Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes

4.69 from 22 votes
1 hour 45 minutes
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Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach, and Artichokes is an elegant, make-ahead meal perfect for casual entertaining or a potluck! Flat, no-boil lasagna noodles make it easy, and you don’t need to boil them! Add an elegant salad like my Roasted Beet Salad, then sit back and enjoy the accolades!

Serving fork picking up a Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes from white baking dish.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Chicken Cannelloni is a rich and satisfying make-ahead pasta dish that’s sure to be a hit at your next get-together, family dinner, or potluck.

Tender, roast chicken meets baby spinach, artichokes, three kinds of cheese, and a rich, creamy bechamel sauce (a simple, white roux-based French sauce) for a dish sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach, and Artichokes can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated for the easiest entertaining.

This Chicken Cannelloni recipe is:

  • Easy! Dried, flat lasagna noodles work perfectly for the cannelloni, requiring no rolling with a pasta maker or boiling.
  • Make-ahead! It can be prepared to the point of baking two days ahead of time.
  • Freezer-friendly! It can be prepared to the point of baking and then frozen for up to two months.
Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes in white baking dish with one piece missing and serving fork in its place.

How to Make Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this chicken cannelloni recipe, along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Chicken: I prefer to bake off the chicken for this cannelloni recipe rather than use any purchased precooked chicken. I use good, natural, antibiotic-free chicken from The Fresh Market. To bake the chicken, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, season two chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees for five minutes. Let cool to the touch, then dice. If you prefer the flavor of dark meat chicken, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead.
  • Spinach: Use fresh baby spinach for the best flavor and results. You can use frozen chopped spinach that you’ve thawed and squeezed of excess moisture, but baby spinach will have a fresher taste.
  • Artichokes: Thawed frozen artichokes will have superior flavor and taste the most like fresh, cooked artichokes. However, you can use drained, canned artichokes, which will be about half the price of frozen. I don’t recommend using marinated artichoke hearts because of the tanginess.
  • Scallion: You can use a small amount of minced red onion if you’re out of scallion.
  • Cream Cheese: I used full-fat cream cheese; however, reduced fat or Neufchatel will also work. If your budget allows, Boursin adds a lovely, elegant touch.
  • Flat Lasagna Noodles: Flat lasagna noodles such as Barilla only require soaking in hot tap water until they’re pliable to make them perfect for cannelloni.
  • Mozzarella: Provolone is an excellent substitute for Mozzarella.
  • Parmesan: You can also use Asiago or Romano cheese.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Fill a shallow pan with hot tap water. Soak the lasagna noodles until pliable while preparing the filling.
  • When pliable, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Place spinach in a microwave-safe container and add 1/4 water.
  • Microwave on high for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes or until wilted.
  • Drain, cool, squeeze out any excess water, and coarsely chop.
  • Season the spinach with salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Combine spinach, chicken, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, scallions, garlic, 3/4 cup of Mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, being careful not to brown it.
  • Slowly add milk, whisking constantly.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until thickened.
  • Stir in salt and pepper, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Pour 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Place even amounts of the chicken filling on one of the short sides of the lasagna noodles.
Photo demonstrating how to place filling on softened flat lasagna sheets.
  • Roll up and arrange in a row on the bechamel sauce.
  • Repeat with all the lasagna noodles.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the cannelloni. Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.
Assembled and sauced cannelloni in oval baking dish before being baked.
  • Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the sauce bubbles.
Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes in white baking dish with serving fork.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • The baby spinach can also be sauteed in a small amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then drain before using it in the filling.
  • When topping the chicken cannelloni with the sauce, leave the edges slightly uncovered so they get nice and crispy when baked.
  • The filling and sauce can be transformed into lasagna or stuffed pasta shells.
Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes in white baking dish with serving fork.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s the difference between cannelloni and manicotti?

Cannelloni and manicotti are terms that are used interchangeably. However, subtle differences exist:
–Cannelloni is made with smooth sheets of pasta or crepes and rolled to contain the filling.
–Manicotti, which means “big sleeves,” is the Italian-American version of cannelloni. It starts with large dried ridged pasta tubes and is then stuffed.

Can Chicken Cannelloni be made ahead of time?

This Chicken Cannelloni recipe can be assembled to the point of baking 1 to 2 days ahead of time.  Refrigerate until ready to bake.  Let sit out at room temperature while the oven preheats.  You may need to add additional baking time.

Can Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach, and Artichokes be frozen?

Assemble, wrap securely, and freeze for 1 to 2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator, then bake as directed, adding additional baking time as needed.

Serving fork picking up a Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes from white baking dish.

