This Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti is a favorite family recipe. Watch the video showing you how to make manicotti, then scroll to the bottom of this post and print out the recipe so you can make it at home.
What is Manicotti?
Manicotti is a pasta noodle shaped like a tube. It’s about 4-inches long, and 1-inch in diameter. Usually it’s boiled until al dente, then cooled, filled with some kind of cheese filling, covered with sauce and baked. In this recipe, you don’t have to bake the noodles before filling them. They’ll cook in the sauce when you bake the manicotti in the oven.
Manicotti is a dish of great comfort. It makes plenty, it’s filling, it’s completely family-friendly, and the leftovers are even better than the freshly made batch. We make this when we have a handful of friends or family around. It’s a nice, no-fuss recipe that everyone seems to love. Make it ahead, keep it in the fridge and toss it in the oven when everybody is ready to eat.
How do you make Manicotti:
You’ll need the following ingredients: ricotta, Parmesan, mozarella and cream cheeses. You’ll also need eggs, frozen spinach, manicotti noodles and marinara sauce.
The filling is very simple to make. Just mix it all up in a bowl until it’s well-blended. If you (or your kids) don’t like spinach, you can always leave it out… though I’ve found that you don’t really detect it all that much with all of the other wonderful things and sauce in the recipe.
You might consider it a good way to “sneak” some good stuff into dinner.
A layer of sauce goes into the bottom of a 13×9-inch pan.
The easiest way to stuff manicotti shells is the put the mixed filling into a plastic bag. You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner.
Hold an uncooked manicotti shell in your hand and squeeze the filling inside the shell. Let it overflow on both sides.
Place the filled shell into the sauce-lined pan.
Repeat with remaining manicotti and fill the pan with the stuffed shells, until you run out of shells and filling.
Cover with a generous layer of marinara sauce.
Sprinkle cheese on top. At this point, you can cover with foil, refrigerate and then bake when you’re ready. It’s ok to leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
Cover and bake for about an hour.
Pop open a bottle of red wine and eat! This Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti recipe will feed 6 or 7 hungry people- 2 stuffed shells each is plenty when served with salad and garlic bread. And lighter eaters will be plenty full with just one shell.
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti
- 15 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 box (12 to 14 shells) manicotti noodles
- 4 cups marinara sauce (jarred or homemade)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix the cheeses, spinach, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir together until well blended.
- Place about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in a 9x13-inch pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom.
- Place the mixed filling into a plastic bag. You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner. Hold an uncooked manicotti shell in your hand and squeeze the filling inside the shell. Let it overflow on both sides. Alternately, you can stuff the uncooked noodles with a small spoon or fork. Place the filled shell into the sauce-lined pan. Repeat with remaining manicotti and fill the pan with the stuffed shells, until you run out of shells and filling. You should be able to fill 12 to 14 shells- if you run out of room in your pan, use a separate smaller pan to accommodate the extra.
- Cover the pasta completely with marinara sauce, using about 2 1/2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan on top. At this point, you can cover with foil and refrigerate until you're ready to bake, or you can cover with foil and place it in the oven immediately.
- Bake, covered with foil, 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.
- It's perfectly okay to use low fat ricotta and low fat cream cheese.
- If you don't wish to use the spinach, it's ok to leave it out and just turn this into a cheese-stuffed manicotti.
- If you don't wish to use the plastic bag method of squeezing the filling into the shells, you can use a very small spoon or fork to stuff the filling-- it will just take a bit longer and might be a little messy.
I love this recipe and it’s so easy to make. I’ve made this a few times in three months. Thanks so much!
I’ve made this recipe, as directed, many times and it is always a hit. For those concerned about the shells being undercooked, I place the shells into a 9×13 baking dish and pour hot water directly from the tap and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then use as directed. Perfectly cooked pasta. I do this as well with my lasagna because I hate “ ready to use/no cook” lasagna sheets. Try this system and you won’t be disappointed!
This recipe was a hit. I’ve only made manicotti once and it was several years ago and really all I remember from that time was that I did have to boil the noodles before hand. Loved that this recipe called for leaving the noodles uncooked. Followed the recipe exactly except the spinach I used was fresh and cooked down, and I added half beef/half Italian sausage to the portion of sauce that went over top the noodles. It turned out super delicious, noodles perfectly cooked. Great dinner for a rainy day like today has been. Served with baguette slices toasted with herbed garlic butter. Yum!
Happy to hear- it’s one of our favorite meals!
Can fresh spinach be used instead of frozen?
I’d be wary of using fresh, just because there is a lot of moisture in fresh spinach. I suppose you could cook it and then squeeze it dry? I haven’t tried it!
very good, however I used a plastic baggie which tore, so I got the filling down to the corner on my counter and put the shell opening at my opened end and used my hand squeezing the filling into the shells. Still pretty messy but got it done..
Anyone try with gluten-free Jovial pasta? I just read through all the reviews and didn’t see anything mentioning GF pasta manicotti. My granddaughter asked for stuffed shells (Grammie Food apparently) and it’s a risk to order gran shells via Amazon b/c many arrive broken. I FINALLY found Jovial near me and Cooks Illustrated rates their pasta the highest; I use the spaghetti and think it’s excellent. Do you have an opinion on how the GF shell itself might retain its texture? I’ve tried other GF pasta baked dishes and have found they don’t hold well. That suggests I should have “dress rehearsal” and then likely prep in advance, assemble, and serve within an hour.
