best italian desserts

15 Best Italian Desserts

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Do you have a sweet tooth now and you’re just scrolling through the internet looking for dessert recipes? Well, you have found the one for you, although we do recommend having a bite before diving into our Italian desserts find. What should you expect? Anything from Italian chocolate desserts, Italian custard dessert, Italian lemon dessert to the famous Italian coffee dessert.

15 Best Italian Desserts

Whether you are looking for cakes, tarts, gelato, or cream desserts we have covered everything for you in this traditional Italian desserts article. I can’t lie, my mouth was watering throughout writing the details and browsing for the pictures. Italians are just so creative in making these sweets and some of them have been around for centuries but in different forms.

After having a delicious pasta dish and drinking some Italian wine, you can indulge in these sweets at any restaurant or cafe. Some of them are easy enough to create at home, so don’t be shy. Let us know which one is your favorite of the 15 best Italian dessert names.

1. Tiramisu

Italian desserts

The number one dessert on our list of Italian desserts is the famous Tiramisu. This layered Italian dessert is adored by many and has been recreated in various ways throughout the years. It comes from the state of Veneto probably around the 1980s. The first mention of the Italian coffee dessert was in 1983 in a cookbook.

What were the original ingredients? Well, the base did not change, it was and still is ladyfingers. The sponge should be soaked in coffee and then layer everything with mascarpone cheese and cocoa powder. Tiramisu can come in any shape as long as it’s layered properly.

By the way, the Tiramisu also has a meaning in Italian. If you separate the two words, “tirami su”, that means pull me up. So if we think about it, basically the Tiramisu is the sweet that will pull your mood up when you eat it.

2. Cannoli


Cannoli is one of the classic Italian desserts that already existed in Sicily around 1090 AD. Its origins can also be traced back to Palermo and Messina by Gaetano Basile, however, it became a staple in Sicily. Today Cannoli is also one of the favorite Italian Christmas desserts.

How do you make Cannoli then? This dessert is a fried and crispy pastry wrap which is then stuffed with creamy ricotta, chocolate chips, and candied pumpkin cubes. It takes about 40 minutes to prepare and another 30 to cook, the result is delicious! Sicily is packed with delicious food and some of the most popular Italian desserts, so make sure you get your belly ready if you’re visiting Sicily!

3. Panna Cotta

Italian desserts

The next one of the delicious Italian desserts named Panna Cotta originates from Piedmont. Its origins are unclear to this day, some say it was invented by a Hungarian woman in the 1900s. In 2001 is when Panna Cotta is included on the list of traditional food products.

Panna Cotta is an Italian custard dessert. The name translates to ’cooked cream’. It is usually sweetened with sugar, flavored with vanilla, and thanks to gelatin it gets this thick form that does not melt. Panna Cotta can be served with some fruits and syrup or jam.

4. Gelato

Italian Gelato is loved worldwide as it is one of the most popular desserts, especially when it comes to Italian chocolate desserts. Have you ever tried artisan Nutella gelato? Although many believe it is ice cream, Gelato has a more dense and rich flavor than ice creams, it’s more creamy and has a richer texture.

The Gelato as an Italian dessert is related to Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli whos cafe introduced the gelato in the 1600s. Since then there have been many variations of this dessert, but if you wish to try the authentic gelato, you must go to Italy! Outside this country, you won’t ever taste a real Gelato, even if they say it is.

5. Crostata

Italian desserts

Moving on with our Italian desserts, the Crostata is basically a tart or a pie and recipes can be traced back as far as 1456. We are not quite sure which region came up with these delicious Italian desserts, since some say it’s coming from Venice, others say Naples.

Crostata is one of the classic Italian desserts which is made from a pastry crust, jam or ricotta, and fruit. Crostata can be considered a layered Italian dessert as before the base consisted of three layers. Today only a shortcrust pastry is used and filled with different sweet jams.

In the region of Emilia Romagna, when you want to buy a crostata, you would be looking right away at the chocolate one. It’s called Torta di Vigolo and it is a really popular local delicacy, that especially in Piacenza is much appreciated.

6. Torta Caprese

Continuing with the next of the Italian chocolate desserts is the Torta Caprese. The Italian desserts names suggest that it originates from Capri, although it is not fully clear when did they start baking this dessert. Some sources suggest that the cake was accidentally created in the 1920s when a baker forgot to add flour to the almond cake.

Whether these speculations are true or not, the important part is that we now have one of the most loved authentic Italian desserts. The main ingredients which make it so crunchy are the almonds and as we have mentioned flour is not needed. The cake can be served with some whipped cream.

7. Semifreddo

Italian desserts

Semifreddo is quite an interesting Italian lemon dessert. Although the main ingredient is not lemon, this dessert can be quite versatile. Semifreddo means half-frozen and one of the first recipes was discovered in the 20th century. Although it also resembles the classic French parfait.

