Homemade Italian cannelloni recipe

Homemade Italian cannelloni recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef mince

This is a recipe how to make traditional Italian cannelloni from scratch. Or, to skip a step, use store bought cannelloni.

17 people made this

IngredientsServes: 10

  • For the bechamel sauce
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 600ml milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • For the tomato sauce
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (800g) San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 to 4 basil leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • For the filling
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g pancetta, cubed
  • 400g beef mince
  • 400g pork mince
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 100ml white wine
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • For the homemade pasta
  • 500g durum semolina flour
  • 200g water, as needed

MethodPrep:2hr ›Cook:1hr ›Extra time:1hr resting › Ready in:4hr


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Stir vigorously with a whisk to prevent lumps. Pour in the milk and cook over medium heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir occasionally with a whisk to avoid lumps. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove sauce from heat and set to the side.
  2. Tomato sauce

  3. Cook the onion in oil on low heat until soft. Add the tomatoes and gently crush them with the back of a spoon. Add basil, season with salt, cover and cook until thickened, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove basil and set to the side.
  4. Filling

  5. In a saucepan on medium heat cook onion and carrot in oil until softened. Add pancetta, stir and cook until lightly browned. Add the mince, salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high heat stirring often until the meat is all evenly browned, for about 20 minutes. Halfway through, pour in the wine. At the end, adjust seasoning, remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Transfer the meat to a bowl, add eggs, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 1 ladle bechamel sauce and 1 ladle tomato sauce. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until using.
  7. Pasta

  8. Place the flour on a floured working surface and add the water a little at the time, mixing it with the flour to make a sticky dough. Knead until smoooth, 5 to 7 minutes. Wrap in cling film and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  9. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Flatten the first portion and pass through the largest setting of the pasta machine. Dust with more flour, fold in half like a book and repeat 3 to 4 times - always flouring, folding and passing through the largest setting - until the dough is smooth in texture, even in size and no longer sticky.
  10. Change to a medium setting and pass each sheet through once. Change to the second to last setting and pass through the machine once.
  11. Transfer to a clean floured towel and cut the dough into 10x15cm pieces. Repeat with remaining dough.
  12. Filling and baking

  13. Bring to the boil a large pot with salted water. Add 4 to 5 pasta sheets, cook for 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and run under cold tap water. Transfer on a clean towel and pat dry. Proceed the same way with all the pasta sheets.
  14. Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6. Spread 1 ladle of bechamel and 1 ladle of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 20X30cm baking pan.
  15. Fill each pasta sheet with 2 tablespoons of meat filling, roll it up and place in the baking pan, seam down. Place the rolls close to each other. After you have filled the pan with one layer, cover with half of the bechamel, half of the tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan. Add a second layer of cannelloni and proceed the same way.
  16. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Transfer to the top rack during the last 5 minutes to brown the top.
  17. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminium foil and let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.


To save some time and work, you can roll out the dough thinner, about 3mm, up to the next to the last setting of the pasta machine. This way, you won't need to blanch the dough before filling. Be careful, because the dough will be really thin and rip easily.
You can prepare the cannelloni up to 2 days in advance, refrigerate and reheat in the oven for 10 minutes before serving. They are also great to freeze.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(3)

Meat cannelloni are one of the perfect dishes for Sunday lunches with the family. They say that this type of pasta is one of the best known ever. In the central regions of Italy, especially in Emilia, it was common to form rectangles of dough that were then stuffed with meat or vegetables and rolled up into a cylinder shape. Even today, cannelloni are made with a mixture of flour and eggs that are then rolled out into small sheets and filled with various fillings, mainly of meat but not only. The pasta is then covered with a tomato sauce and plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano, then baked in the oven until the surface becomes golden and crispy. Like many other stuffed pastas, meat cannelloni also acquire more flavor if eaten the day after preparation.

The base of meat cannelloni is a sheet of fresh pasta made according to tradition, with flour and eggs, kneaded for a long time and left to rest for an hour before being flattened with the pasta roller. The doses should be one egg for every 2/3 cup of flour. Once you start mixing the eggs and flour, make sure that the dough is the right consistency. If it’s too soft and “wet,” add a little more flour, but if it’s too dry and difficult to work, add a little water at room temperature. The mixture should be worked vigorously for at least 10 minutes so that the gluten mesh is formed.

