This dish is the perfect start to an amazing Italian dinner party.
We love crêpes so much! They are light, flavorful, and the perfect vessel for a scrumptious filling. One of our most popular dishes is Stuffed Savory Crêpes and they really are incredible. You could go with traditional pasta, but we really think you’ll love the crêpes! And the homemade marinara puts it over the top!
How To Make Homemade Stuffed Manicotti
Besides being delicious, these are great to serve to guests because so many of the components of the dish can be done well in advance.
In fact, the crêpes can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. So can the filling. And the marinara can be made up to 5 days in advance, or longer (if you freeze it).
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How To Make Homemade Savory Crêpes
As mentioned, you could certainly go with egg noodle pasta for the manicotti. You can find perfectly dried varieties in the pasta section of most well-stocked supermarkets.
We’ve tried both ways, and there is just something special about using homemade crêpes.
Here’s how you make them:
- Mix together 1 cup of flour with salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Whisk together 4 eggs with ¾ cup each of milk and heavy cream.
- Stir half of the dry mixture into the wet until fully combined. Repeat again until smooth.
- Strain the liquid.
- Pour ¼ cup of the liquid into an 8 to 9-inch non-stick pan and swirl around to coat the bottom.
- Cook on medium-high until set. Carefully flip the crêpe over and cook until lightly browned.
- Repeat with remaining batter, separating cooked crêpes with parchment paper.
EXPERT TIP: To form the manicotti, simply spoon the cheese and herb mixture onto ⅓ of the crêpe and then roll tightly. Be sure your cheese is at room temperature before you get started!
The Ingredients You Will Need
Just above, we went over the ingredients and process for the crépes.
Here’s what you’ll need for the filling
Ricotta – Whole milk
Mozzarella – Fresh, chopped
Smoked mozzarella – Grated
Pecorino Ramono – Grated
Salt and pepper
Basil – Fresh is best, chopped
Parsley – Fresh is best, chopped
Egg – Lightly beaten
EXPERT TIP: For the marinara, you can absolutely use bottled sauce. Just go with quality. To make this dish the best it can be, make it from scratch. The sauce freezes beautifully and can be used in so many other dishes.
Manicotti vs. Cannelloni
Cannelloni is a very similar dish to manicotti. The really only difference comes to the shell.
In our version, we are using crêpes, which are going to be slightly thicker than pasta sheets that are used for cannelloni.
You can find excellent dried manicotti shells in the pasta section of most supermarkets. They are thicker than sheet pasta and often have ridges.
EXPERT TIP: Once the cheese is good and bubbly from baking in the oven, you can then turn on the broiler to lightly brown the crêpes. Be careful, don’t let them burn! In most cases, the ends of the créps will brown first. It makes for a nice presentation and crispy texture. Just keep an eye on them!
How To Serve
We love to serve Homemade Stuffed Manicotti as a first course, better known as “primo.” The dish isn’t overly filling and really sets the stage for a spectacular main dish, or “il secondo.”
You can serve the dish family style and allow guests to serve themselves with a large spatula. Or you can serve them two at a time on individual plates.
For an extra-special touch, bake each guest’s serving in individual baking dishes.
EXPERT TIP: For added flavor, we brush softened unsalted butter over the tops of the stuffed crêpes before baking. Top with grated Pecorino-Romano cheese and then spoon over the warm marinara.
Other Classic Italian Baked Pasta Dishes
We didn’t technically use pasta for our manicotti, but we’ll still call it a classic Italian baked pasta dish. Here are some of our other favorites:
Classic Bolognese Lasagna
White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna
Easy Ravioli with Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce
Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Stuffed Shells with Chicken Sausage, Cheese, and Herbs
Baked Turkey Tetrazzini
Vegetarian Pasta Bake
But in the meantime, we think it’s time you make this! After one bite, you and your guests will be craving more!
Ready to make the best homemade stuffed manicotti in town? Go for it!
And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!
Homemade Stuffed Manicotti
- 1 9-inch non-stick skillet or crêpe machine
- 9" x 13" casserole dish
For the Crêpes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- Canola oil
For the Filling
- 1 cup ricotta whole milk
- 1 cup mozzarella fresh, chopped
- ½ cup smoked mozzarella shredded
- ¾ cup Pecorino Romano cheese grated, divided
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp basil fresh, chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped, for garnish
Finishing the Dish
- 2 to 3 cups marinara sauce
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- Prepare the marinara sauce. Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Make the Crêpes
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and heavy cream.
- Vigorously whisk in half of the egg mixture into the flour mixture until completely smooth. Next, whisk in the rest of the egg mixture and stir until completely smooth. Place the batter in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours (covered).
- Strain the batter through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the melted butter (2 tbsp).
- Heat an 8 or 9-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Ladle ¼ cup of the batter into the skillet and swirl the skillet until you create a thin circle of batter. Cook until set and slightly browned on the bottom, about 1 to 3 minutes. Use a small spatula or fork to help you flip the crépe. Cook for another minute or so.
- Transfer to a plate and continue making crêpes. Place wax or parchment paper between each crêpe. Set aside. Allow them to cool completely.
Make the Filling
- In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to blend together the ricotta, mozzarella, 3 tbsp of the Pecorino-Romano cheese, salt, and pepper.
- Stir in the basil and parsley. Now, gently fold in the egg. Stir until completely combined and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or overnight.
Finishing the Manicotti
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Lade 1 to 2 cups of marinara sauce across the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish.
- Working one crêpe at a time, spread about 3 tbsp of the filling onto the lower third of the crêpe. Roll the crêpe to form a stuffed tube. Place the stuffed crêpe into the dish on top of the marinara. Continue this process with the remaining crêpes and filling.
- Smear the softened butter (about 2 tbsp) over the tops of the crêpes. Top with a couple of tbsp of the grated Pecorino-Romano cheese.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes on the middle rack, or until cheese has melted and is bubbly and tops are browning slightly. If desired, turn the broiler on (leave on the middle rack) and allow the crépes to crisp and brown on the edges. Keep an eye on them, don't let them burn!
- While the manicotti is baking, warm the remaining marinara in a medium pot over medium heat.
- Remove the manicotti from the oven and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. Top with chopped parsley.
- Serve with warmed marinara and grated cheese on the side.