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Mexican Manicotti Casserole Recipe and Freezer Meal

Mexican Manicotti casserole is a delicious, easy to make casserole dinner with bold flavors and a creamy salsa based sauce that everyone will love.

Combining ground beef, refried beans, fresh peppers and tomatoes, cheese and sour cream; this recipe takes a traditional Italian style pasta and gives it a delicious south of the border twist. This recipe can be made ahead and cooked when you are ready to eat it. It also makes a fantastic family style freezer meal that can be enjoyed months later.

In this post we walk you through how to make one of our favorite dinners, with tips and tricks for filling and arranging the manicotti shells. This recipe brings our familiar favorites of enchiladas and lasagna together in a beautiful meal that your family will enjoy.

Mexican Manicotti Casserole

Is manicotti Italian?

Manicotti pasta are large, tube shaped shells that are Italian American. The plural for of the word ‘manicotto’ translates to “little sleeves” which is a fun way to remember the shape and style of this pasta. 

Traditionally, a manicotti recipe is made by filling the pasta shells with ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and Italian herbs. Finished with a red pasta sauce and covered in even more cheese, it is a meatless dish that is comforting and scrumptious. 

Is cannelloni the same as manicotti? 

Manicotti is an Italian American pasta that is very similar to cannelloni. Both are tubular in shape, filled with either cheese, meat or veggie mixtures and baked. The differences between the two are small. Manicotti pasta shells are slightly larger, ridged and thicker making them a bit easier to work with than the more refined, slightly thinner cannelloni shells.

Should manicotti be boiled before stuffing?

Manicotti pasta shells do not need to be boiled or pre cooked before stuffing and baking them. They make a quick option for a pasta that can be prepped in a short amount of time with very little added effort. Another reason we love them so much.

How do you stuff manicotti without breaking it?

Because manicotti pasta does not need to be boiled before stuffing they are actually very easily to fill and assemble. You can put your filling mixture into a piping bag if you wish, but really you only need a small spoon to do the job. Something like an espresso spoon, jam spoon or even a baby spoon is perfect. 

This technique is our preferred method; it keeps the mess down with less fuss and clean up. 

Tips for this recipe:

This is an easy Mexican casserole to prepare. Just prepare your filling then stuff and bake.

  • Oil your baking pan to prevent the manicotti from sticking
  • Use a very small spoon to push the stuffing into the manicotti
Mexican Manicotti Casserole

Mexican Manicotti casserole

  • You can make this meal the night before and keep it in your fridge covered with an airtight lid or wrap. Remove the dish from the fridge and set at room temperature, allowing it too warm slightly, about 30 minutes. You can preheat your oven while it is warming.
  • You can also freeze this dish in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months making this a fantastic freezer meal to share with friends and family, or simply store for later. Remember to mark the date on the container. It is also helpful to include the baking instructions if you have a foil lid to write on.  
Mexican Manicotti Casserole

Mexican Manicotti Casserole

Mexican Casserole Recipe Notes:

This manicotti casserole has instructions in the Recipe card for both Microwave and Conventional oven instructions. Feel free to use whichever works best for you.

What sides can I serve with a manicotti casserole?

This manicotti dinner can definitely stand alone as a full meal, but it also pairs well with various side dishes. Some of our favorites to pair with this Mexican style meal include

Mexican Manicotti Casserole
Yield: 12

Mexican Manicotti Casserole

Mexican Manicotti casserole is a delicious, easy to make, comforting, Low-Sugar meal. Enjoy this yummy pasta dish full of Mexican seasonings and flavor.


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans(I'm using non-fat)
  • 1 Tablespoon Taco seasoning (or one packet- to taste)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package manicotti-uncooked
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 16 ounces picante sauce(or any salsa of this type)
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • 6 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion (additional for garnish)
  • 1 cup chopped ripe tomato(additional for garnish)
  • 1/2 Cup chopped pasilla pepper(additional for garnish)



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet brown hamburger, onion and peppers. Season with the taco seasoning
  3. Add the refried beans and half the cheese. Stir and Cook to warm and melt the cheese.
  4. Stuff the uncooked manicotti shells with the hamburger mixture and place tightly together in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.
  5. Mix together the Picante(or any salsa of this type) and water.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the casserole.
  7. Pour the diluted picante sauce evenly over the cheese.
  8. Bake 45 minutes tightly covered. Remove the cover and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until browned and bubbly.
  9. Serve with sour cream and additional onions, tomatoes and peppers for garnish.


This recipe puts the cheese topping on after microwave.

  1. Cover the dish with microwave-safe cover.
  2. Cut a few holes in the wrap or set the cover up so it vents slightly.
  3. Microwave on High power for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully pull back the plastic wrap or remove cover to avoid steam.
  5. Remove the casserole from the microwave.
  6. Turn the shells over with tongs.
  7. Replace the plastic and microwave an additional 15 to 20 minutes on Medium power, until the shells are cooked and the liquid has been absorbed.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 368Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 101mgSodium 788mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 26g

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Mexican Manicotti casserole is a delicious, easy to make casserole dinner with bold flavors and a creamy salsa based sauce that everyone will love.

Inspiration for Mexican Manicotti

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Friday 31st of May 2024

Excellent recipe. Will definitely make again. Little hint on filling Manicotti noodles. Get yourself a jerky shooter. Makes filling a breeze 😁. Hey guys think of ways to use that awesome thing.

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