Freezer Meal Recipes: The Best Manicotti

4.80 / 5 ( 5 Reviews )
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the best manicotti ever

The Best Manicotti Recipe

I make this Manicotti for dinner guests when I’m looking to impress and it is an awesome dish to take to other families since you can make it ahead of time and even freeze it. Throw in a side of garlic bread or breadsticks and a salad or steamed broccoli and you’re set.

manicotti sauce and cheese filling

I have made the filling with cottage cheese before instead of ricotta and it still turns out great! But the ricotta does offer a richer flavor and helps the manicotti keep its shape better.

manicotti lasagna noodle soaking

These noodles are perfect for manicotti. Great texture and easy to use.

assembling the manicotti

Assembling the manicotti is pretty easy too. Just roll them up gently to avoid tearing the noodles.

If I know we won’t eat the full 9×13 pan of it, I split the recipe between two 8×8 pans and freeze one of them.

Learn More About Freezer Meal Cooking:

Freezer Meal Recipes: The Best Manicotti

Even with a from-scratch sauce, the recipe is fairly simple. And the results are delicious! It will easily rival any restaurant's manicotti.
4.80 / 5 ( 5 Reviews )
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 47 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
Serves: 8
Adjust Servings: 8



  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil

Filling and Pasta:

  • 3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese about 24 ounces
  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese about 2 cups
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese about 2 cups
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoons dried parsley or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh
  • 16 Barilla Oven-Ready lasagna noodles no boiling required


  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F/190°C
  • Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, parsely, and basil; set aside.
  • To assemble, pour 1 inch boiling water (about 4 cups) into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.
  • Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using a spoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. You should be able to fit 8 manicotti in each row, allowing all 16 to fit in the dish. Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.

To Bake:

  • Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbly, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Preparing For the Freezer:

  • Before baking, cover with a sheet of parchment paper, then wrap in foil.
  • Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Prepare after Freezing:

  • Remove the parchment and replace the foil. Follow baking directions above, but increase baking time to 60-75 minutes.


Calories: 580kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 24g | Sodium: 1168mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g

Ingredients: Basil, Cheese, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Egg, Garlic, Olive Oil, Parmesan, Parsley, Pasta, Pepper, Ricotta Cheese, Salt, Tomato
Meal Type: Main Dish
Categories: Pasta, Make Ahead/Freezer Meal

Comments & Reviews

  • Eek! I made this the other night and it was perfect. Followed the freezing instructions for half of the recipe and am currently baking it… It’s been in the oven over an hour and the center is still frozen. Any ideas on what to do next time to avoid this?

  • Curious about why you used lasagna noodles instead of manicotti noodles?

  • Here’s a hint: you can make this using regular manicotti tubes, and you do NOT need to cook or soften them before filling. Just fill them straight out of the box. Proceed with recipe as directed (sauce on pan bottom, filled manicotti, sauce, etc). Cover with foil then…. refrigerate overnight. The manicotti tubes will soften from the moisture in the sauce & filling. Then, you can either proceed with baking OR freezing. I do this all the time, except I prepare and freeze in single servings (2 filled manicotti per serving), using foil mini loaf pans (mine are approx. 5.75″X3.5″X2″) . Regardless whether you make a full recipe in one pan, or separate pans of individual servings, as long as they sit in the fridge overnight after assembly you can use regular manicotti tubes, uncooked!

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