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Laura Murray

There are two types of stuffed manicotti recipes in this world: The first is a red sauce joint classic made with large store-bought manicotti shells, a cheese filling, and sometimes ground beef. The other subs thin homemade crepes (crespelle in Italian) for the pasta shells, yielding a more delicate result. This recipe takes the latter route, and according to BA’s own (totally biased) Brad Leone, it’s the greatest manicotti recipe of all time.

Making crespelle may take a bit of getting used to, so don’t be discouraged if the first few tries aren’t perfect. You may not want to use them for the recipe, but don’t trash them completely: They make for a delicious stove-side snack. The three-cheese spinach filling is easy and straightforward, and while you can make the whole-milk ricotta cheese from scratch if you please, you certainly don’t have to. (No piping bag required: The egg-cheese mixture can easily be spooned into the crespelle.) We do, however, recommend making your own marinara.

Yes, this recipe is a project, but all the prep time is well worth it. You can do what Brad does: Double the recipe, pop one in the freezer, reheat it in a baking dish a month later, and appreciate having already had your dinner planned and ready ahead of time. The work is also easily split up over two days: On the first, make the filling and the marinara and refrigerate both. On the second, invite friends or family to help make and fill the crespelle. After baking, finish with a drizzle of olive oil, garnish with a bit of chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese, and serve any remaining sauce on the side. Add a big green salad and Italian sausage or meatballs for a hearty meal.


Makes about 24

Crepe Batter


large eggs

cups all-purpose flour


teaspoon kosher salt

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling and Assembly


large egg yolks, beaten to blend

pounds ricotta


ounces mozzarella, grated


ounce Parmesan, grated, plus more for serving

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper


10-ounce frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained (optional)



  1. Crepe Batter

    Step 1

    Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs in a large bowl until light, airy, pale in color, and can nearly hold peaks, 6–8 minutes.

    Step 2

    Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour and salt, beating well between additions, until no clumps of flour remain. With mixer speed on low, slowly pour in 1½ cups water and continue to beat until well incorporated. Cover and let dough rest at least 2 hours (this gives the flour time to hydrate and results in a smoother finished texture).

    Step 3

    Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium and spray with nonstick spray. Pour 2 Tbsp. batter into skillet and cook, swirling skillet constantly to encourage crepe to form a nice, round shape, until set, 15–20 seconds. Tap out crepe onto a clean towel; gently flatten any creases. Repeat with remaining batter; if possible, do not to stack crepes.

    Step 4

    Do Ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead; keep covered and chill.

  2. Filling and Assembly

    Step 5

    Preheat oven to 350°. Mix egg yolks, ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Squeeze out excess liquid from spinach, if using, and add to egg mixture; toss to coat.

    Step 6

    Spread 1 cup sauce in a 13x9" baking pan. Working one at a time, spoon 2 Tbsp. filling in center of crepe. Spread filling all the way to the ends. Roll up crepe, then flatten slightly with your hands. Transfer seam side down to prepared dish. Working in batches if needed, repeat with remaining crepes and filling, leaving a small gap in between each. Top with sauce and cover with foil. Bake manicotti until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling, 35–45 minutes. Let manicotti cool slightly in pan to set, about 15 minutes. Top with Parmesan and pepper before serving.

    Do Ahead: Filling can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Manicotti can be made 1 month ahead; transfer to airtight containers or freezer bags and freeze.

    Editor's note: Head this way for more of our best pasta recipes

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  • Love this way of making manicotti as I have for many years. No matter how thing I try to roll my pasta dough, its still too thick and chewy. Crepes are the way to go.

    • kmw15

    • Detroit, MI

    • 11/27/2022

  • I make the crepes in a small cast iron pan that I've coated with oil. Occasionally I might coat with oil again but rarely. I also add 1 & 1/2 cups water to the batter recipe. This makes the crepes so light and pliable. I cool them on waxed paper. When I make the filling I use what's in the recipe sometimes without the spinach and always add fresh chopped parsley. I add a little of the filling onto the crepe and roll them up. I often make ahead and freeze them. The way I freeze them is by placing a manicotti on wax paper and completely roll the wax paper around it and keep adding another manicotti to the same sheet of wax paper until I have 4 of them in the same batch on the wax paper. I fold up the sides of the wax paper and tape them closed like when wrapping a gift box. Place them in a plastic or waxed paper bag and put them in the freezer. When I get ready to bake them I place them frozen in a large casserole dish with a little sauce spread on the bottom. The manicotti unroll from the wax paper very easily. I cover with sauce and add some more mozzarella cheese and bake at 350* for 45 minutes. For the mozarella I use a blend of mozarella, not smoked provolone, parmesan, asiaigo, fontina, and romano cheese that my local grocery store sells. They're light and melt in your mouth. THEY ARE DELICIOUS!

    • Gail G

    • Originally N J

    • 10/25/2021

  • Winner! I read the reviews first, so I made the crêpe batter in the blender. Otherwise, followed all directions as written (except I skipped the spinach), and doubled the amount of filling in each, as I only yielded 12. I found it easy to place each crepe directly on a linen towel and fill the crepes as they came out of the skillet, right on the stovetop. So - WOW!!! Next time I will make a double batch so I can freeze them. Again- winner!

