Chicken Manicotti with White & Red Sauce

Chicken Manicotti with White & Red Sauce

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium size bowl combine the ricotta, 1/2 of the cup parmesan, eggs, and mozzarella. Stir in the basil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and chicken until well combined. Set the filling aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour, and the rest of the salt. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly just until the mixture starts to brown. Whisk in the half and half, stirring until becomes thick. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the parmesan and nutmeg. Pour into large casserole dish, spreading around to completely to coat the bottom.

Place the filling into a large ziplock bag. Clip one corner and fill the manicotti from both sides and place over the white sauce. Repeat with the remaining manicotti and the filling. Pour the red sauce over manicotti evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella (or more if you like). Bake for about 25 minutes or until the filling is heated through. Serve with a green salad and garlic bread.

Stuffed Manicotti Is the Italian-American Baked Pasta of Our Dreams

In the Great Halls of Red Sauce, the classic Italian-American pastas hold onto all of the glory like straw baskets hold old-school Chianti: The baked ziti, the Alfredo, and the shareable mountain of spaghetti and meatballs, and, at the most revered dish of them all, the towering layered lasagna. But there’s one dish on almost every red sauce joint's menu that people are shortchanging: Manicotti, aka manigot, as it's sometimes called.

And it's a shame, because manicotti is the most shamelessly indulgent pasta of them all.

Manicotti has all of the melted filling magic of lasagna. Like ziti, it’s got a melty exterior and the occasional toasty and crusty points where the pasta pokes out. But if you're looking for the experience of digging into a volcano-like landscape of molten ricotta, oozy mozzarella, and pools of luscious sauce, manicotti is the only way to go.

Here's how to achieve a manicotti experience worthy of the red-and-white checkered tablecloth:

The baked pasta sauce should strike a balance between your it’s-been-simmering-all-day Sunday sauce and a slightly doctored jarred pasta sauce. This one simmers canned tomatoes with sauteed garlic and onion to create a flavorful base for the manicotti in less than 20 minutes. You’ll want the sauce to be thick enough to coat the bottom of your baking pan and help bind all of the elements together.

Most manicotti recipes pair a simple tomato sauce with a basic ricotta pasta stuffing. But for maximum cheesy lusciousness, take a cue from fancy lasagnas and add a creamy bechamel sauce, too. Spiked with a handful of pecorino and Parmesan, it adds some depth to the mild, ricotta-stuffed pasta. Layer both sauces around the stuffed manicotti in the pan, and they'll meld together in the most delicious way possible.

In the traditional Italian version, manicotti isn't even made with pasta, fresh or dried—its foundation is rolled crepes. That means you’d have to be pretty good with a crepe pan before you even started filling and baking them. With two to three crepes to a serving, choosing fresh is a time commitment that adds up fast, when sticking to a pre-rolled (and pre-crimped!) dried pasta works so much faster. Sure, it’s not going to have that same eggy fluff and buttery flavor, but there are ways to work around that, namely, those aforementioned sauces.

Nothing against ricotta itself, but the cheese can tend to be a bit bland, not to mention a bit watery and grainy when melted. Stir in some mozzarella and an egg for texture, and a double-shot of pecorino and Parm, plus basil and shallot for a bit more flavor, and you're golden.

This ain’t your momma's (or your nonna) no-boil lasagna noodles. Just like you would with a baked ziti’s pasta, cook the manicotti "sleeves" until al dente before draining and placing them on an oiled baking sheet (the oil keeps the noodles from clumping). Then the only thing left to do is put all the elements together, and bake the manicotti until the kitchen smells too delicious to tolerate.

How to recreate Olive Garden Manicotti

  1. Prepare manicotti according to the directions on back of the package. While it is cooking in a bowl add all the ingredients except the extra 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and the sauce.
  2. Once the manicotti is done drain and rinse and then take spoonfuls of the filling and fill the shells.
  3. Layer the filled shells in a 9吉 inch pan. Then pour the sauce all over the shells. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle some more grated parmesan cheese on top if you would like!
  4. Then make at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Place chicken in a pot of boiling water and boil for 20 minutes or until cooked throughout. Let cool and then shred. Put shredded chicken aside.

Make red bell pepper sauce by placing red bell peppers, alfredo sauce and parmesan cheese in a blender and blend until smooth. Set sauce aside.

Cook manicotti shells according to package directions and then drain.

While pasta is cooking, make the chicken filling. Mix shredded chicken with cream cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese, bread crumbs, pepper, onion and salt. Mix well.

Lightly grease a 13 x 9 pan.

When pasta is done, let cool until you can handle to touch. Cut each pasta shell lengthwise and lay out. Put approximately 1/2 cup of chicken filling into each shell. Roll up and put seam side down in your greased pan. Repeat with rest of shells until dish is filled. Pour red bell pepper sauce over shells and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

While manicotti is baking, chop basil and set aside to garnish at the end.


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.

3. Add the garlic and leeks to the skillet with the remaining bacon fat and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half, Parmesan, crushed red pepper and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Add the cream cheese and cook until the sauce is thickened and the cheese is melted and fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and black pepper.

1. Add the spinach, ricotta, chicken, Italian blend cheese, crushed red pepper, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper to a large bowl and mix until fully combined. Transfer the mixture to a large disposable piping bag (or resealable plastic bag) and snip a large hole at the end of the bag.

1. Spoon 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of a flameproof (not glass) 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pipe the filling into both ends of the uncooked manicotti shells until filled and arrange them in the baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce, reserved bacon and Italian blend cheese. Cover with foil and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is cooked, 30 to 40 minutes.

2. Remove the baking dish from the oven and remove the foil. Turn the oven to broil. Broil until the top is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with more chopped parsley.