Any suggestions welcome. I’ll post a follow up next week. Twelve guests for dinner Saturday …
I have definitely never tried this recipe using GF pasta. Let me know if it works out though!
thank you for this recipe. I don’t like the taste of ricotta so I used a whole milk (creamy) cottage cheese. I had a piece of kielbasa that was going to go bad so I diced it up and put 1/2 in the cheese mix and the other half on top of the entire casserole just before putting in the oven. I added Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, and fennel powder ( I ground the seeds myself) to both the cheese mix and the tomato sauce. I also added roasted diced tomato and seasoned stewed tomato to the tomato sauce. I had bricks of mozzarella, Monterey jack, and parmesan that I grated myself. Wow did all that turn out great. I live alone, so, I halved your recipe. I will be freezing some for several weeks from now to enjoy again. I’ll also bring a container to my parents who are in their mid-nineties, (they look and act like they are in their early eighties). I do a lot of cooking and never tried my hand at stuffed pastas. Thank you again for this great recipe.
Can I substitute cottage cheese for ricotta cheese?
I think I’d give the cottage cheese a whir in the blender so it’s not so chunky…. but yes, I believe you can sub cottage cheese.
I love this recipe. I have a lot of the filling left over, and want to know how long it will last in the fridge
A few days?
You can freeze it also.
This is my favorite manicotti recipe. I’m making my college kid a cookbook since she’s on her own now and this is definitely in it! One suggestion, include the cooking temp in the written instructions Thank you for keeping it simple.
Can I add basil and nutmeg , maybe allspice, for that unique flavor
Haven’t tried that, but you can certainly experiment!
The taste is amazing!!! However, my noodles didn’t cook all the way. Should I add more time?
Hmmm, they should definitely be cooked. Make sure the noodles are completely covered, and you can always add a little water to your sauce too.
I made this for a meal chain .. a young couple who just had their first baby. What an easy and delicious meal .. I told them they could pop it in the oven tonight or freeze for a different night. This recipe will definitely be my go to for potlucks , meal chains or a Wednesday night. It just might replace the Christmas lasagna! Thank You!
Can you make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes, you can prep earlier in the day and cover and refrigerate until baking time.
Made this tonight and followed the recipe exactly. It was absolutely delicious, and even the picky toddlers ate it. We will absolutely add this to our rotation, and I’m super happy to find such a tasty meatless option.
So easy and delicious!
I have fresh baby spinach – how would I cook and dry it? And then what about adding some cooked ground beef – would that work?
Well, you’re turning it into a different recipe. Might be easier to Google spinach and beef stuffed manicotti and see if you can find a recipe geared specifically toward that 🙂
Can you use fresh spinach?
Fresh spinach tends to yield a lot of moisture. So if you want to cook the fresh spinach first and then squeeze it dry, then that would be okay.
This was perfect! Can you also make it this way and freeze it?
I’d maybe freeze it BEFORE you bake it. Then let it defrost when you want to make it.
This looks wonderful. Going to make today. I have made Manicotti before but I had some cream cheese and googled to find out if I could use it in a Manicotti filling. I do not make mine with the purchased pasta tubes, I make my Manicotti with crepes. Make your basic crepe recipe and put some of the cheese and spinach filling in the middle and roll up. It’s a big hit at every party.
Dinner doesn’t get any better than this!
I love it! Really gorgeous and delicious!
I love this recipe. I can make two big batches and freeze one!
These are the perfect meatless Monday meal!
Can’t wait to try this
WHOA! This would disappear in an hour in our house. Such a great recipe.
This is a new favorite! Love the spinach you added.
A family favorite at my house too!
I made this last night and it came out well, satisfying Mr. Fussy! I added red wine and water to my sauce to make sure there was enough moisture, as some reviewers said their noodles weren’t cooked enough. I also sautéed onions and some bulk chicken Italian sausage and added it to half of my sauce. I used plain sauce underneath and the sausage sauce on top. Also used less mozzarella in the filling than the recipe says. Filling the shells was a bit messy, even with the pastry bag, but we now have several more meals to look forward to. The recipe goes a long way; we each had 1 ½ manicotti each, and it was plenty.
I have always made this with cooked manicotti. I found your recipie and tried it with uncooked. I wish you had emphasized the importance of “generous” sauce. Mine came out extremely al dente. The next day things were better as we all know most pasta dishes seem to be. I’ve never been a measurer so I glossed over the 1 1/2 cups on the bottom, et al. I’ve always just put “some” on the bottom of the dish. On the top I always put a good amount but that was with cooked manicotti.
Oh yes, the sauce should cover the top. Sorry! I always use Classico Tomato-Basil– not sure if that one has more moisture in it than others, but it works well.
This looks so delicious. I’m actually going to make it when we have company over for dinner tonight. (My husband’s parents) I am so afraid to leave the pasta shells uncooked…..?
Usually fine if you cover the pasta completely. Was it successful?
sounds great but I never tried it with uncooked pasta.i find it hard to believe it will cook thoroughly
yes, it’s hard to believe! Just make sure the pasta is well covered by the sauce. We’ve been making this recipe for a LONG time!
That looks great. I do mine the same way but I cook my shells first.
I made these over the weekend. The only thing I did different was add hamburger meat and onions to my spaghetti sauce. Absolutley delicious! Thanks for making this dish so easy!
