Kittencal's Spinach & Four-Cheese Manicotti (Vegetarian)

"I have been making this recipe for years, it is *the best* manicotti recipe hands down! --- I have made this many times for dinner parties and have made it for socials and large gatherings increasing amounts of coarse, I have even served this at my Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday table as an extra dish along with a turkey or ham --- to save time I always mix up the filling a day ahead and refrigerate this will also give the flavors a chance to blend together, or you may prepare up to step #9 cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours --- don't forget to cook the spinach first before using for this recipe"
photo by amri92 photo by amri92
photo by amri92
photo by Cooking Christa photo by Cooking Christa
photo by FrenchBunny photo by FrenchBunny
photo by FrenchBunny photo by FrenchBunny
photo by Chef Decadent1 photo by Chef Decadent1
Ready In:
1hr 10mins
8 manicotti




  • Set oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  • In a skillet, saute onion (if using) in oil for about 4 minutes or until softened (adding in the garlic the last 2 minutes).
  • In a mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 1-1/2 cup mozza cheese, cream cheese, 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning; beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and well combined.
  • Season with white salt or seasoned salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Stir in onion mixture and spinach; mix well to combine.
  • Spoon into cooked and cooled manicotti shells.
  • Pour half of the pasta sauce into the prepared baking dish.
  • Arrange shells over sauce (at this point you may cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or continue with the recipe as follows).
  • Top with the remaining sauce, use a spoon to spread the sauce over the shells (the sauce does not have to cover the shells completely).
  • Sprinkle about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (or to taste) over the sauce.
  • Cover and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Uncover and top with mozzeralla cheese (any amount desired).
  • Bake 5 mins longer, or until cheese is melted.
  • Let stand 10 mins before serving.
  • Note; If desired the spinach can be omitted completely.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Great recipe!I have made this three times. The first time, I followed it as listed. I never made manicotti before, and didn't realize how much work goes into stuffing the things. The second time, I used only half as much spinch, but I used fresh also. Seemed to me to be the perfect amount. The third time, I was lazy and used jumbo shells, and of course its the filling that makes this dish. Filling the shells was alot easier than the manicotti.Awesome recipe.EDIT: I have now made these over 50 times. I still swear by this recipe. The only tweaks are the ones listed above, and occasionally I add 1/2 pound of hot or mild Italian Sausage. Browning them, and draining the fat. Then I let it cool to room temp., before adding to the mixture.
  2. Very, very good!! I never cook the shells though, Always raw. I just add about 1/2 cup of water to the sauce and cook it about 20 minutes longer. Much easier to stuff the shells.
  3. Very good manicotti recipe. I usually just throw together my ingredients but decided to follow a recipe this time. It was very easy to make and turned out delicious. I find that when I undercook the manicotti noodles by a minute or two, they are easier to stuff and they soften up fine as they cook. They were still slightly stiff as I stuffed them. I liked the addition of the cream cheese and the spinach. The version I usually make has egg instead of cream cheese. I used a canned marinara sauce this time but next time I plan to make Kittencal's Marinara that looks wonderful. I expect it will make this even better!
  4. Very yummy! Like something you would get an Italian restaurant. I only had fresh spinach, so I steamed about 4 cups in place of the frozen spinach. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly.
  5. So rich, creamy and delicious. I made the filling three days prior to using. On the morning of the day I was serving, I cooked the manicotti just until they were flexible, piped the filling in the manicotti, using a zip-lock bag and that made them easier to fill.I kept them in the fridge until I was ready to bake. They turned out just perfect, really flavorful. I added the optional onion and didn't cook the frozen spinach, but did squeeze out as much water as I could. I'm looking forward to the leftovers and to making them again.Thanks for sharing this recipe.


  1. I sauted the onion and garlic but it got too brown and I didn't think it would look very appealing so I substituted garlic and onion powders. I used Kitten's Marinara Sauce and left out the spinach. I also used an Italian cheese blend instead of just mozzarella and I think that gave the flavor of the filling more depth. This was very well received.
  2. Delicious! I had to make some changes because the supermarket didn't have ricotta so I substituted it and the cream cheese for drained cottage cheese and mascarpone, which gave it the right flavour and consistency. The recipe was a lot of work but well worth it. I just made my usual pasta sauce and it worked perfectly. Thanks for staring!
  3. Another great recipe from Kittencal! I made the following changes; instead of regualr onion I used green onions chopped for color, added some basil and parsley to the cheese mixture. I used classico spicey basil tomato pasta sauce and the result was a great Manicotti...thanks for another winner!
  4. LOVED IT! I used goat cheese instead of cream cheese, fresh mozzarella, fresh spinach instead of frozen, and less parmesan than listed. It filled about 14 manicotti, but I also didn't follow the measurements exactly. Will definitely make this again.
  5. Everyone just adored this when I cooked it for my SIL's Italian party. As I had some of the filling leftover I decided to shred a BBQ Chicken that I also had. I mixed the chicken in with the cold filling mix and wrapped the mixture in phyllo pastry for dinner that night. What a delight. My daughter (a chef)insisted I make some more of the filling for her to take to work the next day. I also gave her the recipe. They made it for their chef's lunch at work and they are now using an adapted version to produce a chef's special at the restaurant. Apparantly they are using a bechamel sauce instead of pasta sauce. Sounds too yummmmmmmy.



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