Four Cheese Manicotti

Why just use one kind of cheese when you can use FOUR in this Four Cheese Manicotti! I made this dish a few weeks ago when most grocery store shelves were basically empty. I had manicotti noodles on my grocery list, and when I got to the pasta isle every single type of pasta was completely cleared out, except manicotti! There was a section of a brand name manicotti pasta, and then a section of the generic store brand manicotti, everything else was gone. It was a sign.

If you’ve never made a manicotti dish before, it’s basically a cross between ravioli and lasagna. Same ingredients, just assembled differently. Just stuff the cheese mixture into the noodles, cover in sauce mixture, and bake!

The four cheese filling

The four cheeses that I use are ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan. It’s a great variety of textures and flavors. I season up the mixture with a little garlic, salt and pepper, and some fresh chopped parsley for a little color and fresh pop.

For clean and easy pasta filling I spoon the cheese mixture into a large plastic zip top baggie and cut the corner off. Another tip for filling, make sure to under cook the pasta by 1-2 minutes otherwise they will break open very easily.

For the marinara sauce I used my favorite brand, and just added a few ingredients to it like onions and baby spinach. You could leave the sausage out to make this a vegetarian dish, but I love the flavor the turkey Italian sausage gives to the overall dish.

Lots of versatility in this dish! You can swap out meats, cheeses, vegetables, it really is customizable to your taste. Your whole family will love it! Re-heats great for leftovers too!

Enjoy!

Try this SUPER simple 30 Minute Lasagna Skillet too!

Four Cheese Manicotti

Course Main Course
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Author Laura Doerr

Ingredients

  • 12 manicotti noodles
  • 1 lb Italian turkey or pork sausage
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 25 oz jar marinara
  • 6 oz bag baby spinach chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 tbsp butter cubed

For the cheese filing

  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley minced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season water with some salt. Cook the manicotti noodles 2 minutes LESS than the package directions. Drain and set aside until ready to fill. You want them to be under-done and firm for easy filling, and they will finish cooking while baking.

  2. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

  3. While the water is coming to boil and noodles are cooking: In a large skillet, cook the Italian sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, with the minced yellow onion until cooked through. Stir in baby spinach, it will wilt down to almost nothing. Once wilted, stir in marinara and cook on med-low until heated through.

  4. In a medium bowl, stir together all of the cheese filling ingredients. Transfer filling into a large plastic zip-top baggie. Cut the corner so that you have about a quarter size opening.

Assembly

  1. Spread about 3/4 cup of the marinara meat mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

  2. Pipe the filling into each manicotti noodle. Arrange the filled pasta on a single layer into the baking dish. Top with remaining marinara meat mixture.

  3. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzerella, 1/2 cup parm, and dollop with butter cubes. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly.

Recipe Notes

Customize this dish to your liking. Swap proteins, add in veggies, or make it vegetarian.

The marinara sauce that you choose will determine a good amount of the flavor, so use one that you like! I use a spicy marinara for added kick!

4 Comments

  • Christy
    Posted April 22, 2020 7:26 pm 0Likes

    This looks delicious!

    • Laura Doerr
      Posted April 23, 2020 8:25 pm 0Likes

      Thank you! Let me know if you give it a try, we love it!

  • Mike
    Posted June 22, 2020 7:35 am 0Likes

    5 Stars! I saw this recipe while I was browsing this website and being a pasta fanatic, I really wanted to try it. Unfortunately, during a worldwide pandemic, all of the grocery stores in my city were out of manicotti! Go figure…
    I had to wait about 2 weeks before I was able to find some manicotti in stock, but I’m very glad I kept this in the back of my mind. We used mild pork sausage (for the kiddos) and spinach from the garden and just regular ol’ Prego marinara sauce. We all loved the recipe and all three kids (5, 3 & 10mo) gobbled it up-including leftovers the following day! I highly recommend this recipe for anyone looking for a delicious family dinner!

    • Laura Doerr
      Posted June 22, 2020 8:12 am 0Likes

      So great to hear! Glad the whole family enjoyed, thanks so much for making and reviewing!

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