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Make-Ahead Spinach Manicotti

When I invite people to dinner, many have started requesting this pasta bake ahead of time because it's that good. Plus, the manicotti is stuffed before it's cooked, making it even more convenient. —Christy Freeman, Central Point, Oregon
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. + chilling Bake: 40 min.
  • Makes
    7 servings


  • 1 carton (15 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 jars (24 ounces each) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package (8 ounces) manicotti shells


  • In a large bowl, mix ricotta, spinach, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley and seasonings. In another large bowl, mix spaghetti sauce and water; spread 1 cup into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
  • Fill uncooked manicotti shells with ricotta mixture; arrange over sauce. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce mixture over top. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  • Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake, uncovered, 40-50 minutes or until manicotti is tender.
    Freeze option: Cover and freeze unbaked casserole. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake casserole as directed, increasing time as necessary to heat through and for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°.
Nutrition Facts
2 stuffed manicotti shells: 363 calories, 16g fat (8g saturated fat), 68mg cholesterol, 822mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate (11g sugars, 4g fiber), 22g protein.

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  • resalee
    Jul 21, 2020

    Due to COVID-19 I was unable to find manicotti. After waiting for weeks to find it I decided to use large shells instead. Maybe thatand#039;s why this turned out so awful. There was way too much sauce and the shells fell apart.

  • Medic 716
    Apr 17, 2020

    This was so easy to make. I had read the previous reviews and only used 2 jars of spaghetti sauce and It came out perfect.

  • lauramarielawson
    Jan 1, 2020

    So good! I add some spicy Italian sausage and only use 2 jars of spaghetti sauce and it's perfect. My young kids love it too!

  • KMB719
    Aug 6, 2019

    Very good!! I made a few adjustments to the recipe and it turned out perfect. Definitely a keeper! - Added one pound of Italian sausage. - Used one 8 oz. package of fresh spinach. I sliced into smaller pieces and added it to the skillet as the sausage finished browning. After they were fully cooled I included in the filling. - Used 2 jars of spaghetti sauce - basil and garlic flavored - Added 4 additional Manicotti shells since the sausage increased the amount of filling - Used a plastic bag to pipe filling into the shells - works great!! - Increased to 2 C. Mozzarella cheese and used 1 C. on the top.

  • Elaine
    Jun 26, 2019

    This dish was a hit with my family. Easy to prepare and a nice option for a meatless meal. I used 1 1/2 jars of sauce with some water and really could have done with some more so next time I'll use at least 2. I added mushrooms to the sauce but you could add anything else to increase the veggie count. Also, I baked it right after I'd assembled it, without waiting overnight, and it was perfect.

  • tamarapearson
    Jan 13, 2019

    This was delicious. I used just 2 jars of sauce and omitted the water and it was still a little more sauce than needed. I might reduce to just a jar and a half next time. I used one reviewer’s suggestion and stuffed the shells using a butter knife-very easy. I will definitely put this into regular rotation.

  • Mark
    Apr 22, 2018

    We've made this dozens of times! It's so easy to stuff the shells before cooking -- we put the filling in a gallon zip-lock bag and cut a corner like a pastry bag -- and really makes dinner night fast and easy when the work was done a day before. I like to substitute 1c of red wine for water in the sauce and place whole garlic cloves on top to roast. Crusty French Bread is a fantastic accompaniment and one of the easiest yeast breads you will ever make. Guests arrive to the aroma of fresh baking bread and Italian spice, there are rarely leftovers.

  • sport58
    Aug 22, 2017

    Love this recipe! Have made this a couple of times. Like others I omit the water and use 1.5 jars of sauce. I fill the manicotti shells using a butter knife.

  • Al
    Apr 23, 2017

    Will try but looks scrumptious

  • conniekp
    Apr 22, 2017

    This was very yummy and even meat eater husband liked too. I did change a couple of things. 3 jars of spaghetti sauce as alot and I didn't have that much. I used 1 jar and 2 regular cans of tomato sauce with added Italian spices and left out the water. Worked great.