Air Fryer Cannoli Shells are a wonderful way to make a classic dessert without all the extra calories of deep frying. They taste just like traditional cannoli, and the dough is so easy to work with.
You can even prepare this ricotta filling ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. This makes assembling these cannolis much easier when you’re entertaining!
How to Make Air Fryer Cannoli Shells
Cannoli is a traditional Italian dessert that features a delectable ricotta filling and a crunchy, crisp shell. Traditionally, the dough is made from scratch using flour, lard, egg, sugar, cocoa powder, and Marsala wine, and it is deep fried. However, it is easier than ever to make the dessert without the danger of leaving hot oil bubbling on your stovetop.
This recipe makes Air Fryer Cannoli Shells using premade pie crust and an easy-to-follow cannoli filling recipe that is quick, tasty, and delicious! Plus, it uses very little oil which makes these shells light and crispy.
To begin making this recipe, brush your air fryer basket lightly with a little bit of oil and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Once the air fryer has preheated, add 3-5 cannoli shells into the basket, making sure that they are not touching each other. Cook the cannoli shells for 4-5 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.
After the shells have cooled, carefully remove them from their molds and coat the outside with a light dusting of turbinado sugar (the larger crystals will provide more crunch). To serve, pipe the cannoli cream into each shell and top with a few chopped pistachios. Serve immediately. Enjoy! For variations, try adding lemon zest or candied orange peel to the ricotta filling. You can also dunk the ends of the shells in melted chocolate before filling them for a fun twist.
What Ingredients Do I Need
In addition to your air fryer, you will also need a cannoli mold or tube (affiliate link). This is the metal cylinder that you wrap the pastry dough around. It’s available at most Italian grocers and kitchen stores. Using purpose-made cannoli tubes makes this recipe easier because they’re designed to withstand the high heat of the frying process without warping or causing marks at the joining point.
You will also need a rolling pin, clean hands, and a pastry bag. Having one or more people on cannoli duty also helps the process move along faster, with someone doing the rolling and cutting, another dusting and placing onto the molds, and someone frying and removing the shells.
For the filling, mix ricotta cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a large bowl with a hand mixer until creamy and smooth. Toss in unsweetened melted chocolate and lemon zest, if desired. Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and dip ends in additional toppings, if desired. Store any unused shells in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week, but be sure to fill them immediately before serving or they will become soggy.
Using an air fryer to make these shells makes them easier and safer than traditional deep-fried cannoli recipes, since you don’t have to deal with hot oil bubbling up out of the pan. And since they’re made with wonton wrappers instead of scratch dough, they’re much quicker to prepare.
Can I Use Different Flour
Unlike traditional deep-fried cannoli shells that are heavy and greasy, these air fryer versions are light and crispy. They also come together very quickly thanks to the shortcut of using ready-made pie crusts. The ricotta filling is super creamy and sweet, yet not overly rich. This makes it a perfect dessert that isn’t too heavy after a large meal.
You can easily change up the flavor of these cannoli shells by experimenting with different toppings and flavors for the filling. For example, adding a bit of orange zest to the ricotta mixture can make it taste refreshing and seasonal. Alternatively, you can make the classic filling with chocolate ricotta by adding unsweetened cocoa powder to the mixture. Then, dip the ends of the cannoli in melted chocolate for an extra decadent treat.
To assemble the cannoli, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out until it is about 1/8 inch thick. If you don’t have cannoli molds, you can use a piece of aluminum foil rolled into a tube shape in its place instead. If you’re serving these at a party, it’s best to wait until the end to fill them, so that the shells don’t get soggy. You can store the empty shells in an airtight container for about a week, but the filled ones will only stay fresh for about an hour.
How Long Will They Last
If you’re looking for a way to cut out the calories of traditional cannoli shells, these from-scratch air fryer versions are a delicious alternative. They’re fried without the dangerous hot oil bubbling on your stovetop and are filled with a variety of tasty fillings.
To make these air fryer cannoli shells, preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees. Lightly spray the basket with nonstick cooking spray and lay a few cannoli forms in it, making sure that they’re not touching each other. Spray the inside of each cannoli form with cooking spray and wrap a circle of dough around each one, sealing it with a little bit of water where it meets at the top.
These air fryer cannoli shells are best served immediately, but you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the unfilled shells for up to a week.
Traditional cannoli are usually filled with ricotta cheese and mini chocolate chips, but they’re versatile enough to use for any filling you like. The key is to choose a filling that won’t melt the crisp, golden exterior of the shells. Other popular options include mascarpone, chocolate ganache, caramel sauce and more. For extra flavor, add a little bit of unsweetened cocoa powder to your ricotta. It makes for a delightfully rich, chocolatey cannoli. Then serve it with a drizzle of melted chocolate for a mouthwatering dessert.
Can I Freeze Them
Air fryer cannoli shells are a wonderful alternative to the traditional deep fried version. They are light, crispy and easy to make at home. You will need a cannoli mold to shape the shells. You can find these online or at your local baking supply store. The cannoli filling is traditionally made with ricotta cheese, but you can use any type of creamy filling that you prefer. For something unique, try adding unsweetened cocoa powder to the ricotta for chocolate ricotta cannolis.
If you’re looking to make a larger batch of cannolis, you can freeze them in an airtight container once they’re cooled. This will keep them fresh for up to a week.
To freeze, place the cooled cannoli shells into an airtight plastic bag and then into an aluminum foil-lined storage container. Wrap well and label the container. To thaw, remove the cannolis from the freezer and let them defrost in cold water. You can also put them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 5 minutes.
This method of freezing will change the texture of the shell slightly, but it’s still a great way to make delicious cannolis at home. If you’re concerned about the texture, try using a different type of filling that doesn’t require as much moisture, like ice cream or even a peanut butter and chocolate combination! If you’re worried about the whipped cream becoming soggy, try adding a stabilizer to it before you freeze it.
How to Fill Cannoli Shells
Before you start making the filling for your air fryer cannoli shells, make sure that the dough has cooled completely. This will prevent it from melting the ricotta or other ingredients.
Next, lightly grease the inside of your metal cannoli tubes with a little vegetable oil. This will help the dough adhere to the tubes. If you’d prefer, you can also coat the tubes with chocolate or other dipping ingredients.
Lightly brush the basket of your air fryer with a little oil and preheat to 400°F / 205°C. Once the air fryer is hot, work in small batches. Then, carefully add the first dough circles to the air fryer and let them cook for about 6 minutes (this will vary based on your air fryer) or until golden brown.
Once cooled, remove the cannoli shells from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. Then, fill them with your choice of delicious cannoli filling!
You can use traditional ricotta cheese filled cannoli, chocolate ricotta cheese (use unsweetened cocoa powder instead of regular sugar), or other tasty fillings. You could even add a pinch of cinnamon for an extra-special twist!
Simply spoon or pipe the ricotta mixture into each cannoli shell. Then, garnish with mini chocolate chips, finely chopped pistachios, rainbow sprinkles, or thin strips of candied orange peel for an extra sweet and festive touch. Enjoy! These cannoli shells are great to prepare ahead of time and will keep well for a week in the fridge. Just be sure to store the shells and the ricotta filling separately so that they don’t become soggy.