21 of The Best Italian Desserts

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This list of drool worthy Italian desserts is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Recipes that include everything from Italian cream cakes, ricotta cookies, gelato, and more, it will be hard to decide which one to make first.

Plate of cannolis, cookies, cake, and tiramisu


Traditional Italian desserts tend to use simple, natural ingredients and are not loaded with heavy sugary frostings and fillings.

We have gathered a list of Italian desserts that has something for everyone and most are surprisingly easy to make.

No need to grab your passport, try making one of these easy Italian desserts recipes at home.

1. The Best Tiramisu Recipe

This simple tiramisu recipe is delicious, rich and will make you feel like you are in Italy. A classic Italian dessert that includes coffee, dark rum, unsweetened cocoa, and of course creamy layers of mascarpone cheese and lady fingers.

Tiramisu has to be one of our favorite Italian desserts.

2. Ricotta Cookies-Italian Christmas Cookies

Ricotta cheese in cookies? These soft Italian butter cookies are dipped in icing and topped with colorful sprinkles for an Italian cookie to remember. Great for the holidays or anytime of year.

3. Cucidati – Italian Fig Cookies

Cucidati cookies are thought to have originated in Sicily and are a popular Christmas cookie. Butter cookies are wrapped around an amazing fruit filling and then topped with a lemon glaze.

4. Creamy Italian Panna Cotta

This creamy panna cotta recipe is a popular Italian dessert made with simple ingredients like milk, cream, sugar, and gelatin.

Panna Cotta translates to “cooked cream”. It has a silky smooth texture is is often topped with a berry, caramel, or chocolate topping. My vote for one of the best Italian desserts around.

5. Zeppole

This easy zeppole recipe is a delicious take on Italian donut holes. Zeppoles are essentially a deep-fried fritter that is topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. They can also be filled with different things like jelly or cream.

These are a great dessert or even breakfast.

6. Canestrelli Cookies

These lemon flavored sugar cookies are light and so delicious. While they do have a crunch, they melt in your mouth.

This recipe is interesting because it uses boiled egg yolks to mix in the dough. It help prevent the development of gluten, keeping them light.

6. Cannoli Recipe

Homemade cannoli are made with fried shell and a creamy, ricotta filling. This is a wonderful recipe that walks you through the whole process from start to finish.

If you are in a hurry, you can buy the shells already made at the grocery store or in an Italian bakery. The creamy filling comes together fast and just has to be piped into the shell.

7. Affogato

Ice cream and espresso, sign me up! Affogato is a delicious treat that is simple to make with only 2 basic ingredients. Affogato is Italian for “drowned” meaning the ice cream is “drowned” in espresso.

For an extra special treat, try pouring on a shot of liqueur, or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

8. Zuccotto

Zuccotto is a delicious dome shaped dessert. This recipe is similar to an authentic Northern Italian zuccotto recipe but with a few little twists.

This gorgeous cake is layered with sponge cake, chocolate and Italian pastry cream. This filling is a combination of cream, instant coffee powder, and Grand Marnier. The flavors are truly irresistible.

9. Lemon Ricotta Cake

Ricotta cake is a delicious, light cake that can be made in one bowl. Flavored with lemon juice and topped with lemon zest, this Italian lemon cake has a fluffy texture and a slight tanginess from the ricotta. It can be served plain or topped with a fruit topping.

10. Anise Cookies

Classic Italian anise cookies are soft, anise flavored cookies that are dipped in a vanilla frosting and topped with sprinkles. Anise extract adds a hint of licorice flavor to these traditional cookies. This recipe will make about 18 delicious Italian cookies.

11. Panettone Recipe

Panettone is a must make at Christmas. This dessert bread can be made with dried fruits or chocolate. Make sure to allow some time for making this recipe to allow for rising.

Try using leftovers to make bread pudding, tiramisu, even French toast.

12. Classic Pizzelle Cookies

Easy classic pizzelle recipe can be made in vanilla or chocolate flavors. You will need a pizzelle iron to get the beautiful pattern on these cookies.

These wafer-like cookies are crisp and light and are typically dusted with powdered sugar.

13. Italian Pear Almond Cake

Pear almond cake is classically Italian. It contains three pears that are halved and surrounded by almond flavor cake. The cake is then topped with sliced almonds for extra flavors.

This cake can be enjoyed on it’s own or topped with a dollop of whipped cream or even mascarpone cheese.


14. Stracciatell Gelato

A decadent frozen dessert, stracciatell gelato is made without an ice cream machine and just for simple ingredients. This gelato has a hint of vanilla flavor and is combined with small pieces of dark chocolate.

So much more than chocolate chip ice cream, this gelato is elevated by using quality, delicious ingredients.

Gelato is different from ice cream when it comes to the base. Traditional ice cream typically uses a cream and egg base while gelato uses milk and sugar.

15. Cranberry Almond Biscotti

Biscotti are traditional Italian breakfast cookies. They are twice baked making them crisp and crunchy.

Traditional Italian biscotti can be made in different flavors and different fruit. This recipe uses almonds and dried cranberries. They are delicious served with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

16. Almond Sponge Cake with Italian Cream

One bowl almond sponge cake can be baked in 15 minutes. In Italy, this type of dessert is referred to as “crostata morbida” or soft crust pie because it’s light and fluffy in texture.

The cake is filled with an Italian pastry cream and topped with fresh fruit. It’s a beautiful dessert that looks like it took all day to make.

17. Chocolate Mousse

Rich, creamy, decadent chocolate mousse is a sweet treat that can be enjoyed all year long. Although this might be considered a “fancy” dessert, it’s surprisingly easy to make.

Semi-sweet chocolate is the star ingredient of this recipe so make sure to get a good quality chocolate. Serve on it’s own or top with some whipped cream and berries or even chocolate curls, your dinner party guests are sure to love this chocolate dessert.

18. Italian Cream Cake

We love to make for special occasions! Three layers of cake that is filled shredded coconut and and crunchy, toasted pecans and then frosted with a whipped cream cheese frosting.

The origin of Italian cream cake is unknown. It’s actually possible it’s not even from Italy. No matter where this cake first started, it’s incredibly delicious and full of flavor.

19. Italian Rum Cake

This incredible Italian rum cake is a tasty combination of layers of sponge cake, chocolate and vanilla pastry cream, rum syrup and whipped cream topping.

20. Bomboloni Italian Doughnuts

Is there anything better than a warm, fresh doughnut? These Bomboloni doughnuts are rolled in sugar and filled with delicious Italian pastry cream.

21. Italian Rainbow Cookies

The colors of these gorgeous cookies represent the Italian flag. Rainbow cookies, also known as Neapolitans or Venetians, are layers of cake-like cookies, jam, and almond paste topped with melted chocolate, yum!

These do take some time to make but it’s totally worth the process once you take a bite.

This recipe recommends using gel food coloring to achieve the vibrant red and green colors.

Next time you would like an Italian dessert, make sure to try one of the amazing recipes.

More amazing dessert recipes

Plate of cannolis, cookies, cake, and tiramisu
5 from 1 vote

Italian Desserts

By Heather
Group of Italian dessert recipes including Affogato with Baileys.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 serving


  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1.5 ounces Bailey's Irish cream


  • Scoop ice cream into a large bowl or glass.
  • Pour espresso and Baileys over the ice cream and serve.


Calories: 725kcal | Carbohydrates: 109g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 138mg | Potassium: 3399mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 556IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 294mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
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