How To Make Authentic Italian Manicotti Recipe with Ricotta

​We’re in the dead of winter right now in Boston.  The air is cold, there’s snow on the ground and I’m ready for some serious comfort food.

​One of my favorite things to make on a Sunday in the winter is baked manicotti. 

I love the way the fresh pasta, gooey cheese filling and rich tomato sauce all come together in the oven.  

It’s a classic Italian dish you really can’t go wrong with.

​Here are some of the reasons I love homemade manicotti.

  1. First of all, it’s Italian and Italian food is my favorite. 
  2. ​It’s a great way to feed a large crowd without a ton of work.  If you’re having a party, stuffed manicotti is a no brainer.
  3. Manicotti makes for great leftovers.   It’s one of those dishes that is even better the next day.
  4. Even though it’s such an easy recipe, it’s a dish that you can serve for special occasions because it looks like it took a ton of work
  5. It’s a dish that the whole family will love.

​I’m sure someone out there will say this isn’t an authentic Italian manicotti recipe, but that’s ok.  

This recipe isn’t about following rules.  It’s about taking an easy recipe that anyone can follow and making delicious food.  

Here’s an easy manicotti recipe that you should try right away!

​Ingredients To Make Authentic Italian Manicotti

These are all of the ingredients you’re going to need.  

Check out the recipe card for exact measurements.


You have a choice here.  You can buy manicotti shells in the dry pasta section of the supermarket.  Or, you can do what I do.

I prefer to buy fresh pasta sheets and roll my own manicotti tubes.  It’s so easy. 

I get fresh lasagna sheets from my local Italian specialty shop and roll them up.  Fresh pasta, no heavy lifting and no special equipment.

Tomato Sauce

I make a quick Marinara sauce for my manicotti.  A little olive oil, garlic, crushed tomatoes and fresh basil.  

That’s all you need to make a great homemade sauce.

If you don’t feel like making your own tomato sauce, you can buy a good one at the grocery store. Just make sure it’s good!


​The cheese is so important to this recipe.  If you make my ricotta cheese mixture you can’t go wrong.

You’ll also need a good grated cheese.  Either parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese will do the trick.  

Then you’re going to need a good melting cheese.  I use both mozzarella cheese and provolone in my manicotti recipe. The melty mozzarella and sharp provolone are the perfect combination.

Fresh Herbs

I use fresh herbs whenever I can when I cook.  

In this recipe I use fresh parsley in my ricotta cheese mixture and fresh basil in the tomato sauce.

How To Make Authentic Italian Manicotti

This is so easy you aren’t going to believe it. 

The first step I do is get my tomato sauce ready.  

Either I make it from scratch or use some leftover sauce in my fridge.  

I heat it up in a large skillet on top of the stove on medium heat.  I want to make sure the sauce is warmed up.  There’s a reason for that.  Hold tight.

Now it’s time to make the ricotta cheese mixture.  In a large bowl I add the ricotta cheese, grated cheese, chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper.  I mix it up really good.  

​Then I add some of the tomato sauce to the mixing bowl.  For best results, make sure the sauce is warm.  It will soften up the cheese a bit and make it nice and creamy.

Now it’s time to fill the manicotti shells.  If you have dried pasta tubes, cook them according to the directions on the package.  You can fill them with a small spoon or a piping bag.

manicotti shells

If you’re using fresh pasta sheets, do this.  Cut your pasta sheet to size.  I suggest 5 inches by 8 inches.  

Lay the sheet on a flat surface.  Place a slice of mozzarella or provolone on top of the pasta sheet.

Now add enough of the ricotta mixture on top of the slice of cheese to fill the tube. 

Authentic Italian Manicotti Recipe - Authentic Italian Manicotti Recipe

Roll the pasta up with the seam on the bottom so it stays together. 

Repeat until you have enough manicotti shells filled and rolled.

Get a baking dish and coat the bottom with tomato sauce.

Place the stuffed manicotti shells in the pan nice and snug.

Add more tomato sauce on top.  Make sure all of the shells are coated in sauce.

Now add mozzarella cheese, grated Romano and some thinly sliced fresh basil.

​Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap.  Now completely cover the plastic wrap with aluminum foil.  

The plastic wrap will prevent the manicotti from drying out.  The aluminum foil will prevent the plastic wrap from melting.

Pop it in a 400 degree oven

Pop it in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  The cooking time will vary depending on the oven used. 


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FAQs: Authentic Italian Manicotti

What else can you add to the Manicotti Shells?

If you feel like getting creative, the sky’s the limit when it comes to manicotti.  

When you add the ricotta cheese mixture to the manicotti shells, include crumbled Italian sausage or ground beef.  

If you want some vegetarian options you can make spinach manicotti or roasted red pepper manicotti. 

What should I serve with Authentic Italian Manicotti?

​Side Dish:  Garlic bread and meatballs are two of my favorite side dishes with any Italian favorite.

Appetizer:  Make a nice antipasto board with cured meats, different kinds of cheese and marinated vegetables.

Wine:  A good Italian red wine like a Chianti or Nero D’Avola will go great with the manicotti.

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