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There are 48 results for the stuffed shells recipe with meat

food.com

Cook shells according to package directions. Brown meat; drain. Mix together all ingredients in large bowl. Fill each shell with about 2 tbsp meat mixture. Place in foil lined pan in single layer. Cover with foil, freeze. To prepare:. Thaw, cover with spaghetti sauce and recover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

therecipes.info

sandwich bread, mayonnaise, basil pesto, sun-dried.... All information about healthy recipes and cooking tips

yummly.com

onion, onion, pepper, jumbo pasta shells, sugar, eggs, chopped fresh parsley and 11 more

People also ask
  • How do you make homemade stuffed shells?

    How to make Stuffed ShellsPartially cook the shells: We undercook the shells to keep them firm enough to stuff. ...Prepare the cheese filling: The cheese filling is as simple as grating cheese and mixing it together. ...Stuff the shells: Transfer the cheese mixture to a bag and pipe the filling right into the shells. More items...
    Veggie Stuffed Pasta Shells Recipe
  • How long do I bake stuffed shells?

    How To Cook Frozen Stuffed Shells In The Oven?Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.Place the stuffed shells onto a baking dish previously covered in a store-bought or homemade sauce.Cover the stuffed shells with extra sauce and grate some ricotta cheese over them. ... More items...
    Stuffed Shells I Recipe
  • What else to serve with stuffed shells?

    the obvious which is normally served on the side with any kind of pasta - including stuffed shells - tossed green salad. You could have cole-slaw instead. OR a Waldorf salad might work too.
    Jump to Recipe Print Recipe

    Stuffed Shells With Meat and Cheese are like special, little lasagna filled boats, and they are the ultimate crowd-pleasing pasta dish. Perfect for both entertaining and family suppers!

    Jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a creamy Ricotta filling that’s made extra special with savory ground beef, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese! Top off the shells with marinara sauce, bake until hot and bubbly, and serve alongside a batch of freshly baked Garlic Bread!

    A close up shot of stuffed shells with meat and ricotta in a casserole dish.

    In addition to the best Stuffed Shells you’ve ever had, we’ll also be serving up a painless way to stuff those shells (no piping bag required) and not one, not two, but three different ways you can make them in advance! Weeknights just got a whole lot easier. 

    Love Italian food? Be sure to add Spaghetti and Meatballs and Three-Cheese Stuffed Shells to your recipe lineup!

    WHAT ARE STUFFED SHELLS?

    Stuffed Shells are an Italian-American pasta dish featuring jumbo shells stuffed with a ricotta filling and covered with sauce. Popular fillings for stuffed shells are Three-Cheese, Spinach and Cheese, and of course, Stuffed Shells with Meat!

    They are typically topped off with marinara sauce, although a homemade alfredo sauce wouldn’t be half bad either.

    INGREDIENTS

    As you might have guessed, jumbo shells are the star of the show when it comes to this dish. You’ll only need half a package for this recipe.

    THE FILLING

    Stuffed Shells With Meat consists of a flavorful filling of finely chopped yellow onion, seasoned ground beef, Ricotta, shredded Mozzarella, and grated Parmesan cheese. 

    An egg helps to bind the ingredients together and a couple of extra egg yolks add a good deal of richness to the filling.

    THE SAUCE

    This recipe includes instructions for a homemade marinara sauce. Making it is as easy as combining tomato sauce, seasoning, and sugar in a bowl. However, if you have a store-bought sauce you like to use, you can certainly substitute that in.

    HOW MANY JUMBO SHELLS COME IN A BOX?

    About 48 shells come in a 12-ounce box of jumbo shells. Most recipes (including this one) will only call for half of the box. 

    A casserole dish full of stuffed shells.

    HOW TO MAKE STUFFED SHELLS WITH MEAT AND CHEESE

    1. Cook the Shells – Cook the shells to al dente according to package directions.
    2. Cook the Onion and Ground Beef – On the stovetop, cook the onion, add the ground beef and season it. Then, transfer it to a mixing bowl.
    3. Mix Beef and Cheeses – Add the Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, yolks, and basil (if using) to the bowl and stir to combine.
    4. Mix Marinara Ingredients – In a separate bowl, mix tomato sauce, sugar, seasoning, and basil (if using).
    5. Stuff the Shells and Assemble In Dish – Add a thin layer of the marinara sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of filling (a cookie scoop works great for this task) and place them seam-side up in the casserole dish. Then, pour the remaining sauce across the top of the shells, and sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.
    6. Bake – Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the edges are hot and bubbly, about 5 minutes more. 

    If you’ve ever made Stuffed Shells before, you know getting into those suckers might at first seem perplexing. The first thing you need to know about stuffing jumbo shell pasta is that the pasta should be cooked to al dente — this means the pasta is neither too crunchy or too soft and has a slightly firm bite to it.

    Al dente is important when it comes to stuffing shells: If your pasta is overcooked, the shells will tear as you try to stuff them.

    Once the pasta is cool enough to handle, hold it in the palm of your (non-dominant) hand and gently squeeze the edges to hold it open. A cookie scoop will make quick work of stuffing shells, but if you do not have one, a soup spoon will also do fine.

    Add about 2 tablespoon-sized mounds of filling to the inside of the shells. As tempting as it may be, try not to overfill them.

    HOW MANY STUFFED SHELLS IS A SERVING?

    Stuffed Shells with Meat are heartier and more filling than they may appear at first glance. Two to three shells is considered one serving.

    WHAT SIDE DISHES GO WITH STUFFED SHELLS?

    Serve them with garlic bread, a side salad, or green vegetables for a well-rounded meal!

    • HOMEMADE GARLIC BREAD
    • Caesar Dressing Recipe
    • Veggie Bake
    • Fresh Green Beans
    • Steamed Broccoli
    • Classic House Salad

    WANT TO MAKE IT AHEAD?

    You have three options when it comes to making Stuffed Shells With Meat and Cheese in advance:

    1. Make it, bake it, and reheat it.
    2. Make it, don’t bake it, refrigerate it, and bake later.
    3. Make it, bake it, and freeze it. Then, thaw it and reheat it later.

    A wooden spoon holding a shell stuffed with cheese and meat.

    HOW TO FREEZE STUFFED SHELLS

    If you plan to make stuffed shells for future use, you can go about it two ways:

    1. FREEZE IN CASSEROLE FORM

    Before you add any ingredients to your casserole dish, line it with foil, leaving enough of an overhang beyond the edges to cover and seal the casserole. Assemble the casserole and bake it. As soon as the shells have cooled, transfer the casserole dish to the freezer and freeze completely. Once the contents in the dish are frozen solid, remove it from the dish, and enclose using the foil overhangs.

    Transfer to a freezer-safe ziptop bag or another storage container and store it in the freezer. Use within 3 months for best results. 

    2. FREEZE THEM FREE-FORM (MUCH, MUCH EASIER)

    You can also skip all the foil fuss, and simply transfer the Stuffed Shells straight from a casserole dish to a freezer-safe storage container, seal, and freeze. Again, use within 3 months for best results. 

    HOW TO THAW AND REHEAT STUFFED SHELLS WITH MEAT

    The best way to thaw your Shells is to place them in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, heat the oven to 350°F and bake for 15-20 minutes, just until heated through.

    A plate of stuffed shells with a casserole dish and fork in the background.

    6 MORE PASTA RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE

    Course: Dinner, Main Course
    Cuisine: Italian, Italian-American
    Keyword: Stuffed Shells With Meat
    • 1/2 (12-ounce) package jumbo shells
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
    • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
    • 3 teaspoons garlic powder, separated
    • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
    • 1 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, separated
    • 1 (16-ounce) container Ricotta cheese
    • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, separated
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg (slightly beaten) 2 egg yolks
    • 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil, separated (optional)
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
    • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1. Preheat the oven to 400° and have ready a greased 9x13" casserole dish.

    2. Cook 1/2 of a 12-ounce package of shells (about 20 shells) to al dente according to package directions, drain, and set aside to cool.

    3. While waiting on the shells to cook, begin on the filling. Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and allow to come to temperature. Add the onion and sauté 3-4 minutes, just until softened.

    4. Add the beef, break it apart with a wooden spoon, and season with 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the beef is fully cooked through.

    5. Remove the beef from the pan using a slotted spoon and add to a large mixing bowl along with Ricotta, 1 cup Mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, egg yolks, and 2 tablespoons chopped basil (if using). Stir to combine well and set aside.

    6. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add tomato sauce, sugar, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon chopped basil (if using). Stir and set aside.

    7. Add about 3/4 cup of the marinara sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the beef filling (a cookie scoop works great for this task) and place them seam-side up in the casserole dish. Once your shells are filled, pour the remaining sauce across the tops of them, and sprinkle with the remaining cup of Mozzarella cheese.

    8. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the edges are hot and bubbly, about 5 minutes more. Serve and enjoy.

    Calories 578 Calories from Fat 261
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

    Image For Pinterest

    shells: What is a good side dish to go with stuffed shells
  • How long do you cook stuffed shells?

    Stuffing:¼ cup boiling water6 sun-dried tomatoes1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese¼ cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper⅛ teaspoon salt1 (14-ounce) package reduced-fat firm tofu1 egg, lightly beaten More items...
    Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe
chicago.suntimes.com

19 hours ago · DIRECTIONS: 1. Make the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and saute until soft without coloring, about 3... 2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. 3. Make the filling: If using spinach, steam the leaves until wilted. Transfer to a colander and squeeze out all the... 4. Spoon 1 cup of ...

Easy Beef-Stuffed Shells Recipe: How to Make It

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1-1/2 cups Italian cheese …

Home Dishes & Beverages Pasta Dishes Baked Pasta

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Prep: 45 min. chilling Bake: 45 min.

Makes-Icon.png

10 servings

CP_Lonergan_51126_a.jpg

Here’s a rich and comforting dish that’s terrific right away or made ahead and baked the next day. Pesto makes a surprising filling for these stuffed shells with meat sauce. —Blair Lonergan, Rochelle, Virginia

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Fold Over Tortilla Bake Exps Mtbz18 5912 B03 13 10b 336 Tried-and-True 13×9 Recipes

  • 20 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce, divided
  1. Cook pasta shells according to package directions to al dente; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1-1/2 cups Italian cheese blend, Parmesan cheese, pesto, egg and half of the beef mixture.
  2. Spread 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Spoon cheese mixture into pasta shells; place in baking dish. Combine remaining beef mixture and spaghetti sauce; pour over shells. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake until cheese is melted, 5-10 minutes longer.

