The Best Manicotti Recipe (How to Freeze and Cook)

How to Cook Frozen Manicotti

I have a manicotti recipe that you need.  This is a two step process.  First I’m going to teach you how to build the manicotti so you can put it in the freezer.  Then, I’m going to teach you how to the cook frozen manicotti.  

So basically, I’m making homemade manicotti so I can freeze it.  There are a lot of manicotti dishes out there, but I’m going to focus on cheese manicotti.  If you read to the end I’ll show you some different manicotti variations to try out. 

I’m going to put it all in a nice pan and let the manicotti and the sauce freeze. You’ll thank me later when you need dinner and you don’t feel like cooking. Just pull out the frozen manicotti and use my freezer directions as a guide.

What is manicotti?


If you’re not familiar with manicotti, pay attention.  Manicotti is a large tube shaped pasta that’s usually filled with a cheese mixture that includes ricotta cheese.  

It’s the Italian-American version of cannelloni.  

The manicotti pasta can be either fresh or dried pasta.  

If you get the dried manicotti it comes in a box like most dried pasta.  It’s a big tube and each end is cut at a slight angle.  A good way to describe manicotti are big tubular shells, similar to the shape and size of cannoli shells. 

I like to make manicotti with fresh lasagna pasta sheets that I roll into tubes myself.  So for this recipe, that’s what I’m doing. 

Manicotti is covered in tomato sauce and cheese. It’s then baked in the oven, similar to lasagna or stuffed jumbo shells. 

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The Main Ingredients Needed to Make Your Frozen Manicotti



Like I said above, get some fresh lasagna pasta sheets if you can find them.  I personally think the recipe is much better with fresh pasta.  

If you can’t get your hands on fresh pasta sheets, you can use dry manicotti.  Take your uncooked manicotti shells and cook them according to the directions.  

Tomato Sauce

It’s so easy to make your own homemade tomato sauce, so I suggest whipping up a pot.  

But, if you don’t have the time you can still make a beautiful tray of manicotti.  Just buy a really good quality jarred tomato sauce.  I always suggest something made locally with all natural ingredients. 


It’s important to put together a really good cheese mixture.  For the base you should use a creamy ricotta.  I like using New York style ricotta because it has a lot of moisture and is very smooth.

You should also add an aged grated cheese to the ricotta mixture.  You can use parmesan cheese or pecorino Romano cheese.  

I always like to use three types of cheeses in my ricotta mixture.  The final cheese should be something that melts well.  I suggest mozzarella or provolone.  Sometimes I use both mozzarella and provolone.


I love using fresh herbs when I cook.  For this recipe I put fresh parsley in my ricotta mixture.  I also like to add some fresh basil on top of the sauce at the very end.  It adds lots of fresh flavor. 


How to Make Your Frozen Manicotti 

How to Make Your Frozen Manicotti


When you make your ricotta cheese mixture, take a large bowl and add all of your cheeses, parsley, salt and pepper.  I like to add some tomato sauce too.  Mix it all together with a big spoon. 

Making your manicotti and getting it ready to freeze is really easy.

Since I am using fresh pasta sheets, I cut them into 6 inch squares.

I then lay them out on a table and add a scoop of my ricotta mix right in the middle.  If you are using a piping bag, squeeze out a nice dollop. 

The next step is to roll them up nice and tight making sure the cheese mixture is evenly distributed throughout all of the manicotti tubes. 

Get a pan that is safe to put in the freezer and can go in the oven.  I like using a disposable aluminum catering pan because it is a freezer safe container and can be baked.  

safe containter


Put some tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish and spread it around.  At this point, your sauce doesn’t have to be hot.  It’s actually better to use cold tomato sauce when you build the manicotti that’s meant to be frozen. 

cold tomato sauce

Place the manicotti in the pan on top of the sauce.  I like keeping them as snug as possible in the pan.  It holds everything together better when it’s time to cook. 

Cover manicotti with the remaining sauce.  Add some mozzarella cheese and spread it around. Sprinkle on some grated parmesan cheese and the fresh basil.

mozzarella cheese

Now it’s time to get it ready for the freezer.  

