Italian Desserts to Try that Aren’t Gelato

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When most people head to Italy, the foods they can’t wait to try usually consist of pizza, pasta, and Italian ice cream. Referred to locally as gelato, Italian ice cream is lower in fat than regular ice cream, though it also has almost twice the sugar. As much as we love this classic treat, Italian cuisine is full of pastries and desserts that are equally, if not even more delicious. Whether you’re in search of a bite to enjoy alongside a cup of coffee or looking to seriously indulge after a meal, you can’t go wrong with any of these Italian desserts.


While you can find cannoli at certain Italian bakeries around the U.S., there’s nothing quite like an original straight from Bel Paese. Cannoli (the Italian suffix ‘i’ is already plural, so ‘cannolis’ is not a real word) consists of a tube of fried dough filled with sweetened ricotta cream. The ends are usually dipped in chopped pistachios or chocolate chips. 


Sometimes referred to by Italian-Americans as lobster tails, sfogliatelle literally means “small, thin leaves.” The pastry is made using layers of pastry and is typically filled with ricotta cream and orange peel. They can be found in many parts of the country but are most popular in Naples.


Like most global cuisines, Italians have their own version of a dessert made with fried dough. Zeppole are often Italian donuts, and like donuts, they’re typically filled with custard cream or jelly, though sweet ricotta-filled zeppoles can also be found in some places.