Jennie's Homemade Manicotti

January 20, 2010
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves four
Author Notes

Manicotti are the Italian version of crepes filled with creamy ricotta. The batter comes together quickly in the blender and fresh ricotta is worth seeking out, though making it yourself is quite easy (I even included the recipe). A simple, yet very satisfying meal indeed and ready in about an hour from start to finish. —Jennifer Perillo

Test Kitchen Notes

A truly unique take on baked pasta, this recipe requires a little faith, but not all that much work considering the results. If you have a well-seasoned crepe pan, this is the perfect excuse to put it to work. You just whiz the batter up in a blender, and then all you need to do is crank out 10 or so perfect crepes to roll around a simple mixture of ricotta, eggs, parsley and parmesan. Jennifer Perillo provides a recipe for fresh ricotta, but if you’re pressed for time a good store-bought ricotta is just fine. Don't skimp on this or on the marinara sauce -- you'll be doing these delicate, creamy manicotti (and yourself) a huge disservice. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, plus more as needed to thin the batter
  • canola oil, to lightly grease pan (see note)
  • 16 ounces fresh ricotta cheese (homemade recipe below)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Add the pasta ingredients to the bowl of a blender. Blend, adding more milk one teaspoon at a time, until batter is a thin, almost runny consistency. Heat a nonstick 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Brush pan lightly with oil, if needed (see note). Hold pan at an angle, and swirl pan as you pour in enough batter to coat bottom of skillet. Cook 30 to 45 seconds, flip and cook for 15 more seconds. And don’t forget, the first one or two might end up being sacrificial until you get the hang of swirling the pan.Transfer to a flat dish or tray. Repeat with remaining batter. You should have 8 to 10 "shells" by the end. Note: I decided to buy a skillet exclusively for making manicotti and crepes, so it wipes clean with a cloth to preserve the coating, eliminating the need to grease the pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread ½ cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish. Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl (see ricotta recipe below if making from scratch); mix well. Lay pasta crepes on a flat surface and spoon an event amount of filling in a long strip down the center of each one. Roll crepes closed, and place seam-side down into the casserole dish. Evenly pour remaining sauce over filled crepes. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over top and bake 20 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.
  3. TO MAKE THE RICOTTA: Add ingredients to a 4-quart pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, line a sieve or fine mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a deep bowl or pot.
  4. Once curds begin to separate from the whey (liquid temperature will be between 175º and 200º), remove from heat. Gently spoon or ladle the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. You may need to gently gather the cheesecloth at the top to help the curds drain.
  5. Let curds sit in cheesecloth to drain liquid 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how creamy you'd like your ricotta. Store in refrigerator up to two days.
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Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).

44 Reviews

Babette's S. March 8, 2018
To me, this is not manicotti but baked crespelle. I've always known manicotti and cannelloni as pasta tubes. Whatever the correct term, it does look like a great recipe. Look forward to trying it.
Emily L. March 28, 2016
made this last night (with the exception of buying the ricotta) and was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out for my first time making pasta. instructions are easy to follow and it was delicious!
michelle_a December 27, 2015
Incredible dish - instructions are spot on; be sure to get your hands on a crepe pan as this helped tremendously! De Buyer makes a lovely one. Will be making manicotti far more often here on out.
Mary A. October 8, 2015
Isn't it true that if you use ultra pasteurized milk that the ricotta won't curdle? If you don't specify this, people will mistakenly use the wrong type of milk and waste their money, correct?
Brain H. March 10, 2012
My mom used to make manicotti like this, and she would add a pinch of nutmeg to the crespelle batter, which is also a nice touch. But my Aunt Stella had the best crespelle dish; she layered them in a lasagne, with 6 or so overlapping layers of crespelle instead of pasta. Oh that is so good too!
AntoniaJames March 9, 2011
I made this tonight using frozen spinach, having consulted with my PicklePals, including Peanut, thank you very much ;o) . . . the spinach seemed a bit wet even after I squeezed it out, so I added an egg and a scant tablespoon of flour . . . my ricotta was very dry, for some reason, so I didn't worry too much about it. I put down a fat little log of the cheese filling, then put right on it not quite the same amount of the spinach (I'd added a tiny pinch of nutmeg to that as well), rolled them up and was on my way. Used homemade marinara, served with a Caesar whose dressing included juice of one of my Meyers, picked about 15 seconds before I made the dressing. Really outstanding! I'm definitely making this again, soon, including more ricotta. What a terrific recipe. ;o)
Peanut March 10, 2011
AntoniaJames, you're welcome for the Pickle advice, and I thank YOU for teaching me how to make a commenter feel appreciated! Per my latest posting on the Pickle, I always mix the spinach in with the ricotta mixture; I think it makes a more cohesive filling. And it's less fuss! Do you think I could grow a Meyer lemon tree in my NYC apartment?
Peanut March 7, 2011
Had this for dinner last night - outstanding! The ricotta filling was very rich; you really don't need too much in each. I added a package of thawed frozen spinach, an extra egg, and some of my leftover whey to get a creamy texture, and I added fresh basil to the marinara and just a little grated mozzarella on top. This was a riot of wonderful, fresh flavors. Loved it and will definitely make again.
Peanut March 6, 2011
I made the ricotta yesterday, and although it's good, I don't think it's worth the expense of all that milk and cream for the relatively small amount of ricotta that results (I got what looks to be about a cup to a cup and a half. And I've got all the leftover whey (3-4 cups) that I have to store and figure out how to use (thanks, Foodpickle, for suggestions). Granted, I'm using milk and cream from the farmers' market -- if I didn't mind using "industrial" milk it would be a lot cheaper. But I think ricotta bought from the farmers' market would be as good and less expensive. I'd love to hear what other people think about this. How much ricotta did you get from this recipe?
Binte's K. February 6, 2011
the rich velvety texture of the marinara is a treat for the eyes. splendid job!

