22 Italian Christmas Desserts for the Holiday Season

Italian Christmas Desserts

If you’re Italian, you already know that Italian Christmas desserts are delicious! The traditional Christmas pastries in Italy tend to be lighter than some American Christmas desserts.

This makes sense since Italians also tend to eat lighter during the rest of the year. 

This article will discuss the most popular Italian Christmas desserts and how they compare to their American counterparts.

The list is given below. 

1. Italian Christmas Cookies

The first on our list of Italian Christmas desserts is Italian Christmas cookies. The most popular sweet at the end of a meal is Panettone.

This golden-crusted loaf has raisins, candied fruit, and chocolate bits in it. It looks like bread, but it is actually a cake. Also, it’s really more like a brioche than regular bread.

The best way to eat it is with a glass of Vin Santo (sweet wine), which will make it taste better than you ever imagined possible. 

However, if you’re not too keen on sweet wine, some coffee or tea will do just as well. Another type of cookie that Italians enjoy during the holidays is Biscotti di Prato.

These are made with flour, sugar, eggs, and almonds and are very crunchy with a hint of sweetness to them.

2. Italian Cream Cupcakes

Italian cream cupcakes are one of the many traditional desserts you can find during the holiday season.

They’re made with a sponge cake that’s been layered and filled with custard, whipped cream, and berries. 

The custard is made from eggs, sugar, milk or cream, and vanilla extract. To get the perfect creamy consistency, it’s important to use cornstarch to avoid lumps.

3. Limoncello No-Bake Cheesecake

Limoncello is a type of liqueur traditionally served as an after-dinner digestive. Limoncello can also be used to make desserts like no-bake cheesecake and tiramisu.

Limoncello No-Bake Cheesecake combines lemon juice, heavy cream, and sugar in a blender or food processor. 

The mixture is then poured into a springform pan and chilled for several hours or overnight. It’s best served with whipped cream and berries. Limoncello no-baked cheesecake is also on the list of Italian Christmas desserts. 

4. Cannoli Poke Cake

Cannoli Poke Cake is a delicious dessert that can be eaten any time of year. But it’s also a great recipe to make for the holiday season. 

The best part? It’s easy to customize with seasonal ingredients like peppermint extract and red chocolate peppermint chips to make it taste even more Christmasy. 

5.Italian Ricotta Cookies

Italian Ricotta Cookies are a traditional dessert often served during the Christmas season. These buttery cookies are made from flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and ricotta cheese, which provides a creamy texture. 

The dough is then rolled out into thin sheets and cut into circles with a cookie cutter. The dough is baked until golden brown and then left to cool on the baking sheet before being sprinkled with confectioners sugar.

When it comes to Italian Christmas desserts, Italian ricotta cookies are a great option. 

6. Italian Cream Cake Balls

Italian cream cake balls, or bocconcini di crema, are traditional Italian Christmas desserts that can be found in every household during the holiday season.

These delicious morsels are made from cream-filled sponge cakes that have been dipped in chocolate. And decorated with sprinkles or chopped nuts for an extra crunch. 

The recipe for this popular sweet treat has been around for hundreds of years and is believed to have originated in the 16th century when Naples was under Spanish rule.

Nowadays, these cake balls are sold year-round at pastry shops, bakeries, and supermarkets all over Italy.

7. Mocha Cannoli

Compared to other Italian Christmas desserts, Mocha Cannoli is a decadent twist on the classic cannoli.

Mocha is infused with chocolate and coffee, which gives it a flavor that can’t be beaten. The recipe below can make individual mocha cannolis.

The ingredients needed are:

  • Sugar (divided)
  • Cocoa powder (dutch process)
  • Salt
  • Heavy cream
  • Semisweet chocolate chips (or  bittersweet) – chopped

8. Matcha Panna Cotta

Next up on our list of Italian Christmas desserts is Matcha Panna Cotta. This traditional Italian dessert is often served in a small glass dish and topped with whipped cream and cocoa powder.

It’s almost like a more sophisticated take on classic Jell-O. The main ingredients are milk, cream, sugar, water, matcha tea powder, gelatin, and vanilla extract. 

To achieve the perfect consistency, the liquid should be heated over medium heat until it becomes hot but not boiling.

