This vegan manicotti recipe is a guaranteed winner! With a creamy spinach and ricotta filling and plenty of plant-based cheese on top, it’s the perfect cozy comfort food meal.
Manicotti is an Italian pasta dish similar to stuffed shells, except instead of tucking a creamy vegan ricotta filling into jumbo pasta shells, you’ll fill pasta tubes instead. My vegan-friendly version is baked in a marinara sauce with melty plant-based cheese on top to create the perfect Italian-inspired meal. (And if you’re feeding a group of mixed eaters, trust me: the cheese-lovers will never guess this dish is dairy-free!)
What Is the Difference Between Manicotti and Cannelloni?
Manicotti and cannelloni are both types of Italian pasta dishes, and they’re very similar in appearance. The main difference between the two is that manicotti are ridged pasta tubes filled with a savory filling, while cannelloni is made with large rectangles of pasta (or sometimes crepes) that are rolled up with the filling. Cannelloni is more common in Italy, while manicotti is more of an Italian-American dish.
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Manicotti shells
- Vegan ricotta cheese – You can use store-bought or if you can’t find it, make your own vegan ricotta.
- Vegan shredded mozzarella cheese – I like using a bag of shreds, as shredded vegan cheese is usually formulated for melting.
- Vegan parmesan – Again, you can use store-bought or make your own vegan Parmesan.
- Fresh baby spinach – This is the classic choice for manicotti filling, but you can switch things up with chard if you’d like.
- Black pepper
- Pasta sauce – Save yourself some time and use your favourite jarred sauce, or make your own marinara.
- Fresh basil
What Is Vegan Ricotta Made From?
Vegan ricotta is a dairy-free alternative to traditional ricotta cheese. There are versions made with tofu, cashews, and almonds—any of these will work in this vegan manicotti recipe, so choose which one tastes best to you or that works best for your dietary preferences.
How to Make Vegan Manicotti
The beauty of this vegan manicotti recipe is that it’s a no-boil version—which means you don’t have to worry about the pasta tubes falling apart or having to wait for them to cool before stuffing!
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and coat a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Let the pasta tubes soak in a large bowl of hot water for 30 minutes, stirring at the halfway point to keep them from sticking.
Make the filling. Drain any liquid from the vegan ricotta, then place it in a mixing bowl. Add the vegan mozzarella (reserve 1/2 cup for later), Parmesan, spinach, cornstarch, salt, and pepper and stir well. Scoop the ricotta mixture into a piping bag or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped off.
Assemble. Spread half of the pasta sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Squeeze about 1/3 cup of filling into each pasta tube. Set the filled tubes in the baking dish; once you’ve filled all of the manicotti, pour the remaining sauce over the top and add the reserved vegan mozzarella.
Bake and serve. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Let the vegan manicotti cool for 10 minutes, then garnish with basil before serving.
Tips for Success
Here are my best tips for perfect vegan manicotti:
- Pipe from both sides of the pasta tubes. To make sure the tubes are filled evenly, I like to pipe half of the filling from one side of the tube, then turn it and fill the other side.
- Cover the baking dish completely with sauce. Make sure the sauce goes all the way to the edges of the baking dish in an even layer, with no bare spots. An even layer of sauce will help soften the pasta as it bakes in the oven.
- Use a pasta sauce that tastes good. Don’t skimp here! The pasta sauce is a big player in the flavour of the finished dish.
If you like putting your own spin on recipes, this vegan manicotti will give you plenty of room to do just that. Sautéed diced mushrooms and shallots make for a more substantive filling; just stir them into the vegan ricotta and then spoon the filling into the shells rather than piping. Chopped canned artichokes are a tasty addition, too, or you can skip the spinach and add some pesto to the ricotta instead for a more herbaceous flavour.
I love having vegan manicotti with a piece of crusty roasted garlic bread, but a simple side of balsamic roasted vegetables works well too. If you have leftover spinach, you can use that to make a side salad with my creamy vegan avocado dressing.
How to Store Leftovers
Store vegan manicotti in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can reheat it in a 350ºF oven or in the microwave until it’s warmed through.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes! Transfer your vegan manicotti to a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Let the manicotti thaw in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta
- Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Vegan Garlic Alfredo Pasta
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese (Vegan)
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan mancotti, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
- 12 manicotti shells, 194 grams
- 2 cups vegan ricotta cheese, 454 grams
- 1 ½ cup vegan shredded mozzarella cheese, 168 grams
- ½ cup vegan Parmesan, 56 grams
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach, de-stemmed and chopped, 40 grams
- ¼ cup cornstarch, 32 grams
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 16 ounces pasta sauce, 453 grams
- fresh basil for garnish, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Place pasta shells in a large bowl of hot water and soak for 30 minutes to soften. Stir around with your hand about halfway through, to unstick any noodles.
- Pour the liquid off the ricotta cheese.
- While the shells are soaking, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella, parmesan cheese, spinach, cornstarch, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Mix well.
- Pour half of the pasta sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
- Transfer the cheese mixture to a piping bag. You can also use a ziploc bag.
- Squeeze about 1⁄3 cup of filling into each pasta shell and place them on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
- Once you’ve filled all of the shells, pour the remaining pasta sauce over the top.
- Sprinkle it with the remaining 1⁄2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with fresh basil.
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.