30 Italian Dessert Recipes to Make ASAP
Sure, we love gelato and tiramisu—but there are so many more irrestistable Italian desserts you should try. From traditional treats with modern twists (you can make these cannolis in an air fryer!) to striking recipes worthy of a magazine cover (these Red Wine–Poached Pears with Cardamom and Vanilla Mascarpone will impress even the most discerning guests), you'll love these delicious Italian desserts.
The air fryer's strengths span far beyond crisping up frozen French fries. Here, the countertop appliance provides a perfect shortcut to homemade cannoli (a traditionally labor intensive treat to make). In this impressive air fryer dessert, prepared pie dough is used to create the crunchy, buttery richness you'd expect from a deep-fried cannoli shell.
Everything you love about classic Italian tiramisu, layered into an impressive cake.
Chocolate Tiramisu Poke Cake
The poke cake technique is incredibly easy, but that doesn't mean that poke cakes have a simple flavor. Enjoy the irresistible textures of pudding, cake, and crushed espresso beans in each bite of with this chocoatey take on Tiramisu.
Our Cannoli Cheesecake has that classic cannoli flavor you love, but with a creamier, more palatable texture. It's super smooth, and easier to make than full-on cream cheese-based cheesecake. The secret to the unbeatable texture is adding a dish of water to the oven—the steam helps set the cheesecake without overcooking it.
Chewy Ambrosia Biscotti
Make someone's Christmas extra merry by treating them to a batch of these biscotti with their favorite coffee or tea.
Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
Sublimely creamy and easy to whip up, this is the perfect make-ahead dessert. This panna cotta is topped with cubed mango, but you can use whatever fresh fruit you have on hand.
Macadamia-Rum Panna Cotta
Need dessert inspiration? Look no further than this luscious Macadamia-Rum Panna Cotta topped with a caramel sauce made with Hawaiian agricole rum.
Italian Christmas Cookies
No need to buy a tray of Italian Christmas cookies this year—they're easy to make and all the ingredients are readily available. The cookie itself is not overly sweet and has a cakey texture, so the sweetness really banks on the icing. We used almond extract in our recipe, but you can also use anise.
Nutella Tiramisu in Jars
In this updated version of the classic Italian dessert, richly flavored Nutella adds to the decadence of creamy mascarpone, and the single-serving jars mean you don't even have to share. You'll need six 1/5-liter jars such as Weck, or you can use tall 1-cup canning jars.
Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta
Meyer lemon--a lemon/orange hybrid--is sweeter than conventional lemon. If you don't have access to Meyer lemons, you can use a regular lemon and enjoy a dessert that's a bit more tart.
Strawberry-Lime Panna Cottas
The key to making these easy desserts is to soften the unflavored gelatin in cold water before dissolving in a hot liquid.
Perfect Italian Meringue
Whether you're topping a pie or coating cake, follow this foolproof technique to produce stunningly fluffy swoops of Italian Meringue every time.
Herbed Goat Cheese and Ricotta Mini Pies
Why settle for a piece when you can have the whole pie? Filled with fresh herbs and cheesy goodness, these savory mini pies are the perfect dish for any brunch gathering. Using store-bought pie dough keeps this recipe super simple to make, but feel free to use your favorite homemade pie dough if you prefer.
Italian Cream Cake
Italian Plum Ice Cream
Plums give these stacked scoops their bright hue and tart taste. Looker for a sweeter scoop? Try Nectarine Ice Cream. Substitute 1 lb. nectarines for the Italian prune plums. In Step 1, decrease cooking time to 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest to blender in Step 2.
Homemade Strawberry Gelato
This smooth and creamy homemade strawberry gelato recipe, from Virginia's Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards' executive chef Ian Rynecki, will delight any strawberry lover. The gelato can be made with a standard ice cream maker. You'll want to make an extra batch of the buttery cookies just to have on hand for snacking.
This recipe makes 12 cups of lusciously smooth gelato--perfect for summer parties. The berry puree can be made several days in advance and refrigerated. One key step: Be sure to strain the seeds.
Peach-Ricotta Cheesecake with Pecan Crust
This silky peach-topped cheesecake is made with another Georgia staple: pecans. For the smoothest texture, make this gluten-free dessert a day in advance and store in the refrigerator before serving.
Toaster Oven Pear Crostata With Orange-Honey Glaze
Have you hopped on the toaster oven dessert train yet? If not, now is the time and crostatas are the reason. Tapping into the power of your toaster oven (for more than just reheating pizza) is a real pro move—especially on occasions when you're regularly oven is fully occupied or temporarily out of commission.
If you really want to get fancy, make one of our homemade doughnut recipes, let them cool while you prepare the frostings, and then dip them.
Easy Mixed-Berry Crostatas
Watermelon Granita with Hibiscus Syrup and Yogurt
Karen Hatfield serves this sophisticated granita at her LA restaurant, Odys + Penelope. Dried hibiscus flowers can be found at specialty markets, Latin markets, and health food stores. You can substitute grenadine syrup to good effect, but Hatfield asserts that hibiscus syrup best complements the fruit in this dish.
Grilled Pineapple with Mascarpone and Pistachio Crumble
Grilling pineapple is a great way to unleash the sweetness of the fruit. While it's a great addition to a dinner dish, we think it's better at dessert, topped with a cream mascarpone and nutty crumble.
Tip: If you refrigerate your brownies once they've cooled slightly, cutting clean edges is a breeze.
Despite their intricate appearance, pizzelle cookies are surprisingly easy to make. You'll just need a special baker (we like the Cucina Pro Piccolo Pizzelle Baker), or at least a pizzelle iron. They're super crispy and light, much like thin a sugar cone with a hint of vanilla. Pizzelle cookies make a great dessert, but they're also perfect for holiday snacking.
Caprese Ice Cream Sundaes
This super-sophisticated, wow-worthy dessert is a great twist on two separate dishes. It takes some time, but it's worth it, especially for a special occasion. Poaching tomatoes in simple syrup brings out their fruitier side. Paired with buttery and salty ice cream, you've got a smart and different winner.
Red Wine–Poached Pears with Cardamom and Vanilla Mascarpone
Perfumy cardamom heightens the sweetness of poached winter fruit. We use whole pods here to infuse the poaching liquid with the taste of cardamom. Red wine flavors the liquid, rather than serving entirely as the base, so its bitter tannins are much more subtle.
Chocolate Pasta with Mascarpone-Vanilla Cream and Strawberries
While homemade chocolate pasta isn't hard to make, you can substitute 12 ounces of storebought chocolate pasta, which can be found online and in specialty stores. Of course, the recipe's active and total times will vary depending if you choose to make or buy the pasta.
Lemon-Olive Oil Cake with Whipped Mascarpone
This is not a fancy cake, but what it lacks in the looks department, it more than makes up for in flavor. Made with extra-virgin olive oil (instead of butter), it has a moist, tender crumb, similar to a pound cake, and has a slightly toasty flavor and bit of added texture and from cornmeal.