Easy meaty bolognese cannelloni recipe


This simple cannelloni recipe packs its pasta tubes full of basil-tinged beef bolognese, then smothers a rich, mozzarella-laden tomato sauce over the top.

bolognese cannelloni recipe

Scrummy, super-filling and real easy to prepare, this particular cannelloni recipe uses a more meat-focused bolognese sauce than the mushroom-filled versions we’re often served in the West, making it truly an authentic Italian treat.

Best of all, if you have kids, you can get them involved by handing them teaspoons and getting them to fill the tubes.

Serves 2

Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose 'Save target/link as' to save for later.)

2 x 395g/14oz tins of plum tomatoesbolognese cannelloni recipe

1 medium onion

½ stick of celery

½ medium carrot

200g/7oz of packet cannelloni pasta

500g/17.5oz minced beef

x2 200g/7oz balls of fresh mozzarella cheese (normal not buffalo)

2 teaspoons of tomato purée/paste

Medium glass of red wine

10 washed and torn basil leaves



Extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients: Large cooking pan

Large frying pan (ideally with lid)

Baking dish (to hold one flat layer of cannelloni tubes, with sauce on top)

Optional: food blender/processor (I recommend this handheld mixer)

Step 1 – First we prepare the bolognese sauce, starting with its ingredients...

- Wash and roughly chop celery. Peel and chop onion and carrot.

- Whiz celery, carrot and half onion in a blender if possible, or chop as finely as you can. (Here we’re making the traditional 3-veg sauce base used in bolognese and many other sauces.)

- Wash and tear basil leaves.

bolognese cannelloni recipe Step 2 – Cover base of large cooking pan with oil and add 2 heaped tablespoons of the fine 3-veg mix (leaving the other half of the onion for later).

- Put on medium heat hob and stir regularly for 5-6 mins (until veg softens).

- Then add half the wine and fry until most has evaporated (leaving just the nice taste of the grape).

Step 3 – Add ground beef, half tablespoon of salt and pinch of pepper. Break beef down with wooden spoon and fry on medium heat for 15 mins, stirring regularly.

- If the sauce becomes dry at any point, add a little wine (use this rule throughout this cannelloni recipe).

bolognese cannelloni recipe Step 4 – After 15 mins, open one tin of tomatoes and add 2 of its plum tomatoes to the pan (no juice).

- Cook to soften these toms for 2 mins, then mash with your spoon, add the tomato purée and the basil leaves.

- Stir well, down heat to low simmer, and set timer for 30 mins. Stir occasionally.

Step 5 – While the beef simmers and slow-cooks, we’ll make our tomato sauce.

- Cover half the frying pan’s base with oil and put on low/medium heat hob. Heat oil for 2-3 mins until hot (not smoking).

- When the oil is hot, add remaining chopped onion and soften gently for 2-3 mins.

- Throw in tin and half of tomatoes. Add one pinch of salt per plum tomato and a pinch of pepper.

- Also, add a little drinking water to the empty tomato cans, wash it around and add this water too (not wasting any wonderful tomato flavour!).

- Cover the pan and simmering for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften the toms a little.

- Break toms with a spoon, remove lid and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally. (We’re evaporating lots of the water to thicken and finish the sauce).

- Your sauce is ready when it becomes less ‘liquidy’ and stops tasting sour. Take it off the heat and same goes for the beef when 30 mins is up.

bolognese cannelloni recipeStep 6 – Time to till those tubes!

- When your beef sauce has cooled a little, first spread a little tomato sauce across the bottom of the baking dish.

- Grab a teaspoon (and a helper!), and fill cannelloni tubes with the beef mixture, laying each flat in the baking dish when full.

- Do this until the dish’s base is packed with tubes.

Step 7 – Chop the mozzarella into cubes, and mix half of these into the remaining tomato sauce.

- Now pour this tomato sauce evenly over the cannelloni.

- Pop in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 180C/350-degrees Fahrenheit for as long as cannelloni packet recommends (usually 30 mins).

- 5 mins before the end of this time, throw the remaining mozzarella cubes on top.


Enjoyed this cannelloni recipe? Then why not...

• Try this quicker ricotta and spinach cannelloni

• Or one of these other baked pasta recipes

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