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Manicotti vs. Cannelloni: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 7, 2023
Manicotti are Italian-American pasta tubes filled, often with ricotta, while Cannelloni are Italian pasta tubes typically filled with meat or spinach and ricotta.

Key Differences

Manicotti and Cannelloni both represent tubular pasta dishes popular in Italian and Italian-American cuisines. While they may appear similar, they have distinct differences. Manicotti, which translates to “little sleeves,” are larger tubes often made with crepe-like pancakes. On the other hand, Cannelloni, meaning “large reeds,” are made from pasta dough.
Originating in Italy, Cannelloni are traditionally filled with richer fillings, often involving combinations of meat, spinach, and ricotta. Manicotti, with its Italian-American roots, typically incorporates a cheese-filled center, especially ricotta, and occasionally meats.
The cooking methods for both dishes are often identical. Both Manicotti and Cannelloni are filled with their respective mixtures, placed in a baking dish, covered with sauce—usually marinara or béchamel—and baked to perfection.
Presentation and final taste are where another difference lies. Due to Manicotti's crepe-like casing, it tends to have a lighter, more delicate texture. Cannelloni, being pasta-based, provides a firmer bite.
Despite the differences, both Manicotti and Cannelloni deliver comfort and flavor in every bite, making them favorites in many households and restaurants alike.

Comparison Chart



Typical Casing

Crepe-like pancakes
Pasta dough

Common Fillings

Mainly ricotta cheese, occasionally meats
Mixtures of meat, spinach, and ricotta


Lighter due to the crepe casing
Firmer due to the pasta casing


"Little sleeves"
"Large reeds"

Manicotti and Cannelloni Definitions


A baked dish covered with marinara or béchamel sauce.
The Manicotti was smothered in a rich marinara sauce.


Translates to "large reeds" in Italian.
The name Cannelloni is derived from its resemblance to large reeds.


Italian-American dish commonly filled with ricotta.
Cheese-filled Manicotti is her family's favorite.


Tubular pasta traditionally filled with meat or spinach and ricotta.
For dinner, he made beef and spinach Cannelloni.


Represents a fusion of Italian culinary traditions with American adaptations.
Manicotti showcases how Italian recipes evolved in America.


Classic of Italian cuisine with rich fillings.
Cannelloni, with its hearty fillings, exemplifies traditional Italian cooking.


Large pasta tubes often made from crepe-like pancakes.
She prepared stuffed Manicotti for dinner tonight.


Italian dish often covered in sauce and baked.
The Cannelloni was perfectly cooked and draped in béchamel.


Translates to "little sleeves" in Italian.
Manicotti, which means little sleeves, is a delightful dish.


Offers a firmer bite due to its pasta casing.
She loves the chewy texture of Cannelloni.


Pasta in large-sized tubes.


Pasta in large-sized tubes.


A dish consisting of such tubes stuffed with meat or cheese, usually served hot with a tomato sauce.


A dish of such tubes stuffed with meat, vegetables, or cheese and baked in a tomato or cream sauce.


Wide tubes of pasta filled with a savoury stuffing and baked in the oven.


Wide tubes of pasta filled with a savoury stuffing and baked in the oven.


Tubular large noodles that are usually stuffed with mild cheese and baked in tomato sauce; - a type of Italian pasta; also a dish of such noodles thus prepared.


A tubular pasta filled with meat or cheese.


Large pasta tubes stuffed with chopped meat or mild cheese and baked in tomato sauce


Tubular pasta filled with meat or cheese


What is Manicotti?

Manicotti are large pasta tubes, often made from crepe-like pancakes, commonly filled with ricotta.

Is Cannelloni an authentic Italian dish?

Yes, Cannelloni is a traditional Italian dish.

How does Cannelloni differ?

Cannelloni are pasta tubes, traditionally filled with meat, spinach, and ricotta.

Do both dishes hail from the same region in Italy?

No, while Cannelloni has Italian origins, Manicotti is more Italian-American.

Are the sauces used for both dishes the same?

Generally, yes. Marinara and béchamel are popular choices for both.

Where did Manicotti originate?

Manicotti has Italian-American origins.

Which is typically lighter, Manicotti or Cannelloni?

Manicotti, due to its crepe-like casing, is usually lighter.

How are Manicotti and Cannelloni served?

Both are baked and often covered with sauces like marinara or béchamel.

Which dish is cheesier?

Manicotti is often cheesier, especially when filled predominantly with ricotta.

Can both dishes be vegetarian?

Yes, both can have vegetarian fillings, like cheese or vegetables.

Can I use pasta sheets for Manicotti?

Traditionally, Manicotti uses crepe-like pancakes, but adaptations using pasta are possible.

Which has a meatier filling typically?

Cannelloni often has meatier fillings compared to Manicotti.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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