The EASIEST Manicotti Recipe

5 from 3 votes

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Pasta lovers unite! This stuffed Manicotti dish has all of the flavors you know and love (think cheesy, savory, delicious!), but it so much easier than your typical manicotti recipe.

Not all Manicotti recipes are created equal. No more struggling with traditional manicotti recipes that demand a lot of effort. This genius twist on a classic dish ditches the shell stuffing, making it an absolute breeze to prepare. Trust us, once you try this method, there’s no going back! That is why it is the EASIEST Manicotti Recipe ever!

plate of manicotti with a pan of manicotti in the background
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Ingredients

We use a blend of cheeses and a delicious, easy tomato sauce to create a simple and flavorful manicotti:

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • Crushed tomatoes: The base of our rich and savory tomato sauce.
  • Olive oil: Adds a smooth and earthy flavor to the sauce.
  • Garlic cloves, minced: Enhances the depth of the sauce’s flavor.
  • Fresh basil, chopped: Adds a fragrant and fresh touch to the sauce.
  • Salt: Balances the flavors and brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.
  • Red pepper flakes (optional): Provides a kick of heat, if desired.

For the Cheese Filling:

  • Ricotta cheese: Creates a creamy and smooth filling.
  • Mozzarella cheese: Adds a delicious, stretchy texture to the filling.
  • Parmesan cheese, grated: Provides a sharp and salty flavor, enhancing the overall taste.
  • Eggs: Binds the cheese filling together.
  • Fresh parsley, chopped: Contributes a subtle, herbaceous note to the filling.
  • Fresh basil, chopped: Complements the tomato sauce and adds a fresh burst of flavor.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavors in the cheese filling.
  • Pepper: Adds a slight kick and depth to the filling.

For Assembly:

  • No-boil lasagna noodles: Forms the base of the manicotti, providing structure and a tender, chewy texture.

How to Make Easy-Peasy Manicotti

Our fabulous, easy baked Manicotti starts out with canned tomatoes and garlic being cooked together to make a mouthwatering tomato sauce. Then, it’s time for the cheese filling extravaganza, featuring ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella – a tantalizing triple threat!

What sets this recipe apart from the rest is the way it’s assembled. Instead of laboriously stuffing manicotti shells, you’ll simply soften no-boil lasagna noodles in hot water for a few minutes and then roll up the manicotti. The magic lies in the rolling, not the stuffing!

Making manicotti like this is a total game changer! Say goodbye to fumbling with noodles that rip and fall apart. This recipe is a cinch to put together, delivering all the incredible flavors you crave with minimal effort.

Here are the step-by-step directions:

  1. Prepare the sauce:
    • Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large saucepan until golden.
    • Add tomatoes and salt, simmer until slightly thickened.
    • Stir in basil and set aside.
  2. Prepare the cheese filling:
    • Combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan, eggs, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. 
  3. Assemble:
    • Preheat oven to 375℉, and adjust oven rack to the middle.
    • Soak noodles in a 9×13 baking dish with boiling water for 10-12 minutes until pliable. Remove, place on towels, and dry the dish.
    • Spread 1 ½ cups sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish.
    • On the bottom three-quarters of each noodle, spread cheese mixture, leaving the top quarter of the noodle exposed (this is where the noodle will overlap itself when rolled up).
    • Add cheese mixture to ¾ of each noodle.
    • Roll noodles and place seam-side down in the dish.
    • Cover noodles with remaining sauce.
  4. Bake and Serve:
    • Bake covered for 40 minutes, then uncover.
    • Move the rack closer to broiler, sprinkle Parmesan, and broil for 4-6 minutes.
    • Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
collage on how to make manicotti

Frequently Asked Questions

What does manicotti mean?

In Italian manicotti means “little sleeve.” Manicotti noodles are traditionally stuffed like a tube and baked similar to lasagna.

Can I use lasagna noodles instead of manicotti noodles?

Yes! It is much simpler to prepare this dish like that. I use Barilla no-boil lasagna for this recipe and it gets five stars every time.

Is manicotti a good freezer meal?

Manicotti is a great meal to freeze. I prefer to freeze before baking. This is also a great meal to take to a new mom or a sick friend because they can eat it right away or tuck away in the freezer for later.