Also, the gelatin should be bloomed by sprinkling it into cold water or ice cubes for five minutes before adding it to the hot liquid.

After everything is combined and chilled for a few hours in the fridge, you’ll have an elegant dessert that will impress your guests at your next holiday party!

9. Raspberry Ricotta Fool

Ricotta is an Italian cheese that is thick and creamy. It can be used in many different dishes, but it is typically eaten with fruit or as a dessert.

One popular dish is the Raspberry Ricotta Fool, which includes ricotta cheese, sugar, egg yolks, raspberries, and lemon zest. 

Meanwhile, it’s important not to let the mixture boil because it will scramble the eggs and make it difficult to thicken later.

Once the mixture has cooled down, you will need to strain it through a fine mesh sieve so that all the bits are gone.

This dish tastes best when served cold and with whipped cream on top! On this list, we still have many Italian Christmas desserts; don’t stop reading now!

10. Pomegranate Panna Cotta

Of the different Italian Christmas desserts, the Pomegranate Panna Cotta is a delicious and light dessert. It is perfect for the holidays. The panna cotta can be served as a small bite or used in a larger dish. 

To make it, simmer some water and sugar together until it reaches 250°F (121°C) on a candy thermometer. Next, pour it into a bowl and let it cool for about five minutes before adding the gelatin powder to it. Stir well so that all the gelatin is dissolved. 

After that is done, whip heavy cream with sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the cooled mixture along with pureed pomegranates and garnish with more fresh pomegranate seeds. Finally, serve chilled or at room temperature.

11. Ginger-Lemon Tiramisu

Ginger-Lemon Tiramisu is a delicious and refreshing dessert that can be served as a light after-dinner dish or an elegant dessert for a holiday party.

This recipe has many variations, but one common ingredient is mascarpone cheese. This gives the tiramisu, one of the delicious Italian Christmas desserts, it’s signature creaminess. 

In addition to the mascarpone, you will need ladyfingers (Italian sponge cake cookies), egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice, and gingerbread cookies.

The first step is to prepare your work area by lining a baking pan with parchment paper. Then, lay out the ladyfingers in two rows. Mix the sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and lemon zest in a bowl until they are well combined.

12. Strawberry Cannoli

The cannoli is a famous Sicilian dish, typically containing a tube-shaped dough shell with a sweet, creamy filling. In Sicily, fresh ricotta cheese mixed with sugar and orange zest is often used as the filling.

The cannoli was first mentioned in the 13th century by Franciscan friar Saint Bernardino of Siena. He wrote about it in his cookbook Liber de Coquina. 

Meanwhile, legend has it that the king’s pastry cooks were trying to find a way to use an abundance of ricotta cheese on hand at the time.

So, they decided to fry them in dough tubes and fill them with the cheese mixture. Today, cannoli are Italian Christmas desserts sold all over Italy and are well-available in  America.

13. Strawberry Panna Cotta

A favorite dessert in Italy during the Christmas season is panna cotta. Panna cotta is a classic dessert, originating in medieval times, that has been popularized recently.

Panna cotta is a milk-based custard thickened with gelatin and cream, served chilled with toppings like fruit or chocolate. 

Moreover, the authentic version does not include any type of flavoring, such as vanilla extract. However, many people like to experiment with different flavors for their pannacotta. 

Moving on, on this list of Italian Christmas desserts, a wonderful take on this recipe would be to make strawberry panna cotta.

To do this, you will need strawberries (fresh or frozen), sugar (or honey), cornstarch, water, and unflavored gelatin.

14. Tiramisu Cheesecake

It’s time for part two of this series on Italian Christmas desserts. In Italy, tiramisu is known as the king of desserts.

I don’t know about that, but it sure is delicious. The recipe is usually made with mascarpone cheese and Marsala wine

If you want to make a cheesecake version, add ricotta cheese and some heavy cream. Other ingredients like chocolate chips or candied fruit can be added to the top for decoration. But let it be known that it has an original recipe.

15. Neapolitan Honey Balls

Regarding Italian Christmas desserts, I think Neapolitan Honey Balls hold a special place in my heart. It’s not just because they are delicious and easy to make, but because each one is made from three ingredients.