Cover the pan nice and tight with plastic wrap.  If you are using an aluminum catering pan, put the lid over the plastic wrap.

If you are using a pan without a lid, cover it tightly with aluminum foil.  

Store the manicotti in the freezer until you are ready to use it.


How to Cook Your Frozen Manicotti


You can cook your manicotti while it’s frozen or you can thaw it out first.  If you decide to thaw it out, remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge.  It should be thawed by the next day. 

Whether you cook it frozen or thawed, you should preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. 

Remove the cover and plastic wrap.  Cover the manicotti with a sheet of aluminum foil and place it in the oven.

If it’s frozen, cook it for 45-60 minutes and remove the aluminum foil.  Put it back in the oven for an additional 10-12 minutes to let the cheese on top of the manicotti get golden brown. 

If it is already thawed, cook it for 35-45 minutes, removing the foil for the last 10-12 minutes. 

Here’s a pro tip.  Putting a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of an oven helps prevent a mess in case the cheese and sauce bubbles over the top of the pan.  

When the manicotti is done cooking, take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes.  This will allow the cheese to set up and it won’t be a mess when you serve it.  It will still be hot and the texture will be perfect. 


How to Cook Frozen Manicotti FAQs


What are some other ingredients I can use in my manicotti?

There are so many different things you can add to your manicotti filling.  

  • Add some sauteed garlic spinach and make spinach manicotti.
  • Add Bolognese sauce and make a meaty manicotti.
  • Add sauteed mushrooms and make an earthy mushroom manicotti. 

What are some other cheeses I can use to make my manicotti?

The sky’s the limit with cheese.  If you don’t have ricotta you can try cottage cheese.  

There are so many different types of parmigiano cheeses to choose from as well. 

Fontina is a great cheese for melting.

What are some other sauces I can use for my manicotti besides tomato sauce?

You can use your favorite sauce for this recipe.  I’ve made it with a pink vodka sauce, a white garlic cream sauce and a pesto cream sauce.  They all came out delicious. 

How long will the manicotti last in the freezer?

The frozen manicotti will be good in the freezer for up to 6 months.  This is also true for frozen lasagna and baked ziti.

What should I serve with my manicotti?

Wine:  Serve it with an Italian red wine like a Sangiovese or Barbera.

Salad: A simple mixed green salad with a red wine vinaigrette.

Side Dish: A big hunk of garlic bread will definitely be useful when you have to scoop up some of that melted cheese and sauce on the bottom of the plate. 

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How to Cook Frozen Manicotti

The Best Manicotti Recipe (How to Freeze and Cook)

  • Author: Mortadella Head



1 lb of fresh lasagna pasta sheet cut into 6 inch squares

1 lb of ricotta cheese

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

½ lb of provolone cheese, small dice

1 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chiffonade

1 quart of tomato sauce

Salt and pepper


  1. In a large bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, provolone and parmesan cheese.  Add the parsley and 1 cup of tomato sauce.  Mix thoroughly. Reserve some parmesan for sprinkling on top at the end.
  2. Prepare your pasta.  Get a pot of cold water, salt it and boil it.  Cook the pasta according to the instructions. 
  3. Lay your pasta sheets out on a table and add a 2 ounce scoop of the cheese mixture in the middle of each sheet.  Roll it up making sure the cheese mixture is evenly distributed throughout the tub of manicotti.  If you are using the box manicotti, fill the cooked pasta tub with the cheese mixture using a spoon or a piping bag.
  4. Spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of a pan that is safe in the freezer and the oven.
  5. Place your filled manicotti in the pan on top of the sauce.  Try making them tight to avoid movement in the pan.
  6. Add more sauce on top of the manicotti, covering completely.
  7. Add the mozzarella, remaining grated parmesan and basil to the top.
  8. Cover the pa tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  If you are using an aluminum catering style pan, put the pan cover on top.
  9. Place it in the freezer until you’re ready to cook it.
  10. When it’s time to cook it, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Remove plastic wrap from the pan and cover in aluminum foil.  Cook from frozen for 65-75 minutes.  Remove the foil for the past 10-12 minutes to let the cheese on top turn golden brown. 
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  12. Enjoy!


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