MANICOTTI – A traditional Christmas Recipe from two families

Hi there,

Manicotti is a traditional dish for many Italian American families Christmas Day. I must admit that I have only attempted to make these one time but they homemade manicotti are better than any other version and well worth the effort involved. I am very pleased to give to you two stories and two recipes from my friends Nancy and Elizabeth.

This is Nancy’s story:

I finally did it!! I got my pictures & recipe all together for you. 

My mother in law Jean Jerome was a wonderful woman & a very good Italian cook. She just cooked simple recipes on every holiday but Christmas she made her homemade manicottis & pizzelles. We all looked forward to Christmas dinner. My son & his girlfriend decided to go out & spend the day with her & learn how to make her gravy & manicottis. When she passed away Laurie would not let us have Christmas dinner unless we made them so Tim started making them. Now he & his wife live in Chicago & usually spend Thanksgiving with us. While they are here they make the Christmas manicottis.

Buona Natalie🎄🎄🎄

And now Elizabeth’s story:

The Mangino Family Manicotti Recipe

Thinking back for many decades, I recall my mother (German/Czechoslovakian born Elizabeth Anne Leibold who married into a huge Italian family in 1921) preparing the Mangino family manicotti recipe over the course of two days.  It was the extended family’s Christmas dinner tradition – at least as the second of four courses – and the crepes had to be paper thin, so much so that we could almost see through them.  Here is a list of the recipe ingredients, jotted down in my awkward printing in 1974, while my mother shared them with me.


The goal was to get as close to a yield of 50 crepes per recipe as possible.  As far as I know, my mom was the only one to achieve that goal!  She prepared the batter and made the crepes after dinner on December 30.  Then she made the cheese filling and tomato sauce, and assembled the manicotti on Christmas eve afternoon, arranging them in large baking dishes to be refrigerated until they were placed in the oven Christmas afternoon.  They were the crown jewel in my mother’s Italian culinary repertoire.

We started our annual Christmas Day feast with shrimp cocktail and liverwurst on crackers with mustard (an Eastern European must for a Leibold), then moved on to the dining room table for our traditional antipasti. 

The first time I attempted to make the Mangino Family Manicotti Recipe, the recipe yielded a grand total of 13 crepes.  Needless to say, not only were they not eaten; they also were NOT memorialized in a photo!  Many years later my husband Todd the “wannabee” Italian tried making the recipe.  Having the patience of a saint and a penchant for perfection, he succeeded in making ~ 40 crepes.  Over the years, his best yield has been 48.  And because Todd became such a crepe master, manicotti became our immediate family Christmas dinner tradition as well.  I remember the first time our granddaughter Cameron tasted them, she announced they were her new preferred birthday dinner!

Fast forward to the Christmas of 2020, in the middle of the pre-vax, COVID government shutdown.  Todd and I, along with our two sons and their families were all too afraid to gather as we usually did.  So Todd and I decided to take our show on the road and gave birth to the Mangino/Wallace Meals on Wheels program.  Here is a photo of Todd preparing 72 manicotti for delivery on Christmas morning to Heath, Trish, Cameron & Connor in New Hope, and Chad, Mary, Dylan and Mia in Yardley.  We visited on their outdoor patios, exchanged gifts, delivered the manicotti, then arrived back home to enjoy them ourselves – alone at our dining room table. 

So, this is the story of the Mangino Family Manicotti Recipe.  It continues to delight many generations, across multiple culinary backgrounds, not only with it’s delicious flavors, but also with the love and joy that go into making it.

Merry Christmas, everyone.  And HUGE THANKS to Bernadette for providing this platform to share our stories, recipes and remembrances. 


Oil a 6” non-stick skillet and heat up over medium heat. You will not have to oil it again.
Spoon 1 ½ to 2 oz of the batter into the skillet, tilting the pan several times until the entire bottom is covered with the batter.
Flip the crepe over once you see air bubbles forming on the top and the edges beginning to curl.
Each crepe should take no more than 2 minutes total.