2 stuffed shells: 405 calories, 22g fat (10g saturated fat), 90mg cholesterol, 730mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 2g fiber), 25g protein.

food.com

Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons meat filling. Spread thin layer of sauce on bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Place filled shells in prepared baking dish; cover with …

Beef-Stuffed Shells Recipe: How to Make It

To assemble this easy casserole, Candace fills jumbo pasta shells with her beef mixture, then tops them off with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese. Add a green salad and breadsticks for a made-in…

Home Dishes & Beverages Pasta Dishes Baked Pasta

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Prep: 20 min. Bake: 30 min.

Makes-Icon.png

8 servings

To assemble this easy casserole, Candace fills jumbo pasta shells with her beef mixture, then tops them off with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese. Add a green salad and breadsticks for a made-in-moments meal.

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Taste of Home annual recipe book
Taste of Home Annual Recipes Buy Now

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1 portion Ground Beef Mix, thawed
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  1. Cook pasta shells according to package directions; drain.
  2. Spread about 1 cup of spaghetti sauce in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
  3. Fill shells with beef mix; place in pan. Top with the remaining spaghetti sauce. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until meat is no longer pink.

3 stuffed shells: 240 calories, 8g fat (3g saturated fat), 32mg cholesterol, 559mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 3g fiber), 13g protein.

Stuffed Pasta Shells for Meat-Lovers Recipe

These are quite possible the best you can make! I came up with this recipe to satisfy my carnivorous family and incorporate my love for Italian food.

These are quite possible the best you can make! I came up with this recipe to satisfy my carnivorous family and incorporate my love for Italian food. These have a ton of meat, but still a nice amount of the traditional ricotta cheese and spinach. These can also be great appetizer, due to the large amount the recipe yields.

Ready In: 1hr 20mins

Serves:

Units:

  • Brown ground beef and drain. Return to pan.Saute onions and garlic in pan with cooked meat for approximately 3 minutes. Set aside.
  • Boil salted water to cook the pasta shells according to package al dente style. Strain and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix ricotta, parmasan, and 2/3 package of shredded mozzarella. Add italian seasoning, garlic pepper, eggs and milk and mix thoroughly. Mix in meat and spinach.
  • In a large baking dish, pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan lightly. Fill each shell with large rounded tablespoons of meat and cheese mixture, and place in pan. Be sure to closely place the shells together so they don't get hard while baking.
  • *If there are too many shells for one pan, make a secong and store tightly covered in freezer until later use.
  • Pour remaining sauce evenly over all of the shells. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes. Take foil off pan, and bake additional 10 minutes.
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Stuffed Shells With Meat and Cheese Recipe

28-01-2020 · Easy Stuffed Shells with Meat and Cheese! Jumbo pasta shells with Ricotta, ground beef, Mozzarella, and Parmesan, topped with marinara and baked til bubbly!

28-01-2020
Jump to Recipe Print Recipe

Stuffed Shells With Meat and Cheese are like special, little lasagna filled boats, and they are the ultimate crowd-pleasing pasta dish. Perfect for both entertaining and family suppers!

Jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a creamy Ricotta filling that’s made extra special with savory ground beef, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese! Top off the shells with marinara sauce, bake until hot and bubbly, and serve alongside a batch of freshly baked Garlic Bread!

A close up shot of stuffed shells with meat and ricotta in a casserole dish.

In addition to the best Stuffed Shells you’ve ever had, we’ll also be serving up a painless way to stuff those shells (no piping bag required) and not one, not two, but three different ways you can make them in advance! Weeknights just got a whole lot easier. 

Love Italian food? Be sure to add Spaghetti and Meatballs and Three-Cheese Stuffed Shells to your recipe lineup!

WHAT ARE STUFFED SHELLS?

Stuffed Shells are an Italian-American pasta dish featuring jumbo shells stuffed with a ricotta filling and covered with sauce. Popular fillings for stuffed shells are Three-Cheese, Spinach and Cheese, and of course, Stuffed Shells with Meat!

They are typically topped off with marinara sauce, although a homemade alfredo sauce wouldn’t be half bad either.

INGREDIENTS

As you might have guessed, jumbo shells are the star of the show when it comes to this dish. You’ll only need half a package for this recipe.

THE FILLING

Stuffed Shells With Meat consists of a flavorful filling of finely chopped yellow onion, seasoned ground beef, Ricotta, shredded Mozzarella, and grated Parmesan cheese. 

An egg helps to bind the ingredients together and a couple of extra egg yolks add a good deal of richness to the filling.

THE SAUCE

This recipe includes instructions for a homemade marinara sauce. Making it is as easy as combining tomato sauce, seasoning, and sugar in a bowl. However, if you have a store-bought sauce you like to use, you can certainly substitute that in.

HOW MANY JUMBO SHELLS COME IN A BOX?

About 48 shells come in a 12-ounce box of jumbo shells. Most recipes (including this one) will only call for half of the box. 

A casserole dish full of stuffed shells.

HOW TO MAKE STUFFED SHELLS WITH MEAT AND CHEESE

  1. Cook the Shells – Cook the shells to al dente according to package directions.
  2. Cook the Onion and Ground Beef – On the stovetop, cook the onion, add the ground beef and season it. Then, transfer it to a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix Beef and Cheeses – Add the Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, yolks, and basil (if using) to the bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Mix Marinara Ingredients – In a separate bowl, mix tomato sauce, sugar, seasoning, and basil (if using).
  5. Stuff the Shells and Assemble In Dish – Add a thin layer of the marinara sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of filling (a cookie scoop works great for this task) and place them seam-side up in the casserole dish. Then, pour the remaining sauce across the top of the shells, and sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake – Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the edges are hot and bubbly, about 5 minutes more. 

If you’ve ever made Stuffed Shells before, you know getting into those suckers might at first seem perplexing. The first thing you need to know about stuffing jumbo shell pasta is that the pasta should be cooked to al dente — this means the pasta is neither too crunchy or too soft and has a slightly firm bite to it.

Al dente is important when it comes to stuffing shells: If your pasta is overcooked, the shells will tear as you try to stuff them.

Once the pasta is cool enough to handle, hold it in the palm of your (non-dominant) hand and gently squeeze the edges to hold it open. A cookie scoop will make quick work of stuffing shells, but if you do not have one, a soup spoon will also do fine.

Add about 2 tablespoon-sized mounds of filling to the inside of the shells. As tempting as it may be, try not to overfill them.

HOW MANY STUFFED SHELLS IS A SERVING?

Stuffed Shells with Meat are heartier and more filling than they may appear at first glance. Two to three shells is considered one serving.

WHAT SIDE DISHES GO WITH STUFFED SHELLS?

Serve them with garlic bread, a side salad, or green vegetables for a well-rounded meal!

  • HOMEMADE GARLIC BREAD
  • Caesar Dressing Recipe
  • Veggie Bake
  • Fresh Green Beans
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Classic House Salad

WANT TO MAKE IT AHEAD?

You have three options when it comes to making Stuffed Shells With Meat and Cheese in advance:

  1. Make it, bake it, and reheat it.
  2. Make it, don’t bake it, refrigerate it, and bake later.
  3. Make it, bake it, and freeze it. Then, thaw it and reheat it later.

A wooden spoon holding a shell stuffed with cheese and meat.

HOW TO FREEZE STUFFED SHELLS

If you plan to make stuffed shells for future use, you can go about it two ways:

1. FREEZE IN CASSEROLE FORM

Before you add any ingredients to your casserole dish, line it with foil, leaving enough of an overhang beyond the edges to cover and seal the casserole. Assemble the casserole and bake it. As soon as the shells have cooled, transfer the casserole dish to the freezer and freeze completely. Once the contents in the dish are frozen solid, remove it from the dish, and enclose using the foil overhangs.

Transfer to a freezer-safe ziptop bag or another storage container and store it in the freezer. Use within 3 months for best results. 

2. FREEZE THEM FREE-FORM (MUCH, MUCH EASIER)

You can also skip all the foil fuss, and simply transfer the Stuffed Shells straight from a casserole dish to a freezer-safe storage container, seal, and freeze. Again, use within 3 months for best results. 

HOW TO THAW AND REHEAT STUFFED SHELLS WITH MEAT

The best way to thaw your Shells is to place them in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, heat the oven to 350°F and bake for 15-20 minutes, just until heated through.

A plate of stuffed shells with a casserole dish and fork in the background.

6 MORE PASTA RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE

Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Italian-American
Keyword: Stuffed Shells With Meat
  • 1/2 (12-ounce) package jumbo shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder, separated
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, separated
  • 1 (16-ounce) container Ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, separated
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten) 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil, separated (optional)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and have ready a greased 9x13" casserole dish.

  2. Cook 1/2 of a 12-ounce package of shells (about 20 shells) to al dente according to package directions, drain, and set aside to cool.

  3. While waiting on the shells to cook, begin on the filling. Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and allow to come to temperature. Add the onion and sauté 3-4 minutes, just until softened.

  4. Add the beef, break it apart with a wooden spoon, and season with 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the beef is fully cooked through.

  5. Remove the beef from the pan using a slotted spoon and add to a large mixing bowl along with Ricotta, 1 cup Mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, egg yolks, and 2 tablespoons chopped basil (if using). Stir to combine well and set aside.

  6. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add tomato sauce, sugar, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon chopped basil (if using). Stir and set aside.

  7. Add about 3/4 cup of the marinara sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the beef filling (a cookie scoop works great for this task) and place them seam-side up in the casserole dish. Once your shells are filled, pour the remaining sauce across the tops of them, and sprinkle with the remaining cup of Mozzarella cheese.

  8. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the edges are hot and bubbly, about 5 minutes more. Serve and enjoy.

Calories 578 Calories from Fat 261
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Image For Pinterest

Simple Stuffed Shells Recipe

A make-ahead version of an Italian classic, these cooked pasta shells are stuffed with hearty beef, ricotta and mozzarella. Make a double batch and keep one in the freezer for a handy potluck dish.

Simple Stuffed Shells

  • Prep 40 min
  • Total 1 hr 30 min
  • Servings 6

A make-ahead version of an Italian classic, these cooked pasta shells are stuffed with hearty beef, ricotta and mozzarella. Make a double batch and keep one in the freezer for a handy potluck dish.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can (28 oz) Muir Glen™ organic diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 box (12 oz) jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Additional chopped fresh basil leaves, if desired

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In 2-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add beef. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked. Stir in tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low; cook uncovered about 20 minutes until liquid is reduced.
  • Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta shells as directed on box, using minimum cook time. Rinse with cold water to cool; drain.
  • In medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, the egg and 2 tablespoons basil.
  • Spoon about 2 cups meat sauce into baking dish. Using small spoon, carefully fill each pasta shell with about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture (do not overfill). Invert shells and place on sauce in baking dish. Spoon remaining meat sauce over shells. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake uncovered about 30 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Garnish with additional basil.

