Traditional Italian desserts: Most famous Italian pastries

Italy is renowned for many things, including its culture, history, fashion and, of course, the country’s love of food and drink. You can’t visit Italy without tasting at least one of the traditional Italian desserts. Naturally, you should aim to taste all of them and drink a good glass of limoncello to create the perfect experience.

The good news is that you don’t even need to go to Italy to find typical Italian cakes and other sweet treats, you can order them online and delight in the flavor of a traditional Italian dessert.

What is the national sweet of Italy

Before you can get started you need to know what the national sweet of Italy is and which Italian desserts are traditional and which are more modern options.

There are a lot more than ten traditional Italian desserts to choose from. However, the following are generally considered the most famous and desirable Italian sweet treats.


This is the most traditional Italian dessert of all. The original version features coffee-soaked sponge fingers merged into a rich cream mix of mascarpone, eggs and sugar. In some cases, a little liqueur is added to the top.

Tiramisu originated in the northern part of the country. However, there are various stories regarding where exactly it came from. It’s believed to be in the Veneto region. This recipe has only been found in cookbooks since the 1960s. However, it seems likely that the dessert originated before this. Many claim it’s a derivative of Sbatudin or Dolce Torino.

What is certainly true is that it’s not only the most famous Italian dessert today, but it’s also one of the most versatile as there are many variants of it.


This dessert is a mixture of eggs, sugar, milk, cocoa, and usually a spirit such as rum or Cognac. It’s generally served in a bar shape and is truly delicious.

Torta Barozzi

This is often referred to as ‘black cake’. It's made from dark chocolate, peanuts, almonds and coffee. The color is a deep brown, almost black, hence the name. It was first created at the end of the 19th century in Vignola, a small village near Modena.


Sbrisolona translates as ‘crumbly’ and it’s the perfect description of this delicious dessert. It’s a very flaky dessert. The recipe originates from Manuta, it was initially corn flour, hazelnuts and lard. Today, it uses corn flour, white flour, butter and almonds, along with eggs, sugar and lemon zest.

Zuppa Inglese

This has the word ‘English’ in the title but no one knows why this is the case. The theory is that the ruling family of Ferrara wanted a dessert like an English trifle. It is made with several layers of sponge cake, these are covered in a red-pinkish liqueur and, once set, covered with crema pasticcera. That’s a thick lemon-scented custard. It can then be topped with cream.


Italy’s answer to the fairy cake is significantly lighter and has a unique taste based on the fact it's soaked in syrup or rum. It can be baked in a ring shape or as an individual portion.


This traditional Italian dessert is from Naples. It’s a crisp multi-layered puff pastry which can be filled with virtually anything you want.

Pasticciotto leccese

Originally this was made with lard, today it’s made with butter. It’s a pastry filled with egg custard. Fruits, such as cherries can also be added. It’s believed to date back to 1745 and originated in the Salento area.


This traditional Italian dessert comes from Sardinia. This puff pastry shell is filled with fresh cow or ewe cheese. The pastry is then sealed, enclosing the cheese and it’s deep-fried. It’s normal to cover it with honey or sugar before eating.


This one actually originates in Sicily. It was originally baked for the local carnival, today it’s eaten across Italy throughout the year. It blends ricotta, honey, and candied citrus. The interior is a mix of creamy ricotta and sugar.

By now your taste buds should really be working, it’s time to try one of the traditional Italian desserts for yourself.