OMG!! This was AMAZEBALLS!! My kids LOVED this!!…even on leftover night…this was their choice!! SO yummy!! It’s in my rotation now!!!
So glad it’s a new favorite for your family!
I Love this recipe! I find it is easier to make each time I make it. I was going to use a. bag, but found it is more fun to use my hands. Standing over the bowl of filling, it is not very messy. You can customize the manicotti, as well. Can’t wait to eat it!
Used 1 cup of chopped fresh spinach. Added 1/4 c don’t cheese also. Taste amazing. Not so good at filling noodles but managed ha ha
I used Barilla sauce. It had a good flavor. Also, did not, cover it.
This was messy to make, but we’ll worth it. My mother in law loved it, and asked for th recipe. It really was good. I used spaghetti sauce, and put mozzarella top.
This recipe is awsome but with the sauce i cooked some hamburger meat,bacon,mushrooms,pepperoni,green peppers chopped it up and put it in the pasta sauce it was delicious
This also works with Lasagna. Cover with generous sauce, add 1 cup of water, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour on 350.
Just made this for dinner and the manicotti is still in the oven. I initially did just as recipe says cover for 50 min then remove foil and bake an additional 10 min. Unfortunallty the extra 10 min has turned in to 30 min. We tried it after 10 min and the taste was amazing but the noodles were very raw still. After another 15 min we tried again and they were better but still a bit raw. Any suggestions to fix this? Should I boil the pasta just a few minutes before stuffing? Thanks for the recipe!
You shouldn’t have to– Mine usually turn out slightly al dente, but never raw. I make sure I completely cover the noodles with marinara (generously), and I always use Classico Sauce.
This is always my go to manicotti recipe. I use fat free ricotta, 1/3 less fat cream cheese, and my homemade sauce if I have the time. Using the bag to pipe into each end of the uncooked manicotti noodle is genius! It makes it sooo easy and it bakes up perfectly. I’ll never make it any other way
Happy to hear!
Delicious! Made this tonight and only complaint was the noodles were not fully cooked through 🙁
oh crud- that’s a bummer. The noodles need to be completely immersed in the marinara. I’ve always had good luck with Classico sauce cooking the noodles all the way through.
I bought fresh spinach, can I just use that? And how much?
I don’t generally recommend using fresh spinach because of the moisture it will give to the dish when cooked. With frozen spinach, you are able to squeeze all of the moisture out. So maybe cook it first, cool and then squeeze the moisture out before adding to the filling mixture? One package (10 ounces) of frozen spinach leaves yields about 1-1/2 cups after cooking. 1 pound of fresh spinach will yield 10-12 cups of torn leaves, which will cook down to about 1 cup.
Can this done in an air fryer? Will you include air fryer recipes or versions of in the future?
I don’t know anything about air fryers – sorry!
Hi Lori a.k.a. Recipe Girl. I have been using your recipe for 5 years. It has become my husbands favorite. Now my son helps me make it and we have fun doing it together. I just made it with some friends today and it was fun and delicious (we paired it with some cheesy garlic bread today.)
Always a favorite!
Thank you so much- that is great to hear!
Have made this most of my adult life I love this recipe without boiling the noodles though also I substitute kale in place of spinach and it turned out just as good.
Great to know- thank you!
Could this be frozen? If so, should I bake it prior to freezing?
I’d freeze it uncooked. When ready to make… let it thaw, then bake.
Can it be made and frozen prior to cooking? I’ve made before it’s awesome.
I have frozen this before… but my suggestion would be to completely thaw before baking.
This recipe is our house favourite….Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!
Does anyone know if I could omit the eggs? This recipe is easy and delicious! I would love to make it for my mom, but she is allergic to eggs.
I haven’t made it without the eggs- is there an egg replacement you could use?
Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe. Will definitely try it. Will this method work for the large pasta shells also? Could I just stuff the shells without cooking them first? Thank you.
It should be okay for the shells. I have never tried it with the shells, so I’m not sure about not cooking them first.
Love this recipe, I modify d it a little with some pork. Made it before and forgot just how wonderful it tasts. If you have little time to defrost vegis, or meat, just place the bag in a bowl with veryhot water for about (time varyes) 8 to 10 mins, keep water warm to hot by changing it out. It wont cook it like the microwave does. No mus, no fus, no cooked edges……
I made this tonight and it was so delicious! Thank you!
GREAT recipe! I tweaked it a little, added a full brick of cream cheese, more cheese in general, more salt and pepper… but it was delicious!! My boyfriend nearly licked the plate clean and we’re both excited for leftovers. I’ve raved about the recipe to several coworkers and passed along the link to this recipe, too. YUM!
This is delicious. Making it to take to a friend’s 60th birthday party.
My daughter has been begging me to make stuffed shells since she had them in her school cafeteria– go figure! It’s been years since I’ve made them and didn’t love the idea of a ton of work, especially on a weeknight. This recipe was perfect- I used the manicotti (Ferrara brand- what my market had) with the filling in a Zip-loc bag and it was easy. For the filling, I found it helpful to only use one generous scoop at a time in the bag, and I left a little bit of the bag unzipped so the trapped air wouldn’t make it too puffy. I also cheated by filling one side of the tube, turning it around and then doing the other side. My kids loved them, it fed our family of 4 hungry people (2 adults, 2 kids) with leftovers for one kid’s lunch the day (!) and next time I will prep it in advance the night before to save even more time.
thank you for your sharing of your cooking gift with the rest of us! It’s very kind of you . I’m making the manicotti today my day off from the restaurant – so here’s to you & yours have a blessed day an wish me luck my first no cook noodle dish. Havin faith in your dish. ???????? Cindy H.
