Make this easy cheese manicotti dish at home with tender noodles covered in marinara sauce and filled with a flavorful mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan.

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Two pieces of manicotti on a plate, covered in marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parsley.

About Easy Cheesy Manicotti

Manicotti is a staple at authentic Italian restaurants, but it’s also really simple to make at home.

All you need is some manicotti, some cheeses, and red sauce (any type!) for a gourmet meal that you can easily customize to your own tastes!

Close up side view of a row of cheese manicotti in a baking dish.

How do you stuff manicotti shells?

Filling manicotti can be tricky, but there are a couple of methods you can use to do it:

  • Fill them “by hand” – Use a spoon (or sometimes even your fingers) and gently feed the cheese mix into the manicotti. Once you’ve filled one end halfway, flip the manicotti and fill the other end.
  • Use a pastry bag – Pipe the cheese filling into the manicotti by putting it in a pastry bag (or Ziploc bag with a corner cut.) This way you can easily fill the manicotti without all the mess.
  • Cut a line down the manicotti – Once the pasta has cooled, you can cut a line lengthwise down one side of the manicotti. Spread the manicotti open, add the cheese filling, then wrap the manicotti back into its original shape. The filling will help “glue” the manicotti back together. Then you can just place the manicotti seam side down in the baking dish to hide the line.

Should you shred your own cheese?

Using pre-shredded cheese is extremely convenient, but it contains some preservatives (such as potato starch) that help keep the shredded cheese separated in the bag. And while this is great for grabbing a quick pinch of shredded cheese, it will also cause the melted cheese to appear lumpy or harden faster than it normally should.

So if you’re a cheese lover like me and want the creamiest experience possible for your shrimp pasta, I highly recommend shredding a ball of mozzarella and grating a block of parmesan cheese. I know it’s more work, but the end result will more than make up for it.

Spatula lifting up a piece of cheese manicotti from a baking dish.

Can you make manicotti in advance?

Certainly!

For best results, prepare the recipe as instructed but hold off on topping everything with red sauce. Cover the baking dish and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, allow the dish to come to room temperature on the counter (about 30 minutes), top with red sauce, then bake per the recipe instructions.

How long is manicotti good for?

Once prepared and cooled, cheese manicotti can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three to five days.

Can you freeze manicotti?

Yes, you totally can! And better yet, whether you’re freezing this dish cooked or uncooked, the process is the same:

  • Prepare the baking dish for feezing, whether this is sealing the dish with a lid or thoroughly covering the baking dish in aluminum foil.
  • Store in the freezer for up to one to two months.

When you’re ready to bake the dish, let the manicotti thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then you can bake per the recipe instructions or reheat as desired.

notes & tips for cheese manicotti

  • Feel free to use any type of style of red sauce for this recipe, whether it be spaghetti, marinara, etc.
Close up of a fork digging into cheese manicotti, showing off the filling.

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How to make cheese manicotti

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – Start off by preparing the manicotti per package instructions. Drain the water, then set them aside on some parchment paper to cool.

Step 2 – Prepare the filling by mixing together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Step 3 – Fill the manicotti pasta with the cheesy filling. You can do this either with your hands, pastry bag, or any other method that works best for you.

Step 4 – Pour some red sauce into a 9×13 baking dish, covering the bottom. Lay the prepared manicotti on top of the sauce in an even layer. Once done, drizzle the more red sauce on top.

Step 5 – Cover with aluminum foil and bake!

Step 6 – Remove the foil, sprinkle some mozzarella on top, then bake again!

Step 7 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Two pieces of manicotti on a plate, covered in marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parsley.
4.36 from 56 votes

Easy Cheesy Manicotti

20 mins prep + 50 mins cook
491 kcal
Yields: 4 servings
Make this easy cheese manicotti dish at home with tender noodles covered in marinara sauce and filled with a flavorful mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan.

