Looking for a delicious family Italian dinner your whole family will adore? This vegan manicotti is going to be loved by everyone! You can make it all from scratch or use my kitchen time-savers depending on how much time you have to cook. This recipe will become your new go-to dairy-free comfort food!
This easy vegan manicotti recipe will have everyone ask for more.
I love making baked pasta dishes for family dinners or meal prep on the weekend and enjoying them later in the week.
This time I made baked vegan manicotti for a change! This recipe is similar to my vegan lasagna roll-ups, but uses manicotti noodles instead.
Manicotti are large tubular-shaped noodles that are stuffed in this case with a super simple dairy-free white bean and tofu ricotta cheese. The creamy filling is so rich and flavorful and done quickly in a food processor.
Then, cover the stuffed manicotti with a delicious marinara sauce and drizzle white sauce for a creamy finish that feels like a real cheese sauce. Bake in the oven until perfectly tender and golden brown. Such a treat!
You can make this recipe super fast by using a store-bought marinara sauce and garnish with vegan mozzarella instead of blending the white sauce. But if you have a few extra minutes, then try making the sauces from scratch for a more authentic dish that's loaded with huge flavors.
It makes for such a delightful plant-based comfort food meal you can serve to anyone who loves Italian-inspired recipes. The leftovers are great too, so don't hesitate to make more!
Let me know if you gave it a try! ❤️
Why you will love this recipe
- Very flavorful and satisfying, such a favorite vegan comfort food recipe!
- It combines various fillings and sauces to create a stunning and harmonious blend of flavors and textures.
- Can be made ahead if you love to meal-prep
- Family-friendly and kids love it!
- Perfect meal to serve your guests, whether they are vegan or not
- Vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free
What you will need
- Manicotti shells pasta: manicotti are tubular-shaped pasta meant for stuffing. You should be able to find them in most grocery stores. Cannelloni noodles work just the same if that's all you can find (manicotti are ribbed vs cannelloni are smooth).
- Marinara sauce: you can make your own marinara sauce or use a jarred marinara for a quicker and easier version. I used 24 ounces of store-bought marinara to make mine to save some time.
- Vegan white sauce: used to cover the dish before baking. You can find the easy recipe on the website. You might have more than you need, so use the extra for another meal! You can also swap for store-bought vegan mozzarella cheese shreds.
- Tofu: use extra firm tofu or firm tofu. You will need a block of 14 or 16 ounces for this recipe.
- Canned white beans: I used cannellini beans, although navy or butter beans work too.
- Nutritional yeast: gives a mild cheese flavor to the vegan ricotta filling.
- Lemon: for a mild tangy flavor typical of ricotta cheese.
- Garlic: to help boost the flavor of the ricotta. I used 2 cloves of garlic, but you can add more for a stronger garlic taste.
- Spices: I used a mix of dried oregano, onion powder and garlic powder. You can also use some Italian seasoning as well.
How to make vegan manicotti
There are a few components to this recipe, so to make it easier you could make the marinara, ricotta and white sauce ahead of time. Or, simply follow the easy swap tips below for a speedy weeknight dinner!
Make the marinara sauce
You can make a marinara sauce from scratch using canned tomatoes following my recipe online or simply grab a jar of marinara from the store.
Cook the manicotti pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the manicotti until barely al dente, which should be about 6-7 minutes. Once done, drain and rinse in cold water.
Make the vegan ricotta cheese filling
Remove the tofu from the packaging and drain well. Wrap the block in some paper towels to remove the excess water. Also, drain and rinse the can of white beans.
Roughly break the tofu into large chunks and transfer to a food processor. Add the white beans and then process until mostly smooth.
Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, fresh garlic, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of salt.
Process until smooth and add some water as needed (a few tablespoons at a time) to create a consistency that's similar to regular ricotta (check out the video below for a visual).
Taste and adjust salt and other flavorings to your taste and set aside.
Make the white Alfredo sauce topping
Assemble and bake
Preheat the oven to 350º.