Do Not (over boil your manicotti shells).
You don’t need to boil them at all… just stuff the hard shells, stuff, cover with sauce and bake.
HAD FOR DINNER LAST NIGHT WAS DELICIOUS. BEST PART NOT HAVING TO COOK NOODLES. WILL BE DEFINITELY MAKING AGAIN. THANKS
Glad you enjoyed!
I’ve made these several times and they’re really good! Depending on what I have on hand, sometimes I use mozzarella and sometimes I use the “Italian Blend”. And sometimes I use fresh spinach (chopped in my food processor) which I think is easier to work with but tastes the same once all baked up. My sweetie is one that needs meat in a meal so I often oven roast some Italian sausage links (cut into 1/3s) about 15 min. into the cooking time and then, with a salad, it’s considered dinner. Also – instead of opening up another jar of spaghetti sauce, I add an 8 oz can of tomato sauce to make up for the “little extra” sauce needed. AND we can’t eat all 14 so we use 2 8×8 pans and freeze one! Bonus points for a freezer meal!! Thanks for the recipe that my 3 year old even eats!!
DD and I love you for putting this recipe up!
Love manicotti but not the mess.
What a time saver! We are making it today.
Its ok to not.com the shells.right? They will soften while cooking?
Yes. Just make sure they are covered with the sauce.
So much easier than I thought it would be! I loved it and thought it was great, I did omit the spinach though. My husband isn’t sold on it, but at least he said it was ok. I will definitely make again.
This meal was amazing! I love manicotti and this was the first time I have actually made it. I definitely recommend this recipe. Making it again soon!
Above recipe needs some herbs for added flavour! What can you suggest?
Marjoram, oregano, garlic summer savory, nutmeg?
Are you saying their is no need to boil the pasta first?
Yes, no need.
Do you have a recipe for homemade sauce. The bottled ones give me indigestion. Would love a simple sauce recipe. I think it is the tomato paste in the bought ones. Cheers
I do, but this one is made from canned tomatoes: https://www.recipegirl.com/2012/03/09/homemade-marinara-sauce/
Do you put all the mozzarella and a 1/2 cup of Parmesan in the filling? I could quite tell from pic and instructions just say “cheeses” soi wanted to be sure. Thank you
yes, all of those cheeses that are listed together go in the filling. Then there is more Parmesan that will be sprinkled on top.
Wow wow ….I’m simply blown away with this delicious recipe. The only thing that was difficult was the filling part, as I tried both the ziplock bag and plastic bag but both of them kept on tearing at the open end ever time u sqezzed to fill the shells ????…. But otherwise an fantastic dish …. U MUST TRY IT !!!!
Have u ever tried this w/out the cream cheese?
I have not, but I would think it would be good without still!
would 1lb. of sausage be to much for this recipe?
Holy yum. This was utterly amazing. Even my pasta haters ate every bite! I love that the noodles don’t have to be cooked first. This dish is worth every bit of effort. I used cottage cheese instead of ricotta because that’s what I had. And I added 1 cup of cooked chicken. Because of that I had some extra filling so I just baked it and plan on using it for a quesadilla filling. I went ahead and made two of these so I could have one for the freezer. Thank you!!
Since we are only a family of 2 – can left-overs be frozen for reheating at a later date? Dying to try it – recipe looks GREAT!
I also add a few shakes of nutmeg to the cheese mixture. My kids love this dish and i have been making it since Lori first published. A big hit in my household!
so happy to hear!
Lori’s recipe truly is perfection, but a a nice variation to this is, add one pound ( or package) sweet Italian sausage, out of skins, cooked ground up and add to cheese mixture. I like to stuff jumbo shells on occasion. Add 4 cloves minced garlic and 1/2 cup red wine to spaghetti sauce. Garnish with fresh basil when done.
Just put this together and put in in the fridge. I doubled the recipe because of the “crowd” that is coming over. I will let you know how mine turned out!
Sounds Amazing! Any nutrition info on this recipe?
No. But I typically use the Spark People Recipe Calculator when I want to figure something out. I recommend you use that.
These were fantastic! I used a knife to stuff the uncooked shells, and it worked great although timely 🙂
Been making this for years and never thought to use a pastry bag or leave the noodles uncooked!
We also but shredded chicken in our cheese/spinach mixture and top with Alfredo sauce just to mix it up.
can you buy gluten free manicotti in canada
I live in the US, so I am not familiar with anything that is available in Canada. Sorry!
Actually made this exact recipe tonight. Was delish. The only thing I would suggest is a thinner sauce.
I noticed the pasta was a bit aldente. I had them snug in the pan, next time will make sure there is space to allow sauce to boil and cook all over the pasta.
Made this for dinner tonight – awesome and easy. I used my homemade sauce but am sure I would love it with Prego too! I also added a little fresh ground nutmeg to the cheese mixture. Yummy……thanks for the recipe! P.S. Pastry bag worked great for me.
Just have to tell you that the recipe is awesome!!! My family loved it.
I made this with 2 jars alfredo sauce and I added finely minced chicken and basil instead of the spinach. This recipe is great as it is written and I love that it can be tweaked for individual tastes. Thanks!
