Baked Manicotti

This is the best Baked Manicotti recipe ever! Each manicotti is filled with a mixture of ground beef and mozzarella cheese (not ricotta cheese) and then layered in a delicious homemade tomato sauce and covered with both parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. It is heavenly!

This luscious main dish has a fabulous taste! I’ve made this special pasta for John’s birthday almost every year for the past 30 years. It’s a great recipe–in fact, it’s the best manicotti recipe I’ve ever tried and I’ve made plenty throughout the years.

I found this recipe in a magazine back in the 1980s but I don’t remember which one or who the author is. It’s such an involved recipe it probably was not a recipe from a company selling a product but, rather, a recipe submitted to some magazine. All I know is it’s wonderful.

One of the secret ingredients in this recipe is fennel seed. I have made this recipe with and without the fennel seed. It has a far superior taste with the fennel seed. So if you choose to make this recipe, then go out and purchase a spice jar of fennel seed so you can make it right. You will be glad you did.

One of the great things about this recipe is you don’t have to pre-cook the manicotti. You stuff the manicotti and it cooks in the large amount of sauce this recipe provides. I make sure the noodles are fully covered so they don’t scorch or dry out during cooking. This recipe is involved and it takes a few hours to make, but it is so worth it! Everyone loves my manicotti. I think you will too.

When I originally posted this recipe in December of 2012, I made it for John’s staff Christmas party. The pictures were lousy and in no way adequately conveyed the loveliness of this wonderful pasta dish. I was still new to the blogging world then and wasn’t all that great with a camera. This isn’t the easiest recipe to photograph anyway, but I’ve added some new pictures in August 2014. Hopefully, these ones will tantalize your taste buds. 🙂

This recipe is featured at All Free Casserole Recipes here.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Baked Manicotti is the BEST manicotti you’ll ever eat! We love this recipe for holiday entertaining.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Our company dug into this main dish really quickly! Baked Manicotti has a lot of meat and cheese and a spectacular homemade tomato sauce.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

One of the things that sets this recipe apart is the recipe includes fennel seeds in the sauce. What amazing flavors they add to the sauce.

 

Here’s what I did.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

I used these ingredients to make the sauce.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Place olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add chopped onion and minced garlic. Saute.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Add a large 29-oz. can of each of the following: crushed, diced, whole tomatoes AND tomato puree.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Add seasonings. Cover with lid and cook over medium heat as mixture simmers for one hour. 

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Mash the whole tomatoes up against the edge of the stock pot and cut them up into smaller pieces with my wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

I used these ingredients to make the stuffed manicotti shells.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

To make filling for shells: Place about 3 tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add onion and saute. Add minced garlic. I used 1 heaping teaspoon from a jar.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Add ground beef and fry. I used 2 lbs.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Place ground beef mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add seasonings and egg.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Add half of the mozzarella cheese and 1 1/2 cups of the sauce.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Mix all ingredients together. 

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Spray two large 10×15″ baking dishes with cooking spray. Spread about 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of sprayed baking dish.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Stuff manicotti shells with filling. I use my hands. Place your left fingers in the bottom side so the mixture doesn’t come out while stuffing. Stuff mixture with your right hand. I’ve tried doing this with a spoon, also, but it seems to work better using my hands.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Place manicotti shells on top of sauce in baking dish and make one layer of shells. Repeat the process and place all of the manicotti in two large baking dishes. (These are larger than 9×13). This recipe makes 33-35 stuffed manicotti shells.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Cover the manicotti shells with the tomato sauce. Make sure no parts of the shells are visible or they will dry out and harden during cooking time or even scorch.  The manicotti will cook as the casserole is baking in the oven because of all the liquid in the tomato sauce. It’s so wonderful not having to pre-cook the manicotti!

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top of the casseroles. I used about 3/4 cup of cheese on each one.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Cover the casseroles with aluminum foil. Bake about 60-75 minutes at 350. Remove foil from pan. The parmesan cheese will not stick to the foil, but if you put the mozzarella cheese on before this step it sticks to the foil. Yikes!

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Spread mozzarella cheese over top of casserole and bake another 10 minutes or so until cheese has melted.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

This recipe makes two huge casseroles. You can easily freeze one of them before baking. 

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

The savory flavor of Baked Manicotti is terrific. We can’t get enough of this amazing Italian entree.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

This is the texture of this scrumptious pasta dish.

 

Here’s the recipe.

