Stuffed Cheese Cannelloni with Mozzarella and Ricotta!

Homemade Cannelloni is a rich Italian pasta and cheese recipe that everyone in the family will look forward to! Cannelloni tubes are stuffed with a rich and flavorful ricotta filling, then covered in marinara and a generous topping of baked mozzarella!

Once I figured out how easy it is to fill cannelloni tubes using a zippered bag, I realized it is just as simple to make as stuffed shells or chicken lasagna. My family loves this dish, and there are so many versatile uses for it!

What Exactly is Cannelloni?

Cannelloni is basically an Americanized version of an Italian stuffed pasta dish (not to be confused with cannoli, which is a sweet dessert.)

If it’s hard to find cannelloni shells, you could use what manicotti shells, which are shorter tubes and have ridges. It won’t make a huge difference, but it is nice to use traditional cannelloni which is smooth and a bit longer.

Cannelloni vs. Manicotti

Cannelloni loosely translates from the Italian as “big tubes, or even “large reeds.” Traditionally cheese and vegetables or meat filling are rolled in pasta sheets before baking. Manicotti would more likely be called “crespelle” and is often made with crepes rather than pasta.

Whatever the name of the pasta you use, you basically fill it with lots of creamy and savory cheese and cover it with sauce and more cheese before baking. Yum!

All the ingredients for the cannelloni stuffings in a glass bowl.

How to Make Cannelloni

It might seem intimidating to make, but it’s actually quite simple!

  1. Mix the filling according to the recipe directions.
  2. Spoon filling into a piping bag or a zip lock bag with the corner cut off.
  3. Squeeze filling into oven-ready cannelloni tubes.

*Tip: If you can’t find oven-ready pasta, use regular, but make sure to cover with extra sauce so the noodles cook well. Test with a fork to make sure the pasta is cooked through.

Bake according to recipe directions or until cannelloni pasta is soft. Cover with remaining cheese and continue baking until piping hot and bubbly!

Left image - cannelloni stuffed with cheese. Right image - stuffed cheese cannelloni lined in a casserole dish.

Ways to Serve Cannelloni

Serving when having guests over for dinner, with a gorgeous spinach salad with warm bacon dressing is just one of the many ways to enjoy cheese cannelloni!

  • Make it for a friend who just had a baby, or for someone who can’t cook for themselves!
  • Make it ahead and freeze it for nights when you know you won’t be able to cook!
  • Portion it out into individual freezer containers and take it to work for lunches!
  • Try it for a meatless option, or alternatively, make it with homemade meat sauce like in Lasagna Roll ups!
  • Overview of cheese cannelloni baked in a casserole dish.

Leftovers?

Cannelloni is a great make-ahead dish, and it freezes well.

  • Freeze in a freezer and oven safe casserole dish, tightly covered. Be careful not to put it in the oven right from frozen, however, as the extreme temperature change can shatter even ovenproof glass.
  • Defrost in the refrigerator or on the counter, then bake according to the recipe directions below.

Cannelloni is a special dish that’s perfect for guests or a family Italian night. Try it this week!

Must-Try Cheesy Pasta Dishes

A serving of cheese cannelloni being scooped out of a casserole dish.

Cheese Cannelloni

Rich Italian pasta and cheese recipe that everyone in the family will look forward to

  • 12 dried cannelloni (oven ready)
  • 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce (divided)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)

Filling

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix all filling ingredients in a small bowl. Place into a piping bag or large zippered bag and set aside.
  3. Place 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
  4. Snip off the corner of the zipper bag if using and fill each cannelloni placing in the pan. Top with remaining marinara sauce.

  5. Cover and bake 35 minutes. Add cheese and bake covered an additional 15-20 minutes.

A casserole dish full of cheese cannelloni.

Top photo - A portion of Cheese Cannelloni being served. Bottom photo - A white pan filled with Cheese Cannelloni.
A white pan filled with Cheese Cannelloni.
A single portion of Cheese Cannelloni being served.

Easy Homemade Lasagna

Homemade Lasagna is a classic, delicious dinner that every family should have in their recipe rotation. We love serving a classic lasagna dinner, complete with a caesar salad or Italian salad and dinner rolls slathered in Homemade Garlic Butter. It’s the world’s best meal! 

