Manicotti is an incredibly delicious, traditional Italian dish that is easier to make than it looks and is boldly intense in its flavors. Plenty of ricotta, meat, and cheese sauce all combine to something that is closer to a tasty casserole than a regular pasta dish.
Manicotti isn't that common outside of Italy, but it is a staple weeknight dinner meal for many Italian-American families.
While it is simple to make, you still need to get the balance right between the cheese and meat to get a good result.
This recipe uses a great food hack of your favorite four cheese pasta sauce to add all of the richness and cheesiness you need without having to make a complicated, properly seasoned cheese sauce at home.
Don’t forget to carefully examine the recipe card at the very bottom for all of the ingredients needed.
• Box of manicotti
• Ricotta cheese
• Parmesan cheese
• Salt & pepper
• Onion powder, dried basil
• Ground beef
• Minced Garlic
• Jar of Four Cheese pasta sauce
• Shredded Mozzarella cheese
How To Make Manicotti
• Add all of the filling ingredients together in medium-sized bowling, stirring to combine everything
• In a large skillet, fry the beef and onions until the onions are soft and the beef cooked through
• Drain the beef, add in the garlic and sauté for two minutes or until fragrant
• Stir in the jarred pasta sauce, and then remove the pan from the stove
• Soak the manicotti in boiling water for 5-6 minutes, then drain.
• Stuff the manicotti with the filling
• Spread out 1 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of the pan in an even layer
• Arrange the manicotti over the top of the sauce, pouring the remainder all over it
• Cover the manicotti with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling, at 350 Fahrenheit
• Remove the foil, sprinkle the top with the mozzarella cheese, and cook for another 10 minutes
• Rest for a few minutes before serving
What Actually Is Manicotti?
For those that didn’t grow up eating manicotti every week, manicotti is basically an Italian enchilada made from pasta rather than tortillas.
However, there is another Italian dish that is basically the same as manicotti, cannelloni. The only real difference between them is the size and shape of the pasta itself. Cannelloni is a cylinder, whereas manicotti is ridged and cut off on a bias, looking a bit like a coat sleeve. In fact, that’s where it gets its name – manicotti literally means “little sleeve.”
The key quality of a true manicotti, though, is the use of some really good ricotta and a great cheesy meat sauce to go along with it.
If you do it right, everything will be cheesy, creamy, fatty, and tender, falling apart easily when cut, but still sturdy enough to pick it up with a fork.
Do You Have to Use Manicotti Pasta here?
While the traditional Italian-American version of manicotti definitely requires a pasta dough cut into the distinctive sleeve patterns, there is another method you can make instead – crepes.
While it sounds extremely un-Italian, another version of manicotti uses crepes in the same way that enchiladas use tortillas, rolling them around the ricotta filling and making little parcels that way. This is very similar to nalysnyky, the Ukrainan dill crepes in my second cookbook!
If you want to go that route, simply replace the manicotti pasta in this recipe with two crepes per piece of manicotti. The extra crepe helps give it some extra structural integrity and helps it keep from falling apart.
Looking for more delicious Pasta recipes? Try these out:
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- Prep Time
- 30 minutes
- Cook Time
- 50 minutes
- Main Course
- 9×13 pan
- Karlynn Johnston
- one 8 ounce box Manicotti should be 12 manicotti total
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 large Eggs
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 2 teaspoons parsley flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- one 16 ounce jar Four Cheese Pasta Sauce
- 1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Minced Fresh Parsley if desired
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Get out a 9×13 pan and set aside.
- Combine the filling ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Stir together until they are thoroughly combined.
Four Cheese Meat Sauce
- In a large skillet, fry the ground beef and onions together until the onions are soft and the ground beef is cooked fully. Drain the ground beef. Add in the garlic, sauté for two minutes until fragrant. Drain the grease if desired, leaving a small amount for flavor.
- Stir in the pasta sauce and remove the pan from the stove.
- Soak the manicotti in boiling water for 5-6 minutes, then drain and set on a plate to cool slightly. Stuff the cooled manicotti with the prepared filling.
- Arrange the manicotti on top of the sauce and pour the remaining sauce over top. Cover the pan with aluminun foil tighyly.
- Place in the oven and bake until the meat sauce is bubbling. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese on top in an even layer. Return to the oven and bake again until the cheese is melted and bubbling
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve.
- There should be around 12 manicotti pasta in the 8 ounce box
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.