This simple 3-ingredient vegan manicotti is cozy, delicious, and easy to make. Customize it any way you like, but this veganized classic is family friendly and comfort food at its best.
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Hey Internet, I’m not sure that manicotti is regarded as a fall dish, but for me it’s the perfect food to eat on a chilly autumn night. It’s warm, it’s cozy, and it’s full of vegan cheese.
The only challenging part of this recipe is getting the ricotta into the shells. I tried cooking or soaking the shells first but then they just ripped on me.
I found it is best to stuff them when they are dry, and we’ll cook them in the sauce so they get nice and tender.
The trick to stuffing the manicotti shells is using a small spoon to scoop the vegan ricotta in there, and then using a chopstick (or similar) to stuff it down to the center of the tube.
Of course, you can also just take any pasta noodle and mix it around with the sauce and ricotta and bake it--you don’t need to stuff it but it’s kind of fun. Great for kids to help in the kitchen!
As far as customization, you can change up the sauce if you like--may I suggest a vegan pumpkin cheese sauce? Now THAT’s pretty autumnal.
You could mix cooked (or thawed from frozen) spinach or vegan ground crumbles into the ricotta before you stuff it for some extra nutrients or different flavor.
Or even add a layer of my homemade nut-free vegan mozzarella to the top, which I wanted to do but my husband talked me out of it because it wouldn’t photograph as well. *shakes fist, but then nods in agreement*
Customize it or don’t, let’s just get into the recipe.
What You’ll Need
You only need a few things for this simple recipe.
The first, is pasta. If you want to make vegan manicotti, you’ll need manicotti shells. Though, you can also use lasagna noodles that have been cooked till al dente (softened and chewy; almost cooked) and roll them up if you want.
You can also just mix any kind of al dente pasta with the sauce and vegan ricotta and bake it, making a sort of deconstructed manicotti.
To make this recipe gluten-free, all you have to do is use gluten-free pasta.
Now for the sauce. I like to use both a chunky and a non-chunky sauce for this, so I mixed a can of diced tomatoes with a can of tomato sauce, but you can use whatever you’d like.
If you are oil-free like me, it can be challenging to find a jarred tomato sauce that is oil-free. Whole Foods, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s all offer at least one option. But, you can also just season canned tomato sauce to your liking.
You can also use any other type of sauce--even vegan pumpkin cheese sauce!
For the cheese, I use my nut-free vegan ricotta, that’s protein packed and takes literally like 3 minutes to make in the food processor or blender. I made a batch and a half for this recipe and it was the perfect amount that left me with a little bit to dollop on top of the finished product.
You could also use a store-bought vegan cheese.
For garnish, I highly recommend a little fresh basil--it’s delicious, but not required.
Tips for Making Vegan Manicotti
- I used a lasagna pan for this so my manicotti shells would fit side by side. Any pan or baking dish with tall sides should work.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius).
- To infuse a lot of saucy flavor and soften the pasta, we need a bed of tomato sauce in the pan. I poured about 15-16 ounces (1 can tomato sauce) straight into the pan and tried to pour it evenly. You can spread it with a spatula or the back of a spoon, too.
- For the vegan ricotta, if using my recipe, you’ll need about a batch and a half to fill 8 oz of manicotti shells. If using store-bought, you’ll need about 2+1/4 cups.
- The best way I’ve found to fill dry manicotti shells: use a small or narrow spoon (a baby spoon or grapefruit spoon both work well) to stuff small amounts of ricotta into the shell, then use a chopstick or straw to push the cheese down the tube until the halfway point. Repeat on each side until the shell is full.
- Line your shells up in the sauce covered pan or dish until you’ve finished, then add more (I used chunky for this) tomato sauce on top. You can either cover or don’t completely cover the noodles with sauce. They will be softer if you do this, so I recommend cooking it for maybe 5 minutes less than the recommended 30 minutes, to ensure your pasta doesn't get soggy.
- Cover and bake for about 30 minutes. Try a small piece on the corner of one of the manicotti to test if it is soft enough. Mine were definitely ready at 30 minutes, but not soggy at all.
- Add dollops of extra ricotta cheese if desired (I used a medium cookie scoop to do this) and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
- You can also sprinkle it with my vegan Parmesan topping if you want.
More Vegan Pasta Dishes
I probably love pasta more than anything--sorry Mr. Zardyplants, aka Paul.
In the same vein as this dish, I recommend my Lemon Ricotta Pasta, but if you’re looking for other flavors, try some of the below options.
Here’s some of my fave pasta dishes on the site right now:
- Chickpea Florentine (one pot)
- Garlic Noodles
- Pasta Puttanesca (one pot)
- Tahini Pasta with Broccolini
- Creamy Mushroom Pasta (one pot)
- Veggie Lo Mein
- Vegan Goulash (American/Chili Mac Style)
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This Vegan Manicotti is:
- Cheesy (all the c’s honestly)
- And perfect for any dinner or potluck!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!