FrozenFoodie February 21, 2010
I've been wanting to make a cheese for some time, and the ricotta was so easy and worlds better than anything from the store. It was so good that my 10 year-old was eating it by the spoonful. Thanks!
Jennifer P. April 16, 2010
Great to hear! I still make this fresh ricotta at least once a week.
djgibboni February 7, 2010
@SavoryKitchen -- the crespelle in soup that I know of is an Abruzzese dish, known as "scripell' m'busse." Crespelle are rolled with grated, dry cheese (parmigiano, or pecorino) a bit of black pepper maybe, then layered in a soup plate, over which hot chicken stock ("brodo") is poured. It is a lovely first course, and a specialty of the city of Teramo. I know it well, largely because that's where my maternal grandfather's family came from.
Savorykitchen February 8, 2010
That sounds delicious! A great way to use the "sacrificial crepe" for lunch for one.
Jennifer P. February 10, 2010
Oh my, I have to try this one day soon! Thanks for sharing it with us all.
djgibboni February 7, 2010
And I thought I was the only crazy who made manicotti with crepes (or crespelle, as we call them)! Most recipes use a sheet of egg pasta.

Only difference -- I roll mine up 'burrito style,' tucking in the sides as I'm rolling.
Oui, C. February 4, 2010
WOW! Another Hat-trick winner for Food52. Congratulations! This dish looks fabulous, and is one the kids and I will be making soon. I've got some locally sourced, artisinal ricotta that will be perfect here. Cheers - S
WinnieAb February 3, 2010
Yum! I haven't had a chance to make this yet, but plan to very soon...congratulations on your win!
Food B. February 3, 2010
I love your modern take on this Italian classic. Congratulations!
Maria T. February 3, 2010
CONGRATULATIONS for the brilliant recipe!
Annelle February 1, 2010
I can't speak to what anything 'really' is--I use the crepe method for manicotti when I don't have fresh pasta and it's wonderful, and light. Jennifer's recipe is wonderful, not to mention the addition of fresh ricotta. 'Fresh' always makes a huge difference!
When I make cannelloni, I use fresh very thin pasta rectangles, spread a very thin layer of filling over the entire noodle, and then roll it up. For manicotti, (I always use some sort of ricotta filling for this) it's more of putting the filling straight down the center, and then closing the pasta around it. So, for me, manicotti is a fatter, stuffed pasta, and cannelloni is a thiner spread filling and rolled. It's all so good! Great job, Jennifer!
Amber O. January 29, 2010
Fresh pasta or noodles don't feature milk that I know of, so these are crepes, a different animal I think. Please enlighten me to this type of noodle. I already voted for this recipe for it's simplicity, ingredients and visually lovely appeal.
lastnightsdinner January 30, 2010
I've used a recipe for making fresh egg noodles that uses milk, so I don't think it's *too* out there. At any rate, having made this for dinner earlier in the week, I will heartily agree that it's a simple, tasty, and lovely dish!
Jennifer P. January 31, 2010
Amber, many people have been surprised to find out that manicotti, while categorized as a pasta, is prepared using a crepe method, so you're not alone.

Jennifer, I'm so glad you made this dish and loved it as much as we do! And thanks for the lovely mention on your blog!
Savorykitchen January 31, 2010
I think the other confusion is that generally people tend to think of cannelloni and manicotti as the same thing (at least the folks in my circles). Manicotti is traditionally made with crepes, while cannelloni are made of tubes (or sheets) of pasta. Technically, manicotti is a dish, while cannelloni is a pasta.

Doesn't help that Barilla calls cannelloni noodles "manicotti" in their packaging - certainly adds to the confusion. The Silver Spoon cookbook only contains a cannelloni recipe, but has a crespelle (crepe) recipe that is very manicotti-like. The Encyclopedia of Pasta discusses cannelloni as a pasta shape and crepes (crespelle) get a huge entry to themselves too.

Interestingly, in the areas where crespelle are eaten, they are cut up into thin noodles and served in broth.
Savorykitchen January 31, 2010
Oh, and this recipe looks awesome and I can't wait to make it. :-)
Jennifer P. January 31, 2010
Savorykitchen—what a perfect summary. You are spot on about the confusion, mainly by mainsteam companies that market cannelloni and manicotti interchangeably, and give a great breakdown of the two. Thanks!
Janneke V. January 31, 2010
this is how I make crepes as well, not sure about the quantities I use but I think it's close. But it works and I guess that's the most important thing. I did not have all the ingredients so for me it was a baked pumpkin with red onion and garlic and then cooked in milk with cream cheese + bacon and rucola filling; I know it's nothing like it but I just wanted to check if the crepes would hold well in the sauce and not get soggy. The result was great so when I don't have time to make a pasta dough, I know how to substitute it now.Congratulations Jenny..
Savorykitchen February 1, 2010
You bet Jennifer - of course, as any Italian grandmother can probably tell us, what it's called doesn't matter, as long as it tastes good. :-)
sweet E. January 29, 2010
what a wonderful recipe. I've always wanted to make manicotti!
lastnightsdinner January 28, 2010
I made these last night, subbing in our favorite local ricotta for homemade, and topping them with a little fresh mozzarella. We practically licked the baking dish clean. What a fabulous dish, and thank you for sharing it.
Jennifer P. January 28, 2010
It's my pleasure for sharing and so glad you liked it!