How is Semifreddo made then? This delicious dessert which is also served as one of the Italian Christmas desserts is whipped into a thick cream. As it is not quite an ice cream, but more like a cold dessert, the texture is pleasant and it can be flavored with anything. Whether that’s nuts, fruits, vanilla, chocolate, Semifreddo is a treat!

8. Zabaglione

Do you like a classic Italian custard dessert? You’re in for a treat with this Italian Zabaglione dessert. This sweet dish is also popular among the Italian Christmas desserts and Italian easter desserts. First of all, nobody knows where Zabaglione is from. It can be either from Tuscany, Piedmont, or Emilia-Romagna.

At least we know it is definitely one of the most popular Italian desserts and today loved by everyone. You only need 4 ingredients and those are eggs, sugar, Marsala wine, and some fruit or chocolate for decoration. It can also be served with ladyfingers.

9. Cassata

Italian desserts

This colorful-looking dessert is delicious and it can be traced back to Palermo in the 10th century. It’s one of the easy Italian desserts to make and it was first mentioned in 1178. So what does it consist of? Although it doesn’t look like it, there is a sponge cake present.

The sponge is moistened with some liqueur or fruit juices, which is then layered with ricotta cheese and candied fruit. This filling is the same used for cannoli. The outside is white as it’s made of marzipan and some colorful icing. Very simple! Let’s move on to the next famous Italian desserts.

10. Bonet

Italian desserts

The next of the best Italian desserts on our list is called Bonet. What you need to know about Bonet is that it’s from the Piedmonte region which is also the region where the most famous chocolate is made in the whole of Italy.

Why did it make the list of most popular Italian desserts? I think the ingredients speak for themselves. Who doesn’t love any dessert made from chocolate and biscuits? The biscuits are amaretti cookies, combined with eggs, cocoa powder, sugar, milk, and rum. On top of this comes drizzled caramel.

11. Crema di Cogne

Crema di Cogne is probably one of the most simple and best Italian desserts out there. This sweet chocolate dish is typical in the Aosta Valley and it is very easy to make, yet the outcome is delicious. If you’re wondering which are authentic Italian desserts, this is one great example.

All you need to prepare this is some fresh cream, sugar, egg yolk, rum, chocolate, cocoa, and vanilla. If someone doesn’t like the taste of rum, they can just leave it out. Serve it in small bowls and with almond or hazelnut cookies.

12. Zuppa Inglese Emiliana

Italian desserts

Don’t let the name confuse you, this is not a soup, but one of the famous Italian desserts made with a sponge cake. This dessert is popular in the Emilia Romagna region, hence the name Emiliana. Our beloved ladyfingers are used to prepare this, or alternatively, it can be made with sponge cake.

The ladyfingers are soaked in alchemers (a type of Italian liqueur), then you put one layer of cocoa cream, then another layer of sponge or ladyfingers, and a layer of custard. Some variations include chocolate chips too. It’s mouthwatering!

13. Pastiera Napoletana

We are almost at the end of our list of traditional Italian desserts and we now have to talk about the Pastiera Napoletana, or in other words a Neapolitan tart. Where is this tart from? Your guess is as good as ours. What we do know for sure is that the Pastiera Napoletana is good for every occasion.

The old recipe claims that while preparing the pastry, the ricotta is mixed with eggs or with grain, however, in a newer recipe the pastry is also mixed with a cream to make it softer. It does take a while to bake this, so make sure you have enough time. Pastiera Napoletana is also one of the Italian easter desserts and a highlight of Neopolitan pastries.

14. Piccola Pasticerria

This has to be my favorite of the most popular Italian desserts and traditional Italian desserts. I just love small pastries filled with cream, fruits, and jelly. The Piccola Pasticerria or small pastries are a famous assertation of tarts in Italy, but they are the most popular especially in the north.

The recipe is pretty much the same as the one for tarts, you’ll just have to put them in small forms as they are meant to be eaten with one or two bites. I think the best ones are with fruit and jelly, but the chocolate ones are also tasty. You will find plenty of these little deliciousnesses especially in Milan!

15. Panettone

We have saved the best for last! Panettone is one of the most famous Italian Christmas desserts also known in the whole world, not just in Italy. What is the legend behind this delicious dessert? Well, it is said that a Milanese baker fell in love with a woman who was walking past his bakery every day.

He worked day and night to create a loaf that smelled like vanilla just to lure the woman into the store. Where does the name come from? His name was Toni, so he named the loaf Pan di Toni, also known as Toni’s bread.

Of course, this is just a legend, but we still love it. In order to achieve the fluffy texture of the dough, there is a special way of baking a Panettone. You can recreate it at home if you have a bread maker, or just buy it in pastries from Italy! Italians are indeed usually buying it. They know which Panettone brand makes the best one, and they just simply buy them.

Traditional Italian Desserts

This concludes our list of best Italian desserts. By the end of this list, we hope you have found at least one dessert that you’ll want to try out right away, if not all. If you want more sweetness in your life, then try out the best Italian chocolate brands! Also, if you want some more traditional sweets, make sure you check our list of the best Italian pastries.

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