Can I use store-bought pasta sauce instead of homemade tomato sauce?

Absolutely! You can use your favorite store-bought pasta marinara sauce for manicotti, making the recipe even more convenient and time-saving. For this recipe, two 24 ounce jars will work out nicely. Enjoy!

Can I make manicotti ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator before baking?

Definitely! Just assemble the dish as instructed, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking. When you’re ready to bake, remove the wrap, and follow the baking instructions. This make-ahead option is perfect for those busy days or when hosting guests!

top view of a plate of manicotti and forks next to a pan of manicotti

Tips and Tricks for Making Manicotti

Here are some fun and handy tips for making the perfect, EASIEST manicotti:

  1. Soak those noodles: Get your lasagna noodles soft and easy to roll by soaking them in hot water for 10-12 minutes. Keep them separated to avoid a sticky situation!
  2. Spread out and enjoy: Use a large, clean surface like a countertop to make filling and rolling a breeze. This will make tip 3 even easier
  3. Share the love: Spread the cheese mixture consistently over all of the lasagna noodles (be sure to only cover the bottom 3/4 of each noodle) before rolling to ensure each manicotti has an equal amount of filling.
  4. Roll with care: Gently but firmly roll the lasagna noodles to prevent tearing while keeping the filling snug and secure.
  5. Seam-side down for success: Place the rolled manicotti seam-side down in the baking dish to keep them from unrolling during baking.
  6. Saucy coverage: Ensure the manicotti is fully covered with sauce to prevent the noodles from drying out and becoming tough.
  7. Keep it cozy: Cover the dish with aluminum foil during the initial baking to keep the manicotti moist and tender.
  8. Make-ahead option: Assemble the manicotti a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator to save time on busy days.
  9. Get creative: Feel free to experiment with different fillings, such as spinach and ricotta, sausage, or a mix of your favorite cheeses.
top view of a pan of baked manicotti with serving utensils next to it.

More Dinner Recipes:

plate of manicotti with a pan of manicotti in the background
5 from 3 votes

The EASIEST Manicotti Recipe

Pasta lovers unite! This baked Manicotti dish has all of the flavors you know and love (think cheesy, savory, delicious!) , but it so much easier than your typical manicotti recipe.
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes, (28 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Cheese Filling: 

  • 24 ounces ricotta cheese, (3 cups)
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups grated parmesan cheese, separated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

For Assembly:

  • 16 no-boil lasagna noodles
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Instructions 

For the Tomato Sauce: 

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook about 3 minutes until golden brown, stirring often.
  • Stir in tomatoes and salt and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook for about 5-10 minutes, until thickened slightly.
  • Stir in basil and set aside.

For Cheese Filling: 

  • Combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan, eggs, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. 

To Assemble:

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 375℉.
  • In a 9×13-inch baking dish, pour 2 inches of boiling water. Place noodles into water, one at a time, and soak about 10-12 minutes until pliable. Separate noodles with the tip of a sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from the water and place in a single layer on clean dish towels. Discard water and dry baking dish. 
  • Spread 1 ½ cups sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish.
  • On the bottom three-quarters of each noodle, spread ¼ cup cheese mixture, leaving the top quarter of the noodle exposed.
  • Roll noodles into a tube shape and place atop the tomato sauce in the baking dish with the seam side down.
  • Top with the remaining sauce, making sure that the noodles are completely covered.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and remove the foil. Adjust oven rack to be 6 inches from broiler element. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup Parmesan over the manicotti. Broil for about 4 to 6 minutes until the cheese is spotty brown.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

Notes

  • I love this recipe! You can definitely use traditional manicotti noodles for it but I think rolling them up is much easier than filling individual noodles.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 of 8 servings, Calories: 548kcal, Carbohydrates: 41g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0.004g, Cholesterol: 144mg, Sodium: 1202mg, Potassium: 577mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1239IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 586mg, Iron: 2mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This method of making manicotti is revolutionary. You will love the classic flavor combined with the simplicity of this Italian dish. I know you and your family will devour this meal in no time!

About Melissa

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