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How to Make Cannoli Shells 11:51

Steve Samson

These shells are light and crispy, and can be used to hold either sweet or savory fillings.

How to Make Cannoli Shells 11:51

Steve Samson

These shells are light and crispy, and can be used to hold either sweet or savory fillings.

Prep Time Cook Time Total Time Serving Size

The Steps

  1. 1. Add the flour, sugar, and salt to a mixing bowl. Mix to combine using a fork. Add the shortening. Use the fork or your hands to incorporate. 00:10

  2. 2. When the texture of the flour and shortening mixture begins to resemble wet sand, make a well in the middle and add the red wine. Use the fork to pull in flour from the sides of the well until a soft dough begins to form in the center of the bowl. Use your hands to incorporate the rest of the flour. 01:09

  3. 3. Transfer the dough ball to a cutting board and knead it to work in the remaining flour. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as needed to control stickiness. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator to rest for at least one hour. 02:25

  4. 4. Set up a pasta machine. Begin feeding the dough through the rollers. Sprinkle flour on both sides of the dough between feeds. Feed the dough through two more times. Fold the dough over so that it matches the width of the machine’s rollers. Dust each side with flour. Adjust the machine so that it is on its widest setting and roll once more. Gradually reduce the roller setting as the dough becomes thinner. If the dough feels sticky or wet, add more flour to prevent it from tearing. 04:29

  5. 5. Once the desired thinness is achieved, use a round cookie cutter to punch out circles of dough. Reserve the spare dough scraps for later use. Place a metal dowel or cannoli form alongside the edge of a dough circle. Roll the dowel to the other side, wrapping the dough around the metal. Use a spray bottle with water to wet the edge of the dough to seal the tube. Set the tube in a fryer basket with the sealed-side facing down, or set aside to fry in a pot. Repeat this process with the rest of the dough. 07:55

  6. 6. Heat oil to 325 degrees in either a deep fryer or a deep heavy-bottomed pot. Cook the shells until they develop bubbles and become light golden brown in color. They will continue to cook slightly as they cool. Carefully remove the shells from the oil. To remove a shell from its dowel or cannoli form, hold the shell with a kitchen towel in one hand. Cover your other hand with another towel and gently pull the dowel away to free the shell. Repeat this process with the other shells. 09:52

What You'll Need


- Mixing bowl
- Fork
- Cutting board
- Plastic wrap
- Pasta machine
- Large circular cookie cutter
- Metal dowel or cannoli form
- Spray bottle with water
- Deep fryer or large pot
- Kitchen towels (2)


- All-purpose flour (4 cups)
- Sugar (2 1/2 tablespoons)
- Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
- Vegetable shortening (1/3 cup)
- Wine (2 cups)
- Oil for frying

Chef Notes

Cannoli shells can be used for dishes other than a traditional cannoli dessert. Chef Steve mentions filling the shell with meat tartare or other savory mixtures.

The traditional Sicilian preparation of cannoli shells uses Marsala wine. Chef Steve uses a Primitivo wine from Puglia, Italy. When cooking with wine, choose a bottle you would drink on its own. The wine does not have to be expensive, but it should subtly compliment the flavors of your meal.

The dough needs to rest after kneading to allow the gluten to relax. Skipping this step will produce a tough dough that will rip when rolled out. The cannoli dough can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Metal dowels are hollow metal tubes that can be purchased at any hardware store. Cannoli forms can be purchased from most specialty kitchen supply stores. If neither are available, use a cylindrical piece of wood or part of a wooden broom stick. Cannoli shells can also be made free-form and lowered into the oil on the end of a stick or wooden spoon.

For frying, it’s important to use lightly flavored oil with a high smoke point. Canola, vegetable, safflower, and soybean oils are all good options.

To learn more about using a basic pasta maker, visit Chef Steve's "How to Use a Basic Pasta Maker" tutorial located at the bottom of the page.

To learn how to complete this dessert, visit Chef Steve's "Traditional Sicilian Cannoli" tutorial located at the bottom of the page.


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Taught by


Chef Steve Samson

Los Angeles

Steve Samson grew up spending summers in Bologna, Italy, his mother's hometown. Life in Bologna was centered around the dinin... read more