Beef Cannelloni stuffed with a juicy spinach and beef filling, topped with plenty of tomato cannelloni sauce and melty cheese. It’s cozy comfort food that’s mouthwateringly delicious and 100% freezer friendly. Make this recipe using cannelloni OR manicotti!
What’s cannelloni? And what’s the difference between cannelloni and manicotti??
Cannelloni is a tube-shaped dry pasta that’s stuffed with filling, covered with sauce and cheese then baked. The cannelloni tubes are uncooked when they are stuffed – they cook (soften) while baking.
Manicotti is the Italian-American version of cannelloni. The same concept – pasta in tube form to be stuffed, but they’re usually a bit larger and typically has ridges on it rather than a smooth surface.
This Beef Cannelloni recipe can be used for either cannelloni OR manicotti. In Australia, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen manicotti in Italian grocery stores. But cannelloni is far more popular – sold at all the large grocery stores.
What you need to make the Spinach Beef Cannelloni - Manicotti
The 3 parts to Beef Cannelloni are:
The Cannelloni Sauce – the key to any good cannelloni! Make loads and make it thinner than you think it should be – the uncooked cannelloni tube will suck up a lot of the liquid as it bakes (it needs to, in order to cook the cannelloni pasta);
The spinach and beef filling – I like to make it extra tasty by using beef cube for seasoning (aka bouillon cube/stock cube – or use powder form) instead of plain old flavored salt. And extra juicy by adding a bit of the Cannelloni Sauce!
The cannelloni tubes (above) or manicotti tubes – these are sold uncooked in tube form, to be stuffed with filling then cooked.
How to make Beef Cannelloni
There’s nothing tricky about the making part other than stuffing the cannelloni tubes which is inevitably a bit of a messy/fiddly affair.
But years of cannelloni stuffing have taught me one thing – the fastest and easiest way to stuff cannelloni tubes is using a piping bag. All those times I just couldn’t be bothered to use a piping bag, then I’d regret it 3 tubes in.
That moment when you pull this bubbling beauty out of the oven….. no telling what it actually is, but you know it’s something delicious!!!
What to serve with Beef Cannelloni
Cannelloni is essentially just another type of pasta. I put it in the same bucket as lasagna. Which means – for a full-blown Italian feast, I serve it with:
Garlic Bread – or even more indulgent, with Cheesy Garlic Bread (or go over-the-top with Crack Bread);
Garden Salad with Italian Dressing (hit of crisp fresh salad essential!)
Tiramisu to finish with an Espresso Martini on the side
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