You can use your favorite casserole dish for making this recipe (I used a large lasagna-style dish), although any kind will work as long as you have enough space for about 8-12 manicotti.
Add about 1 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of the baking dish and spread it out.
Transfer the ricotta cheese into a large plastic bag (or a pastry bag) and use your hand to push the filling towards the bottom. Then, cut a corner of the bag.
One manicotti at a time, pipe the vegan ricotta mixture into the manicotti tubes. Be gentle not to break the pasta and switch sides if needed to fill it all the way (see video).
Place the filled manicotti in the baking dish and keep going until you are done with the noodles.
Add the remaining marinara sauce on top of the noodles (1-2 cups) and then, drizzle some of the white sauce over (you will have more than you need, keep the rest of the white sauce for something else).
Cover with some aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, turn up the oven to 450º, uncover and bake for 10-15 more minutes watching carefully.
- Add the garlic crushed and not whole to the food processor to avoid larger chunks of raw garlic in the ricotta.
- It can be a little gentle to fill the manicotti pasta. To help the process, use a piping bag as described above opposed to using a spoon. Keeping the noodles al dente and not allowing them to overcook will also help them not be too fragile.
- Check on the manicotti noodles packaging as some are no-boil. You can use no-boil manicotti as well, which will make you skip boiling them in water. In that case, be sure to completely cover the no-boil pasta with tomato sauce in the baking dish to ensure the noodles cook properly in the oven. If using no-boil noodles, then you can also use a small spoon to fill the manicotti pasta shells.
- If you cannot find manicotti noodles (or cannelloni noodles, which is simply a smooth version of the rigged manicotti noodles), then you can make this recipe using regular lasagna noodles. Check out my lasagna roll-ups recipe to see how I make them. Or, use large shell noodles!
What to serve with manicotti
While this dish is a satisfying meal on its own, it also pairs beautifully with a variety of sides and garnishes.
I like serving marinara-based pasta recipes with bread to be able to dip it in the extra sauce. In this case, the mix of rich tomato with the creamy white sauce will give you plenty of dipping yumminess. Try pairing it with garlic bread, whole wheat rolls or focaccia.
A light salad counterbalances perfectly the creamy and warm manicotti pasta bake that can feel heavy. This fresh kale apple salad would be great, but also try a simple green salad with a basil balsamic dressing or a vegan honey mustard vinaigrette.
This dish is not very heavy in veggies, which you can complement by roasting some in the oven while the pasta bakes. Asparagus, broccoli, zucchini and cauliflower would go great with this meal.
If you do not want to make the white sauce and don't have vegan cheese on hand, then you can also make this vegan parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the baked pasta (before or after it is baked).
Or simply combine some breadcrumbs with seasonings, nutritional yeast, a little olive oil and dollop over the dish before baking for a nice little crust.
Also, try covering with sliced fresh basil for flavor and a nice pop in color and add some red pepper flakes for some heat.
Variations to the recipe
You can also easily personalize your manicotti meal by swapping some of the ingredients and adding more to it. Here are a few ideas:
- No tofu: If you are looking for a soy-free recipe, then simply omit the tofu and use 2 cans of white beans instead. Or make a cashew ricotta! Also make sure the marinara you are using is soy-free.
- Veggie-filled: you can add more veggies to the ricotta filling for a boost in nutrients. Try adding some spinach, peas, kale, red pepper or broccoli. Cook the veggies first and remove the extra moisture before folding them in the ricotta. This caramelized onion and mushroom recipe would be amazing to add more veggies and flavor to the ricotta.
- Pesto-flavored: add a few spoonfuls of pesto to the ricotta mixture to add more flavor and color too. You can use store-bought or make your own! Try this roasted red pepper pesto or this cashew pesto.
- Roasted garlic: for a robust garlic flavor, roast a head of garlic until soft and caramelized (at 400º for about 30 minutes, check out my garlic cream pasta), then mash it into the ricotta mixture.