    • Alice B

    • Long Island NY

    • 2/13/2021

  • Great recipe! I’ve been making manicotti with crepes for years & it’s the only way! Delicious!

    • Mimi

    • Wall Twp NJ

    • 1/20/2021

  • We grew up with this recipe and it’s my favorite meal of the year. My mom makes it on Christmas Eve every year. For those asking, no you don’t layer it in the pan before baking. The manicotti should be laid in a single layer per pan. Also we include finely chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley and black pepper in the ricotta mixture; no spinach. For the crepes I use an 8 1/2 inch nonstick skillet. My mom buys a new one each year to ensure no sticking. We also top with shedded mozzarella for the last 5 mins in the oven.

    • Vince Bertucci

    • Chicago, IL

    • 12/25/2020

  • Let me just say that my cat LOVED these crepes! While I had them all spread out on towels all over kitchen, he stole at least 6-and ate them. Seriously, I will never make manicotti another way again. I did use the spinach. I used Hazan's tomato sauce recipe and I used a blender for the crepe batter, but other then that- I followed exactly. Not sure how many pans it made because I used smaller aluminum pans to share and freeze. Single cat lady. They were just so light and not that thick rubbery (I think another reviewer used steel pipe or something) pasta that is typical of this dish. 5 stars and already planing to make again. One thing- the directions for freezing should be better. It just says make another pan but no specifics on all. ingredients , thaw, cook from frozen etc... Only complaint....because I wan to make more to freeze and do it the right way.

    • Nixie

    • Monroe, LA

    • 11/6/2020

  • The recipe needs to be tweaked so it’s easier to understand. First, it says add the spinach to the egg mixture. For a sec I thought they meant the batter because the cheese egg mixture only contained 2 eggs. Second refinement the need to tell you whether you stack them on top of each other before baking. Reviews are mentioning that it took them 3 trays to bake these. This is simple but useful information to know.

    • Anonymous

    • 10/25/2020

  • Looks amazing! What size skillet is small? I don’t have small nonstick - just stainless and cast iron. So I guess stainless would work using vegetable oil instead of spray?

    • Anonymous

    • Toronto Canada

    • 10/20/2020

  • This is AWESOME!!! I will never be able to eat my Aunt’s manicotti in sewer pipes again. The crepes are everything in this recipe. Bonus, they are not difficult to make. The crepes do not compete with the flavor of the filling. This recipe is a lot less saucy than others and again, that’s a positive. Next time I’ll make a double batch - other than that I won’t change a thing!

    • Kelly Likes Cake

    • Texas

    • 8/27/2020

  • Easy AF, fun to make and delicious. I’ve made this recipe a few times and it always turns out perfectly. I use two pans and more sauce than called for.

    • lr302

    • V good

    • 5/28/2020

  • Made it for my fuckhead brother Michael who hates manicotti and even he liked it. This is a good formula to follow.

    • cornontheCOB

    • Minnesota

    • 3/24/2020

  • This is the second time I have made this and it is incredible! I love you Brad! It says that it makes 24 so that is about 3 pans. I didn’t make my own ricotta but used a whole milk basket ricotta that is very creamy. I made my own marinara sauce with pancetta so it wasn’t totally vegetarian. I filled the manicotti and put them on a baking sheet so I knew exactly how many I had before I put then in the pans. There were exactly 24 and the perfect amount of filling! Thinking about making this for Christmas Eve.

    • Anonymous

    • Sebastopol, CA

    • 11/21/2019

  • This is a fabulous recipe, it reminds me of my old Italian neighbours dish. It’s delicate and soft in the mouth, lighter than stuffed pasta tubes for sure. Everyone raved about it for days after! I found it easier to break it down into tasks; I made the batter the night before, made the crepes in the morning (it took close to an hour to make all of them) then put it all together in the afternoon. I’m making the manicotti tomorrow and freezing them so that I can have them again whenever I please 😃 I used a stand mixer the first time, this time I used a blender, I don’t think it’ll have any effect on the crepes at all and it was much easier.

    • Anonymous

    • Johnson City TN

    • 9/26/2019

  • Yummmm! This turned out great! Very fun Sunday afternoon project. I do think the recipe is missing a few details that might be helpful: 1) I used a stand mixer for the crepe dough and had to switch to the whisk attachment to get the eggs to the right consistency. If you use a hand mixer that would probably work even better. 2) I used about a quarter cup of filling for each manicotti and finished it right when I ran out of crepes. Use more than 2 tablespoons! 3) There is no way you can fit all of the manicotti in one pan unless you layer them, which I don’t think you’re supposed to do. I ended up using three different pans and ran out of tomato sauce, so you might want to make a lot of sauce.

    • soapnana

    • Chicago

    • 12/10/2018

  • Really loved this recipe. Much simpler way to make homemade pasta.

    • Ems23

    • 1/14/2018