Wedding Inspiration

Traditional Italian Wedding Desserts to Add to Your Sweet Table

Photo By : Villa Cariola
Traditional Italian Wedding Desserts to Add to Your Sweet Table

What is the Italian wedding dessert tradition?

The tradition of Italian wedding desserts can differ based on the specific region and the preferences of the bride and groom. Nevertheless, there are a few traditional Italian wedding desserts and customs that tend to be widely embraced.

Every wedding reception deserves to end on a sweet note and luckily for those planning their wedding in Italy this is simply… a piece of cake. It's all thanks to the traditional staple of Italian weddings without which no reception meal could ever be considered complete -The Sweet Buffet or shall we say Il Dolce.

In this post we will be sharing a selection of our very favourite traditional Italian wedding desserts . We hope that they tickle your fancy and inspire you to create your very own special sweet buffet – your guests will thank you!

Italian Desserts: Cantucci

© photosimysia / Adobe Stock


Roman statesman Pliny once boasted about their longevity and they're believed to have been the mainstay of an army marching on its stomach. Centuries later during the Renaissance, these twice-baked wafers experienced a rebirth of their own in the bakeries of Tuscany, this time as twice-baked sweet cookies made with the readily available almonds from the groves in the region.

Italians loved dunking these oblong shaped biscuits in sweet wine making the practice popular before kids and adults around the world got in on it too. Today, this superbly crunchy treat exists in a plethora of flavours, from chocolate, cappuccino, anise, hazelnut … the list is endless.

Italian Desserts: Torta Caprese

© Rosario / Adobe Stock

Torta Caprese

Some of the very best desserts to ever grace our palates have quite simply been the result of error. And this rich, flourless, chocolate cake named after the island it hails from – Capri – happens to be one of them. According to popular belief, it was created over a century ago by Carmine di Fiore, a local chef who worried so much about being able to please his clientele that he actually forgot to add flour to the almond flavoured confection he was preparing for them.

Luckily for the chef, his error turned out to be a hit with his customers and the rest, as they say is history. Your wedding celebration is the perfect opportunity to introduce your guests to the sun drenched isle and to share the magic of Capri with them one mouth-watering slice at a time.

Italian Desserts: Rum Baba

© timolina / Adobe Stock

Rum Baba

This Neapolitan specialty happens to be yet another spectacular offering created by error. But this time it isn't a nervous chef whom we can thank for such a fortunate turn of events, but exiled Polish monarch Stanislaw Leszczynski.

There are several versions of how the sweet came to be abound, but most sources seem to agree on the fact that the father-in-law of Louis XV happened to accidentally spill a bottle of rum over some kugelhopf, drenching it with the liqueur in the process.

Taking a bite of the rum-soaked pastry, he declared himself delighted with the results. French chefs put their own spin on it and centuries later brought it to Naples. And it's here in the city renowned for producing one gastronomic marvel after another that it evolved into the rum-soaked, citrus flavoured, chewy perfection – Rum Baba.

Regardless of what town or city you have chosen for your special day, you can be certain that these golden brown, bite-sized pieces of heaven will add an extra special touch of tradition to your Italian wedding desserts table as you celebrate your wedding in Italy.

Italian Desserts: Pizzelle

© Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock


They're light, tasty and versatile. They also happen to be a regular fixture on dessert tables at Italian weddings. And it's easy to understand why once you see the endless options which they offer. Like the cantucci, these intricately patterned waffle-like biscuits can be made in your favourite flavours.

Pizzelle can also be sprinkled or drizzled onto with a range of toppings – you could even create a personalised selection with your wedding colours. Since they can be shaped when freshly made, they can be used to make several enticing varieties of ice cream and even cannoli cones.

With all these amazing options they provide, it's hardly surprising they have their very own festivals of sorts in Abruzzo where they were first created. We have no doubt that they will add a special festive ambience to your destination wedding in Italy too.

Italian Desserts: Millefoglie

© supparsorn / Adobe Stock


A firm favourite that actually started out its existence as the French Millefeuille, this pastry actually means 'a thousand layers', in both languages and deserves to make an appearance on every sweet buffet. Created from layers of puff pastry, alternated with zabaglione (Italy's answer to pastry cream), and topped with icing, it's been known to show up in various creative incarnations and can be relied on to add a hint of exquisite delight to your dessert table.

Italian Desserts: Sfogliatelle

© photosimysia / Adobe Stock


Its name means 'little leaves' and it’s Naple’s pride and joy which locals have generously shared with the rest of Italy and the world. This tempting confection is a large cone made from layers of delicately rolled pastry with a creamy ricotta filling and exists in a number of delightful gustos.

A slight alternative, there is Sfogliatella aragosta, also known as lobster tail, made with sweet cream, Sfogliatella riccia renowned for its curly layers not to mention Sfogliatella Santa Rosa baked with dried fruit and liqueur, and widely considered to be the very first version ever created. These tempting treats are a wonderful opportunity for you and your guests to experience the city of Naples in a few irresistible bites, the location of your Italian destination wedding notwithstanding.

Italian Desserts: Cannoli

© irinagrigorii / Adobe Stock


Every great dessert seems to come with varied myths on how it came to be. And it's no different for one of Sicily's trademark sweets, which according to popular opinion goes right back to a time when the region happened to be a cultural melting pot. Centuries later, those culinary traditions were kept alive by the nuns of Caltanissetta who put their own spin on an ancient recipe to celebrate Carnival.

Today, this marvellous treat which actually means 'little tube' and consists of a fried pastry shell with a sweet ricotta filling, continues to delight millions of very happy individuals around the world.

Italian Desserts: Cassata

© shustrilka / Adobe Stock


Our next dessert also comes with the hotly disputed origins that seem to be the hallmark of tempting desserts everywhere. The fact that it's been around for no less than a millennium is also proof of its ability to withstand stiff competition – no mean feat in a nation renowned for its plethora of irresistible offerings.

And even though experts can't seem to make their minds up on whether its name means 'bowl' or 'cheese' or what language it actually originates from, the one thing everyone can agree on, is its ability to provide an ‘oh wow’ experience to everyone who samples it. Try it, you’ll soon know why.  

With an outer layer of marzipan, an inner layer of sponge cake and a ricotta, candied fruit and chocolate filling, this beautifully decorated marvel is certainly capable of creating many golden memories. And there's no better opportunity to do just that than at your wedding dinner surrounded by your friends and family.

Enterprising nuns, frightened chefs, monarchs with a fondness for rum; all these delightful tales make it clear that Italian weddings provide the perfect opportunity for experiencing the country's various regions and a hint of their culture through exquisite desserts loved by all across the world.

With their being such an abundance to choose from, selecting your top picks for your desert buffet is bound to be an enjoyable experience. We hope you not only get to have fun doing so, but also get to end your reception dinner on the sweetest of notes.

Which desserts will make the cut for your wedding?

SHARE THE LOVE #italianweddingcircle

Follow us @italianweddingcircle

Would you like us to sprinkle some Italian wedding magic into your inbox?

Subscribe for a dose of planning advice, fabulous inspiration, featured suppliers and stunning venues in Italy. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!