This easy manicotti recipe is an easy make-ahead meal perfect for busy weeknights.
This pasta bake is stuffed with cheese and Italian herbs, covered in marinara sauce and baked to perfection! It can even be made ahead to quickly pop in the oven on busy weeknights.
What is Manicotti?
Baked, cheese-stuffed manicotti is one of the best comfort foods, and it’s also perfect for making ahead to enjoy on a busy weeknight!
Ingredients & Variations
- MANICOTTI This pasta is perfect for this recipe since it holds the filling nicely! But any large tubular pasts would work for this recipe.
Try it with cannelloni, large pasta shells, or even rigatoni. Rigatoni are on the smaller side so give yourself a little extra time as they will take longer to prep!
- FILLING Made with three kinds of cheese, mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan, this filling is so delicious!
For some extra spice, try replacing the mozzarella with Monterrey Jack or a pepper jack cheese. Or try cottage cheese in place of ricotta. Just strain the cottage cheese before adding it to the recipe to avoid the filling being too watery.
And don’t forget the pesto. It adds the perfect Italian flavors.
- SAUCE For the best flavor try making a homemade marinara sauce. You can also use a store-bought marinara sauce or even a basic tomato sauce in a pinch. Just add in some Italian seasoning to boost the flavors!
How to Make Manicotti?
This delicious baked pasta dish is easy to prepare and delicious to enjoy!
- Cook manicotti shells. While they’re cooling, prep filling (per recipe below).
- Stuff shells and layer with marinara and cheese in a casserole.
- Bake and serve immediately!
Get creative with the filling. Add in different cheese, spinach, herbs, or meat like chicken, beef, or sausage or a unique dish!
How to Stuff Manicotti
Once the filling is prepped, grab a large freezer bag or pastry bag to easily fill your manicotti shells!
- Fill the bag with the ricotta mixture
- Snip the end and pipe it in!
No cake decorating skills required ;)
Tips for the Best Pasta Bake
Do you have to cook manicotti shells before filling them? That depends.
I prefer to use the regular manicotti shells rather than the oven ready, but you can use oven-ready in a pinch if you really want to skip cooking them before filling.
If swapping the regular noodles for oven-ready in this recipe, keep an eye on the casserole as it bakes. If it starts to look dry, add a drizzle (a couple of tablespoons) of water around the edge (yes, water! Trust me).
It’s also important to keep the noodles covered in sauce and cover the pan while baking if you are using oven-ready noodles so that everything cooks evenly.
This recipe is great for leftovers. Simply prepare up until the point of baking, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
To serve, just thaw (if frozen) and bake as directed!
Store already cooked leftovers in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or in the oven at 325F until heated through, about 20-25 minutes.
Easy Pasta Recipes
- One Pot Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage – simple to prep!
- Meatball Pasta Bake – with homemade meatballs!
- Chicken Alfredo Bake – make-ahead friendly
- Pizza Pasta Bake – easy, cheesy casserole
- Turkey Sausage Baked Ziti – freezer friendly
Did you love this stuffed manicotti recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and comment below!
- 12 manicotti pasta shells
- 2 cups Ricotta cheese 1 16 ounce/ 475g container
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded, divided
- 1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon basil pesto
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add manicotti and boil for the 7-8 minutes, until almost tender*.
- Drain and rinse manicotti 2-3 times under cold water until cooled to room temperature.
- In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan, egg, pesto, salt, and pepper.
- Place ricotta mixture in a large piping bag or large freezer bag and snip the end.
- Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish and spread 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom.
- Fill each manicotti shell with ricotta cheese mixture and line up on top of the marinara sauce in the baking dish, dividing the ricotta evenly between the 12 manicotti.
- Top the filled manicotti with the remaining 1 1/2 cups sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
- Lightly grease a piece of foil or lid and cover the baking dish. Bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes until heated through and pasta is tender. Serve.