And these ingredients are symbolic of the Italian flag- chocolate, cream, and honey. Uniquely, the more chocolate you add, the closer the ball is to red.

The more cream you add, the closer it is to be white; and the more honey you add, the closer it is to being green.

16. Cannoli Cake

The Cannoli Cake is a traditional Sicilian dessert made with ricotta and chocolate. The most popular variation features two layers of sponge cake and one layer of cannoli filling between them.

This recipe has been adapted to include the flavors many associates with Christmas – peppermint, gingerbread, and cinnamon. While still retaining the all-important ricotta center.

Moreso, this recipe is perfect for those who love any combination of sweet, spicy, or creamy desserts. And as it’s served chilled in typical Sicilian fashion, it will also serve as a refreshing accompaniment to your favorite hot drink on these cold winter nights.

This is one of the Italian Christmas desserts you don’t want to miss out on, trust me!

17. Neapolitans

Neapolitans are traditional Italian Christmas desserts from Naples. They are made with a dough that is usually flavored with orange flower water, butter, and sugar or cinnamon.

When it is made, the dough is given a shape that resembles the letter P and then cut into individual pieces. 

Then, the dough is fried in olive oil and covered in powdered sugar. Neapolitans are not typically served with anything other than powdered sugar on top because they have a wonderfully sweet flavor on their own.

If you don’t have time to make them at home, you can always buy them from your local bakery for an easy treat this holiday season.

18. Almond-Anise Biscottini

Like the Neapolitans, as mentioned earlier, Almond-Anise Biscottini is also a traditional Italian Christmas dessert. They are eaten to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men.

These cookies are a little more sophisticated than most other holiday treats, making them a great addition to any cookie plate. 

The ingredients to make these specialties aren’t many and very easy to get. They are listed below: 

  • Almonds 
  • Anise seeds 
  • Salt 
  • Sugar 
  • Egg white (reserved from earlier) 
  • Vanilla extract.

19. Tiramisu

The most popular dessert during the holidays in Italy is tiramisu. Tiramisu is a traditional coffee-flavored dessert made with eggs, sugar, mascarpone cheese, and espresso.

The cake is layered with a custard filling that is usually flavored with cocoa powder and then topped off with shaved chocolate or cocoa powder. 

It is served at room temperature for two to three days after it has been assembled. Still haven’t decided which dessert to use? We still have a few more Italian Christmas desserts to discuss; they might just be the ones for you!

20. Molten Chocolate Cake

Another great choice for Italian Christmas desserts is molten chocolate cake. Molten chocolate cakes are delicious, rich, and very elegant! 

They’re typically baked as portions in ramekins or shallow baking dishes and served warm. These chocolaty treats are almost like lava cakes because they ooze their thick and rich filling when you cut into them.

21. Italian Anise Cookies

As we near the end of this Italian Christmas desserts list, let’s talk about  Anise cookies. Also known as biscotti di anice, they are a traditional Italian dessert and taste delicious when dipped in vin santo or tea. 

Usually, these cookies are made with ground almonds, sugar, eggs, and anise seed. They are then baked for about 15 minutes at 325oF (160oC).

Traditionally in Italy, these cookies were served for breakfast with coffee or tea to those who came to visit on the morning before Christmas.

22. Vanilla Panna Cotta with Roasted Rhubarb

Vanilla Panna Cotta is made by combining cream, vanilla extract, and sugar, then heating it to dissolve the sugar.

Once cooled, the vanilla mixture is poured into silicone molds or small cups and refrigerated for at least four hours before serving. 

What’s more? Roasted Rhubarb is cut into thin slices and roasted in a dry skillet until slightly caramelized on all sides.

Vanilla ice cream can be used instead of panna cotta for a quick dessert. In all, this wraps up our list of delectable Italian Christmas desserts!


Italy has an amazing array of traditional desserts, many of which are served during Christmas and around the holidays.

Traditions vary widely between northern and southern Italy and urban and rural regions. As a result, there’s no single way to make these scrumptious Italian Christmas desserts. 

Nonetheless, this list of Italian Christmas desserts will give you some ideas of delicious desserts you can make with your family this year.

Whether it’s at home or in the workplace during your office’s Christmas party, you will always turn up!

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