About Stuffed Manicotti

This easy Manicotti Recipe is one of the best I’ve ever devoured – restaurant or homemade. Here are a few reasons that set it apart:

  • Soaked Classic Noodles. There is no need to settle for no boil manicotti shells or boil your manicotti shells. Instead, the shells soften just in hot tap making them WAY easier to stuff
  • Marinara Sauce. For the ultimate Manicotti, you need to smother it in the ultimate sauce. It takes a few extra minutes to make marinara from scratch but is SO worth it AND most of the time is just simmering.
  • Beef, Sausage & Cheese. My favorite combination is of multiple cheeses, beef and sausage. The combination of beef and Italian sausage is sublime and adds the ideal texture so you don’t feel like you’re just taking a big bite of oozing cheese. Although, I’m not entirely opposed to that.
  • Depth of Flavor. The use of 3 cheeses, both beef and Italian sausage as well as plenty of seasoning in both the filling and the marinara add a depth of flavor that cannot be achieved any other way
  • No Grainy Ricotta! Instead of using all ricotta, we combine ricotta with sour cream for the creamiest ricotta you ever did taste. This will make a ricotta lover out of you!

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Minced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Cup Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely Minced Basil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Cups Cooked Chicken Breasts, Shredded
  • 1 Package Manicotti Tubes
  • 1 Recipe Tomato Quick Sauce (Or Favorite Jarred Tomato Sauce)
  • 2 Cups Baby Spinach
  • 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, then gently fry the onion 3-4 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until fragrant.
  4. Put the onion mixture in a mixing bowl, then add the ricotta cheese, egg yolks and fresh basil leaves.
  5. Mix, season with salt and pepper, and then stir in the chicken.
  6. Put the mixture in a blender and pulse until you achieve a coarse texture.
  7. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of lightly salted water until they just begin to soften but are still very "al dente"
  8. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a large oven-proof dish.
  9. Spoon the smooth filling into the the pasta tubes using a pastry bag, then arrange them in the dish.
  10. Add the spinach and heavy cream to the remaining tomato sauce in a saucepan, and heat until the spinach wilts into the sauce, then mix well.
  11. Pour this sauce over the pasta tubes, top with the grated parmesan and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and crisp on top and the pasta is cooked but still has a little bite.

Chicken and Mushroom Manicotti

My 10-month old is an eater. From the minute he was born, he never had a hard time feeding. Then he started solids, and he would eat every single kind of baby food that I gave him. And then he tried the “real” food – food from mommy’s plate – and I think that’s when he really fell in love with food. He will eat everything and anything.

I don’t know if it’s because I only gave him homemade baby food, or if he just really likes food in general. But really. That kid will eat anything. Cut up some raw cucumbers – he’ll eat it. Give him some chicken? Devoured. And forget about trying to eat something without sharing with him. He will definitely let you know that he wants a bite!

I have to thank my lucky stars, because my other two kids are not like that at all. Abbi is definitely starting to branch out and actually try everything on her plate, but she won’t usually eat it all. But Easton won’t touch much of anything at all. I have to laugh when I think that my 10-month old is the one who appreciates my cooking the most!!

Two of his favorite things are chicken and pasta. So needless to say, he really liked this dish. As did I!! And Abbi may have picked around the chicken, but she did eat the mushrooms, which is pretty impressive for a 4 year old.

One of the things I like the best about the weather getting colder is being able to enjoy comfort foods like this again. This meal is perfect for a Sunday supper, or prep it early in the day or the day before, and then just bake it up before dinner.

If wanted, you can transfer the filling mixture to a zip-top bag, then cut off the corner and pipe the filling into the noodles. But I think just using a spoon is the easiest way. It’s definitely messy, but gets the job done!

If this is what cold winter comfort looks like, bring it on!

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Roasted Chicken Ravioli Filling

This roasted chicken ravioli filling is delicious! It’s perfect in ravioli, tortellini or any large stuffed pasta. It would also taste amazing in large shells, manicotti or as a filling for a lasagna with white or red sauce. I like to serve mine with some browned butter, salt and pepper and fresh basil for a simple and delicious dinner. Adding red, white, mushroom or any other sauce would also taste great!

I like to use this filling with my Sweet Potato Pasta Recipe (find that HERE) or chickpea pasta (that recipe is HERE) or regular egg and flour pasta. You can also buy the pre-made won-ton or dumpling wrappers at the store and stuff them with this mixture as well.

I like to use rotisserie chicken meat in this recipe because it’s easy and convenient and brings a great flavor. If you are cooking your own chicken breast, do a simple seasoning of salt and pepper and bake until cooked to an internal temperature of 165 F., takes roughly 40-45 minutes depending on ovens and thickness of chicken breasts.

The decision to shred or minced your cooked chicken breast really depends on your preference and what pasta you are using it in, for tortellini I would do a really fine dice, for ravioli I would do a small dice or fine shred and if using in manicotti or lasagna you could use it roughly shredded.

How to make Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Manicotti

Cook pasta according to package directions. Mine took 7 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the ricotta cheese with an egg in a large bowl.

Mix in the parsley, salt and pepper.

Stir in the chopped chicken.

Next, stir in one cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Spoon the filling mixture into the cooled pasta tubes. (do not overfill)

Arrange the filled pasta in a single layer over the sauce.

Pour remaining sauce over the filled pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and parsley and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • Manicotti was the only pasta available at the store. You could also use Cannelloni Tubes or Jumbo Shells.
  • If you are not in the mood to stuff pasta, you could layer the sauce and filling between cooked lasagna noodles!
  • Cooked shrimp would be a delicious substitute if you do not have chicken available.
  • There were 14 shells in my 8 ounce package, but I could only fit 12 into the pan and two broke apart while boiling.