Monday, November 15, 2021

Cheese Manicotti Skillet + Video

This cheese manicotti cooks right in the sauce, no pre-cooking needed! Make this easy skillet meal for a hearty Italian meal in just 30 minutes.

While I love fresh pasta dishes, I don’t always have time to make them from scratch. With this Italian pasta casserole, time is no longer an issue!

Cheese Manicotti

Uncooked pasta tubes are stuffed with a blend of three classic cheeses and cooked to perfection in a delicious meat sauce. It’s a simple, flavorful dinner that will have everyone begging for seconds.

I love one pot recipes because who has time to wash a pile of dishes? Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican, more pasta, or some good old fashioned comfort food, I have a variety of easy skillet meals for you to choose from!

titled image of italian cheese manicotti

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Add some meat.

    The cheese manicotti would be just as delicious with Italian sausage - just be sure to drain off the extra grease. For a leaner option, try ground chicken or turkey, and adjust the seasonings as needed.
  • Veggie boost.

    Sauté some onions or mushrooms in a little oil before browning the meat. Or, defrost frozen spinach and stir it into the ricotta mixture.
  • Skip the bagged shreds.

    Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents, which can give the shreds a waxy texture and prevent them from melting properly. 
  • Want more flavor?

    Replace some or all of the water with vegetable or beef broth instead.

packages of ingredients for cheese manicotti recipe

Cheese Manicotti Recipe Video

To see us make the delicious manicotti from start to finish, watch the video in this post!

Serving Suggestions

The beauty of this meal is that it is delectable all on its own!

You can always add a green salad to round out your plate. Or, whip up a quick batch of garlic knots in the air fryer while this cheese manicotti simmers on the stove.

If you have dinner guests, finish off the meal with an easy tiramisu or 2-ingredient affogato.

filling pasta tubes with ricotta filling

Kitchen Tools For Making Italian Manicotti

  • Large skillet - You’ll want plenty of surface area to ensure the cheese manicotti cooks evenly. Ideally, the skillet should be at least 12 inches in diameter.
  • Mixing Bowls - I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, and this set has them all!
  • Box Grater - As much as I love buying bagged shreds because it’s easier, freshly grated cheese melts down so much smoother and tastes better too!

Cheese Manicotti FAQ

Can I substitute cottage cheese for ricotta?

Yes! Cottage cheese has a similar mild taste and fewer calories than ricotta. The manicotti filling won't be quite as creamy, but your meal will still be delicious.

overhead: making manicotti recipe in skillet

Will this recipe work with stuffed shells?

Possibly, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The filling may float out since the entire top is open and they are being submerged in sauce.

How do I save leftovers?

Allow the cheese manicotti to cool, then transfer to an airtight container. It will last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

I wouldn’t recommend freezing this dish though, since dairy tends to have an unpleasant texture once thawed and reheated.

cheese manicotti close up on plate


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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overhead: serving of manicotti on white plate

Yield: serves 4 - (8 shells)
Author: Donna Elick
Cheese Manicotti Skillet

Cheese Manicotti Skillet

This cheese manicotti cooks right in the sauce, no pot or strainer needed! Have this easy skillet meal on the table in just 30 minutes.
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 10 MinTotal time: 30 Min


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 (16-ounce) container part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 8 manicotti shells, uncooked
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • fresh parsley, optional garnish


  1. Warm oil in a large (10-inch) skillet over medium high-heat, add beef and sprinkle with ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook beef until cooked though, stirring occasionally. Drain if necessary.
  2. Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine ricotta cheese, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, ½ cup shredded cheese, egg and ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Mix until well blended.
  3. Fill a 1 gallon resealable bag with ricotta mixture. Clip off the tip of the bag (so it is still small enough to fit inside manicotti shell). Stick a clean finger about 1” into one end of the shell and place end of bag into the other end of the manicotti shell and squeeze mixture into shell until no more will fit. Turn shell over and fill the remaining portion. Repeat until all shells are filled.
  4. Add tomatoes, sauce, paste, Italian seasoning and water. Turn heat to high. Place stuffed manicotti into sauce. Press down to get them under the sauce mixture. Spoon sauce over shells. Cover skillet to bring to a boil, reduce to simmer (sauce should still be bubbling). Cook covered until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top of skillet, allow cheese to melt. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Originally published October 2013, updated and republished November 2021

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  1. You do really fabulous pasta recipes! Comes as no surprise since your blog has the word "Italian" in it. LOL. I have always wanted to try this but the cooking time just puts me off. I made lasagna again recently and was immediately reminded why I hardly make it at all. The work! So glad you've come up with a quicker recipe for manicotti :-)

  2. What about stuffed shells the same way?

  3. Replies
    1. Stuffed shells would work in this recipe, but the filling may tend to float out as the entire top is open and you are submerging them in sauce.


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