BAKED MANICOTTI

(Our favorite recipe though a lot of work – adapted from a magazine)

Print Recipe
Baked Manicotti BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
BEST manicotti recipe. This one is stuffed with beef and mozzarella cheese and the shells DO NOT have to be precooked.
Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 90 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE:
SHELLS:
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 90 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE:
SHELLS:
Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta
Instructions
HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE:
  1. In ½ cup hot oil in large saucepan, sauté 2 cups onion and 2 cloves garlic, 5 minutes, until tender.
  2. Add rest of sauce ingredients.
  3. Bring to boil.
  4. Lower heat; simmer, covered, 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
SHELLS:
  1. In 3 tbsp. hot oil in large skillet, sauté 1 cup onion and 2 cloves garlic, 5 minutes, until tender; remove.
  2. In same skillet, brown beef, stirring occasionally.
  3. With slotted spoon, transfer beef to onion mixture.
  4. Add egg, salt, herbs, pepper and 1 ½ cups sauce.
  5. Add 8-oz. shredded mozzarella cheese; stir into meat mixture.
  6. With small spoon, fill raw manicotti with meat mixture.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°.
  8. Spoon 1-2 cups sauce in bottom of 2 10x15” baking pans.
  9. Arrange 3 rows of manicotti lengthwise (8 across).
  10. Cover with remaining sauce; sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  11. Bake, covered with foil for 1 hour or 1 hour 15 minutes.
  12. Mixture will start bubbling.
  13. Remove foil, divide 8 oz. shredded mozzarella over the tops of shells in both pans.
  14. Bake, uncovered, an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
  15. This makes about 35-40 shells – enough to serve at a large family gathering and put one pan in the freezer for later.
Recipe Notes

NOTE: If you plan to freeze the casserole, don’t put the mozzarella cheese on it beforehand or it may stick to the foil when you bake it again. This recipe is a lot of work but well worth the effort!

NOTE: For the best results, don't omit the fennel seed in the sauce. It really yields fantastic flavor.

 

[b]Baked Manicotti[/b]
Recipe Type: Pasta Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Teresa Ambra adapted from a magazine, circa early 1980s
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 20
BEST manicotti recipe. This one is stuffed with beef and mozzarella cheese and the shells DO NOT have to be precooked.
Ingredients
  • [b]TOMATO SAUCE:[/b][br]
  • 32-oz. tomato puree
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 29-oz. cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 15-oz. cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tsp. fennel seed (this spice really makes the difference)
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 29-oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained[br]
  • [b]FILLED SHELLS:[/b][br]
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. ground chuck
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • ½ tsp. basil
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (I just slice it or use the stuff already minced in a jar)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 16-oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (I think I use more than this)
  • 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 pkgs. Manicotti shells [b](DO NOT PRECOOK)[/b]
Instructions
  1. [b]TOMATO SAUCE:[/b] [br]
  2. In ½ cup hot oil in large saucepan, sauté 2 cups onion and 2 cloves garlic, 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add rest of sauce ingredients.
  4. Bring to boil.
  5. Lower heat; simmer, covered, 1 hour, stirring occasionally. [br]
  6. [b]SHELLS:[/b] [br]
  7. In 3 tbsp. hot oil in large skillet, sauté 1 cup onion and 2 cloves garlic, 5 minutes, until tender; remove.
  8. In same skillet, brown beef, stirring occasionally.
  9. With slotted spoon, transfer beef to onion mixture.
  10. Add egg, salt, herbs, pepper and 1 ½ cups sauce.
  11. Add 8-oz. shredded mozzarella cheese; stir into meat mixture.
  12. With small spoon, fill raw manicotti with meat mixture.
  13. Preheat oven to 350°.
  14. Spoon 1-2 cups sauce in bottom of 2 10×15” baking pans.
  15. Arrange 3 rows of manicotti lengthwise (8 across).
  16. Cover with remaining sauce; sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  17. Bake, covered with foil for 1 hour or 1 hour 15 minutes.
  18. Mixture will start bubbling.
  19. Remove foil, divide 8 oz. shredded mozzarella over the tops of shells in both pans.
  20. Bake, uncovered, an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
  21. This makes about 35-40 shells – enough to serve at a large family gathering and put one pan in the freezer for later.
Notes
If you plan to freeze the casserole, don’t put the mozzarella cheese on it beforehand or it may stick to the foil when you bake it again. This recipe is a lot of work but well worth the effort![br][br]For the best results, don’t omit the fennel seed in the sauce. It really yields fantastic flavor.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Doesn’t Baked Manicotti look yummy? It tastes yummy, too. It really is a spectacular pasta recipe even though it takes several hours to assemble and bake it.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

This is one of the BEST manicotti recipes you’ll ever eat. It’s filled with meat and cheese in a superb marinara sauce.

Baked Manicotti | Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen | BEST #manicotti recipe ever! This one uses #beef, #parmesancheese and #mozzarellacheese in a lovely #marinarasauce. No ricotta. #Italian #pasta

Baked Manicotti is the recipe I make for John’s birthday every year. It’s a fabulous recipe for company and special occasions. I made this the day ahead and refrigerated it. Then I put it on a time-bake the next day since we were gone. When I got home, all I had to do was add the mozzarella cheese on top. It was wonderful.

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Baked Ravioli

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