My family loves pasta and the more red sauce and cheese involved, the happier they are.
I was happy that such a simple dish and with so few ingredients came out tasting like a million bucks.
The chicken is soft, moist, and tender and there’s ample sauce to coat everything and to add flavor. And anything covered in warm, gooey, melted cheese is automatic comfort food.
Simply stuff manicotti shells with thin-sliced chicken breasts, smother with red pasta sauce, and bake. In the final ten minutes, add mozzarella cheese. So darn easy.
Tips for success include making sure the manicotti shells are resting on a thick bed of sauce and are then covered completely with sauce. Complete coverage is crucial so that the sauce softens the shells whereas exposed shells will turn crunchy and hard which you definitely don’t want.
For stuffing the shells I find using thin-sliced chicken breasts that I slice lengthwise in one-quarter inch strips works well. Two strips slide in easily and then the third strip I just stuff in however I can. I pack the shells very full with chicken because my family doesn’t like it when they’re skimpy on the chicken. They already asked when I’m making this again.
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- one 8-ounce package manicotti shells (I used 11 of the 14 shells)
- two 24-ounce jars red pasta sauce (I used a homestyle tomato and basil variety)
- about 1.25 pounds thin-sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise in 1/4-inch strips
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil for garnishing, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F. To a 9×13-inch baking dish (ceramic or glass preferred), add one jar of pasta sauce in an even, smooth, flat layer. Smooth sauce lightly with a spatula if necessary.
- To one manicotti shell, add about 3 strips of chicken. I find two strips slide in fairly easily and then the third strip I just stuff in however I can. I pack the shells very full with chicken. The exact amount of chicken used will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts, length of manicotti, length of chicken strips, etc. Place the stuffed shell in the center of the baking dish at the top of dish (on the short side of the dish).
- Repeat the stuffing process and continue to place shells down center of pan, then fill in on the sides. I comfortably fit 7 shells down the middle horizontally and 2 shells on each side, for a total of 11. Amount of shells used may vary based on exact baking dish size.
- After all the shells are in the baking dish, cover them with the second jar of pasta sauce, making sure to cover them completely. Exposed areas won’t cook and will simply turn hard and crunchy.
- Cover pan very tightly with foil and bake covered for about 60 to 65 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Try not to peek under the foil while baking because the heat and steam helps soften the shells and cook the chicken and peeking impedes the process.
- Remove foil, evenly sprinkle with cheese leaving a 1/4-inch bare margin around the edges (so cheese doesn’t stick to sides and burn), and bake uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
- Optionally garnish with basil and serve. Manicotti will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 198Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 635mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 19g
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