Italy is rich in culture and cuisine, and has some of the best foods in the world. Pastries are delicious, and there are so many different kinds for you to try.

Pastries were first eaten by the ancient Egyptians, but were adopted by the ancient Greeks and romans. They have been popular ever since, and have only been getting better!

In ancient Rome, pastries were typically made with flour, almonds, seeds and nuts, and honey. Pastries have always remained somewhat similar in their ingredients, but after the discovery of sugar, more varieties and forms became available and popular.

Italians are known for their super sweet teeth, and are always indulging in sweet pastries, cakes, and tarts.

However, they have a great lifestyle, so they have the best of both worlds! Food is extremely important to Italians, and it is a way of showing their love to one another, whilst indulging in some excellent food with loved ones.

In this list, we will give you some of the best twenty Italian pastries, and what they are made with. Warning: this list may make you want to go to Italy!


Cannoli is arguably one of the most well-known pastries hailing from Italy. They come from Sicily, Italy. They are thought to be one of the oldest pastries in Italy, possibly being first recorded in the middle ages.

Cannolis are super popular in italy, and are simply a crispy cylindrical pastry shell, filled with sweet vanilla ricotta, with candied citrus peel, hazelnuts, or pistachios.

They are incredibly delicious, and you can find them with other fillings such as Nutella, hazelnut cream, or other flavored sweet creams.


Sfogliatella is another popular pastry from Italy. There is the Santa Rosa Sfogliatella, which was made in Salerno in the 1600s and is typically filled with sweet milk cream, dried fruit, and is soaked in limoncello.

Sfogliatella is not the same as the Santa Rosa Sfogliatella, but it is a variety of it. Sfogliatella is shaped like a lobster tail, as you may have heard it be referred to as.

Classical sfogliatella is a pastry that has been rolled multiple times to create these separate and distinct layers. It is usually filled with orange flavored ricotta, sweet almond paste, along with candied citron.

Fiocco di Neve

Fiocco di Neve translates to snowflakes in Italian, as these little pastries resemble snow dusted balls, with a creamy white filling inside. These pastries hail from Naples, and are delicious. They are fried like donuts, and filled with sweet milky cream.

The pastry is brioche, so it is soft, warm, and truly amazing. They are popular pastries, and you’ll be sure to find them in their birthplace of Naples.


Pasticciotto is a delicious dessert pastry that has been around since the 1700s. It is simple, yet sweet and delicious. The pastry consists of a shortcrust pastry that is formed into an oblong shape similar to a burger bun. It is slightly long, and dense, with a golden top.

The bottom is shaped into a tin, whilst the top part of the pastry is placed on top before baking, making it appear like a lid.

The filling consists of eggs, powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. After the filling is poured into the shell of the pastry, the top is put on, brushed with egg, and baked for 10-15 minutes. They are delicious and crispy, and the pastry is buttery and rich.


Bomboloni is an Italian pastry that is essentially the Italian version of a donut. They are widely found in cafes and restaurants, and are eaten as snacks, as well as desserts. They originate from Toscana in Italy, and were first recorded at some point in the 19th century.

The translation in English means a bomb, because they are circular and filled with cream. The filling inside a bomboloni is made up of egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon, similar to other popular Italian pastries.

Zeppole Di San Giuseppe

Zeppole di San Giuseppe are traditional Italian pastries that are filled with a sweet cream. They are usually made for the Feast of St Joseph. This feast occurs on the 19th March every year, and is a celebration of the life of Joseph, and the feast has a rank of a solemnity in the Catholic church and in Western Christianity.

Giuseppe is Italian for Joseph, and these pastries are a dedication to Joseph. The pastries are a choux pastry, which are made separately and shaped.

When they are cooled, they are filled with the same Italian pastry cream consisting of eggs and sugar, topped with powdered sugar/icing sugar, and garnished with a glace, syrupy cherry. They are unique and delicious, with the slight crunch of the choux pastry and the soft cream.

Crostata Ricotta e Visciole

‘Crostata ricotta e visciole’ is a type of crostata, which is a sweet Italian pastry pie. A crostata is a shortcrust pastry, filled with delicious sweet fillings such as pastry cream, fruits, and ricotta.

