Do cannolis contain gluten?

Quick answer

Cannolis may or may not contain gluten depending on the ingredients used to make them. Traditional cannolis are made with wheat flour, which contains gluten. However, there are gluten-free options made with almond flour or other gluten-free flours. When preparing or buying cannolis, it’s important to check the ingredients to determine if they contain gluten.

What are cannolis?

Cannolis are Italian pastries that originated in Sicily. They consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with sweetened ricotta cheese. Traditional cannolis are made by deep-frying shells made from wheat flour, eggs, marsala wine, and lard or vegetable oil. Once cool, the fried shells are filled with sweetened ricotta cheese and sometimes other ingredients like chocolate chips or candied fruit. Cannolis have a crunchy texture on the outside and a creamy, soft filling inside. They are a popular Italian dessert enjoyed around the world.

Do traditional cannolis contain gluten?

Yes, traditional cannolis made with wheat flour contain gluten. Wheat flour contains gluten proteins, so any food made with wheat flour will contain gluten.

The traditional cannoli shell is made by mixing wheat flour with eggs, marsala wine, and lard or vegetable oil to form a dough. This dough is shaped into tubes, fried in oil, then cooled before being filled with ricotta cheese filling. Because wheat flour is used to make the shells, traditional cannolis are not gluten-free.

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It helps baked goods maintain their shape and texture. However, people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten and need to follow a strict gluten-free diet. For these individuals, traditional cannolis made with wheat flour are not safe to eat.

Are there gluten-free cannoli options?

Yes, there are gluten-free options for people who need to avoid gluten but still want to enjoy cannolis.

Some ways to make gluten-free cannoli shells include:

– Using gluten-free flours like rice flour, almond flour, or tapioca flour instead of wheat flour
– Making shells from gluten-free crackers or wafers
– Using a wheat starch that has had the gluten removed
– Frying shells made from cornmeal or polenta

Gluten-free cannoli shells will have a different texture from traditional wheat flour shells. But with the right combination of ingredients, it’s possible to produce shells that are crispy on the outside and stable enough to hold the ricotta filling.

The ricotta filling itself is naturally gluten-free. However, any additional ingredients mixed into the filling, like chocolate chips, should be checked to confirm they are gluten-free.

There are also many pre-made gluten-free cannoli shells available online and in some grocery stores. These allow people avoiding gluten to still enjoy the classic taste and texture of cannolis.

Are there risks of cross-contamination?

Yes, there is a risk of cross-contamination with gluten when preparing and eating cannolis, even gluten-free versions. Here are some tips to avoid cross-contamination:

– If preparing homemade cannolis, make sure to use separate, thoroughly cleaned cooking tools and work surfaces from any that touched gluten.
– Check that all ingredients used are certified gluten-free, including items like chocolate chips, which can sometimes contain traces of gluten from manufacturing facilities.
– If buying pre-made cannoli shells or cannolis from a bakery, ensure the items are produced in a gluten-free facility or kitchen to avoid cross-contamination.
– When buying cannolis from a restaurant or cafe, check if they have protocols in place to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen.
– After handling regular gluten-containing cannolis, wash hands thoroughly before touching gluten-free cannolis to prevent transferring traces of gluten.

Being aware of potential sources of cross-contamination and using dedicated gluten-free cooking spaces and tools can help minimize risks. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer or restaurant directly to ask about their preparation methods.

What are some gluten-free brands of cannoli shells?

Here are some popular brands that offer gluten-free cannoli shells:

Brand Details
Divine Flavor Cannoli shells made with rice flour and tapioca flour
Italian Home Bakery Shells made with rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch and corn starch
Global Foods Shells made with rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch
Jaimitalian Shells made with rice flour, cornstarch, potato starch and tapioca flour
Nicolo’s Gourmet Cannolis Shells made with almond flour

These are just a few examples of widely available brands. There are many other smaller gluten-free and allergy-friendly bakeries that also offer cannoli shells using safe, gluten-free ingredients. Check your local gluten-free bakeries to see their cannoli offerings. Online stores are another option for ordering gluten-free cannoli shells to be shipped directly to your home.

What are some recipes for gluten-free cannoli filling?

The traditional filling for cannolis is sweetened ricotta cheese. Luckily, ricotta cheese is naturally gluten-free. However, for the best flavor and texture, it’s best to use high-quality whole milk ricotta. Low-fat ricotta can result in a grainier, less creamy filling.

Here are a few recipe ideas for gluten-free cannoli fillings:

Basic Sweetened Ricotta Filling

– 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
– 1/3 cup powdered sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

1. In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon if desired.
2. Mix until thoroughly combined and smooth.
3. Transfer to a pastry bag or piping bag to fill cannoli shells.