Usually eaten for Sunday lunch in Italy, cannelloni can also be made for any special occasion, and they always make the table happy! One of Italy’s most traditional recipes, you can stuff them in an infinite number of ways, to suit just about any taste. With vegetable-based fillings for vegetarians, with meat or fish for the omnivores, or with cheese and veggies if you don’t have lactose-intolerance issues.

Although they might seem difficult to make, cannelloni actually require very little effort because you can use egg pasta for lasagna to make the cannelloni. The only time you’ll need is to make the filling! In case you want to make the dough from scratch however, just remember that the base of cannelloni is always a fresh sheet of dough made according to tradition, with flour and eggs, which you’ll knead until combined (for quite awhile), then let rest for an hour before pulling the dough with the pasta machine. The recipe calls for one egg for every 4 oz of flour. Once you start kneading the eggs and flour, be careful that the dough has the right consistency: If it is too soft and "wet," add a little more flour. If it’s too hard and difficult to work with, add a little water at room temperature. The mixture should be worked vigorously for at least ten minutes to form the glutinic mesh.

Homemade Italian Cannelloni, first attempt!

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I read this as cannoli. Was good through the bread part, until the greens and mushrooms. But, it looked like you were rolling them up so it seemed like things were back on track for a savory cannoli. Good with the cheese part. Completely lost at the casserole dish in the oven.

I also thought it said Cannoli. I was like "hold up, this is just pasta dough!"

Lol, You are not the first one telling me this. And you made me thing about this Now I'm hungry also for sweets.

I always assume I’m the only one, only to find out that the top comment proves most people can’t read just like me.

Came here to say this. I saw those greens being added, and was still like "oh that's an interesting take on cannoli". Then the mushrooms hit, and finally realized something had to be up haha.

Same I got excited. but yet I was not disappointed!

Looks yummy (mushrooms aside - personal taste), but after all the effort to make the pasta and filling from scratch you went with a carton of beschamel? It's so easy to make yourself and so good! I usually make extra and freeze the rest. Happy to share my method if you're interested.

Please share, always nice to get some hints! However this was because of my mum, I was cooking also for her and she likes this kind of integral bechamel without lactose. I know, there is cheese, but go there and talk her out, no way, that's the bechamel I had to use.

That brand of béchamel is absolutely delicious though! Genuinely as good if not better than lots of homemade béchamel I’ve tasted, it’s really popular in France because it’s so good

This is awesome. I'm from Argentina and the way we know the cannelloni dough is very different. We make a Liquid mixture with flour, butter and milk, and we cook it in a pan for a minute until it is dry. It is Actually the same dough as our pancake (Argentinian style, thin and filled with dulce de leche).

Chop the onion and garlic cloves finely and cook them in a hot skilled with a squirt of olive oil. When the onion is tender, add the minced meat and salt and pepper to taste. Let it cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is ready. Remove from the heat, add the pâté and mix well.

At this moment we have two options: we can leave the filling as we have it or we can grind the cooked meat a little (just enough to undo the larger pieces of meat) with a hand blender to have a softer filling. Let it temper.

It is time to cook the pasta. Then drain, separate and distribute the sheets of pasta on a clean and dry cotton cloth or on the countertop of our kitchen greased with a little olive oil. Let cool.

To fill the cannelloni, we will take a sheet of pasta with the hand (as you can see in the image) and add a quantity of meat that allows us to close the cannelloni well, we don’t want it to open during baking. Close and place it in the baking dish, so that the fold is under the cannelloni.

Place them one next to the other and cover with bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

How and when to freeze meat cannelloni:

We have two equally valid options, freeze them with bechamel sauce or without:

Freeze cannelloni without sauce

Once we have the sheet of pasta stuffed with the meat, we put them separated from each other on a tray covered with baking paper, and freeze all night. Baking paper will help keep the cannelloni from sticking to the tray.

After this time, put all the cannelloni together in a freezer bag. When we want to cook it, we will only have to place the cannelloni side by side in a baking dish and cover them with bechamel sauce and grated cheese to taste. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and put in the preheated oven about 10 minutes to thaw, uncover and bake about 20 minutes.

