Easy Cheese Manicotti Recipe + VIDEO

Baked manicotti topped with melted cheese, arranged in baking dish.

This 3-cheese stuffed manicotti recipe is made extra easy by using no boil lasagna noodles instead of pasta tubes. That means no need for a piping bag to fill them, and they come together so quickly. They’ll be ready to bake in just 10 minutes! 

Tips included for making ahead of time, freezing, reheating, and different filling options. 

I love a good pasta dish – Pasta Alla Vodka, Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta and Easy Lemon Pasta are just a few of my favorites.

Yesterday I spent a good 8 minutes in the pasta aisle looking for manicotti shells and came up empty handed. Then I got the idea to make it out of lasagna noodles.

I’m never making it any other way now. 

You guys! It was so much easier. Like 100 times easier. 

With a typical manicotti shell recipe you have to boil them first, rinse them in cool water so that you can handle them, and then there’s the issue of filling them. Meaning you either need a piping bag, or you need to load all that cheese into a ziploc bag and snip off the corner. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, but I always find it to be such a mess, and the pieces of cheese always clog the bag up. 

With this method – no more! 

I’m using no-boil flat sheets of lasagna, you’ll find them next to the regular wavy long noodles, and the brand that I see most often is from Barilla. I’ve also seen them at Trader Joes before. PS – The Barilla noodles also come in a gluten-free variety if you have a sensitivity. 

Although the noodles are “no-boil,” for this recipe we’re going to soak them in boiling water for 5 minutes so that they become pliable enough to turn into manicotti. 

While they’re soaking, mix up the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan mixture. Then, remove the noodles from the water and place them on a large (non-terry) dish towel or paper towels to dry. Add a dollop of the cheese mixture to one end of each noodle (I like to use a cookie scoop to do this), and roll. So super easy. 

PS – I love using this homemade marinara sauce for this recipe. However, jarred sauce also works. 

How to make Manicotti from scratch:  

  • Soak the noodles. Add noodles to a large baking dish and cover with boiling water. Let soak 5 minutes, until pliable. 
  • Make the cheese mixture. Combine ricotta, sour cream, mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, egg, and salt. 
  • Coat the bottom of the baking dish with sauce
  • Add cheese mixture to each noodle and roll up
  • Place manicotti in baking dish and cover with remaining sauce and parmesan. 
  • Bake. 

How to make cheese filling for manicotti:

Simply combine the following ingredients in a large bowl: 

  • Ricotta
  • Sour Cream
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Parsley
  • Egg
  • Salt

Tips for mix ins: 

  • Spinach Stuffed Manicotti: Add one 10 oz. package of frozen, thawed spinach, drained well. 
  • Sausage Manicotti Recipe: Add 1 pound browned ground sausage. 
  • Ground Beef Manicotti: Add 1 pound browned ground beef. 
  • Chicken Manicotti: Add 1 pound browned ground chicken or 2 cups shredded cooked chicken. 
  • Prosciutto Manicotti – Add ¼ cup chopped prosciutto. 
  • Pine Nut Manicotti – Add ½ cup toasted pine nuts.

Unbaked manicotti arranged in baking dish.

Can I make it ahead of time? 

  • Yes! You can make and assemble it 1-2 days in advance (without baking).  Cover the Manicotti tightly with foil and refrigerate. When ready to serve, bake as directed below, but add 10 minutes to the cook time. 

How do you reheat Manicotti? 

  • Oven: Cover with tin foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes. 
  • Microwave: Microwave single portions for 1 ½ – 2 minutes. 

Can you freeze it? 

  • Yes! It’s best to freeze assembled (but not baked) manicotti. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and/or tin foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then bake as directed below, adding 10-15 minutes to the cook time. 

Baked manicotti in dish.

FAQ: 

What is Manicotti? 

  • Long tubular pasta that is filled with cheese and/or sausage, spinach, chicken, ground beef. 

What’s the difference between cannelloni and manicotti? 

  • They are very similar. Manicotti shells have ridges, and are a bit larger and thicker. Cannelloni are smooth, smaller and thinner. 

How do you pronounce manicotti?  

  • Like a little man in a little coat. Man-e-Coat-e 

Making this recipe with standard manicotti shells: 

You can also make this recipe with traditional manicotti shells. 

Do you have to cook manicotti shells before baking? 

  • Yes. You will need to boil the noodles first, according to the package directions. 

How long do you boil manicotti noodles? 

  • Most brands call for 8-minutes cook time. After boiling, rinse them in cold water before using so that they can be handled easier. 

Manicotti in white serving plate.

How do you stuff manicotti without breaking it? 

  • The noodles can be very fragile (that’s why I prefer the rolling method). However, the best way to prevent them from breaking is to use a piping bag to fill them, and be very gentle. 

How do you fill cannelloni without a piping bag? 

  • Add the cheese mixture to a gallon sized ziploc bag and snip off the corner. 

Wine pairings for Manicotti: 

  • A light-bodied Pinot Noir, Barbera or Dolcetto will pair well with this dish.
  • Pinot Grigio has a crisp, vibrant flavor that will work also if you’re looking for a white wine option. 

What do you eat with it 

Two manicotti in white bowl topped with parsley.

Easy Cheese Manicotti Recipe

This 3-cheese stuffed manicotti recipe is made extra easy by using no boil lasagna noodles instead of pasta tubes. That means no need for a piping bag to fill them, and they come together so quickly. They’ll be ready to bake in just 10 minutes! 
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 3 cups marinara sauce (divided)
  • 16 no-cook lasagna noodles*

Cheese Filling:

  • 16 ounces full-fat ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 375-degrees.
  • Pour 2 inches boiling water into a 9X13-inch baking dish. Add the noodles (alternating directions so they don't stick), and let them soak about 5 minutes, until they’re pliable enough to roll up.
    Lasagna noodles soaking in hot water.
  • Remove the noodles from the water and place in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel (non-terry) or paper towels. Discard the water in the baking dish and dry the dish to use for assembling and baking the manicotti.
    Noodles drying on kitchen towel.
  • Meanwhile, add the ricotta, sour cream, mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, egg, and salt to a large bowl and stir to combine well.
    Cheese mixture ingredients in bowl.
  • Spread about 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
    Marinara sauce spread in dish.
  • Dollop about 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture the edge of each noodle. (I like to use a cookie scoop for this.) Roll up the noodle and filling into a tube shape and arrange in the baking dish seam side down.
    Noodle being rolled up.
  • Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the manicotti and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
    Unbaked manicotti arranged in baking dish.
  • Bake, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbly and the noodles are tender, 35-40 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and additional parmesan cheese, if desired.
    Baked manicotti in casserole dish.

Notes

*I’m using no-boil flat sheets of lasagna, you’ll find them next to the regular wavy long noodles, and the brand that I see most often is from Barilla. I’ve also seen them at Trader Joes before. PS - The Barilla noodles also come in a gluten-free variety if you have a sensitivity.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Baking Dish

Nutrition

Calories: 594kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 106mg | Sodium: 1496mg | Potassium: 621mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1313IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 498mg | Iron: 4mg

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