Healthy Italian Dessert Recipes

Find healthy, delicious Italian dessert recipes, from the food and nutrition experts at EatingWell.

Staff Picks

Creamy Chocolate Gelato

Rating: 4.33 stars
7
This ultra-chocolaty, dairy-free Sicilian-style gelato--made without eggs or cream--is relatively lean but still creamy-smooth and flavorful. The coconut milk used for the base gives it a silky, rich mouthfeel and a subtle coconut flavor.

Nut & Honey Biscotti

This crunchy Italian cookie recipe isn't traditionally very sweet, so just a touch of honey adds flavor along with mild sweetness. Dipping them in chocolate makes them extra special.

Almond Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce

Panna cotta means "cooked cream" in Italian. This version of the delicious Italian dessert is flavored with amaretto or almond extract and served with a luscious blueberry sauce.

Italian Hazelnut Cookies

Rating: 3.9 stars
3
These crispy cookies are made with Piedmontese staples--hazelnuts and eggs--and called Brutti Ma Buoni: literally, “Ugly But Good.” But they are really more plain-looking than “ugly,” and pack a powerful, sweet, nutty burst of flavor, making them welcome at any table.

Castagnaccio (Chestnut Cake)

Sweets not your thing? This cake, a specialty of northern Italy, is almost savory, flavored with rosemary and pine nuts, and gets just a touch of sweetness from plumped raisins, with no added sugar. Chestnut flour tends to clump together, so for the best texture don’t skip the sifting step. This recipe is part of Brooke Siem's Grandmother Project. Learn more about this recipe and other recipes Siem learned to make in the article How Cooking Connected One Chef with Grandmothers Across the World.

Strawberry Bruschetta

Rating: 3.8 stars
2
Astoundingly good for minimal effort, this makes an indulgent weekend breakfast or anyday dessert. A judicious smear of mascarpone (half the fat of butter) is part of the luxury, but even lighter low-fat cream cheese will work as well. The real secret is warming the berries just enough to make the flavor bloom and transform their juices into a rosy syrup.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberries

This creamy Italian dessert is flavored with vanilla bean and topped with fresh strawberries. Feel free to mix it up and substitute blueberries or raspberries, or a combination of all three!

Double-Chocolate Biscotti

Rating: 4 stars
2
Dense and crunchy, these are the classic Italian dunking cookies. Although they are traditionally dipped in Vin Santo, a sweet Italian dessert wine, these chocolaty biscotti are ultra-satisfying with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

Pignoli Cookies

This crispy-on-the-bottom-and-chewy-on-the-inside gluten-free cookie recipe is a twist on a traditional Italian holiday treat, pignoli, or pine nut cookies. Look for almond paste--a mixture of ground almonds and sugar (available in tubes or sometimes tubs)--near other baking supplies in well-stocked supermarkets or specialty stores. Sweeter marzipan doesn't work well in these cookies.

Cherries with Ricotta & Toasted Almonds

Rating: 3.67 stars
2
Warm cherries topped with luscious ricotta cheese and toasted almonds makes for a rich-tasting--yet calorie-conscious--treat.

Rosemary-Pine Nut Biscotti

Rating: 5 stars
3
These amazing olive oil biscotti are studded with rich, buttery-tasting pine nuts. Try them alongside fruit sorbet, cheese or summer peaches.

Almond Cannoli with Lemon-Basil Ricotta Cream Filling

Homemade cannoli shells are filled with a creamy lemon and ricotta cheese filling with a hint of fresh basil for a gourmet dessert. For a shortcut, you can substitute purchased cannoli shells (8 full-size or 16 mini).
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Inspiration and Ideas

Almond Cookies

The Italian name of these almond cookies, Brutti-Buoni, roughly translates to “ugly but good.” These delicious cookies are traditionally dropped directly on a cookie sheet, but shaping them as directed here gives a more elegant look. Enjoy them for dessert with an espresso.

Raspberry-Prosecco Pops

These pops are like a frozen Bellini, except the peach puree is swapped for raspberry in this frozen dessert recipe. Feel free to use leftover Prosecco here--the bubbles don't make it through the freezing process, but the flavor is delicious.

Sugarplum Biscotti

Rating: 3.25 stars
2

Dunk these fruitcake-inspired whole-grain biscotti in a cup of hot tea or coffee.