They were super yummy. >^.^<
This is the second time I’ve made manicotti using your recipe and it is beyond delicious. Of course, I’ve changed it up a bit. I use a meat marinara sauce made with ground beef, hot sausage, and bacon. I use a few different chilies in the meat sauce for flavor. I make the filling per recipe. With a salad and crunchy sourdough garlic bread, this is one of the best meals on this planet!! Thanks!!
Made this the other night. It was a hit. Chopped up button mushrooms and saute them in olive oil. Added fresh spinach on top of the mushrooms, sautéed till just cooked. Let the veg mixture cool. This was delish! Love the no boil method.
Just made this. Super fantastic! No complaints at all! (Will use a smaller bag next time but it was still a breeze, even with the big one).
I had some leftover sauce and lasagna filling that I had frozen from Christmas. Similar to yours, but with chop meat added to the filling. Used the zip lock method with ease. Got ’em in the oven now. Very simple to put together. If the manicotti shells (Ronzoni) get to al dente, I’m sure it will be a homerun.
These look amazing…I would love to make them but I despise Ricotta cheese…is there anything that I can use as a substitute?
Hmmm, some people use cottage cheese, but using all cottage cheese might be too much.
I made this and it was delicious. Little trouble with the bag method, but it was a great fun and an awesome bonding experience with my girls. This is not only super yummy but very easy to prepare. It made enough for two meals. Highly recommend.
I wish I’d seen your recipe before seeing the one that told me to parboil the cannolini. :/ And I think I’ll opt for a frosting bag next time I try! (though with the hard noodles, and a smaller hole in the bag, it may not be an issue.)
Gotta say that 45 min prep time is a lie!! 🙂 I think it only took me 15 mins to get everything mixed and piped into the shells. Couldn’t believe how easy it was with the ziploc. I accidentally started boiling the noodles and pulled them after 3.5 minutes. Actually worked out pretty well. I also browned some ground venison and added it to the marinara. Can’t wait to eat this!
I’m so glad you thought it was easy. Sometimes it takes me a while to stuff the shells, so I played it safe w/ a 45 min. prep time!
Your recipe is very similar to my veggie lasagna, except I use spaghetti sauce.
But why the jar sauce? It takes only 5 minutes to make a great sauce!
And you can certainly do that!
I made this today and it was absolutely DELICIOUS! I made some error and it didn’t turn out GREAT, but even though I made the error and it still tasted awesome meaning making it the right way will be even more fabulous! One mistake I made is using fresh spinach. I wilted it in a pan without using any oil, afterwards I totally forgot to squeeze the excess water out and that made the filling runny. The second mistake I made was not boil the shell before hand. Yes it cooked and everything (add another 10-15 min. since the 60 min wasn’t enough), but the powdery smell linger. Next time I plan to boil it slightly, not fully to get rid of the smell. Other than that the whole thing is WONDERFULLY DELISH!
If you are using the frozen spinach (thaw) or fresh (cooked) then use your potato ricer to squeeze the excess liquid out. Works wonderfully and far drier and easier than the towel wringing technique. You also get the added bonus of not putting the spinach and juice still in the towel in your laundry. I have never made riced potatoes in my life but I have used the tool many times for squeezing spinach.
Terrific tip- thank you!
Thank you for this recipe! I like how you used the pictures, it allowed making this recipe so simple!
It’s been ages since I made manicotti, so I needed a refresher on what cheeses to use. I never thought of cream cheese, thank you. And thank you especially for the baggie idea, why did i never think of that!
Can fresh spinach be used? I find frozen tastes funny.
Yes, but you’d probably want to heat it and wilt it and squeeze the liquid out of it first.
Thanks! This was easy and fun to make.
Made this last night. Subbed feta for the cream cheese and it was fantastic! Easy and everyone loved it, I’ll definitely make it again.
My father a professional chef always taught me to use a pinch of nutmeg in my stuffed shells , manicotti’ or lasagne stuffing found it to make a tasteful difference
Just finished eating this, fed me and my roommates and they all said this needs to be a once a week meal. Simple to make and deffinitly a good idea to prepare a day in advance.
My family loved these have asked me to make again for famy day!!! Going to try not cooking noodles this time after reading blog. Thanks for recipe
Made this the other day! Fed me and my roommates for days! It was delicious.
Great recipe and so simple don’t know why I don’t make it more often. I used the same filling for chicken roulades, wonderful!!!
I’ve used this recipe twice now. Absolutely delicious. The 2nd time I actually added 1/2 lb of ground beef to the sauce, then put that on top of the manicotti. I like it both ways!
I made this for dinner tonight, it was a perfect potrion of stuffing for the box of manicotti. My husband and kids loved it, thanks for the recipe.
I also had extra filling and sauce leftover, which I think the filling should freeze well for another use.
Made this last night, cooked it and had it for dinner. Might I say this was the BEST manicotti I’ve ever made! Made a few modifications: dash of garlic powder, dash of italian seasoning, parmesan, asiagio and romano shredded cheese mix to the cheese mixture. Browned up out of their casings, 3 hot italian sausage links, drained and added 2 jars Paul Newman Marinara sauce and let simmer while I filled the manicotti. For those who have issues using the plastic bag, and I was hesitant after reading the reviews, so I got one of my daughter’s old baby spoons out of the drawer (the kind with the rubber spoon part, I still use them to get into the horseradish jars LOL) and used that to fill the manicotti and it worked beautifully!! I also must say, it is SO much easier to fill them uncooked! Placed a layer of sauce on the bottom, filled the casserole dish with as many as I could (12, had two left over didn’t fill them) and covered them with the sauce completely. I topped them with a little fresh mozzarella that i had leftover from another recipe, and some for of the trio cheese mix, covered it and baked it as directed. Came out perfectly cooked! Thank you Lori, for such an amazingly awesome recipe!!! I will never cook noodles for manicotti or lasagna, ever again!!!
I made this today and it’s in the fridge right now. I had filled 14 manicotti shells and still have a lot of fillings left over. Can’t wait to cook it!
I made these yesterday. They were so delicious! I will say that you might want to use name brand for the shells because sometimes the cheaper ones don’t make the holes on the end big enough to pipe it through. Also, invest in a pastry bag because it can be difficult to get into the shells with plastic zip lock bags. I made it work but it would be easier using a pastry bag. This was a great recipe and I will be making it again! Thanks!
You’re absolutely right- pastry bags do indeed make it much easier to fill the shells!
What is the nutritional value? Calories, fat, sodium etc?
No idea- but there are recipe calculators online that you can use if you want to figure it out. I usually use the Spark People Recipe Calculator.
This was a great dish… The first time I made it I didn’t have spinach. I have another batch in the oven right now. Thank you for this easy tutorial! My whole family loves it.
THIS IS DELICIOUS! Best manicotti I have EVER had.
They LOVE it and I did too.
I’m making it tonight, can’t wait to taste it. I hope my family like it. If they like it I’ll try making it again. I know I’ll like it . Because I like trying something different. I put ground Sausage in mind.
I making this tonight and can’t wait to try it!!!
Do you think I could stuff this filling into jumbo shells?
I added lightly sautéed shrimp (diced to make stuffing easier). It was delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
This is soooooooo yummy. I didn’t have ricotta so I used small curd whole milk cottage cheese. And stuffing the manicotti without cooking it was much easier.
Would it be ok to boil the noodles just for a couple of minutes first, just to make sure they get soft?
There is no need! I suppose you could if you were worried about it though. They will be more difficult to stuff.
My 12 yr old daughter and I just made this Manicotti dish and it is great! I didn’t change anything from the recipe and I can’t see a reason to do so. We froze half of the shells and will have the rest sometime within the week. Great recipe! Two thumbs up!
This is a very easy , to make recipe. It’s like I cant believe I made it.
and re-heated left-overs, the next day are even better.
Im thinking making a ex’s favorite food will somehow attract him to me again. idk i hope so at least. it did before. but now im gonna make his favorite food which is manicotti tomorrow and i need a recipe. me and him are best friends now. and i really want him to feel the same way i do. they say food is the way to a man’s heart. if its true i might as well give it a try. Do you think this recipe will do the trick? 🙁
I am making this tonight with large pasta shells. They’re much easier to fill than real manicotti. Also I am leaving out the spinach and adding basil, parsley, and garlic salt. I would have kept the spinach, but my step dad isn’t a spinach lover and I prefer to have raw spinach. I’m hoping it works out well. 🙂
The first time I ate Manicotti was when I was living in New York for a year. It was those frozen already filled shells that u simply pour sauce over and I fell inlove with it! Now I am back home in South Africa and could NEVER find anything that was even slightly similar… Until I found your recipe! So simple and yummy omw! Thank you so very much 🙂 and the fact that I made it from scratch was even more rewarding!!
I made this last night and it is absolutely AMAZiNG!!!!! It took me a while to cook but you know it’s all worth it at the end! I used all the shells and still have left over filling! I’m so glad I found this! He filling is the fun part;)
this is so easy to make and even impressed my sisters boyfriend who is italian.lol
Spinach can be defrosted in the microwave. Punch some holes in the box with an icepick, defrost. Squeeze the box till all liquid is gone. Either buy chopped spinach or cut spinach up with scissors.
Will the Manicotti actually cook? i’m worried they will be hard?
Yes! It should cook up just fine- make sure the manicotti are completely covered with sauce. I use Classico Tomato-Basil sauce and it turns out perfect!
I made this last week for my daughter & family. I did use fresh spinach – no one mentioned it was watery! Looked & smelled wonderful – wich I could have tried it!
I just made this for dinner, and unfortunately the shells stayed hard 🙁 not sure what went wrong. I am wondering if I should have boiled them first.
No idea!– were the shells completely covered in sauce? They should have softened up w/ baking (no need to pre-boil noodles). Works every time for me using Classico Sauce.
looking for something to do with my ‘famous’ spaghetti sauce that is different. Thanks for the recipe.
Awesome hit–have made it twice and smiles all around. Quick tip: After thawing the spinach and squeezing it, chop it finer with a knife. My brand of chopped spinach is chopped too coarsely, which gave me issues with clogging the piping bag. Chopped finely, though, filling the shells was a breeze.
Have also used this filling for a lasagna with browned jalapeno chicken sausage in the meat sauce. Gave it a small kick which everyone raved about. Thanks for the recipe!
This was absolutely delicious! My dad boyfriend his brother and grandpa “all picky eaters” loooved it! In my cook book great job!
I’ve made manicotti before, but have always used a spoon to stuff them. It’s always messy, the pasta normally tears (from boiling them only 2-3 minutes,) and takes a really long time. When I saw this I felt so inspired to try it for dinner tonight because it looked so easy! I added very small bits of chicken, sundried tomatoes, and kalamata olives. Well, it wasn’t as easy as I expected. I think my first problem was that I cut the hole in the bag too big! The second problem was that as I squeezed the bag it actually slid out from the tube, even when I was holding the noodle firmly around the bag. My husband had to help me hold the bag, and together we manged to stuff all the noodles.
It was a fun experiment. I may try it a few more times until I master the bag technique. Thanks for the idea!!
I made this last week and it was such a hit that I just put another batch in the oven as we speak!!!! Thank you do much for the recipe, my family thanks you as well!!!!!
You’re welcome- it’s a family favorite of ours too!
Are you married to Monte Lange from Billings?
I intend on making this recipe this weekend! I am considering making my own sauce as well as using shrimp as well. Excited to make it
New noodle tip for everyone – Lasagna noodles work great for easy manicotti.Cook noodles till aldente, use pastry or ziploc bag as stated to make a line of filling across the noodle shortways, roll, cut with knife or pizza cutter (easier) place seam side down. Each noodle makes 3-4 cute short manicotties depending on how thick you pipe the filling. Bake for about 30 min or till bubbly. Then add cheese till melted.
This was SOS delicious! We all loved it. Thanks so much. I pinned it!
sorry whats a sieve? is it a strainer? i could just do that, thanks!
sorry- it’s a very fine strainer. If you just use a pasta strainer, frozen spinach is chopped into such small pieces that they might sneak through the holes. Give it a shot.
If I dont have time to thaw the spinach out is there something else I could do? I love spinach so i dont want to leave it out. Fresh spinach wouldnt work right? Caus it wouldnt cook fully?
Fresh spinach won’t work bc it will add too much moisture into the filling. If you have fresh spinach, chop it and then sauté it to draw out the moisture, then squeeze dry. Can you put the frozen spinach in a fine sieve and run water over it to thaw?
I am extremely new to cooking but this looks fairly easy and really exciting. My only problem is that my fiancé won’t eat anything without meat. Do you have any suggestions on how I can incorporate meat into this meal?
Fry up some ground beef and mix it into the filling?
Made these for dinner and they turned out great. What a time saver and way easier than having to boil the noodles first.
Thanks for this recipe
I have made this several time and it is amazing!! This last time we sauted onions, mushrooms and bell peppers and added it to the spinach and cheese mix. IT WAS AMAZING!!! It also easily adjusts to a lasagna if your short on time!
I’m a newbie (gave up fast-food) in the kitchen and this recipe went off without a hitch! Ziploc bag route was messy but fun. This is how a recipe website should be (PHOTOS PHOTOS PHOTOS). Thanks and keep up the good work.
My Teeny will be making this for us tonight! She is excited for the ‘no cook’ method on the noodles. She is gonna show that noodle who is da boss!!
Awesome- let me know how it works out for Teeny!
Does it really work to not precook the shells? I do hate that half of them split in the boiling stage but I don’t want chewy pasta either.
yes, it really works 🙂
@Eric: Thanks. I would try it out that way next weekend.
Looks so delicious ! Will try this recipe for dinner tonight! 🙂
@Dee, I read a recipe today that substituted 1/2 cottage cheese for 1/2 ricotta. I imagine you could use all cottage cheese, but I know a few people who don’t like cottage cheese right along with ricotta and cream cheese. Tofu (drained) would be strange and different, but maybe with the right spices and grated cheese?
My batch is in the oven right now. I added some sage sausage cooked with onions and garlic. I just pulled it out of the oven and tried it…it’s delicious!
I tried this and it was delicious. But my friends don’t like the ricotta or cream cheese. Is it ok to leave out either the ricotta or cream cheese? If so, how do I make up for the loss?
I’m not sure it would really be manicotti at all if you had to leave out the ricotta! Not sure what you’d do to substitute that…
ugh, never making again. I added chopped bell pepper to the mix, MISTAKE. what a royal mess. Taste is good though.
Loved it, so much easier not cooking shells ahead of time. Made one little change I added ground italian sausage to the sauce for a little extra kick. Yummy I could live off this….
i like that i dont have to cook the shells first….it really gets messy and they break after cooking
Pasta-man comment makes me wonder about the “oven ready” lasagna noodles they sell, those must be left raw. And I would agree with the way Lori thinks, maybe baking them for an hour gets rid of whatever is there.
I’ve made manicotti cooking the shells and it’s really annoying when they split. Next time I will try this recipe. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful recipe. I made it last Sunday and my husband enjoyed it so much that he asked me to do it again today for Thanksgiving dinner so we can share it with the rest of the family. Next time I will add onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
I boiled the manicotti for a few minutes (they were still hard, just to get rid of the powder flavor). I used Ziploc snack bags for the filling. It was pretty easy. Also, I added ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg to the initial mix. I baked 35 minutes (covered) and an additional 10 minutes (uncovered).
I still need to work on the baking time.
I just finished making this, but i forgot to add salt. :\ Anways I love yout recipe! I used!
OMG!! THIS WAS AMAZING!!! I was a little hesitant with the hard raw shells… But THIS IS DEFINITELY GOING IN MY DINNER RECIPE BOOK!! I absolutely loved it and so did my husband. I’m watching my husband eat a second place right now. Lol!! I only used a half a block of spinach cause im not a huge fan of spinach and it was perfect!!!
i love manicotti but im not a huge fan of spinach so i substituted basil and chives with a small amount of mushrooms and it came out beautifully
Best.manicotti.ever. Amazing recipe! Thanks Lori!
I added cremini mushrooms, shallots, garlic cloves to the recipe. Mixed all in a food processor and added to the spinach mix in a large bowl. Delicious!
This receipe looks delicious! I will only be cooking for my husband and I so what is the best way to split this and freeze half it?
I’d prepare the recipe in two pans right up until the point before you bake it. Cover the one that you’d like to freeze w/ plastic wrap and foil and freeze it. When you’re ready to bake it, defrost it overnight and then bake as directed. We do this too!
Lori- you are a genius. I love your recipes. They are all wonderful. I made this for dinner tonight and I can definitely say it was worth the two hour wait (I was hungry when I started). Never made Manicotti before, but you made it so easy- especially by not cooking the shells! I was hesitant but after the first bite I was all smiles. I should of know never to doubt you!
Yahoo- great to hear that it was a hit. Most people are skeptical of the uncooked noodles, but they work!
I work in a pasta manufacturing plant and I would not use raw pasta directly in any dish. The pasta gets exposed to a lot of dust, dirt, and other unsavory things during the drying and packing process. I guess you can rinse it in water but it is better to parboil it in a lot of water. Same thing goes with adding pasta to soup.
Hmmm. Interesting. I’ve been doing it all my life- maybe the cooking process gets rid of anything unsavory.
I made this the other night for my boyfriend and I,.. delicious!! I forgot to add the cream cheese (which I was really interested in trying out!) but it still turned out really good. Left overs for days! I can’t wait to make this again, and next time I will for sure remember the cream cheese. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!
Gonna try it tonite and I will let you know how it turns out 🙂 It sure looks yummy!
This was really good! I had never made this before but it was really easy to do. I love your blog! Keep doing the great things you do ( :
Although skeptical about not boiling the manicotti beforehand, my curiosity about the surprising addition of cream cheese won. For a large group last night, I whipped up (no exaggeration; this really comes together quickly, especially w/ aide of Ziploc freezer bag for filling duty) two batches and they were wonderful. The filling was rich, creamy and full of flavor and the manicotti were perfectly cooked. Especially considering the elimination of the troublesome old step of boiling manicotti and filling the still warm pasta w/out splitting, yadda, yadda, yadda, this recipe is a keeper!
So glad you enjoyed! Yep, so much easier to fill the noodles when they’re not falling apart!
Made it last night! It was delicious with homemade garlic bread and some wine, just like you said!
Had a tough time filling the manicotti, but I’ll put that down to being completely inexperienced with filled pastas. Worth it in the end!
Just bookmarked this one. Geez, I love your site! 🙂
Made this last night and it was delicious! Next time, I won’t put all of the filling in the Ziploc bag at once. That was the most difficult part of the recipe, and that wasn’t hard at all! Will make this again and again.
Great way to fill the shells–your photos are provide a clear demo. Thanks!
WOW! Thanks for this recipe!
This is going on the menu as our “Meatless Monday” meal next week! Thanks for sharing!
Great photos & recipe
Back to leave a quick review…..this recipe is wonderful! I used no fat/low fat for all the cheeses, prepared the dish a day ahead-popped it in the oven after work while we hit the gym. Had my doubts about the uncooked shells, but they were delicious! This is a keeper.
A favorite in my house for sure! You can’t go wrong with a classic like this.
Why have I never thought of using uncoiled shells?! I’ve made it many times, cooking the pasta as the box instructs, and the shells always split. Thanks for a great technique tip!
I adore manicotti but I have yet to make it myself. Yours looks delicious!
I assembled these today-will bake tomorrow evening. I tried using a large ziplock bag without success to stuff the pasta. Guess I need to invest in some pastry bags! 🙂
@Jill, No success using a big zip bag? It’s a little trickier, but I’ve done it before. Maybe just a little filling in the bag at a time… hard to manage it when it’s full.
This manicotti recipe looks delicious. I love that you can make it with uncooked pasta which is so much easier to work with. The filling would also be delicious for stuffed shells, another great comfort meal I haven’t had in too long!
I haven’t made manicotti in a long time. I’m going to have to try this. Looks wonderful as usual!
I never think to make manicotti, but know my family would absolutely love this dish.
The first time I made manicotti I tried to stuff them with a spoon. You are so right that a pastry bag is MUCH easier!
I love how easy these are! Yum!
I love your method for filling the manicotti, so easy and quick .. I used to stay a long time on this stage, using only a teaspoon :))):)))
I’ve always found this so hard to make, but never realized I could do it without boiling the manicotti! You rock.
I have a question. Why do you add cream cheese? It’s something I’ve never heard of and am curious about it.
This looks lovely! Awesome recipe!
I love the way you stuff your pasta! I’m totally going to do that from now on.
Oh, I am SO hungry. This looks so good!
I love simple pasta dishes like this – your manicotti look perfect!
Great tutorial! Love any kind of stuffed pasta, but add spinach and I am likely to be the happiest girl at the table! Yum!
Yum! I’ve got all the ingredients for this, might have it for dinner tonight! 🙂
Yum! Can’t wait to try these! 🙂
This is seriously making my mouth water right now. Is it bad that I want them for breakfast right now?
I love manicotti but I’ve never made it at home! Thank you for the delicious recipe!
LOVE manicotti! Gorgeous!
One of my favorite meals!
I love Manicotti but I always thought it would be difficult to make. This is now on my must try list!
Wow, this does look delicious! I’ve actually never made manicotti before.