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31 Glorious Italian Desserts That Are Worth Making At Home Year-Round

Some of these are most popular during the holidays, but if you ask me, they can (and absolutely should) be enjoyed all the time.

Italian desserts are simple but irresistible, both in texture and in taste.

Chaksin Thangchitcharoen / Getty Images/EyeEm

And while we can't all travel to Italy right now, we can at least eat like it. From zeppole and torta della nonna, to gelato and cannoli, here are some of the most popular and incredible Italian desserts out there, along with recipes that will let you make them from the comfort of your own kitchen. (PS: If your favorite isn't on this list, leave it in the comments!)

1. Cannoli

mangiabedda.com

Probably the most popular Italian dessert in the States, this smooth, creamy, and crunchy pastry filled with ricotta cream hails from Sicily. Fill right before serving for the crunchiest eating experience. 

RecipeCannoli

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2. Gelato al Pistacchio

marisasitaliankitchen.com

Gelato is the Italian dessert loved by people all over the world, and the biggest difference between gelato and ice cream is that it uses more milk than cream. And of course, we can all agree pistachio is one of the most classic Italian gelato flavors out there. 

Recipe: Gelato al Pistacchio

3. Cartellate

nonnabox.com

A popular Christmas dessert, especially in the Puglia region, these deep-fried rings come together with four ingredients and vincotto (made with figs and water). In lieu of vincotto, you can also use honey; it'll still taste delicious.

RecipeCartellate

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4. Torta Della Nonna

en.julskitchen.com

Found in bakeries and pastry shops, this tart is made with a creamy lemon- and vanilla-scented custard cream, and covered with fragrant pine nuts. It's exactly what you want your kitchen to smell like at all times.

RecipeTorta Della Nonna

5. Brownie Tiramisu

tasty.co

This quintessential Italian dessert is made with layers of espresso- and rum-dipped ladyfingers and a mascarpone mixture. This specific recipe substitutes a brownie mix (in lieu of ladyfingers) for an even richer and sweeter result.

Recipe: Brownie Tiramisu

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6. Bomboloni

thebakingfairy.net

These soft cream-filled donuts are best served fresh out of the oven. 

Recipe: Bomboloni

7. Panettone

feelingfoodish.com

A holiday classic, panettone is a plush sweet bread prepared with candied fruit. From tarts to tiramisu to bread pudding, there are all kinds of desserts you can make with the leftovers you'll inevitably have. 

RecipePanettone

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8. Castagnole Fritte

marisasitaliankitchen.com

Made with yeast, these fried, sugar-topped fritters are chewy, snackable sweets that are popular during carnival season. Serve them warm, and you can guarantee they'll disappear in a flash. 

Recipe: Castagnole Fritte

9. Zabaglione (or Zabaione)

en.julskitchen.com

This creamy dessert is made with egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine and paired often with a slice of panettone or biscotti. 

RecipeZabaglione (or Zabaione)

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10. Amaretti

vincenzosplate.com

Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, amaretti are a bittersweet cookie that'll always hit the spot. And there's no other way to serve than with a heavy coating of icing sugar. 

RecipeAmaretti

11. Ciambellone

en.julskitchen.com

Essentially a dense bundt cake, a ciambellone comes in many flavors and additions, like chocolate and fruit. If you have some leftover dark chocolate, you can bake this version, which is studded with chocolate and zested with orange. 

RecipeCiambellone

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12. Pandoro

gettyimages.com

Literally translating to "bread of gold," this Christmas cake has a huge rivalry against the fruit-studded panettone, which bears a similar look and taste. You'll find any traditional bakery stocked with equal numbers of both, right next to each other. (I'm Team Panettone.) 

RecipePandoro

13. Panforte

emikodavies.com

This solid cake is made with such a plethora of candied fruits and spices that it more often resembles soft candy than pastry. Toss a slice of it into your bag next time you're going on a long bike ride, and you'll thank yourself later. 

RecipePanforte

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14. Frappe

christinascucina.com

This Roman treat fills every corner bakery when carnival comes around every February, and its simplicity makes sure that everyone loves it. Just be careful: For every snap of a frappe, you'll receive a snowfall of powdered sugar on your lap. 

RecipeFrappe

15. Zeppole

italianchef.com

Usually made on Saint Joseph's Day, zeppole are fried dough balls (made without yeast) that can be enjoyed with pastry cream or powdered sugar. A second version of this treat, called the Zeppole di San Giuseppe, are piped and topped with cream. 

