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My Favorite Italian Desserts

Italian food is great. I've had more good food on my trip to Italy than on my trips to France! In addition to the starters and main dishes (primi and segundi) that many of us already know, Italian desserts are a deliciously tempting selection of sweets and treats to which you can become dangerously addicted.

Italy and their varied food drive me crazy. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. But It doesn’t matter how many days you spend in the country, you will not have enough time to try everything. Italian food is not limited to pizza and pasta and is very different depending on what region of Italy in which you are staying. This huge variety also extends to their desserts which go far beyond their famous gelato.

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Here are some Italian desserts, do not read this post hungry!


italian dessert Amaretti
Photo credit: Alexa Clark

The amaretti, eaten in all regions of Italy, are biscuits made from almond paste, which contains sugar, egg white, sweet and bitter almonds, and apricot kernels. They can also have spices, honey, milk, yeast, and especially in the industrial varieties. It's often served with coffee.

Recipes for Amaretti

I love these recipes:

Places to buy Amaretti

Italian Cookie Cookbooks


Italian dessert Cannoli
Photo credit: ChristinaEatsBrains

The cannoli is a typical dessert from Sicily, consisting of a mass rolled into a tube, which has the ingredients mixed with ricotta inside. The cannoli are very popular all over Sicily and can be found in all bakeries. They are considered to be a carnival dessert, but now they are eaten all year round.

Perhaps you remember the cannoli from The Godfather when Clemenza's wife asks him to bring a plate of cannolis when he comes back home. During the trip, there’s a murder and after this and before returning with his wife, Clemenza tells the murderer and companion: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli. “

Recipes for Cannoli

I love these recipes:

Places to buy Cannoli

Itlian Dessert Cookbook featuring Cannoli


Italian desserts Gelato
Photo credit: Alan Sheffield

Hard to say if gelato is the most famous Italian dessert, but I bet if it's not, I'm sure it is a close second. There are whole gelato-eating tours in many cities and I can think of nothing better to eat on a hot summer day in Rome when it can feel a bit stifling.

Gelato is an Italian-style ice cream made with a base of milk, cream, and sugar at its base. Then it's flavored with fruits, nuts, and other flavorings like spices. The flavors can get quite fancy, but my favorites are plain natural (think like a slightly sweetened Greek yogurt) and dark chocolate.

Recipes for Gelato

I love these recipes:

Places to buy Gelato

Great Gelato Cookbooks

Panna Cotta

Italian desserts pannacotta
Photo credit: Gabe Rodriguez

The panna cotta (in Italian “cooked cream”) is a typical dessert from the Piedmont region of Italy, made of cream, sugar, and gelatine, often decorated with red fruit jams (or any fresh fruit). It’s quite milky and has a texture similar to jelly. It’s absolutely delicious!

Recipes for Panna Cotta

I love these recipes:

Great Panna Cotta Cookbooks


Italian desserts Panettone

The panettone is a bread made with a brioche-type dough, raisins, and candied or crystallized fruit. It has a dome-shaped mass and is made from flour, yeast, eggs, butter, and sugar. It’s served in vertical slices, accompanied by hot chocolate or sweet wines such as Asti Spumante wine or muscatel, and even wines with more body. It’s a very traditional Christmas dessert in Milan (and lots of spots in Europe) and since it’s been exported throughout the world, it’s also a traditional Christmas dessert at my home.

Recipes for Panettone

I love these recipes:

Places to buy Panettone

Great Panettone Cookbooks


Italian desserts tiramisu

Tiramisu is a cold desert that is assembled in layers. There isn’t a unique recipe, but it always consists of a solid ingredient moistened in coffee (biscuits, sponge cake…) on which they put alternately a cream whose base is beaten eggs, sugar, and sometimes Mascarpone cheese. Finally, it usually has cocoa powder on top. Once finished it has to remain in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Recipes for Tiramisu

I love these recipes:

Places to buy Tiramisu

Great Tiramisu Cookbooks

  • The Italian Baker from Carol Field.
  • Panettone – The King of Bread from Jimmy Griffin.

Bonus: Limoncello

italian dessert Limoncello
Photo credit: kizzzbeth

Technically not a dessert but rather alcohol from the South of Italy that runs in the digestive family, but as I often have it in lieu of dessert, I'm including it in my favorites!

Recipes for Limoncello

I love these recipes:

I also love this recipe for Limoncello tiramisu from Christina's Cucina!

Places to buy Limoncello

Great Limoncello Cookbooks

How about you? Have you had any of these amazing desserts?

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Italian Desserts

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  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    They all look AMAZING!!!

    1. @AndiP, I know…I would gain a million pounds if I lived there!

  2. I’ve been missing out. I need that cannoli after the day I’ve had.

    1. @Jen, oh bummer…I am sending you an imaginary one to make things better!

  3. Gourmet Chick says:

    Lovely guest post – have been working my way through a cannoli addiction for a while now!

    1. @GourmetChick, I need to try a few more, much like the macaron I have not found the “one”!

      1. I was kinda disappointed in Limoncello! I first tried it in Positano and I’ve had it a few more times since living in Italy and can’t say I love it. I find Meloncello much better!

  4. Coffee Lovin' Mom says:

    my mouth is watering! The amaretti sounds right up my alley. I am in love with the canoli and the tiramisu!
    Thanks for the temptations!

    1. @CoffeeLovinMom, and a cup of coffee is perfect with those little cookies!

  5. Annette | Bucket List Journey says:

    There is nothing better than a yummy piece of tiramisu! Unless it’s a piece of tiramisu with crumble amaretti cookies on top!

  6. Wowwww!!! I love your idea, @Annette!!! 😛

  7. Lourdes Guerra says:

    I think I want to live on this page 🙂 I LOVE cannolis and those amarettis look so good!!

  8. Amy Green says:

    For my top favorite, I HAVE to go with the cannoli. I don’t even care which kind. I could probably eat five a day. But, as a runner-up, I have to give second place to the Panettone. I got to try it at a family’s house where I was babysitting. It was their little boy’s special treat. I still need to try tiramisu!

  9. Christina says:

    Italian desserts can be so exquisite, can’t they?! Thanks for including my panettone and limoncello tiramisu, Andi!