • There is no need to cover the bottom of the air fryer with foil. Give it a good spritz of oil to prevent the shells from sticking. 
  • Cool the cannoli shells before you carefully remove from the cannoli mold and fill with the sweetened ricotta.
  • If using fresh ricotta, drain it overnight to remove excess liquid or it will be too wet. 
  • If the ricotta mix it’s too difficult to pipe, you can add some cream to the mix.
  • Scoop the ricotta filling into a piping bag or a plastic zip top bag and snip off the corner to pipe into the shells. 
  • Fill a small bowl with chopped pistachios to dip the ends of each cannoli before serving. 
  • Serve with marsala wine or moscato
  • Top your filled cannoli with a dollop of whipped cream or additional ricotta filling. 
four of the finished air fryer cannoli

Delicious Variations

  • Use Mascarpone – Ricotta is the most traditional but if you can’t find ricotta cheese you can substitute mascarpone cheese. 
  • Use Other Nuts – Substitute the pistachios with any crushed nuts.
  • Use Chocolate Chips – Fold mini chocolate chips into the ricotta cheese filling. Mini chocolate chips are easier on the mouth than regular chocolate chips.  
  • Dip in Chocolate – Dip the air fried cannoli shells into melted chocolate and cool until hardened before filling. 
  • Swap The Citrus – Use lemon zest, lime zest, or grapefruit zest in place of orange zest. 
  • Add Ground Cinnamon – Ground cinnamon can be added to the ricotta mixture or sprinkled on top of the cooled cannoli shells.  
front view of cannoli in air fryer on a serving tray

Prep And Storage

  • Prep Ahead – Prepare the shells and the cannoli filling ahead of time and combine just before serving. 
  • Store – Unfilled cannoli shells can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Filled cannolis can be stored for up to 2 days but may become soggy. 
  • Freeze – Freezing is not recommended. 

FAQs

How Do I Strain Ricotta Cheese?

Wrap fresh ricotta tightly with cheesecloth and place in a strainer over a bowl. Let it sit in the fridge overnight. Placing a heavy plate on top of the cheese will help to speed up the process. 

What Is a Cannoli?

Cannolis are a traditional Italian pastry that is made with a hard, crunchy, deep fried dough and filled with a soft, sweetened cheese filling. Air fryer cannoli shells are made without deep frying so they are lighter and easier on the tummy. 

Can I Make These Without Cannoli Forms?

Using cannoli forms or cannoli tubes, which look like metal tubes, makes the air frying process practically effortless. If you don’t have a mold, use aluminum foil and roll it into a similar shape and size. 

top down view of the finished air fryer cannoli on a serving tray

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Air Fryer Cannoli

Learn how to make crunchy cannoli shells in the air fryer for a tasty Italian pastry dessert.

Prep Time30 minutes

Cook Time5 minutes

Total Time35 minutes

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian

Servings: 9 Cannoli

Calories: 445kcal

  • In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, ½ cup of powdered sugar, orange zest, and salt until well combined.

  • Transfer the mixture into a piping bag and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

  • While the mixture chills, chop pistachios, place in a small bowl and add granulated sugar to a plate.

  • Roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface and use a 3.5 inch round cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles.

  • Wrap each pie crust circle around a cannoli mold or tube, pressing firmly to seal. Brush with egg white and roll on the plate to coat with the sugar.

  • Lightly oil the basket of your air fryer and add the cannoli shells, leaving an inch of space between them. Air fry at 380 degrees F / 193 degrees C for 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

  • Let the cannoli shells cool before removing from the mold. Repeat until all the shells have been cooked.

  • Pipe ricotta into cooled shells then dip each of the ends in the chopped pistachios.

  • Dust the cannolis with the remaining powdered sugar and serve immediately.

  • Store bought pie crust is the perfect substitute for homemade cannoli dough. 
  • Cannoli tubes are essential for helping the air fryer cannoli shells keep their shape while cooking. 
  • Air fry cannoli shells in small batches so they crisp well on the outside. 
  • Prepare your next batch of cannoli shells while the first ones fry. 
  • Keep the dough circles covered with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out while you cook the other cannolis.
  • There is no need to cover the bottom of the air fryer with foil. Give it a good spritz of oil to prevent the shells from sticking. 
  • Cool the cannoli shells before you carefully remove them from the cannoli mold and fill them with the sweetened ricotta.
  • If using fresh ricotta, drain it overnight to remove excess liquid or it will be too wet. 
  • If the ricotta mix it’s too difficult to pipe, you can add some cream to the mix.
  • Scoop the ricotta filling into a piping bag or a plastic zip top bag and snip off the corner to pipe into the shells. 
  • Fill a small bowl with chopped pistachios to dip the ends of each cannoli before serving. 
  • Serve with marsala wine or moscato. 
  • Top your filled cannoli with a dollop of whipped cream or additional ricotta filling.
  • Storage – unfilled cannoli shells can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Filled cannolis can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days, but may become soggy. 

Calories: 445kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 323mg | Potassium: 185mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 327IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 1mg



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