Iris dolce siciliano

Do you know the iris ? Sicilian sweet that has nothing to envy to cannoli and granita, it is a bomb of taste. It belongs to the category of typical Sicilian sweets and is ready to surprise those who have never seen or tasted it. Before delving into the subject we tell you that, once you have known it, you will hardly be able to go back.

But why is it called iris and how is it made ? Here is everything you would like to know about the delicacy that is generally enjoyed at breakfast and which should be eaten hot, freshly fried and stuffed on the spot with cold ricotta cream. Have we caught your attention? Well, let's continue.

What is Sicilian iris

We understand that it is a dessert. We'll explain immediately how the iris is made : it looks like a round brioche that recalls donuts in shape. Like these, it is filled with a cream - ricotta, pistachio, chocolate ... - but, as if that weren't enough, it is not only fried (like 99.9% of Sicilian desserts), it is also breaded in batter.

Hence the pleasant contrast between an irresistible external crunchiness and the softness of the dough, which culminates with the creaminess of the filling. But what is the story of the Sicilian dessert iris which, given the premises, promises an incomparable experience for the palate?

Read: All about Sicilian cartocci: what they are and how to prepare them

Iris: the Sicilian dessert between history and preparation

Why is it called iris?

As Wikipedia teaches, the origin of the name of the sweet iris is rather singular. Antonio Lo Verso, a pastry chef from Palermo, prepared this delight on the occasion of the premiere of Pietro Mascagni's opera Iris, which was performed in 1901. It is said that Lo verso had seen all 15 performances of the opera, and that he was a true expert .

The irises were so successful that he also gave this name to his coffee. And so it was that the Iris pastry shop in via Roma 148 became a point of reference for those wishing to indulge in a coffee accompanied by a delicious sweet. Although it was born in Palermo, it is prepared extensively throughout the island. The fried iris from Catania, for example, is a guarantee.

How are fried irises made?

We have mentioned their composition, therefore we must consider at least two phases in which to divide their preparation : the recipe for irises begins with the basic dough. The second phase involves the creation of the filling. To these is added a third: the breading that precedes the frying . But let's go step by step.

Before giving you all the tips, we remind you that you can buy them ready to taste on Sicilyaddict thanks to a handy kit that contains 3 together with a sac a poche filled with ricotta cream and chocolate chips or with pistachio cream ready for use.


First you need to make the brioche dough by mixing flour, sugar, salt and lard. Then you have to incorporate the dissolved brewer's yeast and the milk until you get a soft dough. At this point, green light to the eggs: once incorporated, the dough must rise until doubled in size. When you can roll it out, make some disks of the same size and fill them by sealing them two at a time with a teaspoon of cream inside. Further leavening of about 1 hour follows.


As for the filling, you are spoiled for choice. The versions of the irises are many and satisfy all tastes. It is possible to find them with custard, pistachio, lemon, chocolate and of course ricotta.

How to bread irises?

But let's move on to the part that arouses the most curiosity: how to bread the irises ? Once leavened you have to pass them first in the beaten eggs, then in the breadcrumbs. But not all versions are made like this: we often talk about a batter for irises (the same one that is used to bread arancini among other things). This is made by mixing water and flour until a thick and smooth mixture is obtained. Just pass them inside and bread them. Subsequently they are fried, a few at a time, in hot and deep oil.

Sicilian sweet iris

How many calories does an iris have?

The question cannot have a single answer. In fact, this depends on the stuffing it contains. But, above all, by the type of cooking. Because if fried Sicilian irises are the classics, it is not uncommon to come across baked irises . The caloric intake of the former will naturally be greater than that of the lighter Sicilian irises with baked ricotta . The calories of a Sicilian iris in general amount to just over 600. 100 grams of this dessert provide about 320 calories.

Read also: Original Recipe of Sicilian Cannoli with Ricotta

Sicilian iris, all variants

And we close with a brief summary of all the variants of Sicilian irises starting with those that can be considered the progenitors.

  • We're talking about ricotta iris , filled with that irresistible cream so dear to Sicilian pastry.
  • Then there are the irises with cream , indicated for those who prefer a classic version, and those with pistachio.
  • How are chocolate irises made? Just make a basic dough flavored with cocoa and use a filling of the same taste.
  • We cannot fail to mention the old-fashioned fried irises , originally made using bread rolls without the crust, emptied of the crumb, stuffed after being moistened with milk, then fried.
  • And finally, the salted Sicilian iris deserves a mention, a street food from the Sicilian rotisserie that is worth tasting immersed in the streets of Palermo (or any other city or town on the island). And that it is possible to find in a whole series of flavours, from the one with meat to the Norma one.

Well, the next time they ask you what are the typical Sicilian sweets , you can add this too!

Cucina sicilianaDolci siciliani