Do Cannolis Have To Be Refrigerated?

Do Cannolis Have To Be Refrigerated? How Long Do They Last? 

Cannoli is the hallmark of the Italian dessert scene. A crisp and flaky shell enclosing sweet and creamy ricotta filling dotted with decadent dark choco chips – pure bliss! 

It is hands down one of my favorite desserts of all time.

And while making cannoli is simple and straightforward, storing it the right way can be tricky. 

For instance, do cannolis have to be refrigerated? If yes, how? And how long?

This blog will entail everything you need to know on storing cannolis the right way – the dos, the don’ts, the hows, the whys, and the wheres. 

Let’s get started! 

Table Of Content

Do Cannolis Have To Be Refrigerated?

If you’re not going to devour cannolis right away, they need to be refrigerated. Since the ricotta filling is dairy-based, it can get contaminated with bacteria if the room temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

As a matter of fact, all dairy products should be stored below 40 degrees F – not just cannolis. Otherwise, the food will become a fitting breeding ground for microorganisms.

By the way, just so you know, the average room temperature in the US clocks in around 68 to 72 degrees F (20-22 degrees Celsius). So, make sure you refrigerate them cannolis. 

That being said, cannolis can get soggy real quick when refrigerated. So your best bet here would be to consume them as soon as possible. 

How Long Do Cannolis Last Unrefrigerated? 

Cannolis can last no more than 2 hours if kept unrefrigerated. The wetness from the filling will gradually transfer to the crispy shells and make them soggy. 

Whenever and wherever possible, pipe the cannolis at the last minute so that they don’t get mushy and lose their texture and taste. If you’re buying them from a bakery, don’t forget to ask them to pack the shells and fillings separately. 

Don’t worry – you’re not being a difficult customer. It’s a normal and expected request. 

How Long Do Cannolis Last? 

Unrefrigerated, cannolis can last for around 2 hours at best. After that, your masterpiece dessert won’t just get soggy but also becomes a playground for bacteria. It won’t be safe to eat anymore. 

If the cannoli aren’t put together yet, it’s wise to store the ingredients separately. This can buy you a week’s time! Store the shells in an airtight container at room temperature, and store the filling in a tightly sealed bowl in the fridge. 

Can You Leave Cannolis Out Overnight? 

Refrigerated or unrefrigerated, the answer will be ‘no’ – a big, fat no. If unrefrigerated the whole night, microorganisms will grow on the cannoli and bring along the possibility of salmonella poisoning. 

Likewise, the answer is a ‘no’ even when cannoli is refrigerated because although the risks of contamination are reduced, the shell will still get soggy and lose its crisp texture. 

How Long Can Cannoli Sit Out? 

Cannolis cannot sit out for more than an hour or two. 40-140 degrees F is deemed as the “Danger Zone” by the USDA. In this temperature range, bacteria proliferate rapidly, and the food becomes unsafe to eat.

While researching for this particular question, I came across some insightful and quirky answers. I’ve cherry-picked some of them for you to read. Let’s start with the quirky one first! 

“18 light years.”

“You should pipe the cannolis at the last minute. Otherwise, the cream will cause the shell to get mushy if they sit for an hour or two.”

“Cannoli has some sort of cheese in it. And I wouldn’t leave cheese out at room temperature for too long. It can cause salmonella poisoning.”

“Since cannoli is filled with soft cheese (dairy product), I wouldn’t recommend it sitting out for any longer than 2-3 hours, depending on the room’s temperature.”

Can You Freeze Cannolis?

This one is a no-brainer, but here we go. Yes, you can freeze cannolis. But it’s best to eat them as soon as the filling is piped into the shells. 

Refrigerating will help keep harmful bacteria at bay, but it’s also true that the shells will get soggy due to the filling’s moisture. 

It’s important to note that dairy seldom freezes well because of its high moisture content. So what happens is that the water content of the filling will turn into ice, causing the mixture to separate when thawed. 

