October 30, 2021

RECIPE: Cheesy Chicken Manicotti

I didn't make a heritage recipe this week, but yesterday I was stumped as to what to make for dinner. I had chicken to use but I wasn't in the mood to cook (am I ever?). I ended up making what turned out to be one of the easiest dinners I've ever made (not counting cereal and the like)--but so so good! The kids and Jerry loved it as well. I'm going to be adding this to a regular rotation of our favorites for days when I really don't want to use the stove.

There is very little prep work and no cooking other than placing it in the oven. Noah said it reminded him of lasagna, Eli said an Italian version of enchiladas, and I said it tastes like chicken parmesan. Whatever it is reminiscent of, it tastes really good ;)  (The lighting in my kitchen was terrible, so it looks like I used cheddar or some other orange cheese, but I didn't; I just like the cheese to be pretty brown on top, but the lighting makes it look orange)

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Cheesy Chicken Manicotti

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 box (8 oz) of manicotti shells (there were 14 shells in the box I had)
1 (25-30 oz) jar of good pasta sauce (I say "good" because it's the prominent flavor--so pick a sauce you really like)
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
12 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese (or mozzarella)*
1/4 cup parmesan cheese


Don't cook the chicken or manicotti shells. Pour 1/2 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Then add 1/2 cup water to the jar and shake it. Reserve while you prep the manicotti.

Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces and combine with the ricotta, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, 4 oz. Italian cheese blend (or mozzarella), and 3 Tbsp. parmesan. Stuff the mixture into the uncooked manicotti shells--you'll really have to pack it in there. After you stuff each one, just place it in the baking dish on top of the pasta sauce. If you have a small amount of leftover chicken mixture, just push it right up next to the opening of the shells as if it fell out. I didn't want to waste any filling! I only had a couple of tablespoons left, so I just put it in the dish.

Pour the pasta sauce+water mixture evenly over the shells. Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for about 55 minutes. Pull out of the oven and remove the foil. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese across the top and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is as melted/browned as you like it. Three manicotti each was very filling!

*(I used a full 8 oz bag of cheese to cover the top, but it may have been excessive--I just had to use it up so it didn't go bad. And we like cheese! ;) You could certainly get away with 8 oz. total in the recipe by using less on top.)

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