Baked Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti

A serving of spinach stuffed manicotti on a white plate.

Cheesy baked manicotti is a traditional Italian recipe that elicits eager “oohs and aahs” when it hits the table. It’s easy to make stuffed manicotti at home — with just a few ingredients. This spinach and ricotta pasta bake uses large tubular pasta filled with seasoned spinach and 3-cheeses. This recipe makes a big casserole of baked spinach and cheese manicotti that the whole family will love.

Ingredients for the stuffed manicotti.
I used whole milk ricotta and grated my own grana padana cheese. Pre-shredded mozzarella works well in this.

Why you’ll love this baked spinach and cheese manicotti recipe

  • Stuffed manicotti is easy to make with just a few steps.
  • You can use jarred marinara sauce (or homemade – whatever you have on hand).
  • You don’t need any special equipment to stuff the manicotti noodles.
  • It makes a big 13″ x 9″ casserole to feed the whole family.
  • It’s so cheesy!

What are manicotti noodles?

Manicotto” in Italian loosely translates as “a big sleeve.” Manicotti noodles (Cannelloni in Italy) are large tubular pasta (sleeves) made for stuffing. The tubes are thick and sturdy with a wavy ridged look.

Look for manicotti noodles near the lasagna sheets and large shells in the pasta aisle.

Do you have to cook manicotti noodles before baking?

Manicotti needs to be par-cooked before stuffing and baking, so you’ll first want to get a large pot of water on to boil. Make sure the pot is of sufficient size to give the noodles room to cook without crowding them and sticking together.

Newsletter Signup
Join our community of food lovers!

Get my latest recipes, helpful kitchen tips and more good things each week in your inbox.

Cook the pasta to a minute or two sooner than al dente, so the pasta is pliable but still sturdy (the stuffed manicotti will finish cooking in the oven). Gently transfer the cooked noodles (so they don’t crack or break) to a sheet pan. Drizzle the manicotti with olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.

cooked manicotti noodles cooling on a pan.
Let the noodles cool after par-boiling, so they’re easier to handle.

What you’ll need for spinach manicotti

  • Manicotti
  • Olive OIl
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried Oregano
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Roasted Red Pepper
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Shredded Mozzarella
  • Grana Padana (or Parmesan)
  • Egg
  • Marinara Sauce

A note about the ingredients:

  • Ricotta is a soft cheese with a fine, grainy texture. It’s sold in tubs in the refrigerated section of your grocer. You can use whole milk or skim ricotta for this recipe.
  • I’m usually a stickler for grating your cheese, but this recipe’s pre-grated mozzarella works fine.
  • Use REAL Grana Padano or authentic Parmigiano Reggiano, and DO grate it yourself. Flavor-wise, you can taste the difference.
  • I usually have some homemade marinara sauce in my freezer for occasions like this, but a good low-sugar store-bought variety works well here too. Publix marinara sauce is my go-to.
assembling the cheese and spinach filling for the manicotti.
The filling can be assembled in one skillet and the only thing that really needs to cook is the garlic. Sauté it first, with the spices, then remove from heat and stir in the well drained spinach, diced roasted peppers, cheeses and the egg.

How to make easy spinach manicotti

  1. Cook the manicotti noodles to al dente, drizzle with olive oil and set aside to cool on a large sheet pan.
  2. Sauté the garlic in olive oil and add the dried spices.
  3. Stir in the thawed and drained spinach, chopped roasted red pepper, cheese and egg.
  4. Stuff the manicotti noodles with the spinach and cheese filling.
  5. Spread a little marinara sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish and top it with the stuffed manicotti noodles.
  6. Add more marinara and top with grated mozzarella cheese.
  7. Cover and bake until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is gooey and melted.
mixing the spinach and cheese stuffing for the manicotti noodles.
Stir the filling well so the ingredients are evenly combined with no big clumps.


  • Par-cooked manicotti noodles are sturdy, but they can tear or break, so treat them delicately. Don’t force or overstuff the pasta.
  • If you have disposable piping bags, that’s a great way to stuff the noodles with the spinach and ricotta filling. Don’t use a piping tip, as the red bell peppers and spinach can block up the opening. I recommend snipping off enough of the end of the bag to give you about a three-quarter to one-inch diameter opening.
  • If you don’t have a piping bag, use a zip-top quart or gallon storage bag. Squeeze out the air, seal the bag, then snip off a corner to pipe the spinach cheese filling into the manicotti.
piping the filling into the manicotti noodles.
It’s easier to fill the manicotti if you hold it gently and let the noodle rest on the counter. Don’t over-stuff.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Use cottage cheese in place of the ricotta.
  • Swap kale or escarole for the spinach.
  • Add diced mushrooms.
  • Include chopped pepperoni in the marinara or the filling.
A casserole of stuffed manicotti with marinara and cheese.

