These 15+ classic Italian Christmas desserts are some of the best traditional Italian dessert recipes to serve a crowd for the holidays.
From classic tiramisu to decadent panforte, these traditional Italian Christmas desserts are sure to bring the flavors of Italy to your home. They’ll brighten up your holiday table with sweet flavors and beautiful colors. With each bite, you’ll be transported back to Italy, where the culture of holiday baking has been alive and well for centuries.
Torta Caprese: Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake
A crackly-topped flourless chocolate cake with a brownie-like middle is to-die-for and a must-try recipe this Christmas. The dense and fudgy texture of the cake, combined with a soft dollop of whipped cream on top, makes it a heavenly dessert to end your Christmas feast. The best part is that it’s naturally gluten-free, easy to make, and ridiculously delicious.
Check out my flourless chocolate cake recipe here.
Pan d’ Arancio: Italian Whole Orange Cake
This most alluring orange cake is moist and fragrant. It is made with whole oranges whose zest and juice are incorporated into the cake batter, giving it an unbeatable flavor. The cake is finished off with a light dusting of powdered sugar, making it the perfect sweet treat to serve as a dessert or snack.
Read my recipe for the orange cake here.
Lemon Pistachio White Chocolate Cookies
These lemony cookies are studded with green pistachios, accented with creamy white chocolate, and dusted with pink salt to balance the sweetness. They’re soft, chewy, and have crispy edges. Perfect for gifting or a special holiday treat.
Read my recipe for lemon pistachio white chocolate cookies here.
Zeppoles/Frittelle: Traditional Italian Christmas Eve Donuts
Zeppole, a traditional Italian dessert, is a fried doughnut-like pastry. They are made from a sticky, flavored version of bread dough. As basic as the ingredients sound, their taste is absolutely nothing basic! Frittelle/Zeppoles are deep-fried in oil and traditionally served with a dusting of sugar. They are incredibly delicious and light.
Read Zeppoles/Frittelle recipe by Christina’s Cucina here.
Torrone: Classic Italian Nougat
This Italian nougat or torrone recipe is made only with natural ingredients (without corn syrup). These light, fluffy, sweet, and rich candies are popular during the holiday season and are typically given as edible gifts. Torrone is an ideal accompaniment to frittelle as the crunchy, chewy nougat adds a delightful contrast to the fried dough.
Read Your Guardian Chef’s Italian nougat recipe here.
Christmas Yule Log Cake
The French name for the Christmas yule log cake is Buche de Noel, and the Italian name is Tronchetto di Natale. It is a fluffy sponge cake with a filling, wrapped up, and decorated to resemble a yule log. Making this cake is a fun family activity; the finished product will look beautiful on any holiday table.
Get the Christmas yule log cake recipe by Drive me Hungry here.
Traditional Panforte with Nuts and Figs
Originally from Siena, this traditional dessert can now be found throughout Italy and beyond. It is a decadent, rich fruitcake with nuts and fruit and is usually served with coffee.
Read the panforte recipe by Marcellina in Cucina here.
This Neapolitan dish is also commonly called honey balls. It is made of marble-sized balls of fried dough and sweet honey glaze. It’s then topped with vibrant rainbow sprinkles for a festive holiday treat that everyone loves. The best part? You can make the dough ahead and deep fry it the next day.
Check out Sugar and Soul’s struffoli recipe here.
3-Layer Italian Cream Cake
You can’t miss this old-fashioned Italian cream cake on your holiday dessert table! It’s a delicious coconut and pecan-filled buttermilk cake with an almond cream cheese glaze. It’s sure to be a hit with the whole family.
Check out I Heart Eating’s Italian cream cake recipe here.
Panettone Bread Pudding
If you want to teleport yourself to the fine architectural streets of Italy, then try this Italian sweet bread around Christmas time with your leftover panettone. It’s an easy and indulgent dessert that will bring all the Christmas cheer you need!
Read the panettone bread pudding recipe by Brunch and Batter here.
Christmas Spiced Chocolate Salami
Chocolate salami (salame di cioccolato) is a classic no-bake treat in Italy and Portugal during Christmas. This version is spiced with cranberries, pistachios, orange zest, ground cinnamon, and whole cloves for a festive twist. It is an incredibly delicious make-ahead dessert that will impress your guests!
Read the spiced chocolate salami by A Mummy Too here.
Soft Italian Ricotta Cookies
These are one of the most popular Italian Christmas cookies! It has a pillowy center topped with round rainbow sprinkles and a sweet frosting glaze for all things sweet, sticky, and crunchy. Try this recipe if you are looking for something with a citrus flavor. This can be an excellent alternative to regular cookies and make a good edible gift.
Read The Short Order Cook’s ricotta cookies recipe here.
Traditional Panna Cotta
Panna cotta is a classic Italian dessert that has been around for centuries, making it a timeless and universally loved classic. This vegan version is a very subtle yet satisfying dessert with a light and creamy texture. Serve it with a topping of fruit coulis or a glaze of caramel.
Read the full recipe for vegan panna cotta by Addicted to Dates here.
Authentic Italian Tiramisu
Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert made with ladyfingers soaked in coffee, layered with mascarpone cheese, and dusted with cocoa powder. The perfect balance of sweetness and creaminess will leave your family and friends begging for more!
Check out If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen’s authentic tiramisu recipe here.
Cuccidati: Italian Fig Cookies
Cuccidati is an Italian fig cookie that is popularly enjoyed around the holidays. It is made of dried fruits, toasted nuts, spices, and a little honey. The combination of flavors is a sweet reminder of the joy and excitement of the season. Take a bite, and you’ll know it’s Christmas time.
Read the Italian fig cookies recipe by Marcellina in Cucina here.
Get in the kitchen and start mixing, stirring, and baking – it’s time to create some Italian Christmas magic!
Check out my Christmas collection for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert ideas to add to your Christmas menu. You’ll surely find something special to make for the year’s most important holiday.
Last Updated on December 19, 2022 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD