Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti

Here is a very short video showing you how to make Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti.  Scroll all the way to the end of the post to print out the full recipe.  If you’re viewing on mobile, click the yellow “read more” button below to view the whole post.

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 to Make Manicotti:

You need all of this stuff.

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.

How to Make Manicotti - Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti : from RecipeGirl.com

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 recipe will feed 6 or 7 hungry people- 2 stuffed shells each is plenty when served with salad and garlic bread.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti

This recipe for Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Manicotti was inspired by my Mom, who used to make this for all special family occasions before she had to say goodbye to manicotti noodles and go gluten-free.
Yield: 6 servings (2 manicotti per serving)

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed completely & squeezed dry
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box (12 to 14 shells) manicotti noodles
  • 3 to 4 cups marinara sauce (about 2 jars- or use homemade)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the spinach, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir together until well blended.
  3. Place about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in a 9x13-inch pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom.
  4. 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.
  5. Cover the pasta completely with marinara sauce, using about 2 1/2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Romano/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.
  6. 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.
SOURCE: RecipeGirl.com
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  • Jennifer Eggleston wrote:

    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.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      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.

  • Jana wrote:

    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…..?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Usually fine if you cover the pasta completely. Was it successful?

  • eric gray wrote:

    sounds great but I never tried it with uncooked pasta.i find it hard to believe it will cook thoroughly

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      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!

  • Amber wrote:

    That looks great. I do mine the same way but I cook my shells first.

  • Noel Brannum wrote:

    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!

  • Beth wrote:

    OMG!! This was AMAZEBALLS!! My kids LOVED this!!…even on leftover night…this was their choice!! SO yummy!! It’s in my rotation now!!!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      So glad it’s a new favorite for your family!

  • Nancy wrote:

    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!

  • Sam wrote:

    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

  • Nancy Rowlinson wrote:

    I used Barilla sauce. It had a good flavor. Also, did not, cover it.

  • Nancy Rowlinson wrote:

    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.

  • kellzin the sauce wrote:

    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

  • New Orleans Girl wrote:

    This also works with Lasagna. Cover with generous sauce, add 1 cup of water, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour on 350.

  • Monica wrote:

    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! 

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      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.

  • Jenny wrote:

    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

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Happy to hear!

  • Sarah wrote:

    Delicious! Made this tonight and only complaint was the noodles were not fully cooked through 🙁

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      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.

  • JenniferMarie Collison wrote:

    I bought fresh spinach, can I just use that? And how much?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      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.

  • JenniferMarie Collison wrote:

    Thank you!!

  • Luke wrote:

    Can this done in an air fryer? Will you include air fryer recipes or versions of in the future?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I don’t know anything about air fryers – sorry!

  • Giselle G wrote:

    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!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Thank you so much- that is great to hear!