This classic Italian-American dish is a great weeknight meal. Our sausage and spinach manicotti recipe is a delicious and easy weeknight dinner recipe with ground Italian sausage, chopped spinach, ricotta cheese mixture, a perfectly seasoned tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and baked to perfection.
If you love stuffed manicotti, then you’re about to be in heaven. This stuffed manicotti recipe is one that I’ve been making for years, and I just never got around to posting it on the site. I made it this past weekend and I decided it was the perfect time to snap some photos and share it with all of you. This classic stuffed manicotti dish is one that my family can’t get enough of. The kids request it often, and I usually make it in a double batch because it’s that good. It’s always been a hit, and once you try it, it’ll be a hit with you, too.
Sausage and Spinach Manicotti
This delicious recipe starts with perfectly cooked, al dente manicotti. Then, I stuff it full of a ricotta, parmesan, and meat mixture. Finally, it’s smothered with a simple tomato sauce, topped with cheese, and baked to cheesy perfection. What I end up with is a dish loaded with Italian flavor that satisfies even the biggest (and pickiest) eaters. It’s a recipe that no one ever turns down.
Why You’ll Love This Sausage and Spinach Manicotti Recipe
- It’s a flavorful pasta recipe that’s always a welcome dinner recipe the whole family loves.
- It uses simple ingredients, most of which you probably have in your pantry and freezer right now.
- It’s a hearty comfort food recipe that’s super flavorful and absolutely delicious.
- Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT boil your pasta past al dente. The manicotti must be firm enough to stand up to being filled with the sauce and then baked again. If your noodles are too soft, they’ll either tear while you fill them over they’ll get soggy while they bake.
- Always drain your sausage even if it doesn’t appear to have much grease in it. You’ll be surprised at how much grease actually drains off.
- If you like your cheese a little browned, remove the foil in the last 10 minutes of baking.
- You can use ground beef or ground turkey in place of Italian sausage if you like.
- If ricotta is too creamy for you on its own, cut it by ¼ to ½ with cottage cheese.
- If you don’t have manicotti, any very large pasta with an opening you can fit a spoon into will work.
What to Serve with Stuffed Manicotti
Stuffed manicotti is a classic Italian dish that goes with all your favorite Italian sides.
- Bread sticks
- Dinner rolls
- Garlic bread
- Roasted vegetables
- Caprese salad
- Wedge salad
How to Fill Manicotti Shells
You can fill manicotti shells with a spoon if you’re gentle and take your time. A faster way is to put your mixture into a large resealable bag and snip enough of the corner off of it to allow the filling to flow freely. Then, just pipe it in.
What is manicotti?
Manicotti, which translates to “little sleeves”, are large pasta tubes that are usually ridged and intended to be stuffed with filling before baking.
Should manicotti be cooked before stuffing?
It depends on the recipe. Some recipes are wet enough that the manicotti will cook while baking. In that case, stuffing them is easier when they’re uncooked. For a recipe like this, you should cook them until they’re between par-boiled and al dente before stuffing them.
What is the easiest way to fill manicotti shells?
If you’re using a cheese mixture, you can use a piping bag or large resealable bag with a corner snipped off and easily pipe it into the shells.
Do you put egg in manicotti filling?
Yes. Most manicotti fillings are similar to the cheese mixture used in lasagna which also has egg.
How do you stuff manicotti without a piping bag?
Use a small teaspoon and spoon the filling into each end of the noodles, pushing gently to ensure the filling reaches the center of the noodles.
Can you freeze stuffed manicotti?
Absolutely! Place your baked manicotti in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 3 months.
How to Store, Reheat, and Make Ahead
Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze it in an airtight, freezer-safe container or heavy duty freezer bag for up to 3 months. To make it ahead, make the sauce and boil the noodles and place in a casserole dish. Then, bake when ready to serve.
To reheat this recipe, place it in an oven-safe dish, cover it with aluminum foil, and bake it for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Or, place on a microwave safe plate and cover with a paper towel and heat up at 30 second intervals until heated through.