Tips from the Betty Crocker Kitchens

  • If you can’t find jumbo pasta shells, use manicotti shells.
  • This dish can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to bake.
  • You can substitute 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves if fresh basil isn’t available.

680 Calories, 29g Total Fat, 43g Protein, 62g Total Carbohydrate, 6g Sugars

Calories
680
Calories from Fat
260
Total Fat
29g
45%
Cholesterol
125mg
42%
Sodium
870mg
36%
Potassium
410mg
12%
Total Carbohydrate
62g
21%
Protein
43g
Vitamin A
25%
25%
Vitamin C
4%
4%
Calcium
60%
60%
Iron
25%
25%
Exchanges:
1 1/2 Starch; 0 Fruit; 2 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 1 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 2 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 1 1/2 Fat;
Carbohydrate Choice
4 *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

© 2022 ®/TM General Mills All Rights Reserved

Italian Stuffed Shells Recipe: How to Make It

A dear friend first brought over this stuffed shells recipe. Now I take it to other friends' homes and to potlucks, because it's always a big hit! —Beverly Austin, Fulton, Missouri

Home Dishes & Beverages Pasta Dishes Baked Pasta

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Prep: 50 min. Bake: 35 min.

Makes-Icon.png

8 servings

A dear friend first brought over this stuffed shells recipe. Now I take it to other friends' homes and to potlucks, because it's always a big hit! —Beverly Austin, Fulton, Missouri

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  • Reviews
  • Save Saved
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Fold Over Tortilla Bake Exps Mtbz18 5912 B03 13 10b 336 Tried-and-True 13×9 Recipes

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups 4% cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
  1. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat, crumbling beef, until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in water, tomato paste, bouillon and oregano. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine egg, cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Stuff shells with cheese mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange shells in a greased 13x9-in. or 3-qt. baking dish. Pour meat sauce over shells. Cover; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer.

After assembling, cover and freeze. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake as directed, adding remaining 1 cup mozzarella after 30-40 minutes and increasing time as necessary for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°.


Test Kitchen Tips Get a nutritious boost by adding a 5-ounce package of chopped baby spinach to the cheese mixture. The sweet aniselike flavor and bright color make basil a great garnish choice for this.

3 stuffed shells and sauce: 430 calories, 17g fat (8g saturated fat), 94mg cholesterol, 866mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 3g fiber), 32g protein.

Stuffed Shells III Recipe

Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan, smothered in a mushroom tomato sauce and baked.

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The Best Stuffed Pasta Shells - The Seasoned Mom

17-11-2021 · Stuff shells with ricotta filling. Arrange the stuffed shells in a 13 x 9-inch dish. Spread meat sauce over top. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 350°F …

17-11-2021
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The best stuffed pasta shells are full of ground beef, three different types of cheese, and a secret ingredient that adds tons of flavor. Serve the easy stuffed shells recipe with a side salad and garlic bread for a delicious, make-ahead dinner. The 5-star recipe has been featured in Taste of Home magazine, and you're about to see why!

Overhead shot of a pan of the best stuffed pasta shells recipe on a wooden table

How to Make Stuffed Shells | 1-Minute Video

Stuffed Shells with Meat

Does it get any cozier than a pan of stuffed pasta shells full of ricotta and ground beef, smothered in meat sauce, and finished with extra cheese? Similar to a classic lasagna recipe, these Italian stuffed shells have been loved in American homes for decades! From kids to grandparents, here's why everyone loves this recipe:

  • The ricotta stuffed shells can be assembled in advance and frozen or refrigerated until you're ready to bake them. Talk about convenient!
  • This recipe yields a large batch to serve 8, so it's perfect for entertaining. If you're feeding a smaller family, you can divide the stuffed shells between two smaller 8-inch baking dishes and freeze one for later. You get two meals with one effort. Love that!
  • The secret ingredient -- pesto -- adds tons of flavor to the ricotta and ground beef filling. No boring stuffed shells here!

Are you convinced? First, let's address a few common questions before we get to the recipe.

Stirring ground beef in a cast iron skillet

What are Stuffed Shells?

This Italian-inspired dish includes Jumbo Shells pasta, which are stuffed with a variety of ingredients and baked with sauce and cheese in a casserole dish. Beef and ricotta is a classic stuffed shells filling, but you might also find spinach and cheese stuffed shells, chicken stuffed shells with spinach and Alfredo, or sausage and cheese stuffed shells.

Stirring a ricotta cheese mixture in a white bowl

What's the difference between Stuffed Shells and Manicotti?

While these two Italian stuffed pasta dishes are quite similar, there are a few specific differences. Manicotti, which literally translates to "little muffs," are large tubes of pasta designed for stuffing.

By contrast, stuffed shells are made with conchiglioni pasta, the larger version of conchiglie, which means “conch shells.” The jumbo shells have thin ridges set close together, and typically stuffed with a combination of meat, cheeses, and vegetables. Unlike the tubes of manicotti, jumbo pasta shells can hold an amount of stuffing equal to the size and shape of an egg.

Process shot showing the best way to stuff shells

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you'll need for the best stuffed pasta shells recipe. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Jumbo pasta shells: I always cook the entire 12-ounce box, but you likely won't need all of them. It just depends on how full you stuff each shell, and how tightly you pack them in the dish. Some shells tend to break or rip in the cooking process, so it's nice to have extras.
  • Ground beef: adds hearty texture and great flavor to both the ricotta filling and the sauce. You can substitute with Italian sausage or ground turkey, too.
  • Onion: for extra savory flavor.
  • Shredded Italian cheese blend: goes into the filling and on top of the casserole.
  • Ricotta cheese: gives the filling that rich, creamy texture. If you prefer, you can substitute with cottage cheese, but see my notes below for more details on that change.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: freshly-grated is always my preference, but pre-grated cheese straight from the can is perfectly fine here as well!
  • Egg: gives the filling structure so that it doesn't ooze out of the shells.
  • Pesto: the "secret" ingredient that adds great garlic and basil flavor to the filling. You can make your own pesto or find a jar of prepared pesto at the grocery store on the aisle with the other jars of pasta sauces.
  • Marinara sauce: use a homemade marinara sauce or purchase a jar of store-bought sauce for a nice shortcut.

Marinara meat sauce in a white bowl

How to Make Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Meat

While these stuffed pasta shells require a few steps for assembly, I can assure you that they are well worth the few extra minutes in the kitchen. Plus, they're very easy -- if you can brown ground beef and cook some pasta, you can prepare this dish!

  1. Cook pasta shells in salted boiling water. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. Brown the ground beef and onion in a skillet; drain off the fat.
  3. Stir together the ricotta filling.
  4. Mix together the meat sauce.
  5. Stuff shells with ricotta filling.
  6. Arrange the stuffed shells in a 13 x 9-inch dish.
  7. Spread meat sauce over top.
  8. Sprinkle with cheese.
  9. Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the cover and bake for 10 more minutes, until the cheese is melted the filling is hot.

Spreading tomato meat sauce on top of a baking dish

Sprinkling cheese on top of a casserole

What to Serve with Stuffed Pasta Shells

If you're wondering what goes with stuffed shells for dinner, here are a few easy ideas to get you started:

Side shot of stuffed shells ricotta in a pan on a dinner table

How many Stuffed Pasta Shells Per Person?

I generally assume about 2-3 shells per person. Larger appetites might like 4, while smaller eaters may prefer 2. This recipe yields about 20-22 stuffed shells with a hearty meat sauce, and it typically feeds about 6-8 people.

Storage

Leftover baked stuffed pasta shells will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

How to Reheat Stuffed Shells

Let the dish sit on the counter and come to room temperature for about 1 hour before reheating. Cover the dish with foil and reheat in a 350°F oven just until warmed through (about 20-30 minutes). You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave for about 1 minute.

How to Freeze Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells with ground beef is the ultimate prep-ahead freezer meal! If you would like to make the casserole in advance, simply assemble the dish (but do not bake). Cover the dish with foil and either refrigerate for up to 24 hours; or, if freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap, then foil. Keep in freezer for up to 3 months.

How to Cook Frozen Stuffed Shells

When ready to bake, you can either thaw the stuffed shells in the refrigerator overnight (and bake according to the recipe instructions); or you can bake the stuffed shells directly from the freezer at 350°F for about 60-70 minutes (or until heated through). Don't forget to remove the foil during the final 10 minutes of baking to allow the cheese to brown on top!

Close overhead shot of a spoon with beef stuffed shells

Recipe Variations

  • This recipe yields a large batch to serve 8, so it's perfect for entertaining. If you're feeding a smaller family, you can divide the stuffed shells between two smaller 8-inch baking dishes and freeze one for later.
  • Use about 1 lb. of ground Italian sausage, ground turkey, or ground chicken instead of the ground beef.
  • To make these amazing stuffed shells without ricotta, you can substitute with cottage cheese instead. If using cottage cheese, I recommend straining off some of the liquid first or using a whipped cottage cheese so that you don't end up with a watery filling.
  • Add cooked spinach to the filling. Just make sure that you squeeze the spinach very dry before stirring it into the ricotta mixture -- otherwise it will water-down the dish.

Overhead image of ricotta stuffed shells with ground beef and a parsley garnish

Tips for the Best Stuffed Shells Recipe

  • Boil the pasta in well-salted water. This is your only opportunity to season the pasta itself, so don't be shy with the salt!
  • Cook the pasta shells just until barely al dente, since they will continue to cook in the oven. You don't want to end up with overdone, mushy pasta!
  • Garnish the shells with fresh herbs like parsley or basil for a bright finishing touch.

Overhead shot of easy stuffed pasta shells on a wooden dinner table with a salad on the side

More Italian-Inspired Dinner Recipes to Try

Overhead shot of a pan of the best stuffed pasta shells recipe on a wooden table
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The best stuffed pasta shells are full of ground beef, three different types of cheese, and a secret ingredient that adds tons of flavor!

