This Easy Beef Cannelloni Recipe is a family favorite, Italian Comfort Food at it’s finest. It’s an oven baked pasta recipe that is full of delicious cheesy flavor.
Easy Beef Cannelloni
We have a big family dinner every Sunday, and traditionally I make some sort of pasta dish every week. Typically it involves a sauce slow cooked on the stovetop all day, then I may serve that over pasta or bake a dish in the oven. Baked Cannelloni is an easy Oven Baked Pasta Dish that bakes in about 40 minutes. I have prepared Beef Cannelloni, Chicken Cannelloni, and Seafood Cannelloni previously. My family prefers the Oven Baked Beef Cannelloni.
What is Cannelloni?
Cannelloni is a dry pasta that is tube shaped, about 3″ long and 2/3″ wide.
You stuff Cannelloni Pasta with filling, cover it in a sauce and LOTS of delicious cheese, then bake.
Traditional Cannelloni that is homemade, does not need to be cooked before filling, because it will soften when baked in the oven.
I often can’t find traditional cannelloni shells in the stores in my area, for whatever reason.
You don’t have to debate between serving Cannelloni vs Manicotti, because I have recipes for both!
What is the difference between Cannelloni vs Manicotti?
Manicotti is the Italian-American version of Cannelloni. Both are made with tube style pasta, but the difference between the two is pretty minimal.
Manicotti tubes of pasta have ridges, they are larger, and slightly thicker.
Cannelloni tubes of pasta are smooth without ridges, they are smaller, and slightly thinner.
My husbands family immigrated to the US from Italy and I just use the 2 pastas interchangeably depending on what I can find in the supermarket. My family doesn’t notice a difference in taste, just size & ridge texture or not.
If using Dry Lasagna Noodles, you must cook first, simply because you have to roll them up to stuff them.
The most common variety of Cannelloni is a spinach and ricotta filling topped with a tomato sauce.
My guys aren’t huge fans of Ricotta, so I’ve adapted my recipe to eliminate it.
If you like it, feel free to incorporate it.
How to Make Cannelloni:
Heat milk in a saucepan until it starts to bubble at edges.
In another saucepan, melt the butter, add the flour, and stir well for a couple of minutes over medium-low heat.
Then slowly add the milk and begin to constantly whisk.
Don’t worry about the lumps, they will smooth out.
Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Raise the heat to around medium and let it simmer a couple of minutes and pour it into a bowl.
If your cannelloni isn’t ready to bake, cover the sauce with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a yucky film from forming while you finish the cannelloni preparations.
Heat a skillet over medium to cook the ground beef and Italian sausage.
Add the minced garlic.
Stir until done (we prefer well done).
Drain the excess fat, and stir in the spinach and one cup of the sauce made above.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat and set to the side.
When it has cooled, mix in the cheese (YUM!).
I buy ready to cook lasagna, but if you don’t, this is when you need to prepare the pasta.
I cut mine into squares.
I do go ahead and cook it though, because you need to be able to roll it!
Butter two baking dishes. Mine are square, I think 8 x 8 maybe?
Spread thin layer of sauce on bottom of each dish.
Spread out some waxed paper to add sauce to pasta.
Spread some filling over it, but don’t put it up all the way to the edge though, leave a little room.
Carefully roll up the squares, and put the seam side down in the baking dish.
Repeat until all are done.
Then, if you have any sauce left, pour it over the top of the pasta, and sprinkle that cheese generously;)
Bake 30 minutes until it bubbles and is a gorgeous golden brown.
I serve with garlic bread, and viola! dinner is done;)
Can you make Cannelloni ahead of time?
You can assemble this beef cannelloni dish a day ahead and then bake it before dinner time, or make extra and freeze for another day.
How to freeze leftover Cannelloni:
For leftovers, transfer individual portions of cooled manicotti to freezer containers; freeze. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Transfer to a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high, or reheat in the oven.
- 4 cups milk
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
- Dab of Ground Nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 lb ground beef
- 8 oz Italian Style Pork Sausage from the butcher without casings
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cans drained cooked,and dried spinach (can use frozen or fresh as well)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 and a half cups shredded parmesan cheese divided (can use Parmigiano-Reggiano, but it is really expensive around here, so I just use normal Parmesan.)
- 1 box lasagna noodles
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 608Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 148mgSodium: 981mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 43g
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These are a few items I find helpful in my own kitchen when preparing this Easy Beef Cannelloni Recipe:
Cuisinart 619-14 Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 1-Quart Saucepan with CoverOXO Good Grips 11-Inch Better Balloon WhiskLodge Cast Iron Skillet, Pre-Seasoned and Ready for Stove Top or Oven Use, 10.25Anchor Hocking 8-Inch Square Glass Baking Dish with Teal TrueFit LidEssentials of Classic Italian CookingLidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party: A CookbookThe 5-Ingredient Italian Cookbook: 101 Regional Classics Made Simple
Don’t miss these other delicious Pasta Recipes from When Is Dinner:
- Baked Penne Rigate
- Sunday Spaghetti Sauce
- Chicken Fajita Pasta
- Instant Pot Spaghetti & Meatballs