Sausage and Spinach Manicotti Ingredients
It only takes a few simple ingredients to make this dish. You probably have most of them in your kitchen right now, and those that you don’t are all readily available at your local grocery store.
- Manicotti noodles
- Hot Italian sausage
- Frozen chopped spinach
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Large egg
- Dried parsley
- Tomato sauce
- Crushed tomatoes
- Tomato paste
For the complete list of ingredients and measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to Make Sausage and Spinach Manicotti
Making this recipe is just as simple as gathering up the ingredients. It’s basically like making lasagna, and we all know how easy that is.
Step 1: Prep
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 7×11 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Step 2: Cook the Pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, add the manicotti and boil for 7 minutes. Drain.
Step 3: Cook the Sausage
Cook the sausage and onions until the sausage is no longer pink and the onions are translucent. Then, drain the grease and add the sausage to a large bowl.
Step 4: Add the Spinach
Add thawed and drained spinach to the meat mixture and stir to incorporate.
Step 5: Make the Cheese Mixture
Mix the ricotta, parmesan, egg, and dried parsley flakes together in a medium bowl. Then, add it to the sausage mixture and stir well.
Step 6: Make the Sauce
Add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and water to the pan used to cook the sausage. Sprinkle in the seasonings and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add about ½ cup of sauce to the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Step 7: Fill the Manicotti
Using a small spoon or resealable bag with a corner snipped off, fill each of the manicotti noodles with the ricotta and meat mixture and place them in a single layer in the baking dish on top of the sauce.
Step 8: Bake
Pour the remaining sauce over the noodles and top with shredded mozzarella. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
Try This Sausage Spinach Cheese Manicotti Recipe Today
This sausage and spinach manicotti recipe is loaded with a rich, meat filling and topped with a simple tomato sauce and a ton of mozzarella cheese. When it’s all said and done, you’ll have a delicious Italian recipe loaded with flavor and ready to be devoured. And it WILL be devoured. Give this recipe a try, and I know you’ll love it as much as I and my family do.
More Delicious Pasta Recipes to Enjoy
Italian Sausage Bow Tie Pasta – This hearty and delicious pasta recipe is a family favorite and is made with Italian sausage, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, pasta and mozzarella cheese. It’s absolutely incredible.
Creamy Tortellini Bake – This delicious tortellini recipe has two incredible sauces, a creamy white Parmesan sauce and a meaty tomato sauce, lots of mozzarella cheese and cheese tortellini.
Spinach Artichoke Pasta – Loaded with chicken sausage, artichoke hearts and baby spinach with a tomato-based sauce and rotini pasta, this is a hearty and delicious meal.
And, here is a Bacon Pasta Salad from Great Grub, Delicious Treats you’ll enjoy too.
Sausage and Spinach Manicotti
- 8 ounce manicotti pasta
For the Italian Sausage Mixture
- 16 ounce ground hot Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 12 ounce frozen chopped spinach
- Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 7×11 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium high heat.
- Once water boils, cook manicotti for about 7 minutes, drain.
For the Italian Sausage Mixture
- In a large frying pan over medium high heat, cook sausage and onions until sausage is no longer pink and onions are translucent. Drain grease and put mixture into a large bowl.
- Add the thawed, drained spinach to the meat mixture. Stir to combine.
For the Ricotta Filling
- In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, parmesan, egg, and dried parsley flakes.
- Add ricotta mixture into the sausage mixture and stir until everything is mixed well.
For the Tomato Sauce
- In the pan used to cook the sausage, add in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and water. Stir together and add in seasonings.
- Reduce heat and bring sauce to a simmer.
- Pour ½ cup of sauce into the bottom of the prepared dish.
- Fill each manicotti noodle with the ricotta meat mixture and place in the prepared baking dish. Repeat until all noodles are filled and placed in the dish.
- Pour remaining sauce over the stuffed noodles and then top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
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