Cheese Stuffed Manicotti Skillet + Video

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Cheese Stuffed Manicotti cooks right in the sauce, no pre-cooking needed! This easy manicotti skillet meal makes a hearty Italian dinner in only 30 minutes!

titled image of Cheese Manicotti Skillet


Stuffed Manicotti

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

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 one-pan cheese manicotti recipe that will have everyone begging for seconds.

Recipe Video

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

I love one-pot recipes because who has time to wash a pile of dishes?

Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican red rice, some rigatoni, or some good old-fashioned chicken pot pie, I have a variety of easy skillet meals for you to choose from!

ingredients to make skillet manicotti

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Add some meat. The cheese manicotti recipe would be just as delicious with Italian sausage — just be sure to cook and 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.

How to Fill Manicotti Shells

First, you will need a piping bag — like the kind used for decorating cakes and cupcakes.

If you don’t have any on hand, simply use a gallon-size Ziploc and snip off one of the bottom corners.

Here’s my easy manicotti filling tip to ensure the shells don’t break:

  1. Insert your finger about 1 inch into one side of the shell.
  2. On the opposite end, insert the tip of the bag by the same amount. Gently squeeze until that side is full.
  3. Then, add a little to the other end (where your finger was) to close the gap!
filling manicotti shells

Cheese Manicotti Serving Suggestions

The beauty of stuffed manicotti 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.

cheese manicotti shells submerged in red sauce in skillet

Stuffed Manicotti Recipe FAQ

Can I substitute cottage cheese for ricotta?

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

Will this stuffed manicotti recipe work with shells?

Possibly, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The filling may ooze out too much since the shell noodles are open and would be submerged in sauce.

How do I save leftover stuffed manicotti?

Allow the stuffed 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 particular dish though, since dairy tends to have an unpleasant texture once thawed and reheated.

skillet manicotti smothered in cheese

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three stuffed manicotti with sauce and cheese on plate

Other Easy Skillet Meals

italian pasta dinner on white plate

Cheese Stuffed Manicotti Skillet Recipe + Video

Donna Elick
Stuffed Manicotti cooks right in the sauce, no pre-cooking needed! This easy manicotti skillet makes an Italian dinner in only 30 minutes!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Method Stovetop
Servings 4


  • 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
  • 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 16 ounce container part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 8 manicotti shells, uncooked
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • fresh parsley, optional garnish


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese over top of skillet, allow cheese to melt. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired.
  • Serve and enjoy!



Serving: 1 | Calories: 742cal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 61g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 196mg | Sodium: 2147mg | Sugar: 12g | Fiber: 4g | Calcium: 782mg | Iron: 6mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled pinterest collage for cheese manicotti recipe

Originally published October 2013, updated and republished August 2023

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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 🙂

    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.

  2. Won’t the filling come out the ends as it cooks in the sauce? You mentioned this with shells, I’d love to try this as my husband loves it but a lot of work to have the cheese filling melt out into sauce

  3. I’m making this right now. No where in the printed recipe does it say what to do with the ground beef. I’m assuming, looking at the picture it gets added to the sauce. Looks good and smells good.

  4. This looks & sounds amazing, but I’ve read the directions 3 times, and I suppose I’m just a wee bit slow, but I have missed all 3 times where you put the ground beef that you have cooked. I’m assuming that you drain it and add it to the tomato sauce mixture???? But if it says that, I haven’t seen it. Please tell me if this is correct?

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