Cheese Manicotti Skillet cooks right in the sauce, no pre-cooking needed! This easy skillet meal recipe makes an Italian dinner in only 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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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Cheese Manicotti Skillet + Video
- 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!
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.
Originally published October 2013, updated and republished July 2022.
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