Stuffed Manicotti with meat is a fantastic dish to make and reheat during the week or even to take for lunch. Mozzarella and ground beef are stuffed into pasta shells, covered with tomato sauce, baked, and topped with romano cheese. You can’t go wrong with this recipe!
Stuffed Manicotti with Meat
Save this stuffed manicotti shells recipe because you do not want to miss out on this wonderful savory dish. It has all of the meat, cheese, and pasta you could ever want. Meat and cheese stuffed manicotti makes for a hearty meal. Your family will love how they taste.
What is the difference between stuffed manicotti shells and manicotti?
This recipe is not just plain manicotti noodles in a meat sauce. They are pasta shells stuffed with ground beef and cheese, smothered in sauce, baked, then topped with more cheese.
The meat and cheese filling is the biggest difference and makes this dish stand out. The cheese in the filling is mozzarella instead of the usual ricotta. The filling also has breadcrumbs in it to hold it together and give it wonderful flavor and texture.
Stuffed manicotti ingredients
This recipe is unexpectedly filled with wonderfully developed flavor and that comes from the best pairing of ingredients. Make sure you take a look at what you’ll need to make this delicious cheese stuffed manicotti. Here’s a handy list:
- Tomato sauce
- Beef gravy
- Fresh basil
- Ground beef
- Shredded mozzarella
- Romano cheese
- Manicotti shells
How to make stuffed manicotti
- Combine tomato sauce, beef gravy, garlic, sugar, basil, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer until thick. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
- Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir to break up the beef while it is browning.
- Add salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and mozzarella cheese.
- Cook and stir the mixture until the cheese has melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and cool it to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the manicotti according to the package instructions.
- Fill 16 manicotti shells with the meat and cheese mixture and place the stuffed pasta in a single layer in a baking dish.
- Pour enough sauce over the pasta to completely cover it.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle grated Romano cheese on top.
- Serve with the remaining sauce. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.
How to Stuff Manicotti
The best way to stuff manicotti is by taking the boiled manicotti pasta and using a plastic zip-top bag or pastry bag filled with the meat and cheese filling to fill the shell.
You will need to cut the tip of the bag (or corner of a zip-top bag). Hold the manicotti in your hand and then carefully apply pressure to the bag to fill the shell.
Is there a tool to stuff manicotti?
The best tool to stuff manicotti shells without breaking the shell is to use a pastry bag.
Any time you work with shells you run the risk of them breaking. You do need to handle the shells with care.
Yes, it might be a little more work to prepare, but not only will you be able to fill the shells faster, but have a low risk of breaking the shells since you won’t be using a hard tool.
Some people like to use a spoon when filling the shells, but I do find it harder to work with a spoon to get the filling in the manicotti shell. Plus, if you are trying to go fast, using a spoon you run the risk of hitting the spoon on the noodle and cracking or breaking it.
So in terms of using a tool, I would say that the only one you will need is a medium-sized pastry bag or zip-top bag and cut off the corner of it!
Stuffing variations for manicotti
This recipe uses ground beef for the filling, but you can choose whatever protein you like. Ground turkey sausage, ground chicken, or one of my personal favorites is ground Italian sausage.
You can also add some finely chopped green bell peppers and some fresh or dried basil to the cheese filling for added texture and flavor.
I’ve also put spinach in the filling as well, which is a great way to hide those necessary greens!
Which is better, beef stuffed manicotti or cheese stuffed manicotti?
Truly, you cannot go wrong with either. But, if I were pressed to answer, I would say beef stuffed manicotti. Simply because I get the satisfying combination of beef and cheese! It’s the best of both worlds.
Also, beef adds protein which makes it a heartier dish.
How to freeze and reheat stuffed manicotti leftovers
Do you ever like to have a casserole or a dish tucked away in the freezer just in case you have company over? Simply prepare this and allow it to cool to room temperature. Wrap it with plastic wrap and foil. Place it in the freezer and freeze it for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to serve, remove foil and plastic wrap, and heat in a 350-degree oven for about 1 hour.
What sides go well with manicotti?
If you need some ideas on side dishes to go with this delicious meat and cheese stuffed manicotti, here are a few suggestions on what to serve with stuffed manicotti:
Enjoy pasta and Italian food? Try these must-make recipes!
- Asiago Tortelloni Alfredo
- Baked Ziti
- Capellini Pomodoro
- Garlic Butter Pasta
- Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce
- Olive Garden Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells
- Spaghetti Casserole
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 1 cup beef gravy
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sweet basil
- 4 cups water
- 2 pounds ground beef
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
- 16 manicotti shells (16 shells)
- 16 ounces grated Romano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large pot, combine the tomato sauce, gravy, garlic, sugar, basil, and water.
- Bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat to simmer until the sauce thickens. Set aside.
- Brown the beef in a large skillet
- Add salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and mozzarella cheese, and stir over the heat until the cheese is soft.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Prepare 16 manicotti shells according to the package instructions.
- Fill each shell with the meat mixture.
- Place the stuffed manicotti in a single layer in a baking dish.
- Cover completely with the sauce.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle grated Romano cheese on top.
- Serve with the remaining sauce.