This vegan Cannelloni recipe (‘manicotti’ in the U.S.) is dairy-free, egg-free, incredibly tasty, and can be made gluten-free. Stuffed with homemade vegan ricotta, healthy spinach, and other simple ingredients that make this dish a perfect dinner.
I am a big fan of Italian food, pizza is probably my favorite meal, but pasta is also very much appreciated. I already shared the recipe for delicious Vegan Lasagna Rolls on my blog, which is somewhat similar to this Cannelloni recipe.
What Is Cannelloni?
Cannelloni is traditionally made from fresh lasagna sheets which are stuffed and then rolled into a tube. They are often filled with meat (e.g. minced beef, sometimes chicken), sometimes vegetables and cheese, and cooked in a tomato-bechamel sauce.
Cannelloni vs Manicotti
You may be wondering what the difference between Cannelloni and Manicotti is.
Store-bought dry Cannelloni pasta tubes are about 4 inches (ca. 10 cm) long and have a diameter of 1 inch (ca. 2.5 cm). They are available in most grocery stores worldwide.
In the United States, they are labeled as Manicotti though, which is a bit confusing. These Manicotti pasta tubes have ridges and are larger than Cannelloni tubes. You can also buy gluten-free Manicotti tubes (made from brown rice) online.
However, traditionally, Manicotti is actually a crêpe, rather than pasta. Therefore, you won’t find Manicotti pasta in grocery stores in Italy. You most likely also won’t find “Manicotti pasta” in a restaurant in Italy, as they call dishes made from a crêpe “crespelle.”
These crêpes are often vegetarian (containing eggs) and filled with cheese (ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan).
How To Stuff Cannelloni Tubes?
The easiest way to stuff Cannelloni pasta tubes is by using a piping bag! You can also use a freezer bag and simply cut off one of the corners. This method is much easier than using a spoon or your hands (don’t ask me how I know it, haha).
- Spinach – you can use fresh or frozen spinach. Make sure to squeeze out a lot of the liquid when using frozen-thawed spinach.
- Vegan ricotta – I used my homemade Vegan Ricotta Recipe which contains only 6 ingredients, including almond flour, and chickpeas. Some people might say it’s just hummus, but nope it’s not. It’s very similar, but not identical. It tastes amazing in combination with spinach and is the perfect filling for this vegan Cannelloni recipe. You could also use vegan cream cheese instead of ricotta.
- Tomato sauce – You can use a store-bought Marinara sauce, crushed tomatoes, or make your own tomato sauce. I often add spices like garlic, onion, powder, and Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme).
- Cannelloni tubes – As mentioned above, feel free to use Manicotti tubes (gluten-free if needed).
- Vegan cheese – I used my popular Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce, however, you can also use store-bought vegan cheese of choice, for example, vegan mozzarella
As always, you can find all the ingredients and measurements in the printable recipe card below!
How To Make Cannelloni?
STEP 1: First, prepare the vegan ricotta cheese if you want to make it yourself or use store-bought vegan ricotta. Follow these recipe instructions for the homemade version.
STEP 2: Pour a little tomato sauce into a casserole/baking dish and set aside.
STEP 3: Next, heat oil in a pan/skillet and sauté onion over medium heat. Add garlic, and spices, after a few minutes. Also, add chopped spinach and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes.
STEP 4: Process the spinach mixture and vegan ricotta in a food processor (just pulse a couple of times). If you don’t have a food processor or blender, simply add the vegan ricotta to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and set it aside. Preheat oven to 360 °F (ca. 180 °C).
STEP 5: Add the spinach and ricotta mixture into a piping bag and pipe the filling into the uncooked Cannelloni tubes. Position the Cannelloni tubes upright, which makes it easier to fill them.
STEP 6: Then place all tubes in the casserole dish. Pour over the remaining tomato sauce, covering all the tubes.
Helpful Tips & Variations
If you want to use homemade tomato sauce and vegan ricotta, make it ahead of time (e.g. in the morning) because it saves a lot of time.
Add veggies of choice. You can also add finely chopped peppers, grated zucchini, or other veggies of choice.
Double the recipe and freeze half of the spinach ricotta mixture for another use.
The Recipe Is:
- Vegan (egg-free, dairy-free)
- Can be made gluten-free
- A great dinner for weekends
Should you try out my Cannelloni recipe, please leave a comment and rating below and don’t forget to tag me in your Instagram or Facebook post with @elavegan and #elavegan because I would love to see your dish!
If you like pasta dishes, definitely also check out the following delicious and healthy vegan recipes:
- Vegan Lasagna Soup
- Pumpkin Pasta Bake
- Creamy Pasta Soup
- Easy Vegan Pasta Salad
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
- Vegan Pasta Bake
Spinach & "Ricotta" Cannelloni
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 7 oz (200 g) fresh spinach finely chopped
- 1 batch (14 oz) (400 g) vegan ricotta (*see notes)
- 21 oz (600 g) tomato sauce (*see notes)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 14 tubes of dry cannelloni pasta or Manicotti, gluten-free if needed (*see notes)
- 1 batch (7 oz) (200 g) vegan cheese sauce or store-bought vegan cheese
- First, prepare the vegan ricotta cheese (click for the recipe and instructions) for the homemade version or use store-bought vegan ricotta or vegan cream cheese.
- Pour some tomato sauce in an 8x11 inches (20x28 cm) casserole/baking dish to avoid sticking and set aside.
- Next, heat oil in a pan/skillet and sauté onion over medium heat. After a few minutes, add garlic, and spices. Also, add finely chopped spinach and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Process the spinach mixture and vegan ricotta in a food processor (just pulse a couple of times). If you don't have a food processor or blender, simply add the vegan ricotta to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and set aside. Preheat oven to 360 °F (ca. 180 °C).
- Add the spinach and ricotta mixture into a piping bag and pipe the filling into the uncooked Cannelloni tubes (see step-by-step photos above in the blog post). Position the Cannelloni tubes upright, which makes it easier to fill them. You can also add the filling to a freezer bag and cut off one of the edges.
- Bake for 30 minutes in the oven. I didn't use aluminum foil but if you notice after 15-20 minutes that it browns too much, simply cover the casserole dish with foil. Serve and garnish with fresh herbs. Enjoy! Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Video Of The Recipe
- You can also use hummus instead of vegan ricotta. Another possibility would be vegan cream cheese.
- I used a chunky tomato sauce and added some salt, black pepper, fresh garlic, onion powder, and Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme) to taste.
- In addition to spinach, you can add veggies of choice, for example, finely chopped peppers, grated zucchini, etc.
- Double the recipe and freeze half of the spinach ricotta mixture for another use.
- You will need 14 store-bought dry Cannelloni pasta tubes that are about 4 inches (ca. 10 cm) long and have a diameter of 1 inch (ca. 2,5 cm). In the United States, they are labeled as Manicotti. They have ridges and are larger than Cannelloni tubes, so you will need less.
- You can order gluten-free manicotti online.
- Recipe serves 4. Nutrition facts are for one serving (made with my homemade vegan ricotta and cheese sauce).
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically