This simple vegan cannelloni recipe is a crowd-pleaser, especially if you’re having people over for dinner. Plus it only takes 60 minutes to make. In addition, it features a dreamy creamy vegan ricotta filling and an irresistibly rich marinara sauce!
And it’s easily doubled so you can have it two nights in a row. If you’re cooking anyway, you might as well make it go further right?
Granted, it’s a little time consuming, but the rich marinara sauce and cheesy herby filling are well worth it! The simple flavours go down a treat with kids and adults alike, which makes it great for family dinners, too.
We created this vegan cannelloni recipe back in 2017 when it was requested from our Instagram followers. Not one to back down from a challenge, so we gave it a go.
We think we’ve pretty much smashed it, but we’ll let you be the judge of that! We’re thrilled to be able to update the post today though, even though our cooking and recipe development skills were on point in 2017, our blog post writing skills were not. See: non-existent!
So, let’s get into it...
For the vegan ricotta
If you’re making our vegan ricotta, you will need macadamia nuts, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, white miso, water and a pinch of salt. Check out the recipe card below for detailed quantities.
For the vegan cannelloni
- Full amount of our vegan ricotta (or 2 cups of a store-bought vegan ricotta if you prefer)
- Cannelloni (12 tubes)
- Tomato passata
- Garlic - peeled and finely chopped
- Onions - peeled and finely chopped
- Dried oregano
- Fresh basil - roughly chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
🔪 Step-by-step instructions
For the ricotta
If you’re making our vegan ricotta, which we’d definitely recommend, it’s pretty simple. Grab all of the ingredients, chuck them into a blender, blitz them up and you’re done!
For the vegan cannelloni
A good vegan cannelloni should come out of the oven with perfectly cooked golden pasta and a healthy layer of sauce on top. Start by preheating your oven to gas mark 5/180°C. While the oven is heating, you can start preparing the cannelloni.
- First, we’ll make the spinach and ricotta filling. Add a splash of olive oil to a saucepan and bring up to a medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot enough, add half of the onion and garlic (2 cloves of garlic and 1 onion).
- Cook until the onion softens and starts to turn slightly translucent. Remember to keep it moving so that it doesn’t burn.
- When the onion is cooked, add the spinach to the pan. Cook it until it is completely wilted.
- Take your spinach, onion and garlic mixture and add it to your blender along with the vegan ricotta.
- Blitz it until the mixture is smooth. It should turn a lovely pale green colour! Set aside.
- Now for the marinara sauce! Grab the saucepan you were using before, and heat up another splash of olive oil.
- As before, add your onion and garlic to the pan and cook until the onion has turned slightly translucent.
- Add in the oregano and cook for a minute.
- Pour in the passata, give everything a good stir, and bring to the boil. Immediately bring back down to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the passata has had a couple of minutes to simmer, stir in the basil and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Get a small oven dish, and spread a layer of the marinara sauce over the bottom of it.
- Grab the cannelloni tubes, a piping bag and a chopping board. Using the piping bag, fill the cannelloni tubes with the ricotta and spinach mix as evenly as possible. The best way of doing this is to stand each tube on a chopping board, fill it up to the top, then lay it out on the baking tray.
- Repeat until all of the cannelloni tubes are full and laid out on top of the sauce in the tray.
- Pour the rest of the sauce over the cannelloni. Make sure that it’s all covered, otherwise you will end up with bits that don’t cook properly.
- Put the dish into the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes (or whatever it says on the pasta packet if different).
- Top the vegan cannelloni with fresh basil and vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast. Serve and enjoy!
👨🍳 Expert tips
What’s the easiest way to fill cannelloni tubes?
We’ve found that the easiest way to fill cannelloni tubes is by using a piping bag! That way each tube will be filled evenly, so each bite of your vegan cannelloni will be packed with flavour. There's simple to follow steps below for filling the cannelloni tubes.
A note about vegan ricotta
Our vegan ricotta is super easy to make. It’s made mostly from macadamia nuts, which you blend with the other ingredients. There’s no cooking involved. We've included the recipe for this below.
Can I use a store-bought vegan ricotta?
Absolutely, if you have one. It’s important to choose a vegan ricotta that doesn’t melt too much, as it’s what gives the filling texture. For truly delicious vegan cannelloni, you’re looking for a relatively ‘chunky’ texture.
A lot of coconut oil-based vegan cheeses pretty much disappear when you put them in sauce, so bear that in mind. We recommend nut-based vegan ricotta. Or make your own with the recipe we've included!
We like to use dried cannelloni tubes by Barilla for our vegan cannelloni recipe. We haven’t seen a fresh pasta version. In addition, a fresh pasta cannelloni tube would be very difficult to fill!
About fresh spinach
We’d recommend using fresh or baby spinach rather than frozen. That's because frozen spinach doesn’t have as much flavour, and it releases a lot of water which will ruin the texture.
Cover the tubes!
Make sure that the tubes are fully covered in the dish before they go in the oven. This will ensure that they cook properly, so you don’t end up with partly crunchy cannelloni tubes!
Nope! The main difference is in the shape of the pasta. Lasagne comes in sheets, and cannelloni comes in tubes. Lasagne is made by layering sauces (a creamy white sauce and a ragu sauce) between the pasta sheets.
In comparison, cannelloni is made by stuffing pasta tubes with a mixture and then topping them with marinara sauce.
Cannelloni isn’t typically vegan. It’s traditionally made with a meat ragu sauce, or a vegetarian version is often made with spinach and ricotta.
We decided to make this vegan cannelloni like the vegetarian version, but without any dairy.
It can! Just find some gluten-free pasta tubes and this is completely gluten-free. In addition, if using store-bought vegan ricotta, you may also need to check that’s gluten-free too.
Yup! Just make sure that it’s completely defrosted before baking again. Alternatively, you can bake from frozen for around 40-50 minutes on gas mark 5.
Also, make sure that it’s completely cool before putting in the freezer. We don’t want it to raise the temperature of the things surrounding it in the freezer!
Definitely not! The beauty of vegan cannelloni is that it all cooks together in the marinara sauce in the oven.
The tubes should be filled while uncooked and dry, then baked in the sauce. They will cook just like pasta would in water, only in the sauce instead - which makes them extra tasty!
🥖 What to serve with it
🍝 Other recipes to try
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Vegan Cannelloni with Spinach and Ricotta
For the ricotta:
- 1.5 cups macadamia nuts
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp white miso
- ½ cup water
- 1 Pinch salt
For the cannelloni:
- Full amount of vegan ricotta from above or 2 cups of store-bought vegan ricotta
- 140 g spinach
- 125 g cannelloni 12 tubes
- 700 ml tomato passata
- 4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 2 onions - finely chopped
- 4 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp fresh basil - roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt & pepper
For garnish (optional):
- Fresh basil
- Vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
For the ricotta:
- Put all of the ricotta ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Set aside (still in the blender).1.5 cups macadamia nuts, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp white miso, ½ cup water, 1 Pinch salt
For the cannelloni:
- Put a splash of olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once hot enough add half of the chopped onion and garlic (2 cloves of garlic and 1 onion).2 onions, 2 tbsp olive oil, 4 cloves garlic
- Cook until soft and translucent. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t burn.
- Add the spinach and allow it to wilt. This should take a few minutes. Continue stirring carefully to help it wilt.140 g spinach
- Remove from the heat and put the onion mixture into a blender along with the vegan ricotta. Blitz it until the mixture is smooth and has turned a lovely pale green colour. Set aside.Full amount of vegan ricotta
- Heat up another splash of olive oil in the same pan. Put the remaining onion and garlic in the pan and cook until the onion is soft and translucent.2 onions, 4 cloves garlic
- Pop in the oregano and stir.4 tsp dried oregano
- Pour in the passata, stir, and bring to the boil then immediately down to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.700 ml tomato passata, Salt & pepper
- Once the passata has had a couple of minutes to simmer, stir in the basil and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat.2 tbsp fresh basil
- In a small oven dish, spread a thin layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of it.
- Grab the cannelloni tubes, a piping bag and a chopping board. Fill the piping bag with the ricotta mixture. Then fill the cannelloni tubes with the ricotta and spinach mix. Do this by standing each tube on a chopping board, one by one, then filling each one up to the top, then carefully laying it out on the baking tray. Repeat until all are filled and in the tray.125 g cannelloni
- Pour the remaining sauce over the cannelloni tubes. They should all be covered, otherwise, it won’t cook evenly.
- Bake for 30 minutes (or whatever the pasta instructions indicate).
- Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil and vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.Fresh basil, Vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
- Use gluten-free cannelloni tubes for a gluten-free version.
- Use fresh spinach for best results, rather than frozen spinach.
- We highly recommend using a piping bag to fill the tubes. A spoon just doesn't work and is incredibly messy.