Variations:

  • Skip the rolling and make it a lasagna.
  • Stuffed pasta shells.
  • Use traditional lasagna noodles and create “roll-ups.”

Storage:

  • Refrigerate any leftovers. Leftovers can also be frozen in small containers for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then reheat in the microwave or oven.
  • If making the chicken cannelloni ahead, keep it refrigerated until ready to bake.

Serve Chicken Cannelloni with:

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Serving fork picking up a Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes from white baking dish.

Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach and Artichokes

4.69 from 22 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Cannelloni with Chicken, Spinach, and Artichokes is an elegant, make-ahead meal perfect for casual entertaining or potluck! Flat, no-boil lasagna noodles make it easy, and you don’t need to boil them!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Pizza and Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 437 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 12 flat no-boil lasagna noodles - such as Barilla
  • 1 container (5-ounce) fresh baby spinach - packed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves - cooked and diced (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1 box (10-ounce) frozen artichoke hearts - thawed, patted dry and coarsely chopped (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese - room temperature
  • 3 scallions - minced (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese - divided
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese - divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups milk - whole or 2%
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Fill a shallow pan with hot tap water. Soak the lasagna noodles until pliable while preparing the filling. When pliable, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Place spinach in a microwave-safe container and add 1/4 water. Microwave on high for 2-2 1/2 minutes or until wilted. Drain, cool, squeeze out any excess water and coarsely chop. Season the spinach with salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Combine spinach, chicken, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, scallions, garlic, 3/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, being careful not to brown it.
  • Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened. Stir in salt and pepper, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Pour 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Place even amounts of the chicken filling on one of the short sides of the lasagna noodles. Roll up and arrange in a row on the bechamel sauce.
  • Pour remaining sauce over the cannelloni. Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.
  • Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling.

Notes

VARIATIONS:
  • Skip the rolling and make it a lasagna.
  • Stuffed pasta shells.
  • Use traditional lasagna noodles and create “roll-ups.”
MAKE AHEAD:  Can be assembled to the point of baking 1-2 days ahead of time.  Refrigerate until ready to bake.  Let sit out at room temperature while the oven preheats.  You may need to add additional baking time.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Assemble, wrap securely and freeze 1-2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator then bake as directed, adding additional baking time as needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 553mg | Potassium: 522mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 656IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 537mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.69 from 22 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




20 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for a dinner party with friends over the holidays and everyone loved it!! It was easy to put together and so nice that I could just pop it into the oven when I was ready to bake it. Five stars!

  2. 5 stars
    This was the entree that was prepared by our hostess for our Cookbook Book Club luncheon yesterday and it was fabulous. I plan to make this over the weekend. I dearly love Italian foods especially Lidia Bastianich dishes and this was my favorite dish. I thought it was amazing.

    Carolyn Haley

    1. Hi, Carolyn, Thanks so very much and so happy you enjoyed this! I appreciate hearing from your Cookbook Club; what a fun idea!

  3. In the “Equipment” section it mentions an 11 x 7 baking dish, yet in the “Instructions” it says to use a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Which will fit the ingredients best?

    1. Hi, Cindy, Thanks so very much for your question and thanks for catching that! I’m in the process of updating this post with fresh information so that it’s suitable for a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. The 11 x 7 is the older information; just didn’t catch that section yet. The recipe NOW is written for a 13 x 9-inch. Thanks so much and hope you enjoy!

  4. If you make it ahead you wouldn’t pour the sauce over it ahead of time? Or would you make the sauce the day you are cooking it?

    1. Hi, Leslie, Thanks so much for your question. You definitely can pour the sauce over the pasta if making ahead. You can also store the sauce and filled pasta rolls separately–just wrap tightly so they don’t dry out. Hope that helps and thanks again!

    1. Hi, Deb, Thanks so much for your question. You absolutely can make them a day or two in advance and then just bake it off. You’ll need to increase the baking time if it’s cold out of the fridge. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  5. Even the picky eaters at our house had seconds of the inexpensive, easy, and delicious recipe! I copied the recipe and gave it out to those I work with. Thank you for sharing!

  6. 5 stars
    Love cannelloni. This looks so rich and creamy, perfect comfort dish for the winter blues. And the artichoke, cream cheese, spinach, chicken filling sounds fantastic.

  7. These look really yummy! I would love to try them but I don’t see how much milk to use listed in the ingredients.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I love how you adapted this recipe for a smaller number of people, I plan to make this ahead, and then just pop it in the oven before dinner time. Thanks for the recipe. Now I’m off to check out some of your other Italian casseroles like butternut squash lasagna.