Crostata ricotta e visciole is a ricotta and cherry filled crostata, and it is popular in Italy. It is a jewish-roman dessert, and one that has been popular in the city of Rome.

Lemon flavored shortcrust pastry is draped over a tin to form the pastry, andthe filling is placed into the mold. Then, more shortcrust pastry is draped over the top, forming a criss-cross pattern. This ricotta and cherry tart is made with sour cherries, which amazingly counteract the sweetness of the ricotta.

Once cooked, the ricotta becomes similar to a custard. The filling consists of a sour cherry jam, ricotta, sugar, egg, rum, and vanilla. All of the flavors are so unique, but pair perfectly together.


Cannoncino are horn-shaped pastries, filled with delectable fillings. They are similar to a cannoli to look at, and they have similar names. However, they are different in their fillings. A cannoncino is a fried pastry cylinder, and is slightly thinner than a cannoli.

They are filled with a variety of fillings, such as simple pastry cream, pistachio sweet creaCannoncino are horn-shaped pastries, filled with delectable fillings.

They are similar to a cannoli to look at, and they have similar names. However, they are different in their fillings. A cannoncino is a fried pastry cylinder, and is slightly thinner than a cannoli. Cannoncino is made with puff pastry, and is deliciously buttery.

Cannolis are made with shortcrust pastry. The other difference is that cannoncinos are filled with different creams, rather than a standard pastry cream that is inside the tasty cannolis.

They are filled with a variety of fillings, such as simple pastry cream, pistachio sweet cream, almond cream, chocolate cream, and even sweet wine cream.


Millefoglie is a delicious puff pastry and cream pastry cake, and it tastes delightful. It is similar to the French dessert mille-feuille, but is the Italian version. In Italian, it means ‘a thousand layers’, because the pastry cake has so many layers, sandwiched between light cream.

It is typically made with fresh fruit too, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. It is one of the less sugary pastries, so if you do not have a big sweet tooth, this pastry cake may be for you.

The pastry is puff pastry, rolled thin and slightly crispy. It is left to cool, and then is topped with cream. This cream is usually made up of egg yolks, a small amount of sugar, vanilla, flour, lemon, milk, and cream. This is added to the pastries, and is built up to be about three pastries thick.

Then, it is topped with a thin layer of glossy icing, or some more of the cream, with fresh fruit and confectioners sugar for aesthetic appeal.


Biscotti is one of the most popular Italian pastries, and is a mix between a pastry, biscuit, and bread. We’re counting it because it is delicious. Biscotti originated in Tuscany, in the 1300s.

There are several different types of biscotti, depending on the region in Italy you are in. The classic recipe for biscotti consists of flour, sugar, eggs, an egg yolk, and skin-on almonds.

This is the traditional recipe, which is mixed together and formed into oblong shapes on a tray. Biscotti is always twice-baked, which is what gives it that crunchy texture, perfect for dipping in coffee.

Biscotti is also known to be made with pine nuts along with other nuts, and sometimes even fruit. You can find biscotti in pretty much every street in Italy, and it is one of the most popular pastries/biscuits.


Struffoli is a pastry dish that those with a sweet tooth will devour. It originated in Naples, hundreds of years ago. The name originates from the Greek word ‘strongoulos’ which means ball or a round shape. Struffoli is essentially Italian fried donut honey balls.

What sounds better than that?! It is one of the most popular pastries, and is often served around Christmas in Naples. It is made with good quality honey, and this honey has a religious significance in Naples.

The dough is prepared, consisting of sugar, flour, butter, orange peel, eggs, and a small amount of aniseed liquor. Then, the dough is shaped into small balls, slightly bigger than the tip of your thumb. They are fried in vegetable oil, until they’re golden brown.

They are then covered in honey, candied orange, cedar, candied cherries and other sweet things. These are not necessary, but are often done.


Castagnole are sweet Italian dough balls, similar to donuts. They are deep-fried and covered in sugar when they are warm. They are often served at carnivals and other events, and are a guilty treat. You also eat these dough balls before lent in Italy.

The dough is made of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs, and is deep fried. Orange juice or liquor is added to the dough, to give it a unique taste. They are delicious and are very popular during the carnival season in Italy.


Chiacchiere are also popular Italian carnival pastries, and they are referred to as different names depending on which region you are in in Italy. They are also known as frappe, frittole, bugie, and galani (these are just to name a few).