Freeze meat cannelloni with bechamel sauce

To freeze them in this way will be necessary to buy disposable foil pans. Once we have the cannelloni formed we will put them next to each other in the disposable foil pan and cover them with bechamel sauce. Freeze until the moment of baking.

To cooking them, sprinkle grated cheese to the taste, cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until they have thawed, in that moment uncover and bake 20 minutes.

Homemade Italian 101 – Classic Spinach Cannelloni

To make the fresh pasta, add flour to the bowl of a food processor, fitted w/the blade attachment. Beat eggs and oil in bowl and pour over the flour. Place the lid on the food processor and run the machine until combine and sticky consistency, about 15 seconds

Dump the dough on floured flat working surface and knead 3 to 4 times. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

When ready to roll out, unwrap dough and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Cut into quarters, wrap dough back up if not using and set aside.

Working with 1/4 of the dough, set up a pasta rolling machine and send dough through the largest setting (1) five times, folding between each turn. Continue to roll through the machine, moving to the next smallest setting each time. Stop when reach desired thickness (setting 8 on my machine).

Repeat with remaining dough sections. Will make about 22-24 cannelloni shells. Cut dough into 4” sections and cover with damp towel until ready to fill.

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet, add salt, onion, garlic and spinach and cook until onions and spinach are soft and liquid cooked off. Add onion/spinach mixture to a medium bowl and combine with remaining ingredients stir to reach a smooth consistency.

Line the bottom of a greased casserole dish with a portion of the sauce. Fill each shell with 1/4 cup of filling, and roll up. Place in the baking sheet and top with more sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling.

Cannoli Tips

How do you eat cannoli?

You can use your hands to eat cannoli. Pick up the cannoli with the tip of your fingers and start biting it from one extremity. Be careful as they often crack. If you prefer, you can set them on a plate and eat them using fork and a knife.

How long can you keep a cannoli in the fridge?

Cannoli are best enjoyed as fresh as they possibly can be. However, you can store them in the fridge for one or two days.

How do you store cannoli shells?

To preserve its crunchiness, cannoli shells are best stored in a metal or in a glass container for a few days.

Can you freeze filled cannolis?

It is not recommended to freeze filled cannolis. In fact, the ricotta might separate when frozen and the shells can become soggy when defrosted. Better eat them all right away!

What is cannoli filling made of?

The traditional cannoli filling is made out of ricotta cheese and sugar. However, you can find more modern variations that use pistachios crumbles or chocolate chips in it.

Do you have to strain ricotta for cannoli filling?

Yes, it is recommended to strain the ricotta before using it for the cannoli filling. Straining the ricotta helps making it softer and creamier, by doing so it will be better for preparing desserts and fillings.

Meat filling

1 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

1 large red tomatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes

1 large red or green Pepper chopped (optional)

1 large carrot, peeled and grated (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

( or use Italian seasoning instead of the oregano and basil if available)

Heat the oil in a pot,add onions and garlic, stir for 5 minutes until the onions become tender

Add the minced meat and stir until the meat starts changing color

Add chopped tomatoes and stir until they soften then add the tomato paste

If you feel the mix is dry (if the tomatoes you used are not juicy) add a little boiling water

Add salt, herbs and black pepper and stir

Add the grated carrots and stir for two minutes

Add pepper and stir for a couple of minutes then allow to cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes to make sure all the flavors come together.

Italian Terms and Dishes

My best Italian recipes do not include actual terms that you will find below.  This list sure comes in handy when reading a menu or recipe. I usually just post my recipes using English words to describe the recipe. 

Aceto Balsamico: Balsamic vinegar, a sweet-and-sour, dark-brown vinegar traditionally made in Modena. Real balsamic vinegar reads "aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena" on the label and is quite expensive. In the supermarket, you will find aceto balsamico de Modena, which is not made by the same method at all it is simply a sweetened wine vinegar but fine for use in Italian cuisine.

Affumicato: Smoked used to refer to smoked meats and fish.

Al Dente: Italians cook pasta "al dente," which means "to the tooth," meaning that it still has a little bite.

All'aglio e Olio: A dish with this name is made with garlic and oil. A famous, easy-to-make pasta dish is spaghetti all'aglio e olio.