Ingredients 

  • 8 pieces manicotti
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce, or spaghetti sauce, any flavor, divided
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Cook manicotti per package instructions, drain, then lay on parchment paper to dry and cool.
    8 pieces manicotti
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, then spread a thin layer of marinara sauce along the bottom of the dish. Set dish nearby.
    24 ounces marinara sauce
  • In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper until smooth.
    15 ounces ricotta cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Using a spoon, your fingers, or a pastry bag, gently feed the cheese mix into the cooled manicotti noodles. Tip: pack one end until full, then turn the manicotti around and fill the other end.
  • Place filled manicotti on top of sauce in prepared baking dish. Arrange manicotti in a single layer. When all manicotti are filled, cover the tops with the renaming sauce.
    24 ounces marinara sauce
  • Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top (optional). Bake, uncovered, for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese has melted.
    2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Serve cheese manicotti immediately with more parsley on top as garnish.
    2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 491kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 202mg | Sodium: 1793mg | Potassium: 734mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2000IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 655mg | Iron: 3mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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65 comments

    • Joyce

    I know I would love this along with my son, age 56! I buy this when I go to the Olive Garden! Their’s is very good. However, homemade any thing is better, right?? I have Stage III necrosis in my left femur and I do not have too many “GOOD” days. I hope I will be able to make it soon.:) Yours looks easy!!

    • Caity
    • 5 stars

    Something came to mind when making this dish and it was much easier than I thought. I put the manicotti filling in a plastic bag and piped it into the manicotti. Easy and much less of a mess. I didn’t read through all of he comments so sorry if someone else already mentioned this. We loved the recipe!!

    • Great tip Caity! Your method sounds SO much easier! 😀

    • Michelle
    • 5 stars

    I’ve made this recipe several times now. Soooo good and easy!

    • Love to hear that Michelle! 😀 So glad you liked it!

    • Teresa
    • 5 stars

    This was really good! Everybody in my family loved it! We will be making this again.

    • Awesome to hear Teresa! I’m so glad it was a hit 😀

    • Sher

    TIP: After cooked manicotti noodles have cooled, cut a slit down one side, lengthwise. Pull apart and fill (SOOO much easier than with whole shells). Once filled, the filling mix “glues” together the manicotti noodle and it will stay together. Bake as recipe states. Saves time and frustration.

    • LOVE this tip! Thank you Sher 🙂

    • Heidi Q

    As Diane said above, use either a pastry bag or a Ziploc with about a 1″ corner hole cut in it and they will fill so quickly and easily!

    • Diane

    Thanks for this great-looking easy recipe! I may try to use a large zip-lock bag with a corner snipped off to fill the manicotti with the cheese mixture (home-made piping bag).

    • Awesome tip! I’ll have to try that as well 😀

    • Sharee @ Savory Spicerack

    my kid loves this dish! i will have to try out your recipe for our next go at it! pinning & stumbling!

    • Thanks Sharee! I hope the family likes it 😀

    • Sabrina @ Dinner, then Dessert

    My an old friend of mine loves stuffed pasta shell meals! He would adore it if I made this for him!

    • Ludmilla

    Perfect with a glass of wine!! Yummy!

    • Sounds like my kind of dinner 😀

    • Thalia @ butter and brioche

    Oh god this looks hearty and delicious. I love a good pasta sauce and definitely need to try this one.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

    These manicotti look and sound scrumptious! Bertolli’s new Riserva sauces are yummy, I just recently tried the one with white truffles.

    • Oo, the sauce WOULD be good with white truffles. Will have to try that!

    • Joy @ Joy Love Food

    I love stuffed pasta dishes too, this looks delicious, I will have to give it a try!

    • Branson

    Oh I love cheesy italian food! This looks SO good!

    • Ashley

    I love cheese manicoti but have never figured out a great way to make it. Thanks for sharing!

    • hayli

    YUMM…I love mannicotti and I can never find a good recipe for it so this sounds really good. I may have to try it.

    Hayli at Haylidejong.com

    • Angie

    That looks so darn good!

    • Kaitie @ Fuchsia Freezer

    you had me at easy & cheesy! This looks like a classic dish with all the flavours one would expect to be bursting from there! i love this and will make it for dinner one night next week!

    • Thanks Kaitie! If you made it, I hope you liked it 😀

    • Vicky @ Avocdo Pesto

    Stuffed pasta is the best — even if it gets tricky to stuff and you gotta use your fingers! This looks delish!

      • Patty

      I split the cooked shells all the way down the center lengthwise, then stuff with filling and place in pan on the seam. Works for me!

      • Your way sounds so much easier Patty 🙂 Will have to try that next time!

    • Samantha

    This looks heavenly! Yum!

        • JoAnn
        • 5 stars

        I have also added crumbled sausage to the filling for a change up.

        • Abby

        OH I was just thinking how good sausage would be in this too.