Course Dinner

Cuisine Italian

Keyword Ground Beef Recipes, stuffed pasta shells, Stuffed Shells Recipe, stuffed shells with meat, Stuffed Shells with Ricotta

Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook Time 40 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Servings 8 people

Calories 446kcal

Author Blair Lonergan

  • 1 (12 ounce) box Jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 lb. ground beef (you can substitute with ground turkey, ground Italian sausage, or ground chicken)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese, divided (you can substitute with shredded mozzarella cheese)
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup pesto
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley or basil

  • Cook pasta shells in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions. Drain; rinse under cold water.
  • Meanwhile, brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain off fat; let cool slightly before adding to the filling.
  • Combine 1 ½ cups of the shredded Italian blend cheese, all of the ricotta cheese, all of the Parmesan cheese, the egg, the pesto, and half of the beef and onion mixture in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Spread ¾ cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. In a bowl, stir together the remaining marinara sauce and the remaining half of the beef and onion mixture. Set aside.
  • Fill the cooked, cooled pasta shells with the ricotta mixture. Arrange the shells in the baking dish.
  • Top the shells with the marinara sauce mixture. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of Italian cheese blend over top.
  • Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 10 more minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil, if desired. Serve!

  • Boil the pasta in well-salted water. This is your only opportunity to season the pasta itself, so don't be shy with the salt!
  • Cook the pasta shells just until barely al dente, since they will continue to cook in the oven. You don't want to end up with overdone, mushy pasta!
  • Garnish the shells with fresh herbs like parsley or basil for a bright finishing touch.
  • This recipe yields a large batch to serve 8, so it's perfect for entertaining. If you're feeding a smaller family, you can divide the stuffed shells between two smaller 8-inch baking dishes and freeze one for later.
  • Use about 1 lb. of ground Italian sausage, ground turkey, or ground chicken instead of the ground beef.
  • To make these amazing stuffed shells without ricotta, you can substitute with cottage cheese instead. If using cottage cheese, I recommend straining off some of the liquid first or using a whipped cottage cheese so that you don't end up with a watery filling.
  • Add cooked spinach to the filling. Just make sure that you squeeze the spinach very dry before stirring it into the ricotta mixture -- otherwise it will water-down the dish.

Serving: 1/8 of the casserole | Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 714mg | Potassium: 357mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 705IU | Vitamin C: 2.2mg | Calcium: 494mg | Iron: 2.2mg

This recipe was originally published in December, 2013. It was updated in November, 2021.

tasteofhome.com

Drain pasta shells; cool slightly. Stuff with cheese mixture. Spread 1 cup of meat sauce into each of 2 greased 11x7-in. baking dishes; arrange shells over sauce in a single layer. Pour remaining meat sauce over the shells. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 …

Stuffed Shells with Meat, Cheese and Spinach

17-05-2021 · 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish Instructions Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the …

17-05-2021

Whip up an Italian comfort food favorite with a quick and easy recipe for Stuffed Shells with Meat, Cheese and Spinach.

Stuffed Shells with Meat Recipe

How to Make Stuffed Shells with Meat

If stuffed shells are on a restaurant menu, I will order them 10 out of 10 times. But it’s taken me years to come to the conclusion that they are shockingly simple to make!

The goal is to pack as much flavor into the filling as possible, so my recipe for stuffed shells with meat stars a blend of creamy ricotta, spinach and oregano.

Stuffed Shells with Meat Recipe

What Is an Easy Recipe for Stuffed Shells?

You know how much I love my recipe templates (hello, Mix-and-Match Fruit Crumble!). There’s something so appealing to me about being able to choose our own culinary paths, and in this case, we have assorted ground meats, veggies and cheeses to choose from.

Ingredients for stuffed shells in glass bowls

Choose from any of the ground meats below:

  • Italian sausage (sweet or spicy)
  • Ground beef
  • Ground chicken or turkey
  • Ground pork
  • Any combination of the above!
A glass bowl containing ground beef, ricotta, spinach and eggs

Can You Make Stuffed Shells Ahead of Time?

There are many make-ahead (and shortcut!) elements of this stuffed shells recipe, so here’s how I’d tackle prepping this recipe so you can get it onto your table in a moment’s notice:

  • Make the marinara sauce in advance, or go the store-bought route
  • Make the sausage/spinach mixture up to one day in advance
  • Stuff the shells up to one day in advance
Jumbo shells arranged in a cast-iron skillet with marinara sauce

Then all that’s left to do is layer the sauce, shells, more sauce, and cheese into your skillet or baking pan of choice and pop it into the oven for a family-friendly dinner with leftovers that can be reheated in minutes!

A cast-iron skillet with stuffed shells and tomato sauce on top

How to Reheat Stuffed Shells

The fastest and easiest way to reheat stuffed shells is to place a serving on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a paper towel (no one enjoys cleaning tomato splatters from inside a microwave!) and microwave them on 30-second increments until they’re warm and gooey again.

Finish off your shells with a grated Parm shower and day 2 leftovers are looking just as fine as their day 1 selves!

A cast-iron skillet containing stuffed shells with meat and ricotta
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  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain the shells, rinse them with cool water, then set them aside. 
  • Add the ground beef to a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat and cook, breaking it apart with a spatula, until it is no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ground beef to a bowl and set it aside to cool completely. 
  • Once the ground beef has cooled, stir in the ricotta cheese, spinach, egg, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  • Add half of the tomato sauce to the bottom of a 10-inch skillet or baking dish.
  • Divide the ground beef mixture among the shells then arrange them in a single layer in the baking dish. Top the shells with the remaining sauce then sprinkle them with the mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake the shells until the cheese is melted and the shells just begin to crisp, about 25 minutes.  
  • Top the shells with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil and then serve. 
  • Any type of ground meat can be used in this recipe, include ground beef, chicken or turkey. If you use Italian sausage, make sure to remove the casings prior to proceeding with the recipe as directed. 
Calories: 345kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 89mg, Sodium: 680mg, Potassium: 552mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 695IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 191mg, Iron: 3mg
A plate containing pizza pockets surrounded by glasses of wine and small bowls of marinara and Parmesan cheese
A top-down view of a large stockpot containing Garlicky Pasta Primavera, including peas, sliced zucchini and asparagus
A large skillet containing Quick Shrimp Scampi with cherry tomatoes, chili flakes and fresh herbs
Stuffed Shells with Meat and Cheese {Italian Stuffed Pasta ...

29-05-2019 · Stuffed Shells Recipe. It’s hard to go wrong with Italian food. Pasta, cheese, and sauce are always a winning combination in my mind! These stuffed shells with meat and cheese are no exception – they’re easy, delicious, and always a crowd pleaser. Since casseroles are the ultimate easy dinner, this stuffed shells recipe is made casserole ...

29-05-2019

Homemade Stuffed Shells with Meat and Cheese are baked casserole-style with meat sauce, plenty of cheese, and tons of Italian flavor. This easy favorite recipe is perfect for any night of the week. Your whole family will love this Stuffed Jumbo Shells recipe!

Stuffed Shells Recipe

It’s hard to go wrong with Italian food. Pasta, cheese, and sauce are always a winning combination in my mind! These stuffed shells with meat and cheese are no exception – they’re easy, delicious, and always a crowd pleaser.

Since casseroles are the ultimate easy dinner, this stuffed shells recipe is made casserole-style. It’s the easiest way to cook and serve without any hassle (and also a great recipe to make for neighbors or company).

This Italian Stuffed Shells recipe is simple enough for weeknight dinners and fancy enough for a date night at home. No matter the occasion, everyone loves these cheese stuffed pasta shells!

  • CHEESY: There are 3 kinds of cheese in this meat and cheese stuffed shells recipe! The ultimate cozy and comforting dinner.
  • LOADED: Jumbo shells are stuffed to the brim with a cheesy filling, covered with a meat sauce, and topped with lots of cheese. Every bite is a dream!
  • EASY: Made with basic ingredients and ready in just over an hour, this homemade dinner recipe is simple to make.

These meat and cheese stuffed pasta shells are the perfect Italian meal for any night of the week. No one can turn down pasta shells stuffed with cheese!

How to Make Stuffed Shells with Meat

Be sure to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!

Stuffed shells with ground beef and three kinds of cheese are so easy to make! Here’s a quick overview of the recipe: 

  1. Cook the jumbo pasta shells to al dente.
  2. Brown the beef and make the meat sauce.
  3. Stuff the shells with cheese and arrange them in the baking dish with the sauce.
  4. Cover the casserole dish and bake.

For a Mexican version, try my Cheesy Mexican Stuffed Shells and for a crockpot version, try my recipe for Slow Cooker Stuffed Shells.

Easy Stuffed Shells with Meat and Cheese Ingredients

Each part of this easy stuffed shells recipe is filled with classic, fresh, and simple Italian ingredients.

  • Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • Meat Sauce: olive oil, ground beef, onion, garlic, and marinara
  • Cheese Filling: egg, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan
  • Cheese Topping: more mozzarella and parmesan, and fresh basil for garnish
What are pasta shells called?

Pasta shells are traditionally known as “Conchiglie,” but most brands label them as jumbo shells.

How long should I cook jumbo pasta shells?

Before assembling and baking the stuffed pasta shells, boil the pasta shells to al dente. Cook them according to the package instructions – about 9 minutes. If you want to prepare the pasta shells ahead of time, keep them in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days. When ready to bake the shells, simply stuff them, bake, and serve.

Can I freeze cooked stuffed shells?

Yes! This baked stuffed shells recipe is essentially a casserole, so it’s incredibly freezer-friendly. Let the casserole cool, cover it, and place in the freezer. For single servings, portion out the pasta in freezer safe containers so it’s ready to reheat at a later time.

What is the best way to reheat frozen stuffed shells?

To reheat frozen unbaked stuffed shells, let them thaw in the refrigerator first. Once thawed, bake according to the directions below. To reheat baked stuffed shells, let them thaw in the refrigerator first. Once thawed, reheat in the oven until warmed through. 

Can I use another kind of meat for these stuffed shells with meat?

Yes! Instead of ground beef, try an equal amount of chicken or turkey. A butcher’s meatloaf mixture would also be a fantastic option.

Serving Suggestions

Just like all casseroles, these Italian Stuffed Shells with ground beef and cheese can be a meal all on their own. It’s a hearty, filling, and satisfying dish!

That said, to complete this stuffed shells meal, serve with any of these sides:

I’m a fan of ALL pasta, but stuffed pasta is on a completely different level. I love how each bite is filled with cheese, meat, and sauce. So good!

  • Jumbo Pasta Shells: Keep an eye on the pasta shells so they don’t overcook. After boiling, set them upside down on a baking sheet to dry.
  • Marinara Sauce: Use your favorite, store-bought or homemade marinara sauce!
  • Vegetarian Version: To make vegetarian stuffed shells, simply omit the meat from the sauce.

