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Easy Cheese Manicotti is stuffed with three kinds of cheese and smothered in savory tomato sauce. A simple Italian dish that’s sure to be a hit!
Easy Cheese Manicotti
This Easy Cheese Manicotti recipe is a cheese lover’s dream dinner! It’s a tasty, simple, comfort food meal my kids always request because cheese is everyone’s best friend in our home. I love this simple method because you don’t have to boil or cook the manicotti noodles beforehand. Pair it with a crisp green salad and a loaf of French bread, garlic bread or a batch of our Pizza Factory’s Bread Twists for a delicious meal that everyone loves.
What is Manicotti?
Manicotti is an Italian word that literally means “little sleeve”. They are long, tubular pasta shells. Most manicotti recipes are some variation of the pasta sleeve filled with cheeses like ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan and covered in marinara sauce. It can also sometimes include meat like beef or veal or vegetables like mushrooms and onion. Originally, manicotti was made from crepes that were rolled and filled with meat and cheese, but eventually the pasta shape was popularized.
Ingredients for Cheese Manicotti
This easy cheesy manicotti comes together with simple ingredients – nothing fancy or hard to find And the best part: you don’t need to cook manicotti shells ahead of time. Here’s all you need:
- A package of uncooked manicotti pasta
- Three cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce or homemade sauce
- Ricotta cheese (you can use cottage cheese as a substitute)
- Shredded mozzarella cheese (you’ll use about a cup mozzarella cheese inside the manicotti shells and some to sprinkle on top with the remaining sauce)
- Half a cup parmesan cheese
- An egg
- Basil, parsley flakes, salt and pepper to taste
Make it a Freezer Meal
This is an easy meal to freeze and bake later and is an ideal option for delivering to new moms, friends or neighbors. We almost always double the recipe and prepare two pans. We bake one for dinner and freeze the other baking dish for another time, or to give to someone in need of a warm, rich, nourishing dinner. If you’re freezing one or more pans of this recipe, follow the instructions in the recipe card below. Once the dish is covered with aluminum foil, use a marker to write baking instructions on top of the foil so you (or anyone you take this meal to) remember the correct baking temperature and how to bake it.
Baking from Frozen Instructions
Thaw the cheese manicotti dish overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Leaving the foil on the pan, bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Then uncover, sprinkle some mozzarella cheese over the top, then return to the oven for about five minutes or until the cheese melts. It tastes just as fresh as if you just made it. And the leftovers taste even better!
How to Fill Manicotti Shells
To keep mess to a minimum there’s a super easy way to get all that cheesy goodness in the manicotti shells. Using a spoon, fill a Ziploc bag with the ricotta mixture, then cut a hole in one of the corners. You can also use a piping bag with a wide tip if you have one. Start at one end of the pasta shell and pipe mixture in until about halfway full. Then turn the shell over and repeat on the other side. No mess, no fuss, just perfectly filled pasta shells!
Suggestions for This Recipe
- You can add ground beef or turkey to this dish to give it a bit more bulk. Just mix browned beef in with your cheese mixture and fill your manicotti shells as directed in the recipe card below.
- This recipe is delicious with our Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce or with your favorite jar of spaghetti sauce from the grocery store. You can also try it with our Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes.
More Tasty Pasta Dishes
Easy Cheese Manicotti
- 1 (8 ounce) package manicotti pasta uncooked
- 24 ounces spaghetti sauce or 3 cups homemade spaghetti sauce – divided
- 3 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoon parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl mix ricotta cheese, 1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, and spices until well blended.
- Spread ½ cup of spaghetti sauce evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
- Spoon the cheese mixture into a Ziploc plastic bag. Clip one corner of the bottom of the bag, about ½ inch. Pipe the cheese filling into the uncooked manicotti shells. Start on one end of the manicotti shell until about ½ full, then pipe the mixture into the other side filling the shell.
- Place the filled manicotti shells in the 9×13 pan.
- Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over the manicotti shells. Make sure every shell is covered with sauce. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 55 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and take off the foil. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese over the shells and bake for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.
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If you don’t boils shells before baking will it taste starchy?
No, we haven’t had that issue with these Manicotti!
I use both cottage cheese and ricotta, hamburger,rice ,cheeses mix all together fill,I also put sauce into the mix,cover with sauce n bake yummy.thks for tip on no boil❤️💯🌼😁
This is so tasty and went over well with the family! Love how easy it was to make and put together!
This was such a delicious dinner! A total keeper!
My daughter made two batches of this easy cheesy manicotti. She gifted one batch to her grandparents. This is an easy delicious recipe our whole family will be enjoying again and again!
Do I cook and then freeze? Or can I freeze before?
I freeze before cooking!
I like a bit of protein with my meal, could I add some cooked ground beef to this recipe. By the way, I was referred to your site by Six Sisters. I’ve been on your site all afternoon looking for recipes I can cook and then freeze. Have you ever thought of doing some freezer type meals or meals for 1 or 2?
So many yummy looking recipes here!
Check out our freezer meals post here: https://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/food-storage-tips-make-ahead-freezer-meals/
Thanks for visiting our site! We hope you love our recipes as much as our families do!
This is my go-to manicotti recipe!!!! It’s so easy and DELICIOUS! Oh and it’s even better the next day!!!!! If I know we’re going to have this after church, I make it Saturday night and throw it in the oven after church!! It’s perfect and even kid approved!!
how many people does this feed?
It should make about 8 servings
Hope this helps!
Can you boil the manicotti shells first???
Yes, of course! Not boiling them just saves a little extra time. Thanks for asking!
This sounds so delicious and I will surely be making it.
Haven’t had manicotti in years!
You could substitute, but you would want to drain the cottage cheese some. In my opinion though the ricotta is so much better!
In Italy ricotta is considered a cottage cheese. Gives a much creamier texture.
could you substitute cottage cheese for the ricotta?