Recipe: Zeppole

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16. Sfogliatella

nonnabox.com / Via gettyimages.com

There's no way to eat a sfogliatella without making a crumbly, flaky mess, but that shouldn't keep you from these crunchy, clam-shaped pastry known for their layered textures. And don't be thrown off by the sfogliatella's tough exterior: The filling is made with a soft, not-too-sweet ricotta mixture with candied orange that'll balance out the hard crunch.

RecipeSfogliatella

17. Ricciarelli

marisasitaliankitchen.com

Easily mistaken for amaretti (which are not as soft and fluffy), these soft and chewy cookies are infused with 2.5 cups of blanched almonds. They're known for their cracked surface and soft lemon aroma.

Recipe: Ricciarelli

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18. Baci di Dama

marisasitaliankitchen.com

Baci di Dama, or "Lady's Kisses," are crumbly hazelnut cookies that might require just six ingredients, but they do ask for a bit of discipline. Make sure to wait until cookies have fully cooled to start building your tiny sandwiches, or you might just be left with a crumbly mess. 

Recipe: Baci di Dama

19. Sgroppino

italiandish.squarespace.com

Digestivi (alcoholic post-meal drinks) are popular in Italy, and help you wash down and supposedly digest large meals. This one is a sweet concoction made up of lemon sorbet, vodka, and prosecco, and it is the perfect nightcap for a summer dinner under the stars. 

RecipeSgroppino

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20. Zuppa Inglese

shelovesbiscotti.com

Think of zuppa Inglese as an appetizer platter of all the best Italian dessert flavors out there. To put it together, just layer Italian ladyfingers with chocolate and vanilla pastry cream, and top it with whipped ricotta and sliced almonds. 

Recipe: Zuppa Inglese

21. Torta di Riso

sugarlovespices.com

Wouldn't you know it — you can be gluten-free and still enjoy Italian desserts! This rice cake is just sweet enough, comforting, and dotted with raisins throughout. Cut the cake into squares to turn it into the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

RecipeTorta di Riso

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22. Brutti ma Buoni

labellasorella.com

Called "ugly but delicious," these cookies are, as one might deduce, misshapen (but very tasty) bites of meringue made with chopped hazelnuts. 

Recipe: Brutti ma Buoni

23. Sicilian Torta di Pistacchio

ouritaliantable.com

Originating from Bronte, a town in Sicily that's known as the capital of pistachios, this cake is perfect for special occasions. Though some recipes call for pistachio flour and even pistachio cream, this iteration comes together with your standard American baking ingredients, in addition to, obviously, a bag of high-quality pistachios. 

RecipeSicilian Torta di Pistacchio

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24. Befanini

emikodavies.com

These small sprinkles-coated shortbread cookies are a favorite among children celebrating La Befana, also known as the day of Epiphany. On this holiday, it is said that a witch goes around homes leaving treats for children. You can read more about the holiday here

RecipeBefanini

25. Crostata di Ricotta e Cioccolato

sugarlovespices.com

It might be made with cheese, but this tart bears little more resemblance to the American cheesecake. This Italian iteration is composed of a short pastry filled with a creamy ricotta-based filling, which dances with chocolate flavor and a seductive citrusy aroma. 

RecipeCrostata di Ricotta e Cioccolato

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26. Almond Biscotti

shelovesbiscotti.com

These twice-baked biscuits lose all their moisture during the second round of baking, contributing to their super-crunchy texture. They're usually enjoyed in the morning, with a cup of coffee. 

RecipeAlmond Biscotti

27. Almond Semifreddo

solo-dolce.com

Meaning "half-frozen," a semifreddo is an ice cream-like dessert you can make without any special equipment. There are many steps, and you will have to freeze the recipe overnight, but semifreddo always rewards those who put in the work. 

Recipe: Almond Semifreddo

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28. Torrone

emikodavies.com

Made with honey, lots of nuts, and egg whites, this simple candy is perfect for snacking on or giving as gifts.  

RecipeTorrone

29. Panna Cotta

tasty.co

Literally translating to "cooked cream," panna cotta is a simple pudding made with cream and sugar and solidified with the help of gelatinOne of the most classic Italian treats, you'll find this on almost every Italian dessert menu. 

Recipe: Panna Cotta

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30. Baba

Angelafoto / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

The baba — a spongy, mushroom-shaped pastry soaked in liquor — is so treasured in Naples that the name is also used as a compliment. 

RecipeBaba

31. Pizzelle

shelovesbiscotti.com

Buying a specialty pizzelle maker is pretty much the only way to get those beautiful shapes indented onto your waffle cookie, but if you're not willing to invest in the specialty gadget, there are other ways

RecipePizzelle

What's your favorite Italian dessert? Share in the comments!

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