What our tasters said:

“It’s so rich and cheesy, but the spinach makes it healthy, right?” – Scott

I love the seasoning blend in the cheese! It’s got a little kick. – Lisa


Can I make the spinach and cheese stuffed manicotti ahead of time?

Yes. You can assemble the casserole up to one day ahead and refrigerate it. Remove the cheese manicotti from the refrigerator about half an hour before baking — cold stuffed pasta will take longer to cook than at room temperature.

How long will leftovers last?

It’s baked manicotti — so in my house, they won’t last long as someone will claim them for lunch. However, they will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Can I freeze spinach manicotti?

Yes. I recommend baking it first, letting it cool to room temperature, then covering it well and freezing it for up to two months—Defrost before reheating.

A plate of stuffed manicotti with parsley garnish.

Tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review.

Your comments and shares are invaluable to me and the thousands of readers who use this site daily. If you've made the recipe, leave a star rating and review. We want to hear how you liked it.

We'd love it if you shared the recipe with your friends on social media!

Serving two stuffed manicotti noodles on a white plate.
Print Pin
5 from 9 votes

Spinach Manicotti

These stuffed manicotti are cheesy, rich and delicious. Use a package of thawed frozen spinach for the cheese filling and your favorite jarred marinara or homemade (even better). Makes a great vegetarian meal that the whole family will enjoy!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword manicotti, ricotta, stuffed pasta
Dietary Restrictions Vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6


  • disposable piping bag no piping tips required
  • 1 13 x 9″ casserole dish or two 1 quart casseroles


  • 8 ounce package manicotti noodles
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil divided
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼-½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon Morton’s
  • 10 ounce package frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
  • ½ cup roasted red bell pepper from a jar drained, patted dry and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese divided
  • ½ cup grated grana padano or parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups marinara sauce


  • Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  • Cook the manicotti noodles to 2 minutes before “al dente” according to the manufacturers instructions. Drain the noodles and transfer to a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil to coat and set aside to cool.
  • Squeeze all of the liquid out of the spinach until it’s mostly dry. (You can do this with your clean hands, or my preferred method is to wrap it in a clean dish towel, secure the ends and twist and squeeze with a lot of pressure, so the excess liquid leaks out.) Set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic softens and is fragrant.
  • Stir in the basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper and cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the spinach and cook, stirring regularly for about 1-2 minutes or until well mixed. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Add the chopped bell pepper to the spinach mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Add the ricotta, 1 cup of grated mozzarella and the grana adana cheeses to the spinach mixture. Make a well in the center of the cheese and add the egg. Whisk the egg and gradually incorporate the cheeses and spinach mixture until everything is well blended.
  • Transfer the spinach mixture to a large disposable piping bag (or use a quart sized zip top storage bag and seal it.) Snip the end off the bag to allow for a 1/2″ opening.
  • Spread 1 to 1½ cups of marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Set aside.
  • Insert the end of the bag into a cooked manicotti noodle and squeeze the filling into the pasta. Transfer the pasta to the baking dish. Continue stuffing the manicotti with the ricotta and spinach mixture, until all the noodles are filled and the casserole is full.
  • Spoon the remaining marinara over the pasta and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Serve.


YouTube video


Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 1675mg | Potassium: 750mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 6889IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 556mg | Iron: 4mg

Pin Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Manicotti for later!

a pin to save for later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Denise Gardella says:

    5 stars
    This was a HUGE HIT! I stuffed the ricotta per the receipe. I did seriously upgrade the sauce to a made-from-scratch lamb bolognese sauce. The plates were licked clean. The extra time to make the sauce was worth it!

  2. Stephanie L says:

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe, thank you! I will admit I am always confused of how many ounces are in 2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese is. When it comes to grated/shredded cheeses, I really it would be much less confusing if those measurements were given in ounces. Otherwise everyone loved this dish!

  3. 5 stars
    So good even though I didn’t have the red bell peppers! I also cooked down 8 oz of fresh spinach and chopped it afterwards. The spice combination made this much better than other versions I’ve tried!

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious!! Pretty easy and the house smells so good!