In looking over both of these recipes I realized that the directions were for the crepes themselves but not for the baking of them in the oven. So, this is what I do. In order for the flavor of all you hard work to shine, make a quick marinara sauce. Lightly put the marinara on the bottom of you dish and then fill with your manicotti. Lightly cover the top of the manicotti and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven covered with foil for 20 minutes. Uncover the manicotti and then check after 10 minutes to see if they are cooked through. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

38 responses to “MANICOTTI – A traditional Christmas Recipe from two families”

  1. What a lovely lovely post Bern!!! These stories are so heartwarming!! I have my mothers pasta making tool and I keep saying “one of these days…”. I have such fond memories of making pasta with her. I think subconsciously I’m afraid my pasta won’t measure up, but stories like these have had me put it on the counter, look at the calendar and pick a date with my daughter to take a shot at it!!!
    Thank you Bern. I love this platform!!! ❤️

    • Good morning Rita, you can’t imagine how happy your comment makes me. When you make your pasta, take pictures, and we will make a post out of it.❤️

  2. Being a country girl, I haven’t the faintest idea what manacoti it, but it looks and sounds delicious. I have been planning on trying out making my own spaghetti. Was hoping Santa would bring me a bigger kitchen.

    • Brenda, if you try your hand at these crepes you will love the results. Maybe he will bring that kitchen and if he does let me know so I can request one next year.

  3. I love manicotti, but don’t find it easy to make. And as for the crepes – by hand – homemade! Well, that’s an act of love I usually serve lasagna for Christmas Eve (works well with six little grandkids) but I’m reconsidering. Manicotti would be a great new tradition…

  4. It’s great to hear of traditions in other parts of the world. I am from the UK and had a second home in Brittany, France for 15 years. The French had not heard of mince pies, nor Christmas pudding, but loved them when we had them round and served them.

    • Hi, I’ll bet that was fun to exchange traditions. What is Christmas Pudding and did going to Brittany add anything French to your holiday traditions?

      • Christmas pudding is a steamed pudding packed with dried fruit and usually with some alcohol such as brandy added. It is served with ignited brandy or rum poured over it, and a brandy sauce, or brandy butter. It is very rich. In the olden days people made their own, but today people usually buy ready made ones to reheat in the microwave. The homemade ones required hours of steaming.
        My Mum used to make her own one year in advance as they improve greatly with keeping.
        In France they have Christmas logs, a chocolate Swiss roll covered in thick butter cream icing and decorated with plastic Christmas themed things like Holly. We also have these on the UK, too.
        But the main difference is the gallette de rois, which is served at epiphany. It is a kind of cake that is almost a cross between a cake and a biscuit. Baked into it is a little image of a king. If you are lucky enough to find it in your slice, it is lucky for the year. (If you’ve not broken your tooth on it🙃.)
        They are sold with a cardboard crown around them. People don’t bake their own, and as they are unavailable in the UK, I’ve not had it for years now.

      • So many different traditions surround food. On New Year’s Day in New Orleans they celebrate by baking a King Cake. In the cake is a little baby representing the newborn Jesus. Whoever gets the slice with the baby is guaranteed a year filled with prosperity.

  5. Manicotti is my mom’s and sisters speciality. They make their creps and layer them between parchment or waxed paper to freeze. Manicotti is essential for Thanksgiving Christmas Eve (with added shrimp in ricotta mix) and Easter.

  6. I’m absolutely drooling over here! It was only a few short years ago that I learned true manicotti does not come from pasta shells out of a box. Crêpes are fussy to make, but so heavenly in manicotti! Thanks for the baking instructions too!

    • The homemade crepes elevates manicotti to another level. Also, some people stuff them with ground veal prepared with bechamel and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Heavenly!

  7. Bern, I think the fact that you received two Italian family manicotti recipes is proof positive that this is a cherished dish! And thanks for helping us out by posting the manicotti cooking instructions, Now the recipe is complete! You’re the BEST!

  8. Thank you kindly,Bernadette for mention of Darlene’s trifle and that delicious sounding Manicotti! Yum.i Here’s to a wonderful – full.tummy – Christmas! Cheers.

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. If you like this recipe, please give it to your friends.

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