Cheese Manicotti with Meat (No-Boil)
Why We Love This Meaty Manicotti Recipe
There’s nothing more comforting than a bubbly, cheesy, melty, and meaty oven-baked Cheese Manicotti. The savoriness, the sauciness, and – did we mention? – the cheesiness all snuggled together in one pasta casserole is peak happy food goodness.
Although you can make an easy meatless cheese filling, we love to make this as a manicotti with meat recipe by mixing ground sausage or ground beef into the cheese filling to offer more protein and hearty taste. I prefer to use Italian sausage, but since it’s pork-based, some might want to add ground beef or ground turkey instead.
This easy manicotti recipe is so simple; there is no pre-cooking needed. That’s right… There’s no boiling necessary. No sautéing of the meat or sauce. In fact, the meat has a better texture when you simply cook it inside the pasta shells.
So you mix the filling, stuff dried shells, pour sauce over the top, and bake. One pan and one bowl; no extra dishes to wash. That’s amore!
Ingredients You Need
- Ground Italian sausage – your choice of sweet or spicy
- Ricotta cheese – full-fat
- Onion – finely shaved
- Parmesan cheese – grated
- Italian seasoning – store-bought seasoning or use your own homemade blend
- Garlic – minced
- Mozzarella cheese – shredded
- Manicotti shells – no-boil
- Marinara – jarred or your homemade sauce
- Water – or chicken, veggie, or beef broth
Plus chopped parsley to garnish the baked manicotti, if you like.
*Proportions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
How to Make Cheese and Meat Manicotti
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and a large bowl.
In the bowl, combine the raw ground meat, ricotta cheese, shaved onion, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic, and 1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese. Reserve 1 cup of cheese for later.
Mix the filling by hand until very smooth.
Pour half the jar of marinara sauce into the baking dish. To the remaining sauce add 1 ¼ cups of water and shake the jar vigorously.
Gently press the meat and cheese mixture into the dried manicotti shells. Make sure they are stuffed all the way through. Lay each shell in the baking dish. Press them down into the sauce so there’s a little sauce between each shell, making sure they are not touching.
Get the Complete (Printable) No-Boil Bake Meat and Cheese Manicotti Recipe + Video Below. Enjoy!
Once all the shells are stuffed and pressed into the baking dish, pour the remaining watery sauce over the top.
Cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Then remove the foil from the pan and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese over the top of the manicotti.
Place the pan back in the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling around the edges of the pan and the cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with top with fresh parsley if desired.
- Protein – swap Italian pork sausage with ground beef, ground chicken, or turkey sausage – just up the dried Italian seasoning if using plain ground meat to mimic the flavor of the sausage.
- Vegetarian or Vegan – make it a veg-friendly dish by ditching the meat altogether and/or using your favorite plant-based alternatives for meat and dairy
- Gluten-free noodles – use your favorite GF-friendly manicotti noodles
- Pasta sauce – here we use a simple marinara, but feel free to swap for a thinner tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, or crushed tomatoes.
Like any classic Italian pasta dish, you can’t go wrong with hunks of crusty bread and a fresh green salad on the side!
Try our easy recipes for Garlic Bread, Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread, or Focaccia Bread with Roasted Garlic and Olives. Any of these are going to bring some big carb-y crowd-pleasing goodness to the table.
Want your bread AND salad in one big bowl? This Caprese Panzanella (AKA Bread Salad) is exactly what you need!
Frequently Asked Questions
Nope! The beauty of this no-boil manicotti recipe is that you do not need to cook the noodles or meat before stuffing. They will “boil” and become tender while baking in the oven.
This manicotti can be made ahead and refrigerated to bake the next day or even frozen for later baking. Just make sure to thaw it completely before baking when ready to serve.
Leftover manicotti with meat will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days. Let the pasta cool completely before transferring to an airtight container and refrigerating.
Yes, you can freeze either before or after baking. Either way, the baking dish should be tightly wrapped in layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before covering with a fresh layer of foil and baking.
Yes. You can add chopped spinach, mushrooms, or peppers to the filling. Smaller pieces will provide a better texture, as will cooking and draining ahead of time.
Looking for More Crowd-Pleasing Pasta Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:
- No-Boil Chicken Parmesan Pasta
- Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Supreme Pizza Baked Ziti
- Creamy Baked Rigatoni Bolognese
- Cheesy Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake
Cheese Manicotti with Meat Recipe + Video
- 12 ounce ground Italian sausage or ground beef
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup shaved onion
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 1 ½ tablespoons if using ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 16 ounce box manicotti shells
- 32 ounces marinara
- 1 ¼ cups water or broth
- Optional Garnish: fresh chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and a large bowl.
- In the bowl, combine the ground meat, ricotta cheese, shaved onion, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic, and 1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese. (Reserve 1 cup of cheese for later.) Mix the filling by hand until very smooth.
- Pour half the jar of marinara sauce into the baking dish. To the remaining sauce add 1 ¼ cups of water and shake the jar vigorously.
- Gently press the meat filling into the dried manicotti shells. Make sure they are stuffed all the way through. Lay each shell in the baking dish. Press them down into the sauce so there's a little sauce between each shell, so they are not touching.
- Once all the shells are stuffed and pressed into the baking dish, pour the remaining watery sauce over the top.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Then remove the foil from the pan and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese over the top of the manicotti. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling around the edges of the pan and the cheese is melted. Serve hot!