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What is Cannelloni Pasta?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cannelloni is a kind of pasta that is also commonly known as manicotti. They are basically large broad noodles that have been closed on one side to create pasta tubes that are about 1 inch (2.54 cm) in diameter. This pasta is also approximately between 3 and 4 inches (7.62 and 10.16 centimeters) in length.

In Italian cooking, cannelloni are used as a sort of shell, and they are filled with various meats, vegetables, cheeses, and sauces. After being boiled for an appropriate amount of time to sufficiently soften the noodles, they are stuffed with such savory fillings as ricotta cheese, ground beef, ground turkey, spinach, basil, and an assortment of other Italian ingredients. In addition to being filled with delicious stuffings, the tubes are also often topped with either a red, tomato-based sauce or a white, cream-based sauce.

In the Italian language, the word cannelloni translates to “big pipes.” This is fitting as the pasta do, in fact, look much like pasta pipes. The translation can also be taken to mean “big reeds,” which is also fitting. Manicotti, on the other hand, is the diminutive form of the Italian word for “sleeves.” Although there are some fine distinctions between manicotti and cannelloni, the differences between the two pastas are very slight. In the English language, the two terms are generally used interchangeably. There are, however, discerning chefs and food buffs even in English-speaking nations who are keenly aware of the differences.

On 2 July 1891, a baby named Nicola Federico was born in the city of Naples. Although no one knew it at the time, Nicola would grow up to be an accomplished chef, and would invent the cannelloni. Nicole invented this pasta in 1907, while working at the restaurant La Favorita in Sorrento, Italy. It was originally named strascinati, but then became popularly known as cannelloni. It was during World War II, when many Naples residents fled to Sorrento, the particular pasta shape started to become popular.

Although cannelloni was developed in Sorrento, it has become a staple in Italian kitchens worldwide. There are hundreds of Italian recipes that call for it. There are vegetarian recipes, as well as recipes that call for numerous types of meat. Some of them are created with very light ingredients, while others call for a good deal of olive oil, meats, and cheeses.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
In addition to her work as a freelance writer for DelightedCooking, Diane Goettel serves as the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. Over the course, she has edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter “Sapling,” and The Adirondack Review. Diane holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Discussion Comments

By CarrotIsland — On Aug 27, 2010

@googie98: Sorry I didn’t clarify what passata was. Passata is a kind of tomato paste. It is basically sieved tomato pulp. Many supermarkets carry it. It is usually near the pasta sauces or tomato purees. It is very simple to make passata. I like to make my own.

I use about 5 pounds of tomatoes (chopped) and 10 cloves of garlic. Place them in the crockpot on high. Stir occasionally. Let it cook for about 8 hours. I leave mine out overnight. Process through a food mill, which will get rid of the skins and seeds. Then, put it back in the crockpot for another four hours. It should thicken up.

By googie98 — On Aug 27, 2010

@carrotisland: What is passata?

By CarrotIsland — On Aug 27, 2010

This is about the easiest one I could find. I’ve tried it once and it was really good. This one doesn’t have quite as many ingredients as others that I have seen.

You will need 1 Tbs. olive oil, 3 ½ cups tomato passata, 4 cloves garlic (crushed), a pinch of sugar, 1 heaping tsp. of dried oregano, 10 oz. frozen spinach (cooked and chopped), 1 ½ cup ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 6 Tbs. grated parmesan cheese, about 16 tubes of cannelloni, and 7 oz. of buffalo mozzarella (regular mozzarella would be okay).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a pan, heat the olive oil, and add the garlic. Allow it to soften for a few minutes. Add the passata, herbs, sugar, salt and pepper if you like, and cook for five minutes. Set that aside.

In another bowl, mix the spinach, ricotta, egg, and half of the parmesan cheese. Start stuffing the cannelloni tubes with the filling. I use a shrimp fork to do it. Spread a large pan with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Cover with the cannelloni and pour some more tomato sauce on it. Spread with mozzarella and the remaining parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

By PurpleSpark — On Aug 27, 2010

I am looking for a cannelloni recipe with vegetables. I looked at a couple of websites but the recipes were way above my cooking abilities. Does anyone have an easier recipe?

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for DelightedCooking, Diane Goettel serves as the executive editor of...
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