Antipasto: A little something that is served before the meal, or as an appetizer.

Arrabbiata: A tomato sauce flavored with chili to make it spicy.

Biscotti: Means "twice-cooked" and refers to a type of cookie for which the dough is cooked twice: usually first in a log, which is then sliced the slices are cooked again until dry and crisp.

Bistecca: Steak, usually beef, but can also refer to pork or veal.

Bocconcini: Means a bite-sized piece of food. You're likely to see it referring to small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Alla Bolognese: Means in the style of Bologna, and usually refers to a slow-cooked meat sauce with vegetables and tomato.

Botarga: Intensely flavored dried mullet or tuna roe, cut into thin shavings for use in salads and pastas.

Braesaola: Air-dried beef fillet, served thinly sliced and uncooked in salads and antipasti.

Bruschetta: Toasts, usually served with a topping of some sort as an antipasto. While the two words may be used interchangeably, bruschetta are typically larger pieces of toasts, while crostini are typically smaller.

Burridda: A fish stew or soup.

Calzone: A savory pie made from a yeast dough that is rolled to a round like a pizza, filled, folded over to make a half-circle and baked.

Cannoli: Crisp, deep-fried pastry tubes that are filled with cream.

Caponata: A traditional Sicilian vegetable dish made with eggplant and tomato.

Alla Caprese: In the style of Capri, meaning made with tomato, basil, olive oil and mozzarella cheese.

Carpaccio: A dish of raw beef sliced very thin, often seasoned with lemon and olive oil or mayonnaise, served as a salad or antipasto.

Contorno: Vegetable side dish, usually served alongside the main course.

Crema Pasticcera: Pastry cream, a thickened cream of milk and egg used in desserts.

Crespelle: Crêpes, both sweet and savory.

Crostata: Flat, open-face tart, sweet or savory.

Crostini: Toasted bread like a crouton, usually served with a topping of some sort, or sometimes just a drizzle of good olive oil.

Crudo: Uncooked. You will likely see it in reference to a raw fish appetizer.

Farro: Spelt, a grain used in soups, breads and risotto-like preparations. Barley may be substituted.

Fontina: A cow's milk cheese made in the Valle d'Aosta region in Northern Italy.

Frittata: An open-face omelet, made entirely on top of the stove, or started on top of the stove and completed in the oven usually flavored with vegetables, herbs, meats or cheeses.

Alla Genovese: In the style of Genoa, which means "with basil, garlic and oil."

Gnocchi: Dumplings. We're most familiar with those made with potatoes and flour, but, in Italy, they are also made with semolina, ricotta or breadcrumbs.

Gorgonzola: A type of cow's milk blue cheese from the town of Gorgonzola, in the north of Italy.

Grana Padana: Hard cow's milk cheese from Northern Italy.

Granita: An icy, granular frozen dessert.

Marinara: A tomato sauce with garlic, olive oil and oregano.

Mascarpone: A fresh Italian cream cheese with a very soft, creamy texture and buttery flavor. Mascarpone is used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Al Mattone: A technique by which an ingredient is cooked under a brick so that it lies flat for sautéing or grilling.

Mozzarella di Bufala: Cheese made from the milk of water buffalo. Mozzarella is also made from cow's milk (much more commonly found here in the States), in which case it is called Fiore di Latte. Both spoil quickly and should be used as soon as possible after purchase.

Nocciola: Hazelnut, widely used in Italian cuisine in both sweet and savory dishes.

Olio di Oliva: Olive oil. Extra-virgin oil, made from the first pressing of the olives, is the highest quality.

Panzanella: A traditional salad made with stale bread, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and olive oil.

Parmigiano-Reggiano: An excellent hard cow's milk cheese originally produced in and around Parma. If you're in doubt, true Pamigiano-Reggiano will have those words stenciled on the rind.

Pecorino: A hard sheep's milk cheese made in the area around Rome (called Pecorino Romano), as well as in Tuscany, Sardinia and Sicily.Peperoncino: A hot chili pepper used in Italian cuisine.Pesto: A famous green sauce from Genoa, made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino, traditionally mashed together in a mortar and pestle.

Pizza: Open-faced pie made with yeast dough topped with savory toppings, originally from Naples.