Lasagna may seem daunting, and while there are a few steps, this is such an easy recipe – you will absolutely love it. Homemade lasagna recipe is the perfect Italian meal to warm you from the inside out!

A slice of classic homemade lasagna ready to serve

How to Make Lasagna

When you think homemade lasagna, you might feel overwhelmed but don’t worry! The lasagna ingredients in this recipe are easy to prep and while it does take some time, it’s not difficult at all! All you’ll need for this easy lasagna recipe is one pan, one bowl and a 9×13 baking dish!

Here’s what to do to prepare for layering lasagna:

  1. In the BOWL: Mix the ricotta and divided cheeses with an egg in a bowl, and set aside.
  2. In the PAN: Brown the onion garlic and meat in a pot on the stove top. Add the pasta sauce and tomato paste.
  3. In the 9×13: Layer the meat sauce and cheese mixture with noodles and bake until bubbling

To make this into a spinach lasagna, squeeze out most of the moisture of defrosted frozen spinach and add it along with the cheese layer. Lasagna ingredients don’t have to be limited to the ones you see here. Substitute meats or different cheeses, or try different meat sauce variations. Any way you slice lasagna, it’s always delicious!

Ingredients for making the best homemade lasagna recipe

How to Layer Lasagna

Once you have prepared the meat sauce and cheeses, you’re ready to for the layering. This is the fun part! To layer lasagna:

  1. Spread about a cup of meat sauce into a 9×13 pan. Add a layer of noodles.
  2. Top the noodles with some of the cheese mixture.
  3. Repeat the layers, ending with a layer of noodles
  4. Cover with foil and bake.
  5. Remove foil, top with mozzarella and parmesan and bake another 15 minutes.

A pan of the best lasagna made from an easy lasagna recipe

How Long to Bake Lasagna

Baking time lasagna for this recipe is about one hour total. To get that perfect browned cheese topping, you’ll need to bake it in two stages. After it’s layered, cover it tightly in foil to retain the moisture.

Once cooked, remove the foil, top with cheese, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the top is browned and your easy lasagna is bubbling.

It’s very important to let the lasagna sit for at least 15 minutes once removed from the oven (even 30 minutes is fine). This is what keeps it from becoming runny and helps it to keep its shape when cut (you don’t need to do this when you’re reheating it though).

Serve this easy lasagna with a chunk of Homemade Garlic Bread.

A pan of lasagna cut into pieces for serving

How to Freeze Lasagna

Lasagna is one of the best meals to make ahead and freeze. I love to make two pans of this easy lasagna recipe, and save one for another day. You can either divide the already baked lasagna into several portions and pack it in freezer safe containers, or freeze the whole pan.

You can also layer the ingredients then freeze before baking. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed.

How To Reheat Lasagna

If you’re baking frozen prepped lasagna, it’s best to pull it out the day before you’re going to cook it so that it has a chance to defrost before it goes in the oven. This prevents it from burning on the edges and undercooking in the center.

If you’ve frozen leftovers, pop them in the oven at 350°F covered, until reheated. This should take about 30 minutes! Of course leftovers are perfect heated in the microwave too!

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Easy Homemade Lasagna

Homemade lasagna is a classic, delicious dinner that every family should have in their recipe rotation. 

  • 12 lasagna noodles (uncooked)
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese (divided)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (divided)

Tomato Sauce

  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 24 oz pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Cheese Layer

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Cook noodles al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and set aside.

  2. Brown beef, onion and garlic over medium high heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  3. Stir in pasta sauce, tomato paste, Italian seasoning. Simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Combine 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, parsley and egg.
  5. Add 1 cup meat sauce to a 9×13 pan. Top with 3 lasagna noodles. Layer with 1/3 of the cheese mixture and 1 cup of meat sauce. Repeat finishing with noodles topped with sauce.

  6. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover, add cheese and bake an additional 15 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Broil 2-3 minutes if desired.

  7. Rest 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Time Saving Tip:  Use fresh lasagna sheets found in the deli area and skip the boiling step! Fresh lasagna doesn’t need to be boiled first.