- Mediterranean flavor booster: chop and add a small amount of kalamata olives, marinated artichokes, capers or roasted red pepper to the ricotta filling.
- Herbed: add some fresh herbs right into the ricotta filling. Basil is especially great in this case, but parsley, thyme, rosemary or oregano also work well.
This manicotti recipe is such a great make-ahead meal as it stores well.
The noodles tend to tenderize a little more while resting in the fridge, but the manicotti are still as amazing.
Keep the leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
To freeze leftover vegan manicotti, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months. Let the manicotti thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating. It can be a great idea to freeze the leftovers in individualized portions for easy grab-and-go.
Ideally, try to reheat in the oven at 350° for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. You can also use the microwave for a quicker leftover meal.
The sauces and ricotta filling are naturally gluten-free. Look for GF noodles to make this dish GF!
The best way to keep a great texture for this dish is to cook the noodles al dente and not all the way through. I recommend you cook them 1 minute less than the al dente cooking time on the packaging. They will cook more in the oven!
Yes! Check out my cashew ricotta cheese for a soy-free ricotta or simply omit the tofu in this recipe and use 2 cans of white beans instead (you might need to adjust the flavoring accordingly).
Yes absolutely! You can assemble the whole dish, cover it very well and keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days before baking. I recommend taking it out of the fridge for 1-2 hours before baking to bring it to room temperature. If you bake it straight from the fridge, then bake for longer.
- Vegan eggplant roll-ups
- Vegan baked spaghetti
- Baked cauliflower mac and cheese
- Vegan lentil bechamel lasagna
- Vegan white lasagna with zucchini
- Barley stuffed peppers
- Creamy kale gnocchi
I hope you like this vegan manicotti recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Manicotti with Tofu Ricotta (Easy Recipe)
- 8-12 manicotti noodles (or cannelloni noodles) - see notes
- 3 cups marinara sauce - store-bought or homemade marinara
- handful of fresh basil - roughly chopped, optional, for garnish
For the homemade ricotta filling
- 1 block extra firm tofu (14 or 16 ounces)
- 15 oz canned white beans (cannellini or navy) - rinsed and drained
- ½ lemon - juiced
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves of garlic - roughly chopped
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1½-2 tsp salt - or to taste
- 5-7 tbsp water - to thin out consistency as needed
- Start by preparing the marinara (if not using store-bought) and vegan white sauce (if not using store-bought mozzarella shreds). Set aside. Both can be made ahead!
- Cook the manicotti noodles in boiling water according to the packaging. Make sure to keep them al dente. Once done, drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the ricotta: Drain the tofu and pat dry the block very well using a clean towel. Transfer to a food processor. Drain and rinse the can of white beans, then also transfer to the food processor. Process until mostly smooth.
- Then, add the rest of the ricotta ingredients except for the water in the food (garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano and salt). Process until combined.
- Add about 2-3 tablespoons of water and process again. Use a spatula to scrape the walls of the food processor and add more water + process again until the desired consistency. You are looking to reach a texture similar to classic ricotta. Taste and adjust salt, garlic and lemon to your preference and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish (I used a lasagna dish). Transfer the ricotta to a large plastic bag and cut one of the corners (or use a piping bag). One manicotti noodle at a time, use the piping bag to fill it up and then transfer to the dish with the sauce. Keep going until you are out of noodles.
- Add more marinara sauce over the manicotti and drizzle the vegan white sauce over (or simply sprinkle some vegan mozzarella cheese).
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then, turn up the heat to 450º, uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
- Storage: keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the oven (350º, about 10-15 minutes) or use the microwave for a quicker leftover meal.
- I used 8 manicotti for this recipe, but if you use a larger dish than mine, then you might be able to make 10 or 12 manicotti with this recipe (there is enough ricotta for more!).
- You can also use cannelloni noodles, which are simply a smoother version of the ribbed manicotti.
- Feel free to add more cooked veggies to the ricotta filling, such as spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, onion, etc. Check the blog post for more ideas!