Great solutions for stuffing manicotti shells

From   |  June 28, 2010
In Kitchen Basics
Featured Recipe: Spinach Manicotti

Spinach Manicotti

Pat Hoffmeister of Coppell, Texas, had a problem with her manicotti. “Do you know an easy way to stuff manicotti?” she asked. “I’m always splitting them when I try.”

To try and help Pat we posted her question here on The Scoop and also in our newspaper column, Desperation Dinners. Lots of readers responded with some wonderful ideas, and here they are!

Elise Legaspi of Oxnard, Calif., came swooping in with a terrific answer.

“I put the filling in a gallon-size, zip-top plastic bag,” Elise said. “I snip off one of the corners and squeeze away.”

(You can also use a quart-size bag for a smaller recipe, like our Spinach Manicotti.) Fill one side of the manicotti shell, Elise said, and then turn it around and fill the other side. This works like a charm for lots of things like deviled eggs and cream puffs,” she said.

From Cathy Kendrick of Charlotte, N.C.:

I have always stuffed manicotti shells without cooking them, and then left them overnight to sit in the tomato-marinara-pasta sauce. By morning the shells are soft and ready to bake.

Here’s a twist on this method from Ronald Petitte of Federal Way, Wash.:

Ladies this is not brain surgery. I owned and operated an Italian restaurant in Federal Way. I pre-cooked my regular pasta like spaghetti, and rigatoni, penne and kept them cold till I served them up for customer orders. However with a stuffed pasta like manicotti or lasagna you have to do things differently. Ladies, never, never, never, pre-cook your manicotti noodles ahead of time.

  1. All you do is fill the raw noodles with your ricotta cheese mixture. It’s important to fill the raw pasta completely. The filling should not be too soft, don't add too many eggs to the ricotta. Add grated cheese to the mixture to keep it firm for filling.
  2. Put some Italian sauce on the bottom of the baking pan, add a tablespoon or two of tap water to the sauce.
  3. Place the filled manicotti noodles in the pan, leave enough room for them to double in size after they are cooked.
  4. Cover the pasta with Italian sauce, and sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the filled noodles.
  5. Add another 2 tablespoons of tap water to the top of the noodles over the sauce.
  6. Cover THE BAKING PAN TIGHTLY WITH ALUM. FOIL. Place in pre-heated 350 degree F. oven for one hour.

That’s all there is to it, they come out completely cooked and tender, will melt in your mouth. I only wish I had a dollar for every pan I made over the years. I hope this helps your readers, it’s so much easier making the manicotti this way... Hope this helps!

Here’s Millie Maraia’s take on this idea:

I'm very sure that you have already heard from someone that
there is an easier way to make Manicotti. It is not necessary to cook the manicotti before stuffing them.

Stuff them before cooking them then when they have been placed in the pan and the sauce and cheese have been added, just add 1 small glass of water to the bottom of the pan. Cover with tin foil and place in oven.

The manicotti will be tender and delicious. Remove the tin foil a few minutes before you take them out of the oven. Mmmm Good. Try it you'll be happy with the results.

Thanks everyone for the terrific ideas! And if you have a cooking question and would like help from Kitchen Scoop readers, just email us at or leave them in the comments section following this blog post.

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