This easy homemade lasagna recipe is a classic, and one of our family favorites. All you need is a side salad and garlic bread for the perfect meal! #spendwithpennies #lasagna #homemadelasagna #italianlasagna #easylasagna #classiclasagna
This easy homemade lasagna recipe is a classic, and one of our family favorites. All you need is a side salad and garlic bread for the perfect meal! #spendwithpennies #lasagna #homemadelasagna #italianlasagna #easylasagna #classiclasagna

Classic Stuffed Shells (Freezer Friendly)

stuffed shells in white baking dish

This Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe couldn’t be easier to put together! Made with Ricotta, spinach, and Italian herbs and seasonings covered with marinara sauce and smothered in cheese.

Ricotta stuffed shells are perfect for making ahead and make a great freezer meal to enjoy at a later time. Add in a side of garlic bread and a tossed salad for a delicious meal!

stuffed shells in white baking dish

 

Cheese and pasta is just one of those combinations that I don’t think anyone can refuse. From lasagna to mac and cheese to these stuffed shells, cheesy pasta is just the ultimate comfort food!

I stuffed these shells with a mixture of Ricotta, Parmesan, spinach and Italian herbs, but you could mix things up and add in Romano cheese or other herbs if you like. Have some fresh herbs exploding in the garden? Throw those in instead!

Stuffed shells are perfect for gifting to a family with a new baby or someone else in need, as they are easy to make ahead, and the creamy, comforting filling makes this recipe a hit with everyone around the dinner table.

classic stuffed shells before baking

This White Chicken Lasagna and Chicken Spaghetti Bake are more great make ahead and freezer friendly casseroles!

How to make Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells are relatively easy to make if you have a few tricks up your sleeve.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Boil Pasta: Slightly undercook shells (just to al dente). A little firmer is essential, since they will be baked later
  2. Make Filling: Prep cheese/spinach mixture.
  3. Fill Shells: Fill the shells. Stuffed shells need to bake about 30-35 minutes or until bubbly.

TIPS for Stuffed Shells

  • Boil shells only to al dente (or even a little less). If you overcook them, they will fall apart when you try to stuff them.
  • Use a piping bag or a large Ziploc bag with the tip cut off to fill your shells — this will get it done so quickly and with much less mess!
  • Choose ingredients you like. If you don’t like basil, don’t add basil in. If you don’t like Ricotta, try cream cheese or cottage cheese!
  • Select a bottle of marinara with great taste and simple ingredients or better yet, make homemade Marinara Sauce.
  • For a heartier meal, swap out marinara and make stuffed shells with meat sauce.
  • Double the recipe and make a second batch to freeze for later.

stuffed shells in scoop

How long can you keep stuffed shells in the refrigerator?

Stuffed pasta shells are perfect for dinner parties, busy weeknights and gifting to a new mom or family in the neighborhood because they can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.

You can fill and refrigerate these stuffed shells up to 24 hours in advance, provided all your ingredients are as fresh as they can be. Then, simply place in the oven and bake as directed.

How to Freeze Stuffed Shells

Alternatively, you can prepare stuffed shells and freeze up to 3 months.

To freeze stuffed shells, place in the casserole dish as directed and cover with plastic wrap pressing the wrap against the shells to remove as much air as possible. Cover with foil and label. Freeze up to 2 months.

How to Cook Frozen Stuffed Shells: Defrost in the refrigerator 24 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F and remove plastic wrap. Bake 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.

stuffed shells on a plate

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Classic Stuffed Shells

This Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe couldn’t be easier to put together! Made with Ricotta, spinach, and Italian herbs and seasonings, they are luscious and comforting.

  • 24 jumbo pasta shells
  • 475 grams extra smooth Ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 225 grams frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed dry (about 1/2 cup))
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta shells, reduce to a low boil, and cook just until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain, and cool immediately by running under cold water.
  2. Stir together the Ricotta, spinach, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, salt, parsley, basil, oregano and pepper. Place in a piping bag or large ziploc bag and snip the end off.
  3. Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick spray and spread 1 cup marinara sauce in the bottom.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Divide Ricotta mixture evenly between shells and place in prepared pan. You might have to squish a little to fit, that’s okay.
  6. Top with remaining marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly at the edges and cheese is melted. Serve.

REPIN this easy pasta recipe!

Classic Stuffed Shells baked in a white baking dish