The Best Cheese Manicotti

"I love Italian food, and I love cooking for my friends at college, so that's how this dish evolved. I don't really use any written recipe when I make it, so some of the seasoning measurements are approximate. This makes seven 2 manicotti shell servings, which is a lot, but it tastes great even as leftovers."
photo by Mrs. Hughes photo by Mrs. Hughes
photo by Mrs. Hughes
Ready In:
1hr 5mins


  • 1 (14 count) box manicotti
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (Bertolli’s Burgundy Wine is the best)
  • 1 (30 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese (more if you like a lot of cheese)
  • 14 cup shredded parmesan cheese (not grated)
  • italian seasoning
  • basil
  • salt and pepper (optional)
  • minced garlic (optional)


  • Cook the manicotti shells according to the directions on the box.
  • Drain in colander and set aside to dry.
  • Mix all the ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, and 1/4 cup parmesan in a bowl.
  • Add an extra handful of mozzarella and a little more parmesan if you like it cheesier.
  • I like a lot of flavor in my manicotti so I just keep adding the basil and Italian seasoning until I think it’s enough.
  • If you don’t like a lot of seasoning, just put 1 tsp.
  • of each in.
  • If not, just keep adding until it's seasoned to your taste.
  • You can also add a dash of salt and pepper if you like or a little bit of garlic.
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Once the shells are drained and the cheese is mixed together, begin stuffing the shells.
  • Be careful because they have a tendency to split.
  • Pour about half of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and spread evenly before you place the shells in the dish.
  • Once all the shells arranged in the baking dish, pour the remainder of the marinara sauce on top.
  • Then add any leftover cheese on top of the sauce.
  • Sprinkle with basil and Italian seasoning.
  • Cover with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes.

Questions & Replies

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  1. MttaLeslie #385415
    I usually make stuffed shells or lasagna, but I had the manicotti shells in the cupboard so decided to put the effort into making them this afternoon. Couldn't believe my ears when both hubby and daughter said they liked these better than either of the others! And I had to agree with them--these were quite flavorful, though I used Classico's Four Cheese Marinara Sauce and went a little heavier on the mozz and parm than recipe called for! Have a feeling I'll be asked to make these more often -- and soon!
  2. Shaunna S.
    I made this dish and it turned out great. <br/>The whole family loved it. We did NOT have ANY leftovers. <br/>It also wasn't as hard to prepare as I thought it might be. <br/>I was under the impression that the noodles would break very easily and I guess sometimes they can..Maybe I just got lucky. But stuffing them was very easy for myself and my husband. Lol Yes my husband. He was very eager to help out with this dish!
  3. Charmie777
    Very good!!!! I used some homemade meatsauce and it was great!
  4. mommymakeit4u
    Exactly what I was looking for. Used some fresh basil leaves from my garden. Thanks!
  5. Mrs. Hughes
    This was very good and DH really liked it too. I followed the recipe exactly and it was very tasty and easy to make.



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