Therefore, your best bet here would be to freeze the components separately. 

How To Freeze Cannoli Shells?

  • Place the shells in an airtight container. The container should be hard enough to eliminate any risk of crushing the shells. 

  • Label the container with date, so it’s easier later to know how long the shells have been in the freezer. 

  • Place the shells in the freezer. 

  • The shells can be stored this way for up to a month. 

How To Freeze Cannoli Filling?

  • Transfer the filling into a freezer-safe ziplock bag and ensure the seal is airtight. 

  • Once again, label the bag with today’s date so you can easily know how long the filling has been in the freezer.

  • Place the filling in the freezer. 

  • The filling can be stored like this for up to a month. 

Most likely, the filling will separate upon thawing. When this happens, give the filling a mix to blend all the ingredients back together.

If the recipe uses lots of fruits in the filling, there will be more moisture to tackle. 

And naturally, it will negatively affect the freezing process. 

Also, if your recipe uses whipped cream as an ingredient in the filling, you need to add some stabilizer like unflavored gelatin to the mixture before freezing. 

Can You Freeze Cannoli Dough? 

Yes, you can easily freeze cannoli dough. First, portion the dough out into serving-sized balls. Next, wrap the balls tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, respectively. This will ensure the dough doesn’t dry out. 

Lastly, label the dough to know how long it has been in the freezer. 

There are plenty of leeways here, but I’d say you can store the cannoli dough like this for up to 6 months. 

How To Defrost Cannoli? 

To defrost the shell, leave them to rest at room temperature. If they appear a bit soggy when thawed, you can bake them in the oven for 5-10 minutes. This will help to draw moisture out of them and make them crispy. 

Listen up – here’s an important bit. 

You have to thaw the cannoli filling in the fridge. If you do so in the microwave, it will destroy the cream’s texture. If the filling appears a little watery, give the mixture a good mix to bring it back together.

How To Store Cannoli? 

You can store filled cannoli in the fridge for a couple of hours. However, there’s always a risk of the cannoli shells going soggy even then. Therefore, as much as possible, store the shells and the filing separately. 

Keep the shells in a clean, airtight container at room temperature. As for the filling, transfer it into a bowl, seal it tight with plastic wrap, and place the bowl in the fridge. 

How To Store Cannoli Shell?

The best way to store cannoli shells is to place them in an airtight container lined with a paper towel at room temperature. The paper towel will effectively absorb any moisture present in the shells. 

And the airtight container will ensure the shells remain crispy and fresh until you’re ready to serve them. 

How To Store Cannoli Filling?

Transfer the cannoli filling to a tightly covered bowl, seal it with plastic wrap, and tuck it away in the fridge. If the recipe included wet flavorings like fruits, it would slightly shorten the shelf life due to the presence of excess moisture. 

How To Store Filled Cannoli?

By now, it’s pretty clear that it’s best to store the components separately. However, if you have no choice but to fill the cannolis before storing them, you can coat the insides of the shell with chocolate to prevent sogginess. 

The chocolate will create a liquid-resistant layer that prevents the filling’s moisture from seeping into the wall. While this method will definitely alter the taste of cannolis slightly, it will prevent sogginess for at least a few days. 

And by the way, if you find it painstaking to only coat the insides, you can dip the entire shell in chocolate. This, of course, is going to change the taste. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here’s a quick look at some of the most frequently asked questions on cannolis. 

How To Tell If Cannoli Is Bad? 

Here are a few signs that tell your cannoli have gone bad:

  • The shell has gone soggy 
  • There’s mold growing on ricotta
  • Tastes or smells like sour milk 

Do You Eat Cannoli Hot Or Cold?

The cannolis should either be at room temperature or cold. They’re not served warm or hot. 

If I were to offer two cents, I’d say let the cannoli sit out for 2-3 minutes once it’s out of the fridge. If it’s too cold, it will cause a numbing sensation in your mouth, and you won’t be able to enjoy the crispness of the shell or the richness of the ricotta. 