According to historical legends, they originate from when Queen Margherita of Savoy needed something to give her guests to eat before dinner.

The chef made up these pastries, and they have been popular ever since. In the Campania region of Italy, they are often served with a rich sweet sauce named sanguinaccio, made with milk custard and chocolate. They are essentially little fried pastries, and they are thin.

They resemble small apple pies, but they definitely are not. They are made with flour, yeast for sweets, sugar, salt, eggs, and grappa, which is an aromatic Italian brandy. Fresh vanilla is also added to the mixture, along with butter, and citrus peel.

The dough is rolled out and cut into lasagna sheet looking sizes. Two 2 inch long incisions are made in these pieces of dough, to allow the dough to puff slightly. They are fried, and they become crunchy and aerated.


Presnitz comes from the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in Italy, and has Austrian origins. It orinages from when Austria ruled Italy, which was somewhen in the 19th century.

The pastry is puff pastry, rolled into a snail-shell spiral, which is filled inside with nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum, chocolate and candied peel. Sounds delicious, right? The texture is buttery and flaky, with layers of these fillings. The pastry is popular and is served around Christmas time

Babà Al Rum

Babà al Rum is another Neapolitan pastry that is delicious. There is a french recipe which is similar to this, which is called Baba au Rhum. Babà al Rum originates in Naples, and is shaped like a large mushroom, and is soaked in rich rum.

It translates roughly to rum-soaked grandmother; which is hilarious. They are pastry sponge cakes, soaked in tha delicious rum and citrus syrup.

The ingredients are yeast, flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and milk. When the dough has baked, the syrup is poured over them. This syrup consists of water, lemon and zest, orange and zest, sugar, and a whole lot of rum.

Budino Di Riso

Budino di Riso is a type of rice pudding pastry tart. They are sold in most coffee shops in Italy, and are sweet and delicious. They are popular to eat at breakfast time, and have a golden shortcrust pastry outside., filled with vanilla rice pudding and citrus essence.

For the rice pudding filling, it consists of butter, rice such as arborio rice, vin santo or cognac, milk, sugar, vanilla seeds, eggs, lemon, and orange.

It is soft and sweet, and is perfect for eating along with a hot cup of coffee or a glass of sweet marsala wine.

Schiacciata All’Uva

Schiacciata all’Uva is the cousin of the French dessert clafoutis, which is similar but made with cherries. This pastry is so unique, and is made with wine grapes, sugar, and bread. The jam that leaks out from the grapes is delicious and fits so well with the creaminess of the pastry.

It is known as grape focaccia, but is sweet. It consists of flour, water, yeast, concord wine grapes, sugar, and olive oil. The pastry is layered and layered to create these moist pockets of grape juice and sweet bread.

They can be made in different ways, and are sometimes made on top of another one to make even more of that sweet grape jam.


Maritozzi is a popular Italian pastry, which comes from Rome. The name derives from the Italian word for husband, as men used to give these pastries to their fiancees. The pastries are cream filled brioches, and are soft, sweet, and delicious.

They originated in the middle ages, but were used as a way to propose in the 19th century. They are typically made of flour, sugar, yeast, milk, honey, eggs, vanilla, and citrus zest. Once cooked, they are filled with vanilla cream. These are simple pastries, yet very effective!


Panettone is one of the most popular Italian sweet pastries. It doubles up as a bread, but can also be seen as a pastry. It originates from Milan, and is enjoyed all year round all over the world, but specifically Christmas seasons in Italy. Panettone has a similar texture to brioche, but slightly drier, full of fruit and alcohol.

They are made from warm milk, yeast, butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla. Drunken dried fruits are added, as well as candied oranges, lemon zest, and sometimes almonds. The texture is unique, soft, and can be torn apart.


If you are a true fan of Italian pastries, we hope this list has provided you with some joy, at least. As we said, Italy is so rich in dishes and culture, and they have so many unique sweet treats, but a lot of them have similar ingredients.

Italians manage to create these unique pastries and desserts with similar ingredients, yet they are completely different. We hope you have found one of your new favorites in this list!

Rick Zullo

Former doctor, current science teacher, and life-long food lover, Rick's passion for Mediterranean cuisine was ignited while living as an expat in Rome, Italy. 


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