I can’t wait for you to give these stuffed shells a try! If you’re looking to feed a hungry crowd, this is the recipe for you. I can’t imagine anyone turning down this dish!

If you make this recipe be sure to upload a photo in the comment section below or leave a rating. Enjoy!

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Homemade Stuffed Shells with Meat and Cheese are baked casserole-style with meat sauce, plenty of cheese, and tons of Italian flavor. This easy favorite recipe is ready in about an hour – perfect for any night of the week. Your whole family will love this Stuffed Jumbo Shells recipe!
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13 inch (3 qt.) baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.
  • Bring a pot of water on the stovetop to a boil. Cook the pasta shells to al dente. After cooking the pasta shells, drain and place them upside down on a baking sheet to dry.
  • In a large skillet, brown the beef on medium heat until cooked through and no pink remains. Drain off the rendered fat.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. In the same skillet with the beef, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
    1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 small yellow onion, 1 garlic clove
  • Reduce heat to low and add the marinara sauce. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the egg, cottage cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and ½ cup of parmesan cheese together.
    1 large egg, 2 cups small curd cottage cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pour about three quarters of the meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Stuff the shells with 1 rounded tablespoon of cheese mixture and arrange them on top of the meat sauce, open-side up. Spoon the remaining meat sauce in-between the shells but not directly on top of the shells.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses over the shells. Bake 5-7 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted.
  • Garnish with fresh basil and serve!
    Chopped fresh basil leaves for garnish
Calories: 449kcal (22%) Carbohydrates: 24g (8%) Protein: 31g (62%) Fat: 25g (38%) Saturated Fat: 11g (69%) Cholesterol: 101mg (34%) Sodium: 1055mg (46%) Potassium: 622mg (18%) Fiber: 2g (8%) Sugar: 7g (8%) Vitamin A: 780IU (16%) Vitamin C: 7.6mg (9%) Calcium: 325mg (33%) Iron: 2.7mg (15%)
Beef Stuffed Shells Recipe

Beef stuffed inside large pasta shells topped with gooey cheese then baked to perfection. Make-ahead and it's freezer friendly, meat stuffed shells without ricotta.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.

Add the mince (ground beef), onion and garlic.

Cook until the beef is browned and onions are softened and beginning to turn translucent.

Drain any accumulated fat and cool.

Cook shells in boiling water according to package directions (about 10 minutes), drain and rinse with cool water.

In a bowl, mix the meat mixture with mozzarella cheese, bread crumbs, egg and seasonings.

Line the bottom of a baking dish with about ¼ of the spaghetti sauce.

Stuff the shells with the meat mixture and place in dish on top of sauce.

Pasta shells stuffed with beef in casserole dish, ready for the sauce

Pour remaining sauce over the stuffed shells and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Beef stuffed inside large pasta shells topped with gooey cheese then baked to perfection. Make-ahead and it's freezer friendly.
Beef stuffed inside large pasta shells topped with gooey cheese then baked to perfection. Make-ahead and it's freezer friendly.

Cover with foil and bake at 375℉ (190℃) F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Close-up of a beef stuffed pasta shell

Freezing instructions

I have frozen this dish several times with success.

Use the foil pans for this or put foil in your baking dish before the sauce and assembling shells.

You can cook the shells then cool and freeze; thaw and reheat at 350℉ (180℃) F until heated through.

You can also freeze the stuffed shells before cooking, then thaw and cook as directed.

The only thing I have noticed when freezing is that you may need to add more sauce over the top.

Beef stuffed inside large pasta shells topped with gooey cheese then baked to perfection. Make-ahead and it's freezer friendly.

Meat & Cheese Stuffed Shells - The Midnight Baker

01-01-2017 · Pasta shells stuffed with cheese-packed savory ground beef is the ultimate comfort dinner and it’s easy to make too! Meat Stuffed Shells Are Easy And Tasty. Stuffed …

01-01-2017

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Stuffed shells with savory ground beef and oodles of mozzarella cheese--easy to make!

Pasta shells stuffed with cheese-packed savory ground beef is the ultimate comfort dinner and it’s easy to make too!

Meat Stuffed Shells Are Easy And Tasty

Stuffed shells are always a crowd pleaser. They make a great buffet food at parties too.

It’s the one Italian-style dinner I thoroughly enjoy and I make these often. You can also fill them with cheese and here’s the Cheese Shells I make.

However, the cheese variety are not as easy to make as the meat stuffed shells.  The shells stuffed with meat filling are actually very quick and easy to make.

Cheese Lovers Rejoice

This meat filling is packed with mozzarella cheese and any cheese lover will sure to be pleased!

I include some Parmesan or Romano in the meat mixture too. I prefer the Romano because it’s flavor is stronger so it gives the filling a bolder flavor than the milder Paremesan imparts.

For an even bolder cheese flavor, you could also add some grated Asiago. I have never tried that, but I absolutely love Asiago cheese so I just know this would be outstanding.

Stuffed shells with savory ground beef and oodles of mozzarella cheese--easy to make!

When It Comes To Sauce…

These shells are one dish where I make my own sauce. Of course, you can opt to make your favorite sauce or use a high-quality sauce from the jar if you prefer.

My Quick Chunky Tomato Sauce goes perfectly with these stuffed shells. This sauce has a great texture that pairs well here. It also comes together quickly–in 15 minutes! It would be good to make double the amount of the sauce if you have family members who like loads of sauce on their pasta. But even if you don’t, that sauce stores well because it’s a meat-free sauce and that makes it suitable to serve to vegans (if you do that is). I often have it on plain spaghetti as a hurry-up meal when I don’t feel like fussing.


Stuffed shells with savory ground beef and oodles of mozzarella cheese--easy to make!

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Pasta shells stuffed with savory ground beef and oodles of mozzarella cheese--easy to make!
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Pasta shells stuffed with cheese-packed savory ground beef is the ultimate comfort dinner and it’s easy to make too!
  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 8 oz mozzarella diced small (1/4-inch dice)
  • 3/4 cups plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan -OR- Romano cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley -OR- 2 tbs dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Extra parmesan cheese for topping
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella for topping
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  • Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl. Divide into 24 equal portions (should be about the size of a ping pong ball)
  • Stuff the shells tightly with the portions of meat filling. Place the filled shells in the prepared pan.
  • Top with remaining sauce, then sprinkle the extra parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella on top.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 60-75 minutes.
A large jar of prepared chunky pasta sauce may be substituted.
If you make my sauce recipe, add an 8 oz can of tomato sauce, if desired, to extend sauce quantity.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 537kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 221mg | Sodium: 1357mg | Potassium: 598mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 738IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 353mg | Iron: 5mg
Mention @midnitebaker or tag #midnitebaker!
Stuffed shells with savory ground beef and oodles of mozzarella cheese--easy to make!
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Stuffed shells make a perfect choice for your next dinner. Grab one of these recipes and delight your family tonight.

Stuffed Shells with Meat

11-03-2022 · These expert tips and tricks will make your Meat Stuffed Shells recipe easier to make and more delicious! Strain the ricotta. Ricotta can be very wet, which in turn can make your stuffed shells watery. To strain, place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Line the strainer with cheesecloth, coffee filter or paper towels.

11-03-2022

These Meat Stuffed Shells are a comfort food classic!  They’re richly satisfying, hearty yet elegant and astonishingly quick and easy to make!  Jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a creamy, flavorful luxe combination of Italian sausage, ricotta (with my secret silky ingredient!) buttery mozzarella, nutty Parmesan and a healthy dose of garlic and herbs, then baked in a bath of marinara sauce (store-bought is a great shortcut!) and melty cheese.  Each and every bite is hot, meaty, cheesy, saucy perfection – no dry shells in this recipe! You’ll also love that this recipe can easily be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake and it freezes beautifully. While my favorite Stuffed Shells are loaded with Italian sausage, I’ve also included recipe variations for Ricotta Stuffed Shells, Spinach Stuffed Shells, Chicken Stuffed Shells, etc. Serve your Stuffed Pasta Shells with Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread or Breadsticks for a cozy dinner everyone will love.

There are a few baked Italian pasta dishes that everyone should have a superb recipe for – namely Stuffed Shells – check! And these other favorites:  Lasagna, White Chicken Lasagna, Baked Ziti, Baked Penne, Manicotti, Tortellini Al Forno and Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

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HOW TO MAKE stuffed shells recipe VIDEO

top view of stuffed shells topped with marinara and mozzarella

Back in the day, before Carlsbad Cravings, I made stuffed pasta shells – I did not like them – for several reasons (I’ll detail below).  Needless to say, this recipe tackles all the common pitfalls of Stuffed Shells with perfected seasonings, texture, proportions, and ingredients.   Here’s why this recipe works:

It has meat – no mouthfuls of plain ricotta! I find Ricotta Stuffed Shells too one note creamy (I never thought that was a thing before!) without any textural interest – they just taste like eating a mouthful of mush with a tagline of a thin shell.  Not this recipe!   Meat is added to both the ricotta and the sauce for juicy textural interest in every bite.  The recipe reminds me of lasagna in that way, but quicker because you don’t have to make Bolognese from scratch!

The ricotta is delightfully creamy – no grainy ricotta! Instead of using all ricotta in the filling, which sometimes turns gritty or grainy when baked, we combine the ricotta with sour cream and heaps of mozzarella cheese for the creamiest, silkiest, smooth ricotta you ever did taste.

It has plenty of sauce – no dry shells here!  The trouble with many Stuffed Shell recipes is they become dry when baked because the sauce doesn’t coat the shells.  Additionally, I find myself rationing the sauce because there is never enough.  This Stuffed Shell recipe is generous with the sauce so the pasta shells are always tender and you can enjoy as much crave-worthy sauce as you like in every bite.

It’s easy to make – easier than lasagna!   This recipe takes advantage of store-bought marinara and infuses it with Italian sausage, for yummy, saucy cheesiness that tastes like you spent hours making it.  You’ll also love my easy hack for filling the shells in minutes.

It’s always a crowd pleaser – because CARBS, CHEESE, MEAT and SAUCE.  Not everyone likes Ricotta stuffed Shells (see above), but everyone loves hot, cheesy, meaty, saucy, gooey goodness.  These Meat Stuffed Shells is the kind of meal that even the pickiest eater loves so you can serve it with confidence to any audience.  This recipe also happens to be hearty yet elegant, so it’s a winner for any occasion.

