Million Dollar Manicotti is stuffed with four types of cheese and topped off with marinara, ground beef, and melty mozzarella. Perfect for family dinner!
Just like Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti, this is the perfect cheesy, pasta dish with a meat sauce. It’s all baked together in the oven for an amazingly comforting Midweek Meal that can easily serve a crowd.
MILLION DOLLAR MANICOTTI
After a few minutes of prep, this dish is ready to pop in the oven. The Marinara Sauce, cheese filling, delicious beef, and mozzarella topping all cook together with the pasta shells into melty, bubbly perfection. It’s the perfect comfort meal that you can enjoy with your family any day, or impress a crowd on a more special occasion.
Although the recipe takes over an hour to completely finish, most of that is oven time. After you’ve taken a couple of minutes to prepare the ricotta filling, and brown the ground beef, all you have to do is combine it all with the pasta and the marinara sauce in the baking dish. It’s impressive enough for a dinner party, but simple enough to serve for a midweek meal.
Another great thing about this recipe is that it has all the flavors of your favorite Italian dishes. The tomato sauce and cheesy meat combination come together with a handful of other ingredients for the most comforting pasta bake ever. It’s sure to be favorite and easy to serve with other Italian classics like Garlic Bread or a simple garden salad topped with Italian Dressing.
- Prep time: Start by preheating the oven and getting out a 9×13-inch baking dish. If you’re using homemade marinara sauce, you’ll also want to make it ahead of time, but you can also use a store-bought jar of spaghetti sauce.
- Cheese filling: Add the ricotta cheese, softened cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 egg, garlic Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to a large bowl. Stir together the cream cheese mixture, then transfer it to a ziplock bag. Cut one of the bottom corners off the bag, then pipe the filling into the uncooked manicotti noodles.
- Ground beef mixture: Add the ground beef, salt, and pepper in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, breaking apart the meat as you go until you have browned ground beef, and drain off the excess fat.
- Assemble: Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the casserole dish. Lay out the stuffed manicotti in a single layer. Then sprinkle the cooked ground beef and remaining sauce over noodles. Finish it with another mozzarella cheese layer.
- Bake: Cover the manicotti with foil then bake for 45-50 minutes, until the noodles are tender and the cheesy beef mixture is bubbly.
- Broil: Take the dish from the oven and remove the aluminum foil. Then set the oven to broil and return the dish to bake until slightly browned on top. Be sure to let it cool for 4-6 minutes before serving so that the filling doesn’t burn you.
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- Meat: There are different kinds of meat you can try in this recipe like ground turkey, ground chicken, or Italian sausage. You could also keep the beefy flavor, but use lean ground beef for a slightly lighter dish.
- Sauce: Instead of marinara sauce, you can try using a Bolognese Sauce, organic tomato basil sauce, or Alfredo for a more cheesy, creamy sauce.
- Vegetables: You can also add some veggies to the filling ingredients. It would taste great with sliced bell pepper, red onion, fresh spinach, or mushrooms.
- Cheese filling: Try swapping out the cheeses in the recipe with other options like cottage cheese, or goat cheese to replace the ricotta. You can also try different kinds of pre-shredded cheese like provolone, Pepper Jack, cheddar cheese, or Swiss cheese.
- Seasonings: You can sprinkle some fresh herbs over the top like fresh parsley, fresh basil, oregano, or rosemary for some extra flavor.
ITALIAN SIDE DISHES
HOW TO STORE
- Serve: You can keep this recipe at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
- Store: Cover the dish in aluminum foil or plastic wrap to store in the fridge for 3-5 days. Then you can put it on a microwave-safe dish to reheat.
- Freeze: This is also a freezer-friendly recipe. Cover the dish tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil or transfer it to a freezer-safe container to store for up to 3 months. Reheat in a 375-degree oven until warmed through.
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese , softened
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese , shredded
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese , shredded (divided)
- 1 large egg
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 8 ounces manicotti shells
- 30 ounces marinara sauce , about 4 cups
- 1 pound ground beef , (85/15)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add ricotta cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to a large bowl.
- Put mixture into a large ziplock back and cut a 1 inch long opening into the bottom corner.
- Pipe filling into manicotti shells.
- Add 1 cup marinara to the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
- Add the stuffed shells and top with the remaining sauce.
- Add ground beef to a large skillet on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook until beef is just no longer pink then drain the fat.
- Sprinkle the beef over the stuffed shells and top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- 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, turn the oven up to broil.
- Put the baking dish back in the oven, uncovered, and broil until cheese is melty and lightly browned.
- Let cool 5 minutes before serving, the filling will be very hot.
Can you make this with jumbo shells? Manicotti shells are nowhere to be found at any stores around me.
I made this tonight, we loved it. Thank you for sharing.
I love that I don’t have to cook the pasta separately. The fam loved it, and we will definitely be making it again!
The manicotti noodles were not soft after 55 minutes, had to extend baking time. It’s little soupy. Maybe a blanching the noodles to get the cooking started would help.
Made this tonight and it was so good! I did half ground beef and half Italian sausage and added onions and peppers. Family went back for 2nds and 3rds!
Made this last night! So good!!!! It’s a keeper!!!
Do you cook the manicotti shells first?
No, you bake for 45-50 minutes until the shells are tender.
I don’t want to cook it until the night I eat it. I know it freezes well but how long can I keep it uncooked in the refrigerator?
Didn’t mention filling uncooked or cooked d shells before filling
This was very good. It took me a bit to get the knack of filling the noodles, but I finally got the hang of it. The cheese filling was really delicious and everyone complimented it.