Manicotti Roll Ups

This is the easiest manicotti you’ll ever make.

The easiest - and best - manicotti you'll ever eat! #recipes #pasta

Unless, of course, your Pyrex baking dish explodes in the oven during the last five minutes of baking.

And when I say “explode,” that’s really what I mean. Biggest.Mess.Ever.  Not only that, but a ton of ingredients down the drain and no dinner to boot.

As the Tall Boy was scraping the mess out of the bottom of the oven (he’s a keeper!), he said, “This still looks good, even like this.”

Anyway, new weekend, new baking dish…another attempt at the manicotti.  When I pulled the dish out of the oven, Doodle yelled downstairs, “Dad!  The manicotti dish didn’t explode this time!  We can eat it!”

And we did.  We ate the heck out of it.

The easiest - and best - manicotti you'll ever eat! #recipes #pasta
I have to be honest, I’m not the most patient person in the kitchen.  And even though the Tall Boy loves manicotti, I rarely make it, because I’d rather gouge my eye with a hot poker than stuff an entire pan of delicate pasta shells.  But with this method, there is no stuffing involved.  Simply soften some no-boil noodles, dollop on some filling, and roll.


I made my own sauce here, but for an even easier/quicker version, you could certainly use your favorite jarred sauce.  I also added sausage to my sauce, because the guys I live with insist on eating meat with their meals.  However, this filling was rich enough on its own that I think the dish would stand well enough on its own without meat.

Manicotti Roll Ups
Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 1 pound cooked sausage, optional
Cheese Filling:
  • 24 ounces (3 cups) part-skim Ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 16 no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Barilla)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and adjust oven rack to the middle position.
For the sauce:
  1. Pulse tomatoes, one can at a time, in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  2. Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook until garlic turns golden, about 3 minutes. Do not allow garlic to brown. Stir in chopped tomatoes, sausage (if using), and ½ teaspoon salt. Allow sauce to simmer, and cook until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in basil and additional salt, to taste.
For the filling:
  1. Combine ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Pour 2-inches of boiling water into a 9x13 pan. Place lasagna noodles into pan, 1 at a time, and soak about 5 minutes, or until pliable. Remove noodles to a clean kitchen towel and dry out your baking dish.
  3. Spread 1 ½ cups of tomato sauce into the bottom of your 9x13 pan. Spread ¼ cup of cheese filling evenly onto the bottom three-quarters of each noodle. Roll noodle into a tube shape and place into your baking dish seam-side down. Top with remaining sauce.
  4. Cover dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until bubbling, rotating halfway through. Remove foil from pan and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Turn on broiler, and heat until cheese is spotty brown, about 5 minutes.
recipe from Cook's Illustrated


  1. Jocelyn @BruCrew Life

    Yay for saving time by just rolling in a noodle…I always hate filling those shells too!!! And your dish actually exploded in the oven? That’s crazy…and sad because dinner was ruined. It looks great!!!
    Jocelyn @BruCrew Life recently posted..Trick or Treat Tuesday #5My Profile

    • Ashley

      That darn pan shattered into a million itty bitty pieces–total disaster. My husband was especially disappointed because he’d been fantasizing about eating manicotti all day. 🙂

    • Ashley

      It was a mess! Fortunately, everything turned out okay the second time. 🙂

    • Ashley

      Now that I’ve made it this way, I’ll never go the traditional route again. I love easy. 🙂

  2. Liz

    I only ever use the no-cook shells – soooo much easier and quicker! Too bad about your pyrex dish, I’ve never heard of that happening before! Have a great week!
    Liz recently posted..Red Velvet Cinnamon BunsMy Profile

    • Ashley

      Those no-cook shells are a life-saver! I’ve used pyrex forever with no problem–I’m not sure what happened to cause it this time, but it sure was a disaster. 🙁

  3. Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

    They should put a warning on the freaking Pyrex! I exploded my 8 X 8 in the oven. Brownies. So depressing. My mom exploded a Pyrex casserole on the stove on Christmas once. Broccoli & Rice shrapnel everywhere with me & my sisters diving for cover. Anyway— I roll up lasagna noodles all the time; the manicotti roll ups look great!
    Heather @ SugarDish(Me) recently posted..Peanut Butter Banana Whole Wheat PancakesMy Profile

    • Ashley

      No kidding! Don’t think I’ll be using Pyrex anymore! It was a mess, not to mention dangerous!

    • Ashley

      Now I’m worried about using my other Pyrex dishes–scary! And messy. 🙁

    • Ashley

      I hadn’t made homemade manicotti in years, either. I am usually to lazy to do it. This recipe was worth it, though. And the sauce was super simple, but still great!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Julie! I hate stuffing shells, too–this version makes it so much easier!

  4. Elissa

    Looking forward to trying this…can you specify what you mean by “rotating” in step #7?

    • Ashley

      Hi Elissa! I rotated the pan 180 degrees, for more even cooking. 🙂

  5. Bonny Lee


    I remember reading, some time ago, that when Pyrex was sold to another company, the dishes were made differently, making them liable to explode in certain situations. They are supposed to have different wording on the bottom of the dish, but I don’t remember what that was now. Maybe a google search would find that information.

    I’m wondering if a wonton skin would work in place of the manicotti, or lasagna, noodle. I’ve always put the filling in a piping bag to fill uncooked manicotti noodles, and then baked them in tomato sauce. It’s similar to recipes for making lasagna without pre-cooking the pasta.

    Ina Garten recently made lasagna with regular lasagna noodles, and she did not pre-cook the pasta. She said you only have to soak them in hot water. She didn’t use boiling water, just hot water out of the faucet.

    I’m anxious to try this recipe, but I’m going to put the sausage in the filling, instead of the sauce. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Susie

    Hi, I’ve been using egg roll wrappers for years, no just for manicotti but also to fill with fresh berrys, spray with pam, sprinkle with sugar & bake till crispy. We love them !

  7. Debi

    In place of lasagne noodles, I use egg roll wraps with same results. If you read the labels, they all have the same ingrediants…


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