It’s hearty enough for a crowd – not just a small skillet.  This Stuffed Shells recipe make a hearty casserole so everyone can enjoy seconds or you can serve it up for dinner parties, company or leftovers.  Many recipes don’t use the full box of shells simply so they can look beautiful spiraling in a skillet. But I find shortchanging this recipe a shame because it’s SO GOOD and you’re already putting the work in – plus, it makes fabulous leftovers.  

It can be assembled ahead of time – no last-minute dinner stress. I love assembling these Stuffed Pasta Shells the night before or morning of and refrigerating until dinner time. Not only do the flavors intensify, but dinnertime is a breeze with just the push of the bake button. 

It’s freezer friendly – for leftovers or an extra batch.  These Stuffed Shells with Meat freezes well so you can freeze it for busy days ahead, to help out a new mom, sick family or someone recovering from surgery.  You can also double the batch and eat one casserole for dinner and freeze one for later.

This Stuffed Shells recipe can be made with any type of filling!  You can swap the meat for any protein, eliminate it altogether and add whatever veggies you like. You can even swap the marinara sauce for Alfredo if you’d like.  All variations included!

a baking dish recipe of stuffed shells with meat in a baking dish

INGREDIENTS for stuffed pasta shells

These immensely comforting Stuffed Pasta Shells are made with easy to find, everyday ingredients that combine into 5-star restaurant spectacular! Best of all, almost all the ingredients are pantry friendly or freezer friendly so you can make this recipe any time. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need (measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Shells:  You will need one 12-ounce package of JUMBO pasta shells, inspired by conch sea shells.  Jumbo pasta shells are just the right size and shape for easy stuffing while also securing our yummy filling inside.  If your grocery store doesn’t carry them, you can order them on Amazon HERE.
  • Marinara:  You are welcome to use store-bought marinara or homemade (my recipe is fabulous). Regardless, you will need 6 cups which is two 24-ounce jars or double my marinara recipe.  For store-bought, I highly recommend the brand Rao’s.  It is by far the best store-bought marinara I’ve come across.  They are increasingly easier to find, so if your grocery store doesn’t carry them, check Costco, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, or Amazon.
  • Italian sausage:  Adds juicy textural interest and robust flavor to both the filling and the sauce AKA makes this recipe!  I highly suggest using Italian sausage and not just ground beef because you get meat flavor.  Italian sausage is pre-seasoned with Italian seasonings, including fennel.  Fennel is crucial for authentic Italian flavor so if you skip the Italian sausage, make sure you add some fennel to your filling. You can also substitute with ground chicken or turkey (see recipe variations).
  • Ricotta cheese:  An Italian whey cheese that we’ll combine with sour cream for extra luxurious filling.  Please use whole milk ricotta because it’s creamier and melts better; skim ricotta can become runny and lack flavor.  I have heard that the ricotta we buy in our American grocery stores tastes nothing like ricotta you purchase at an Italian market.  If you have the chance to purchase either brands Sierra or Polly-O ricotta cheese at a specialty market, use that!
  • Sour cream:  Is my secret ingredient that prevents the ricotta from drying out, transforming it from problematic and unappetizingly grainy into delightfully smooth and creamy.  I also love the slightly tanginess it adds to lighten the rich ricotta.  Please use full fat sour cream for the best texture and flavor.
  • Mozzarella:  Is used both to top the shells and in the filling. Its milky, buttery richness cuts through the tangy sauce and it beautifully melts into the ricotta creating an extra creamy, dreamy, buttery filling.  Please use only freshly shredded mozzarella for superior melting ability and flavor.
  • Parmesan:  Is used in both the ricotta filling and the crowning top layer. It infuses the Stuffed Shells with its alluring salty, nutty flavor. Please use only freshly grated Parmesan cheese, grated on the finest holes so it looks like powder. This fine cheese will distribute more evenly and melt better. 
  • Egg: One egg acts as a binding agent and prevents the filling from being runny; but don’t worry, you can’t taste the egg, just the luxurious texture.
  • Herbs: Basil, parsley and oregano season our filling. You can use fresh or dried, or a combination.
  • Spices: Nutmeg is a secret authentic ingredient to ricotta filling with its slightly nutty, sweet, woody flavors. Garlic and pepper also make the flavors sing.
top view of a plate of stuffed shells with meat showing how saucy they are

HOW TO MAKE stuffed shells

Learn how to make Stuffed Shells with these step-by-step photos and/or you can watch the recipe video at the top of the post or in the notes of the recipe card. You’re going to love how quickly this recipe comes together (full recipe measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1:  Cook shells:  Boil shells in salted water for 2 minutes shy of al dente then immediately strain and rinse with cool water so they don’t continue to cook.
  • Step 2:  Cook sausage:  Brown sausage and onion, then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Pat off excess grease if you’d like. 
showing how to make stuffed shells recipe by cooking meat in a skillet
  • Step 3:  Add sauce to the bottom of the dish.  Remove 1 ½ cups sausage/onions (half) to use in the filling and add the rest to a 9×13 baking dish.  Pour half of the marinara sauce over the sausage and stir it all together. 
showing how to make stuffed shells recipe by adding marinara with meat to the bottom of a 9x13 pan
  • Step 4:  Make ricotta sausage filling.  Add egg to a large bowl and whisk, then stir in the ricotta, sour cream, mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, parsley, oregano, pepper and nutmeg.  Finally, stir in the remaining sausage.
a collage showing how to make stuffed shells recipe by 1) adding ricotta, herbs and mozzarella to a bowl, 2) adding meat, 3) stirring it together until combined
  • Step 5:  Stuff the shells. Stuff the shells with filling using a pastry bag, snipped freezer bag, spoon or cookie scoop.  Arrange the shells as tightly as possible in the pan.  I was able to fit about 28 shells, 7 rows of 4.  
  • Step 6:  Add remaining sauce. Pour remaining marinara sauce over the shells, making sure they are covered so they don’t dry out.  Top with remaining marinara, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
a collage showing how to make stuffed shells recipe by 1) iping ricotta, meat filling into the jumbo pasta shell, 2) line meat stuffed shells in a baking dish, 3) cover the stuffed shells with marinara and mozzarella cheese
  • Step 7:  Bake.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 more minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. Dig in!
up close of stuffed shells with meat in a 9x13 baking dish

What is the best way to stuff shells?

Making Stuffed Shells doesn’t have to be messy or time consuming. For hassle free stuffing: 1) use firm noodles (cook the shells just shy of al dente) and, 2) use a piping bag. 

  • To easily make a piping bag: Place the meat ricotta filling in a large freezer bag and snip a corner large enough so the meat can pipe through (about 3/4-inch cut).
  • To easily fill the shells: Hold one shell with one hand and with your dominant hand, gather the top of the bag, place the tip into the top of the shell and squeeze the filling into the shell as you work your way down. The shells should be moderately full but not overflowing.

TIPS FOR THE BEST stuffed shells recipe

These expert tips and tricks will make your Meat Stuffed Shells recipe easier to make and more delicious!

  • Strain the ricotta.  Ricotta can be very wet, which in turn can make your stuffed shells watery.  To strain, place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Line the strainer with cheesecloth, coffee filter or paper towels.  Add the ricotta to the cheese cloth and firmly press out excess moisture. Set aside to continue to drain while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
  • Allow for shell breakage.  Each 12-ounce jumbo pasta shell box comes with about 33-35 shells, but you’ll only stuff 28 of those shells (all that fit in a 9×13 dish).  However, I still recommend cooking the entire box because you’ll always have some shells that break while cooking.
  • Cook pasta in salted the water.  Always salt your pasta water – it is the one chance you have to flavor the pasta and enhance the subtle pasta flavor – you can taste the difference.  Use 1 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts of water.
  • Don’t overcook the shells!  I recommend testing your shells about 2 or 3 minutes before the box recommends. The shells should be 1 minute shy of al dente– meaning they should still be a little firm/ have a “bite” because they will continue to cook in the oven.  Also, if the shells are cooked al dente or over cooked, they will be flimsy and hard to stuff and can easily break when stuffing.
  • Stop shells from continuing to cook. Strain and rinse your jumbo shells with cold water until they are cold to prevent them from continuing to cook, because again, flimsy shells easily break when stuffing.
  • Shred cheeses yourself.  Always avoid pre-shredded or grated bagged cheeses because the cheese is coated in anti-clumping chemicals used to prevent the strands from clumping together in the bag.  These same chemicals inhibit the cheese from melting beautifully.   Please also don’t use the green lid powdered Parmesan.
picking up a scoop of stuffed shell recipe showing how cheesy and meaty it is

stuffed shell recipe VARIATIONS

The possibilities are endless when it comes to Stuffed Shells – stuff them with anything you’d like!  The Italian sausage in this recipe equals about 3 cups, 1 ½ cups (half) of which is added to the filling.  You can equally swap the sausage with a different protein and use it in the sauce and the filling, or swap the sausage for 1 ½ cup of anything added just to the filling. Here are a few ideas:

  • For lighter, less cheesy shells: Use half as much mozzarella or omit it completely.  Use ground chicken or turkey instead Italian sausage or skip the protein altogether and add spinach (see how to below).
  • Ricotta Stuffed Shells:  Omit the sausage and increase the ricotta to 3 cups and the sour cream to 1 cup. 
  • Cottage Cheese Stuffed Shells: I love the added texture of cottage cheese if I am skipping the meat; also delicious with spinach. Omit the sausage, keep the sour cream and ricotta measurements the same and add 1 ½ cups cottage cheese to the filling.
  • Spinach Stuffed Shells:  Omit the sausage and use one 10 oz. package frozen, thawed, well drained spinach to the filling.  You can also sauté 4 cups fresh spinach in some butter or olive oil until wilted.
  • Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells:  Omit the sausage and use 8 oz. chopped baby bella mushrooms and 3 cups fresh baby spinach in the filling.  Melt 1 ½ tablespoons butter with 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot.  Add onions and cook 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté 4-6 minutes or until golden.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook on low for 1-2 minutes or until wilted.
  • Vegetable Stuffed Shells:  Use any variety of vegetables from spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, etc. to equal 1 ½ cups once cooked.  Chop vegetables and sauté them until tender-crisp, drain of any excess moisture and add to the filling.
  • Ground Beef Stuffed Shells:  Swap the Italian sausage with lean ground beef and season with ½ teaspoon dried fennel and additional red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings as needed.
  • Ground Turkey or Chicken Stuffed Shells:   Season as above with ½ teaspoon dried fennel and red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings to taste.  I also like to add an additional 1 teaspoon beef bouillon for extra beefy flavor. 
  • Chicken Stuffed Shells:  Substitute the sausage with 1 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken added directly to the filling.  You can stick with the marinara sauce or replace it with béchamel/Alfredo sauce.  Steamed broccoli or spinach would also be a tasty addition to the filling (if using, reduce the chicken to accommodate).
  • Seafood Stuffed Shells:  Replace the sausage with one-pound lump crab meat or a combination of crab meat and cooked, chopped shrimp.  Replace Marinara Sauce with Bechamel/Alfredo Sauce.
top view of a spoonful of stuffed shells baked in a 9x13 baking dish

HOW LONG are stuffed shells good for?

