Beef-Filled Cannelloni (Manicotti) in Béchamel Sauce

Beef-Filled Cannelloni (Manicotti) in Bechamel Sauce

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 100 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
479 Calories
27g Fat
30g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 479
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 34%
Saturated Fat 13g 66%
Cholesterol 121mg 40%
Sodium 641mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 6mg 30%
Calcium 242mg 19%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 545mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The authentic Italian dish cannelloni (more commonly called "manicotti" in the U.S.) is made up of tube-shaped pasta filled with either meat or vegetables and topped with a creamy white béchamel sauce (or besciamella as it is known in Italian). The dish is simple enough to make at home and ideal for a hearty meal the whole family will love. A mixture of prosciutto, ground beef, tomatoes, onion, bread, and cheese is simmered until well blended and then stuffed into either store-bought or homemade pasta.


  • 1 pound cannelloni shells

For the Filling:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan

  • 1/2 small onion, peeled and minced

  • 2 ounces prosciutto, minced

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1/2 bay leaf

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 pound plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and chopped

  • Fine sea salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup day-old bread, crust removed, crumbled

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling top

  • 2 cups béchamel (aka besciamella sauce)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Beef-Filled Cannelloni (Manicotti) in Bechamel Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Cook the dried pasta tubes according to the directions for al dente. Remove the pasta from the water with a slotted spoon and lay the pieces on a damp kitchen cloth; don't let them touch to avoid sticking. Set aside.

    pasta on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Melt the butter in a medium pot and sauté the onion and the prosciutto until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

    sauté the onion and the prosciutto in a pot

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Add the beef and the bay leaf and cook, stirring, until the meat has browned, about 5 minutes.

    beef and bay leaf in a pot

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Stir in the flour and the tomatoes and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes.

    Beef-Filled Cannelloni (Manicotti) in Bechamel Sauce

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  6. Remove filling from the heat once it has finished simmering and discard the bay leaf.

    beat and tomatoes in a pan

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  7. Soak the bread in the milk for about 10 minutes until the bread is softened, then squeeze to drain off the excess liquid (the bread should be wet but not dripping).

    bread on a plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Combine the soaked bread, egg, and grated cheese in a bowl; then combine with the meat mixture, stirring until everything is uniform.

    Combine the soaked bread, egg, and grated cheese in a bowl with the meat mixture

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  9. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Butter a baking pan large enough to hold all of the cannelloni snugly.

    greased baking dish

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  10. Use a spoon to stuff each tube of pasta with some of the meat filling. Place the filled cannelloni closely together in the prepared pan.

    filling spooned into the pasta, filling in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  11. Pour the béchamel over the cannelloni, sprinkle with a little more grated Parmigiano, and dot it with a little more butter.

    filled pasta covered with sauce in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  12. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve hot.

    Beef-Filled Cannelloni (Manicotti) in Bechamel Sauce

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Using Homemade Pasta

If you prefer, you can make your own cannelloni shells. Begin by making the pasta dough using 3 1/3 cups flour and 4 eggs. Roll out the dough and cut it into 3 x 4-inch rectangles. Cook a few pieces at a time in abundant, lightly salted water.

To assemble, lay flat the cooked pasta pieces and spoon some of the filling along the long edge of the first pasta sheet. Roll it up to form a cylinder and repeat the procedure until pasta and filling are all used up.