Crepe Cannelloni with Meat Sauce, homemade Cannelloni made easy and delicious. A simple savory crepe filled with a meat sauce, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and baked to Perfection!
The first time I tried Cannelloni made this way was at my mother-in-laws’ for one of my first Easter family gatherings in Italy, about 25 years ago.
These are quite easy and so amazing. After I tried them for the first time I could understand how my brother-in-law ate 30 of them in one sitting.
These are not your regular pasta dough cannelloni, but more of a crepe cannelloni. Strange but believe me, it totally works.
In Italian they are called Crespelle, and they seem to have originated in Florence.
The first thing to do is make the sauce, while the sauce is cooking you can start making the crepes.
How to Make Savory Crepes
In a large bowl with a whisk beat the eggs and water, approximately 1 minute, add the salt and the flour 1 cup at a time and continue to beat until smooth.To make them faster and easier, use a food processor or blender to combine the ingredients.
Then in a small frying pan or crepe pan, using a 1/4 cup ladle (or 1/4 cup) on low to medium heat, pour the crepe mixture in the pan, using the bottom of the ladle spread the mixture (or the back of a spoon) but don’t make them too large or too small. (about a 5 inch in diameter round (13 cm).
Crepes cook quite quickly, so watch carefully, approximately 20 seconds on each side, they should be cooked but not browned.When cooked move to a separate plate, and continue to cook until batter is finished.
Putting the Crepe Cannelloni with Meat Sauce together
On a wooden board or small plate, place 1 crepe at a time, in the middle of the crepe add 1-2 teaspoons of meat, 3-4 cubes of mozzarella, 3-4 cubes fontal cheese and 1-2 teaspoons (dessert spoon) of grated parmesan cheese. Roll up the crepe.
In a large baking pan, spread some sauce on the bottom of the pan, add the crepes to the pan until the pan is full (they can be touching), cover with remaining sauce, top with some cubes of mozzarella and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.
It may take a little time, but it is so easy to make and put together. You may have a couple of extra pots to wash, but in the end it will be well worth it.
This is probably why my mother-in-law would make Crepe Cannelloni for Christmas and Easter, she would make pans of the meat sauce and a white sauce type cannelloni, and they would be gone in minutes.
How to freeze crepes
In order to freeze them, cool the crepes first, then place a square piece of parchment paper between each crepe. Place them in a freezer safe bag or container.
They will keep for up to 4 months in the freezer. Before using thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for a couple of hours at room temperature and continue with the recipe.
My family prefers the White Sauce and Cheese Cannelloni, but you can try half and half to see which ones you prefer. So let the cooking begin and as always, Buon Appetito!
More Delicious Italian Baked Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Cheesy Baked Pasta
- Homemade Creamy Baked Pancetta Macaroni
- Creamy Broccoli Bacon Pasta Casserole
Crepe Cannelloni with Meat Sauce
FOR THE CREPES
- 6 eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2½ cups + 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 1 cup fontal cheese (small cubes)
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella (small cubes)
FOR THE MEAT SAUCE
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- ½ pound ground beef
- 2¾ cups tomato puree (passata)
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Before you start making the crepes, I think it is best to start cooking your sauce. In a medium pot add the oil, garlic, ground beef (broken into small pieces) cook for about 5-10 minutes turning often until almost all browned, add the tomato puree, water, oregano, basil and salt, stirring to combine, bring to a boil and lower heat and simmer until thickens ( half covered) approximately 30 – 45 minutes.
FOR THE CREPES
- In a large bowl** with a whisk beat the eggs and water, approximately 1 minute, add the salt and the flour 1/2 cup at a time and continue to beat until smooth.
- In a small frying pan or crepe pan, (I lightly greased the pan once with a brush) using a 1/4 cup ladle (or 1/4 cup) on low to medium heat, pour the crepe mixture in the pan, using the bottom of the ladle (or large spoon) spread the mixture but don’t make them too large or too small. (approximately 6 inches, 15cm round). Crepes cook quite quickly, so watch carefully, approximately 20 seconds on each side, they should be cooked but not browned. When cooked move to a separate plate, continue until all are cooked.
- Once sauce has thickened remove from heat. From the sauce, using a slotted spoon remove about 1 cup (more or less) of the ground beef from the sauce, set aside.
PUTTING THE CREPE CANNELLONI TOGETHER
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).
- On a wooden board or small plate, place 1 crepe at a time, in the middle of the crepe add 1-2 teaspoons (dessert spoon) of meat, 3-4 cubes of mozzarella, 3-4 cubes fontal cheese and 1-2 teaspoons (dessert spoon) of grated parmesan cheese. Roll up the crepe.
- In a medium to large baking pan (depending if you are making all meat or half and half), spread a ladle or a little more if needed of sauce on the bottom of the pan, add the crepes to the pan until pan is full (they can be touching), cover with remaining sauce, top with some cubes of mozzarella and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350° (180°) oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!
**you could also use a food processor or blender.
I am assuming that you will make half meat sauce and half cheese cannelloni, if you do all meat or all cheese, then you should double the ingredients for the filling.
Updated from April 7, 2014.
Can you assemble this dish ahead in the pan (say in the afternoon) and cook it later the same day?
Hi Molly, yes you can do that, be sure to keep it refrigerated until you decide to bake it. You can even freeze it and then bake it. It should keep about four months in the freezer. Hope that helps. Take care!
I have tried your meat filled crepe cannelloni, but found they broke during plating. Any suggestions on how to prevent this breaking? They are good but the structure was a bit weak.
Hi Happygolucky, I would make them a bit thicker next time and they won’t break and be sure to not over cook, they should be soft and bendable. Hope that helps. Take care!
Fantastic recipe takes awhile to put together but so worth it
Hi Ruth, thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it. Take care!
ive made crepes or cannelloni all the time so good gentle light delicious , grazie mille, now i like to adjust the cheese filling , mine here always want CARNE but the cheese i would like to try too, grazie roemary salute pace e armonia
Hi Miriam, I love the meat ones, but my family prefers the cheese cannelloni. Let me know what you think of the cheese ones if you make them. Take care.