Cannelloni Italian Casserole is one of my favorite Pasta Recipes. It looks fancy and tastes even better! Everyone will be impressed with this Homemade Pasta bake with its rich red sauce and pasta wrapped around an indulgent cheesy filling.
Of course, it has a generous layer of more sauce and cheese to top it all off. In other words- pasta heaven! The best part is that it is simple to assemble and nobody will believe that you didn’t work all day to make it.
So, let’s get started!
This full of flavor, classic Italian Cannelloni Recipe is fantastic in so many ways. Besides making your kitchen smell like heaven, the presentation is elegant and feels a little fancy, but it is so simple to make! I also love:
- It utilizes no-boil noodles that are sooo easy to stuff!
- The delicious homemade sauce
- The triple cheese indulgence
- The authentic Italian flavor
This recipe is super easy to pull together, so don’t let the stuffed pasta idea intimidate you! You’re going to love the fancy look of the dish and proudly be able to say you made it all from scratch!
Lasagna noodles- I use Barilla’s no boil lasagna noodles instead of cannelloni noodles. Cannelloni noodles are simply tube-shaped pasta and can be temperamental to deal with once boiled. Instead of using a pastry bag and tip to fill the tubes, I simply scoop filling onto the parboiled lasagna noodles and then roll them up! Easy, peasy and no frustrations! That’s the secret technique!
Let it sit- I know it’s tough, but it’s super important to allow your cannelloni to rest for about 15 minutes after it comes out of the oven. It gives the sauce time to set up and makes it much easier to plate.
The sauce- This sauce is super easy to make, but if you’re pressed for time, you can use your favorite prepared sauce. You’ll need about 2.5 24 ounce jars.
- Sunday Gravy: To take this Cannelloni to a level of taste that’s virtually out of this stratosphere, make it with my homemade Sunday Gravy. Whenever I make my Sunday Gravy, I ALWAYS make a huge pot so I can stick some away in the freezer for use whenever I want a red sauce that brings that extra level of flavor that nothing else can bring!
Spinach- To achieve the correct consistency for the filling, you’ll need to squeeze every bit of moisture out of the spinach that you can. With the tea towel method, put your thawed spinach in a cotton tea towel after letting it drain in a colander. Draw the towel around the spinach and twist until no more juice comes out.
I prefer using a glass or ceramic pan to make cannelloni. With the marinara sauce, metal can be reactive with tomato sauce so glass or ceramic is best, particularly if you are planning to make it ahead of time.
To store in the fridge, seal tightly with a good-fitting lid or cling wrap.
Can You Freeze This?
This Italian Casserole freezes beautifully. You can freeze before or after cooking. If you freeze after cooking, make sure it has completely cooled before preparing it for the freezer.
To freeze, wrap with a layer or two of cling wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. It will hold well in the freezer for about 3 months.
To cook, remove cling wrap and if possible, thaw in the fridge overnight. You can cook straight from the freezer, but your cook time will be significantly longer.
Make Ahead Tips
If you’re making ahead, but not looking to freeze your cannelloni, I suggest assembling everything up to a day ahead. It will keep well uncooked in the fridge, and you can just pop it in the oven when you’re ready for it.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
This will keep for about 3 days after cooking in the fridge. It reheats beautifully in the microwave or in the oven covered with foil.
Our recipe is a traditional Cannelloni Italian Casserole with a simple, delicious cheesy filling. Of course, there are always variations on tradition, and they’re every bit as yummy!
Can I Make This Into Chicken Cannelloni Recipe?
To make this a Chicken Cannelloni recipe, simply add 1-2 cups of shredded chicken into the cheese stuffing. It’s a great way to use up leftover chicken.
Can I Change The Stuffing?
This stuffing is amazing how it is, but there are lots of other delicious ways to stuff pasta. Ravioli, for instance, has all kinds of stuffing from cheese to mushrooms to meat. You can try any or all of that in this stuffing.
If you want to go loco, you can try my Taco Stuffed Shells for a south of the border twist on stuffed pasta!
What Other Stuffed Pasta Casserole I Can Try?
Many types of pasta work well with this recipe. Manicotti and conchiglioni, large shell pasta, are both stuffable and can be interchanged for the cannelloni. When it comes to stuffed pasta, you’re only limited by your imagination!
Can I Try A Different Kind Of Pasta?
If you’re looking for cheesy, Italian pasta bake with smaller pasta, my Mostaccioli can’t be beaten. You can use rigatoni, penne, or plain elbows instead of mostaccioli, but regardless of the shape of the pasta, you’ll love the creamy, cheesy sauce!
Can I Add Meat To This Recipe?
In the tradition of meaty pasta dishes like Beefaroni or Ragu Bolognese, you can add meat to the filling, but I love it in all its cheesy glory. Cooked Italian sausage, crumbled, or seasoned ground beef, turkey, or pork would all be good options and compliment the flavors of the dish.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1/4 cup carrot finely grated
- 2 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes including all the liquid
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound ricotta cheese
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 2 cups Mozzarella shredded
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1-10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- pinch nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 16 ounce Barilla No Boil Lasagna Noodles
- 2 cups Mozzarella shredded
Make the Sauce:
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the carrot and continue to cook, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens about 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Using a stick blender, smooth out the sauce.
Make the Filling:
- Combine all filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl; set aside
For the Pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Lay out 2 clean kitchen towels on counter.
- Drop pasta sheets into boiling water and move them around with tongs, so the don't stick together. Remove as soon as they just become pliable and lay in a single layer onto towels.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spread about 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 X13 inch baking dish.
- With the short side of the pasta sheet facing you, spread a heaping 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture onto the bottom three quarters of each pasta sheet. (leave the top quarter with no filling). Roll up and place seem side down in baking pan.
- Top with remaining sauce. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake until heated through and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle top with remaining 2 cups mozzarella. Broil until cheese is melted and golden brown. Cool 15 minutes before serving.
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Nothing impresses like homemade pasta dishes. They feed a crowd, taste phenomenal, and are the ultimate comfort food. Call your friends and family and try these fantastic pasta recipes! I promise- they’re gonna want seconds!
Cannelloni Italian Casserole is one of those dishes that feels like a great big hug. The cheesy filling and flavorful red sauce are classic Italian comfort food that makes everyone feel special. You and your family are going to be coming back to this one again and again. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! Be sure to leave me a comment below!