Pizzaiolo: Fresh tomato sauce from Naples often used in pizza-making.

Polenta: Both an ingredient — cornmeal — and a porridge made from cornmeal.

Porchetta: Spit-roasted, whole suckling pig.

Porcini: A meaty mushroom used both fresh and dried in Italian cuisine.

Primo: The first course of a traditional Italian meal.

Prosciutto: Although in America we think of prosciutto as a raw ham, in Italy the word simply means ham. Prosciutto cotto is cooked prosciutto crudo is raw.

Provolone: A sharp cow's milk cheese.

Alla Puttanesca: A tomato sauce flavored with capers and anchovies, and often with olives, garlic and chile flakes, as well.

Ribollita: A soup made with white beans, vegetables, stale bread and cheese. Ribollita means re-boiled because the soup is to be cooked, then left to stand before it is reheated.

Ricotta: A fresh cheese traditionally made with whey that is drained off in the process of making another cheese (often Pecorino), and then cooked. Ricotta salata is dried, salted ricotta cheese used for grating and shaving it has a much longer shelf life than fresh ricotta.

Ripieno: A stuffing or filling.

Risotto: A savory dish of rice cooked slowly in broth, served as a first course. Risotto is made with a special Italian rice that remains firm during cooking while it imparts its starch to the dish, thickening the broth to a creamy texture. Arborio, carnaroli and vialone nano are the varieties of Italian rice appropriate for risotto.

Saltimbocca: A dish of pounded-veal scallops rolled with prosciutto and fresh sage. The name means "leap into the mouth."

Salumi: A general word for cured meats including those made with ground meats, such as salami and mortadella, and whole, bone-in meats, such as prosciutto.

Scaloppina: A thin, pounded piece of meat, such as a veal scallop.

Secondo: Main course of a traditional Italian meal.

Semifreddo: The word means "partly frozen," and refers to an Italian dessert of molded custard or ice cream.

Sformato: A molded dish, sweet or savory.

Soffrito: A mixture of chopped vegetables, usually onion, carrot, celery and garlic, which forms the base of many Italian soups, sauces and stews.

Speck: A ham, traditionally from the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy, that is boned, cured and smoked. This is a rare example of a salumi that is both cured and smoked, and reflects the influence of Eastern European tradition on Italian cuisine.

Spiedino: A skewer, as in skewered, grilled meats.

Tartufo: A truffle, of which there are both white (bianco) and black (nero).

Tiramisu: A dessert of ladyfingers soaked in espresso and layered with a cream, often made with mascarpone cheese.

Zabaione: An egg custard made by beating egg yolks with sugar and wine over a water bath until fluffy.


Fry the sausage meat in a large, hot, non-stick frying pan for 10 minutes, until it colours and the fat is released.

Take out the browned sausage meat with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onion, celery and chopped sage and cook for 3 minutes until soft, then add the red wine and cook until the volume of liquid has reduced by half. Return the browned sausage meat back to the pan and cook slowly for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is syrupy. Let the mixture cool, then add the ricotta, half of the grated parmesan, the egg, and the breadcrumbs. Mix well and check the seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

To make the sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and basil leaves and cook for 1 minute, but do not colour the garlic. Add the passata and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat, with a lid half on. The sauce should be a bit wet, as it is the sauce that cooks the pasta. Finish by seasoning with sea salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. To fill the cannelloni, place the sausage, ricotta, egg, and parmesan mixture into a piping bag. Pick up a cannelloni tube and put one side of the tube onto a chopping board. Cut the plastic end of the piping bag so that the hole is about 2cm/¾in across. Place the piping bag into the cannelloni tube and squeeze until the tube is full. Repeat this until all the filling has been used.

Use the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to grease an ovenproof dish. Spoon some of the tomato sauce into the dish, so that there is a 1cm/½in in the bottom. Place the filled cannelloni tubes on top of the tomato sauce, then cover with the remaining tomato sauce.

Scatter the mozzarella and remaining parmesan over the top, then cover the dish with foil, making sure to seal all the way around the edge. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes.

To serve, leave to cool for a few minutes before you serve on hot plates, with extra grated parmesan and black pepper.

Recipe Tips

You can make this without a piping bag but it makes it much easier to get the filling inside the tubes!


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