Stuffed Pasta Shells should be covered tightly with foil or transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator.  When stores properly, they are good for 4-5 days.

HOW DO I REHEAT stuffed shells?

  • Microwave:   Microwave individual portions for 90 seconds, then continue to heat at 30 second intervals until warmed through.
  • Oven:  Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Yes!  Stuffed Pasta Shells are the perfect make-ahead meal to either refrigerate and bake the next day or to assemble and freeze. I actually think the casserole tastes better prepped ahead because the flavors have more time to meld and intensify.

To make ahead, assemble the entire Stuffed Shells casserole a day in advance, cover and refrigerate (without baking). Add an extra 10 minutes to the baking time.  

CAN I FREEZE stuffed shells?

Yes! Freezing this Stuffed Shells recipe is a great way to enjoy a bake-and-eat dinner any night of the week without any prep!  For best results, I recommend freezing unbaked Stuffed Shells; freezing baked shells should be reserved for leftovers and not meal prep.   

HOW TO FREEZE stuffed shells

  • Assemble the Stuffed Shells in a freezer safe dish but do not bake.
  • Wrap the dish tightly all around with 2 layers of plastic wrap followed by two layers of foil
  • Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Bake from frozen by removing the plastic wrap and re-covering with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-30 more minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the shells are warmed through.  Broil if desired for a minute or two.

HOW TO FREEZE INDIVIDUAL SERVINGS of stuffed shells

  • Bake and cool: Bake Stuffed Pasta Shells according to directions. Let cool completely before portioning individual servings into freezer safe plastic bags or separate airtight containers.
  • To reheat in oven: Transfer serving(s) to a baking sheet. Bake from frozen at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes.
  • To reheat in microwave: Transfer serving to a microwave safe plate.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes then continue to microwave at 30 second intervals until heated through.
scooping up stuffed pasta shells with meat showing how meaty and cheesy it is

WHAT geos with stuffed pasta shells?

This Stuffed Shell recipe is fabulous with warm, crusty bread to mop up the sauce or with a big green salad.  If you want to get a little more ambitious, it is also delicious with any of the following:

  • Green salad:  You can’t beat the freshness of salad with the saucy cheesiness of Meat Stuffed Shells!  Some of our favorite salads include Caesar Salad, Apple Salad, Strawberry Spinach Salad, Green Bean Salad and Strawberry Avocado Broccoli Salad.
  • Vegetables: Skip the salad for tender veggies – or serve both!  Roasted Parmesan Broccoli, Roasted Parmesan Asparagus, Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Brown Butter, and Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, are all superb.
  • Bread:  Mopping up leftover sauce soft bread is a must!  We love Soft and Fluffy Dinner Rolls, Garlic Parmesan Butter Breadsticks or homemade Garlic Bread for this purpose – and the purpose of stuffing our face.
  • Fruit:  Bright, fresh fruit is a welcome side in the form of fresh grapes, melon, etc. or in fruit salad form.  We love Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette, Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Vinaigrette and Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone.

stuffed shells RECIPE FAqs

What are stuffed shells?

Stuffed shells are a cheesy baked pasta dish, similar to Italian Manicotti or Cannelloni. Stuffed shells are made with conchiglioni pasta, or jumbo pasta shells, the larger version of conchiglie, which means “conch shells.” 

These jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a three-cheese filling made of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. The jumbo pasta shells are layered in between marinara, topped with more mozzarella cheese then baked.

The filling can include other ingredients as well such as Italian sausage, ground beef, frozen or sautéed fresh spinach or mushrooms.  There are also non-traditional stuffed shell recipes including Taco Stuffed Shells, Mexican Stuffed Shells and Greek Stuffed Shells.

What’s the difference between stuffed shells and manicotti?

Both stuffed shells and manicotti are Italian stuffed pasta dishes made by par-boiling the shells, stuffing them with a ricotta-based filling (usually with mozzarella and Parmesan and sometimes spinach and meat), lining in a baking dish, covering with marinara and cheese, then baking. The difference between these two favorite stuffed pastas lies primarily in the pasta itself.

Stuffed shells: made with conchiglioni pasta, the larger version of conchiglie, which means “conch shells.” The jumbo shells open up like a shell and hold the stuffing equal to the size of an egg.  The shells are easy to stuff by adding the filling with a spoon or a piping bag.  

Manicotti:  are large tubes of pasta, about 4 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Manicotti can be smooth or have wide, thick ridges.  They hold more filling than stuffed shells which means a higher filling to shell ratio.  The long tubular shape of manicotti also makes them more difficult to stuff. The easiest to way to stuff manicotti is to pipe the filling into one end, rotate the tube 180 degrees then pipe the filling into the opposite end.  

How many stuffed pasta shells per person?

I would assume 3-4 shells per person. Larger appetites might like up to 6, while smaller eaters may prefer 2, so you will need to take into account who you are serving.  This recipe yields about 28 stuffed shells with a hearty meat sauce, so I would assume it serves 7-9 people.

Where to buy jumbo shell pasta?

Jumbo shells are sold in most grocery stores in the pasta aisle.

How many jumbo shells are in a box?

There are 35 jumbo shells in one 12-ounce box.  This recipe uses 28 of those shells, but I recommend cooking the entire box because a few shells always break or tear while boiling.

How to keep pasta shells from sticking together?

Make sure you use plenty of water for boiling your shells.  Once the shells are cooked just shy of al dente, drain the hot water then either rinse the pasta shells in cold water until cool or place them in a bowl of cold water to prevent the pasta from sticking.

What is Al dente?

Al dente means firm to the bite. Most package instructions will give you timings for perfectly cooked al dente pasta so that the pasta is chewy and firm, holding its whole shape in whatever sauce you put it in.  In stuffed shells, you want to cook the shells one minute shy of al dente otherwise they will be flimsy, hard to stuff and easily tear when handled.

How do you know when jumbo shells are done?

Cook the jumbo shells for about 7 minutes.  You want them just shy of al dente so they are easier to stuff without tearing. They will finish cooking in the oven covered in sauce.

Can I use a glass casserole?

Absolutely!   This recipe will work great in a glass casserole dish. The standard advice for baking in glass is to lower the oven temperature by 25°F from what the recipe calls for, and bake up to 10 minutes longer. So, for this recipe, you would the stuffed shells at 325 degrees F and bake for 40 minutes.  Also, broiling is not recommended with glass bakeware because it can shatter.

Why are my stuffed shells watery?

Ricotta is the is the main culprit behind watery stuffed shells.  Ricotta has a lot of water which is released as it bakes.  To prevent watery shells, make sure to strain the ricotta before using by placing over a cheesecloth, coffee filter or paper towels placed in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.  Press down several times to release moisture, then let rest for at least 5 minutes. Adding an egg to the ricotta filling will also help prevent watery stuffed shells.

Do you put eggs in stuffed shells?

Eggs are used in the ricotta filling of stuffed shells in order to bind the ingredients together.  As the shells bake, the egg sets, gluing the ingredients together, while still maintaining the creamy texture of the filling.

Can you use ricotta cheese without eggs?

I do not recommend using ricotta cheese filling without eggs because the filling can become watery.  If you need an eggless ricotta filling, make sure to drain the ricotta very well by placing in a cheesecloth in a fine mesh strainer and draining out any excess liquid.

Can I substitute ricotta?

Yes!  The best substitute for ricotta is 3 parts drained cottage cheese mixed with 1-part sour cream.  You may also use all drained, mashed cottage cheese.

up close of stuffed pasta shells with sausage, ricotta and herbs in marinara sauce

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  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, strained
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, full fat please
  • 2 ½ cups freshly shredded mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 ½ tsp dried
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 ½ tsp dried
  • ½ tsp EACH dried oregano, garlic powder, pepper
  • 1/4 tsp EACH nutmeg, salt
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Boil shells in salted water for 1 minute less than al dente, don’t overcook! Strain, and gently rinse with cool water until shells are completely cool. Meanwhile:
  • Brown sausage and onion over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Pat off excess grease if you’d like.
  • Remove 1 ½ cups sausage/onions and add it to a 9×13 baking dish along with half of the marinara sauce. Stir to combine then spread into an even layer.
  • Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Add all remaining Filling ingredients and stir until creamy. Add remaining sausage and stir until evenly combined.
  • Fill each shell with the filling and line on top of the sauce in the baking dish. The easiest way to do this is add the filling to a freezer size bag, snip the corner (about 3/4-inch cut) and pipe the filling into each shell. Arrange the shells as tightly as possible. I was able to fit about 28 shells, 7 rows of 4.
  • Pour remaining marinara sauce over shells, making sure they are covered so they don’t dry out. Top the marinara with 1 ½ cups mozzarella and ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. Broil if desired for a minute or two. Garnish with parsley if desired.
  • Shells:  You will need one 12-ounce package of JUMBO pasta shells which comes with about 33-35 shells.  You will only stuff 28 of those shells (all that fit in a 9×13 dish), however, I still recommend cooking the entire box because some shells always break while cooking.  If your grocery store doesn’t carry them, you can order them on Amazon HERE.
  • Best Marinara:  You are welcome to use store-bought marinara or homemade (my recipe is fabulous, you’ll need to double it). For store-bought, I highly recommend the brand Rao’s.  It is by far the best store-bought marinara I’ve come across.  They are increasingly easier to find, so if your grocery store doesn’t carry them, check Costco, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, or Amazon.
  • Strain the ricotta.  Ricotta can be very wet, which in turn can make your stuffed shells watery.  To strain, place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Line the strainer with cheesecloth, coffee filter or paper towels.  Add the ricotta to the cheese cloth and firmly press out excess moisture. Set aside to continue to drain while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
  • Variations:  The possibilities are endless when it comes to Stuffed Shells – stuff them with anything you’d like!  The Italian sausage in this recipe equals about 3 cups, 1 ½ of which is added to the filling.  You can equally swap the sausage with a different protein (plus Italian seasonings and ½ teaspoon fennel) and use it in the sauce and the filling, or swap the sausage for 1 ½ cups of anything you’d like added just to the filling such as spinach, cottage cheese, additional ricotta, chicken, etc.  See post for a list of detailed variations.
  • Make ahead:  Assemble the entire casserole a day in advance (without baking), cover and refrigerate. Add an extra 10 minutes to the baking time when ready to cook.  
  • To store: Tightly cover with foil or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
  • To freeze: Assemble the entire casserole but do not bake.  Wrap the dish tightly all around with 2 layers of plastic wrap followed by two layers of foil.  Label and freeze for up to 3 months.  Bake from frozen by removing the plastic wrap and re-covering with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-30 more minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the shells are warmed through.  Broil if desired for a minute or two.
  • To reheat in the microwave:   Microwave individual portions for 90 seconds, then continue to heat at 30 second intervals until warmed through.
  • To reheat in the oven:  Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

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For the shells and filling: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the dried pasta shells cook, stirring occasionally, until softened slightly but not cooked.

