Cheesy Manicotti is the easiest kid-friendly Italian dinner. Baked pasta stuffed with ricotta and Parmesan cheese, smothered in mozzarella!
This cheesy Manicotti Noodle Bake is the perfect weeknight Dinner Recipe that is sure to impress the whole family. For more crowd-pleasing Italian dishes, try Ultimate Meat Lasagna and Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs.
This amazing Three Cheese Manicotti Dish will quickly become a favorite recipe in your house. The Parmesan and ricotta filling and melty mozzarella cheese on top make it an instant hit with any cheese lovers. Along with the cheesy goodness, you also get classic Italian flavors from the Marinara Sauce, garlic, parsley, and Italian seasoning. It’s the ultimate Italian comfort food!
If you haven’t cooked with manicotti pasta before, you’ll love how simple this recipe is. After combining the ricotta cheese filling all you have to do is pipe it into the tubes of pasta. Then bake it all with the sauce, no need to cook the pasta first. The pasta is cooked in the oven, so once it’s done you’ll have the perfect dish with melty cheese, tender pasta, and flavorful sauce ready to serve.
The Cheese Manicotti recipe looks impressive with its bubbly cheese topping, and seasoned cheese filling. It tastes and looks good enough to serve at an Italian restaurant, but it’s easy enough to enjoy with your family on a typical weeknight. It’s hearty and filling so you don’t need to make sides, but you can always serve with a batch of Easy Dinner Rolls to soak up all that extra cheese and pasta sauce.
You can even prepare this pasta dinner ahead of time and bake it the next day for a quick and easy dinner on busy nights. Simply stuff the shells and cover in sauce, cover dish with plastic wrap and foil. Refrigerate for up to 3 days unbaked and remove plastic wrap before covering again with foil and baking as usual. Freeze baked Cheesy Manicotti for up to 3 months and reheat in the oven until heated all the way through, too!
More Easy Italian Pasta Dinner Recipes
- Prep: A few minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and find a 9×13 inch baking dish with high sides to use for the recipe.
- Cheese mixture: Add the Italian parsley, minced garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to a large bowl. Add the ricotta and Parmesan cheese. Use a wooden spoon to fold the ricotta mixture until combined.
- Fill Pasta: Transfer the cheese filling to a resealable plastic bag. Cut an inch-long opening on one of the bottom corners. Pipe the mixture into each of the uncooked manicotti shells.
- Assemble: Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over the base of the casserole dish. Place the stuffed shells in a single layer over the prepared baking dish. Pour the remaining marinara sauce evenly over the top.
- Baking time: Cover the dish in tin foil, and bake for 45-50 minutes until the manicotti noodles are tender and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Broil: Remove the dish from the oven and top it with grated mozzarella cheese. Set the oven to broil and return it to the oven uncovered. Broil until the melty mozzarella cheese is slightly browned.
- Serve: Take the dish from the oven and give it at least 5 minutes to cool before serving. The filling is extremely hot, so you want to give it a little time so that it won’t burn you.
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- Seasonings: You can add any of your favorite spices or herbs to the cheese mixture. Fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, onion powder, or celery salt would all taste great.
- Meat: We’ve made this recipe without any meat, but you can easily add lean ground beef, ground turkey, or ground sausage to the filling mixture. Cook ground meat in a skillet over medium-high heat before starting the rest of the recipe. Break it apart and stir to make the meat brown on all sides. Drain grease and combine with the Parmesan and ricotta for a cheese-meat mixture.
- Vegetables: You can add your favorite veggies to the cheese mixture like a medium onion, spinach, bell pepper, or diced mushrooms. Saute the veggies first and pat dry to remove any excess moisture before stirring into the cheese filling.
- Cheese There are lots of variations you could try in the cheese mix for this recipe. When it comes to the cheese topping, try swapping provolone cheese, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, or cheddar cheese for 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese. For the cheese filling, try replacing half the ricotta with fresh goat cheese, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.
Easy Italian Side Dishes
How to Store
- Serve: This Manicotti Noodle Bake can stay good at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it should be stored.
- Store: Let any leftovers cool down, then cover the dish in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to store in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Freeze: You can also freeze the Cheese Manicotti recipe for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen or thawed, in a dish covered with foil, in the oven set to 375 degrees until warmed through.
- 1/4 cup parsley , minced
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups ricotta cheese , whole milk
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese , shredded
- 8 ounces Manicotti shells
- 4 cups Marinara Sauce , or 30 ounces of jarred sauce
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese , shredded
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to a large bowl.
- Fold in the ricotta and Parmesan cheese.
- Put mixture into a large ziplock back and cut a 1" long opening into the bottom corner.
- Pipe filling into manicotti shells.
- Spread 1 cup marinara evenly on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
- Add the stuffed shells and top with the remaining sauce.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes until the shells are tender and the filling is bubbling and melted.
- Remove from oven, uncover and top with mozzarella cheese.
- Turn the heat in the oven up to broil.
- Put the baking dish back in the oven and broil until cheese is melty and lightly browned.
- Let cool 5 minutes before serving, the filling will be very hot.