Chocolate Chip Ricotta Filling

– 2 cups whole milk ricotta
– 1/3 cup powdered sugar
– 1⁄4 cup mini chocolate chips
– 1 tsp vanilla

1. Mix together ricotta, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
2. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. Transfer to piping bag and pipe into cannoli shells.

Cannoli Cream Filling

For an ultra creamy filling, make cannoli cream by whipping ricotta with sugar and mascarpone cheese:

– 1 lb whole milk ricotta
– 8 oz mascarpone cheese
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla
– Pinch of cinnamon

1. In a stand mixer, whip ricotta cheese until smooth.
2. Add mascarpone and whip for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and whip on high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
4. Transfer to piping bag and fill cannoli shells.

The options are endless when making gluten-free cannoli filling. Play around with different flavor combinations like cocoa powder, lemon zest, or pumpkin spice.

Where can I find gluten-free cannolis in grocery stores?

Many mainstream grocery stores now carry selections of gluten-free baked goods, including cannolis:

– Whole Foods – Carries brands like Nicolo’s Finest Cannolis which are dairy, gluten and soy free.

– Sprouts – Sells gluten-free cannoli kits with shells and filling. Brands include Divina and Venice Bakery.

– Trader Joe’s – Offers gluten-free cannoli shells seasonally under their own Trader Giotto’s label.

– Walmart – Carries gluten-free cannoli shells from brands like Venice Bakery in the frozen section.

– Target – Also stocks Venice Bakery gluten-free cannoli shells.

– Aldi – Periodically has gluten-free cannolis under the LiveGFree brand.

– ShopRite – Has gluten-free cannoli shells available under the Bake Me A Wish label.

The availability of products varies by location. Check the freezer or bakery sections of your local stores to look for gluten-free cannoli options. Grocery delivery services like Instacart are another convenient way to get gluten-free cannolis delivered right to your door.

What bakeries offer gluten-free cannolis?

Many bakeries and Italian markets now offer gluten-free cannolis as demand increases:

– Modern Bread and Bagel – With locations in New York, they offer mini gluten-free cannoli shells with dairy-free and nut-free filling options.

– DeLuscious Cookies and Milk – A gluten-free bakery in California that ships cannoli kits nationally. Their shells are made with almond flour.

– The Italian Market – With two locations in Georgia, they sell gluten-free jumbo cannoli shells and filling by the tub.

– Marino’s Italian Grocery – This shop in Maryland makes their gluten-free shells with rice flour and potato starch.

– Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery – A gluten-free bakery in St. Louis with cannolis made using almond flour shells.

– Brunetti’s Italian Bakery – A Chicago bakery with gluten-free cannoli shells available with 24 hours notice.

– Gaetano’s Cannoli Express – A shop in Texas that serves Sicilian cannolis with your choice of gluten-free or regular shells.

Call ahead to confirm gluten-free options and availability at local bakeries. Many cannoli shells are fried to order or sold seasonally. Getting gluten-free cannolis from a dedicated bakery can provide peace of mind against cross-contamination.

Can I make gluten-free cannolis at home?

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to make delicious gluten-free cannolis at home. Here are some tips:

– Use high-quality gluten-free flour like almond, rice or tapioca flour for the shells. You may need to experiment with proportions and ingredients to achieve the right crispy texture after frying.

– For an easy shortcut, use gluten-free wafer cookies, cones or tuile cookies as ready-made crunchy shells. Fill them with ricotta filling.

– Make sure to fry the shells in fresh oil in a pot or pan dedicated for gluten-free cooking.

– Pipe filling into shells using a pastry bag or a plastic zip top bag with the corner snipped off. This prevents breaking or overstuffing the shells.

– Choose certified gluten-free ingredients for fillings like mini chocolate chips, powdered sugar, etc. Check labels carefully.

– Powdered sugar on the outside adds authenticity. Sift to prevent clumping.

– Refrigerate assembled cannolis in a sealed container and consume within 2-3 days for best texture and flavor.

With practice, you can create bakery-quality gluten-free cannolis to enjoy anytime. Use your favorite fillings and get creative with flavors.


Cannolis can be enjoyed gluten-free by those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. While traditional cannolis contain gluten, there are many gluten-free options available today using ingredients like rice flour, almond flour, and tapioca starch to make the iconic shells. Brands like Divine Flavor, Italian Home Bakery, and Nicolo’s Gourmet Cannolis offer gluten-free shells ready to fill with sweetened ricotta cheese and other creamy fillings. Many grocery stores, bakeries, and restaurants also carry gluten-free cannolis or cannoli shells. With some adaptations, it’s even possible to make gluten-free cannolis totally from scratch at home. With the rise in popularity of gluten-free eating, cannolis have become one of the many previously off-limits foods that can now be enjoyed by those who need to follow gluten-free diets. With some research and precautions, the classic Italian treat of crisp pastry and sweet ricotta cream can be enjoyed gluten-free.

Leave a Comment