What Can You Do With Leftover Cannoli Filling?

If you have some leftover cannoli filling but don’t intend to go to the Italian market for more shells or knead your own dough, you can use this versatile filling to make the following:

  • Snacks
  • Crepes 
  • Cakes 
  • Parfaits 

My favorite hack to use leftover cannoli filling is to make cheesecake by thickening the filling with a generous serving of cream cheese, tossing a few chocolate chips, and baking it in amaretti-cookie crust. 

I once also froze the leftover cannoli filling for 20 minutes, sandwiched it between cookies, and rolled the edges in crushed pistachios. It tasted heavenly, to say the least. 

You can also add strawberries, blueberries, and any fruit of your choice to make the parfait. 

How Far In Advance Can You Fill Cannoli? 

Since making cannoli involves adding dairy-based ingredients, I would recommend filling the cannolis only an hour ahead of the service at the earliest.

And that’s because as soon as you fill the shell, the moisture content from the filling will transfer into the shell.

Thus, the quicker you can eat cannoli, the crispier its shell will be. 

While it’s true that you can refrigerate filled cannoli a few hours ahead of consumption, nothing beats freshly prepared cannoli. 

I’m not sure about America, but Italian bakers prepare cannolis to order. They don’t sell the ones that are being displayed since they’ve been sitting there for too long. 

Easy And Authentic Cannoli Recipe

Credit: Jeffreyw (CC License)

Now that all the important questions are out of the way, let’s briefly look at my favorite cannoli recipe. 

  • Preparation Time: 30 Minutes 
  • Cooking Time: 30 Minutes 
  • Serves: 6


  • 75 grams of plain flour 
  • ½ tbsp golden caster sugar 
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder 
  • A pinch of cinnamon 
  • 15 grams butter
  • 25 ml white wine or dry marsala 
  • 25 grams melted dark chocolate
  • Sunflower oil for deep-frying 
  • A handful of crushed pistachio kernels 
  • Icing sugar for dusting 

Ingredients For Filling:

  • 125 grams ricotta, drained and beaten until fluffy 
  • 50g mascarpone 
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped candied peel 

  • Specific Need: Cannoli molds 


Step 1

Mix flour, cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Next, add the butter and generously rub it into the dry ingredients until there aren’t any lumps present. Then, add marsala or white wine and egg yolk to the bowl and knead until you get a soft dough. Seal it and let it rest in the fridge. 

Step 2

Fill a wok or a deep saucepan a third of the way up with sunflower oil. Next, cut the dough into small pieces. Now, roll the dough as thinly as possible, working one piece at a time. If you have a pasta machine, it’d come in handy! 

Let the oil heat to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees F). Next, lay the dough out on a clean and floured surface and cut circles around 1 cm across. Wrap each circle with cannoli and stick the top edge down with the help of the egg white. 

Step 3

Now, deep-fry the cannoli along with their molds one at a time. Fry for about 45-60 seconds. A well-fried cannoli would be golden brown on all sides. Very carefully remove each one out of the oil using tongs and gently shake the cannoli off the mold onto the kitchen towel. 

The temperature should remain stable at 180 degrees Celsius throughout the frying period – it shouldn’t be any hotter or colder than that. 

Step 4

Once the cannolis have cooled down, dip the end of each side into chocolate and pistachios, respectively. Leave the shells to cool and harden. 

Next, beat ricotta and mascarpone together before adding candied peel and sugar. Finally, spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a broad star nozzle and pipe it into the cannolis. Serve immediately. 

Final Words: Do Cannolis Have To Be Refrigerated? 

Cannolis are best eaten fresh. However, if you plan to eat them later, they must be refrigerated. But even proper refrigeration won’t buy you enough time since the moisture from the cream will transfer to the cannoli shells and make them soggy. 

Your best bet here would be to store the shells and cream separately. But if that’s not possible, coating the shell’s inside with chocolate before adding filling creates a protective layer between the filling and the shell. 

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