Here’s our upgrade on the Italian-American comfort food classic. We used three different cheeses to get the ultra-creamy filling just right. It really balances the tangy homemade tomato sauce.
  1. For the marinara sauce: Heat the oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic has softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat, add the basil and dried oregano, partially cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the basil sprig. If the sauce is still too chunky, mash the larger chunks of tomato with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool. 
  3. For the shells and filling: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the dried pasta shells cook, stirring occasionally, until softened slightly but not cooked. (The pasta shells should flexible enough to be filled but remain very al dente; they will continue to cook during baking.) Drain, then run under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well again. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  
  5. Mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley and egg in a large bowl until well combined and uniform. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Transfer the filling to a large disposable pastry bag or large resealable plastic bag (or use a spoon for filling directly from the bowl). 
  6. Spread 2 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Snip off the end of the pastry bag and squeeze the filling into the shells one at a time. Arrange the shells open-side up in a tight single layer in the baking dish as you fill them. Top with the remaining marinara sauce. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake the shells until the sauce is bubbling throughout and the filling is heated through, about 35 minutes.   
  7. Remove the foil from the pan and continue to bake for 10 more minutes to reduce the sauce. Let cool slightly before serving. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  

Copyright 2019 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.

allrecipes.com

A creamy blend of cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan and eggs is seasoned with garlic powder, oregano and parsley, then stuffed into magnificent jumbo shells of pasta. Simply blanket with spaghetti sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake.

Cheesy Italian Stuffed Shells with Ground Beef Filling

24-08-2021 · Brown the Italian seasoned ground beef and mix together the stuffed pasta filling. Assemble and bake stuffed shells with meat and ricotta for less than 30 minutes. Detailed …

24-08-2021
Jump to Recipe Jump to Video Print Recipe

Make Cheesy Italian stuffed shells with ground beef filling. It’s an easy family style meal or holiday pasta dish. See how to make the best, super easy ground beef stuffed shells with this recipe guide.

Grab your jumbo pasta shells and meet me in the kitchen to whip up this dish.

Why this stuffed shells recipe is great…

  • Very easy to make ahead.
  • TASTY!! Flavor wise, it hits all the notes. The ground beef filling has tasty Italian seasonings. And it’s so creamy from the Parmesan and ricotta filling
  • Great for any occasion – make it for casual family dinner and entertaining guests on a holiday menu.
  • My helpful video tutorial (at the bottom of this post) will walk you through my simple way to make classic Italian stuffed shells with ground beef.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make cheesy Italian stuffed shells with ground beef.

Jumbo pasta shells

  • Jumbo pasta shells (the really large ones)
  • Olive oil

Italian seasoned ground beef filling

  • Olive oil
  • Ground beef (or substitute ground turkey, ground pork, or even a mixture of meat and spinach)
  • Vegetables: onion, red pepper, garlic 
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, dried parsley, dried oregano

Cheese filling and topping

  • Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
  • Pasta sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Basil to top, if desired

Love comfort foods? Check out these air fryer mac and cheese balls.

Steps to make Italian stuffed shells with meat

Quick look: basic recipe steps

  1. Boil the large pasta shells.
  2. Brown the Italian seasoned ground beef and mix together the stuffed pasta filling.
  3. Assemble and bake stuffed shells with meat and ricotta for less than 30 minutes.

Detailed instructions

Step 1. First, heat a large pot of water on the stove to medium-high and boil water with large pasta shells as directed until cooked al dente. Right now is a good time to start cooking the ground beef filling.

Tip: Do not overcook the pasta, though, since the stuffed pasta will finish cooking in the oven.

So once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain it, then toss shells in olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking while finishing the stuffing.

Browning the beef filling

Step 2. Next, heat a large skillet on the stove to medium-high. After that, add olive oil and let it heat until the oil is hot and shiny.

cooking the stuffed shells filling with ground beef
A note on the vegetables used in this stuffed pasta shells dish – I love using onions and red peppers in recipes. They’re in so many of my dishes, especially Italian dishes. You can substitute other vegetables.

Next, add the ground beef, onion, red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, and oregano.

Italian ground beef filling for shells

Then, cook beef and vegetable mixture for about 10 minutes, breaking down beef as it cooks and stirring regularly until beef is thoroughly cooked and onions are translucent.

ground beef on paper towel

Once it’s done, remove from heat and strain on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess grease.

Step 3. Now it’s time to set out a medium-sized baking dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then cover the bottom of the dish with 1 cup of pasta sauce.

ground beef with ricotta and sauce

Step 4. Mix together the cheese filling for the stuffing.

In a large bowl, gently combine the cooked beef mixture, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of pasta sauce.

By now, the ground beef and cheese mixture will be smelling delicious…

ricotta and ground beef filling for stuffed shells
Doesn’t that look beautiful? I love how it all comes together. The stuffed meat filling kind of looks more like a vodka sauce because it has that creaminess in it.

Add a little extra salt and pepper to the filling mixture if desired.

stuffed shells with ground beef and ricotta

Stuff every cooked shell with filling mixture and add them to a medium-sized baking dish.

stuffed shells with pasta sauce

Top with remaining sauce.

Italian stuffed shells with mozzarella cheese

And finish with a layer of mozzarella cheese.

baked stuffed shells in a casserole dish

Step 5. Bake stuffed shells with meat and cheese mixture for about 20 minutes until cheese is melted. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cover with tin foil if waiting to serve longer to keep it warm.

More tasty filling ideas for stuffed shells

Jumbo pasta shells are one of my favorite Italian stuffed pasta types because they are big and strong enough to hold some tasty fillings. And since variations of recipes are so fun to experiment with, I wanted to share with you a few more ideas so you can modify this stuffed shell recipe with whatever is in your fridge.

More stuffed shells recipe ideas:

What to do with leftover meat sauce

Because the size of the shells and the ratio of filling can vary, you may end up with extra. It’s definitely a gift when you have leftover meat sauce!

The ratio of pasta shells to meat sauce will sometimes leave you with leftovers. It depends on the size of your baking dish and how many ingredient substitutions you make.

There are plenty of ways to use leftover meat sauce from baked pasta.

If you’re all pasta’d out for the week, you can freeze leftover meat sauce to thaw and use in pasta sauces or in dishes like this baked rigatoni with ground beef. The fillings are quite similar.

Want more pasta recipes? Check out these pasta side dishes that are sure to please a crowd! And see these tips on how to cook refrigerated tortellini

Italian Stuffed Shells Dish

Tips for meal prepping baked shells

This baked pasta dish ranks high up there on the “easy to meal prep pasta dishes” list with mac and cheese, lasagna, and baked chicken Parmesan with vodka sauce.

So you want to make stuffed shells ahead? Great idea… To meal prep baked shells, assemble the ingredients in a freezer and oven safe baking dish.

Wrap the dish once with foil and then wrap 2-3 times with plastic wrap, or just vacuum seal it. See my Foodsaver 4400 review video to get a look at how a vacuum sealer works. I vacuum seal all the time for my sous vide recipes.

Want to get more into sous vide steaks? Check out this sous vide steak seasoning or flank steak marinade to get some new flavor ideas!

baked pasta shells with tomato sauce

Helpful things to have on hand to make baked pasta

Here are some kitchen tools I can’t live without, particularly equipment used for making baked pasta dishes.

Final tips

  • Cook jumbo shells to al dente for baked pasta dishes like this one. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
  • Don’t forget to line the bottom of the baking dish with tomato sauce before adding the shells. This helps keep the shells from burning and sticking to the baking dish.
  • This recipe is a blank canvas – if you don’t like one of the filling ingredients or just want to change it up, you can try using different meats (ground chicken, sausage), making it half ground beef and half shrimp, or making it vegetarian (mushrooms, chopped spinach).
  • If you have remaining sauce, use it in something creative or freeze it for later.

Are you a foodie, too?

Before you go, connect with me on Instagram @sipbitego to see my new tasty recipes – I always share previews before the recipes go live on the site. For more deliciousness, subscribe to the Sip Bite Go channel on YouTube. 

To find more delicious recipes to try on your culinary journey, scroll through the Sip Bite Go recipe collection.

  • Boil the large pasta shells. Heat a large pot of water on the stove to medium high and boil water with large pasta shells as directed until cooked al dente. This is a good time to start cooking the ground beef filling. Do not overcook the pasta, though, since the stuffed pasta will finish cooking in the oven. Once finished, drain pasta, then toss it in olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking while finishing the stuffing for the shells.
  • Brown the Italian seasoned ground beef. Heat a large skillet on the stove to medium-high. Add olive oil and let it heat until the oil is hot and shiny. Add the ground beef, onion, red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, and oregano. Brown beef and vegetable mixture for about 10 minutes, breaking down beef as it cooks and stirring regularly until beef is thoroughly cooked and onions are translucent. Once done, remove from heat and strain on a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess grease.
  • Set out a medium sized baking dish and set the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of the dish with 1 cup pasta sauce.
  • Mix together the stuffed pasta filling. In a large bowl, gently combine the cooked beef mixture, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of pasta sauce. Add a little extra salt and pepper to the cheese mixture if desired. Stuff every cooked shell with filling mixture and add them to a medium sized baking dish. Top with remaining pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake stuffed shells with ground beef filling for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cover with tin foil if waiting to serve longer to keep it warm.
  • Cook jumbo shells to al dente for baked pasta dishes like this one. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
  • Don’t forget to line the bottom of the baking dish with tomato sauce before adding the shells. This helps keep the shells from burning and sticking to the baking dish.
  • This recipe is a blank canvas – if you don’t like one of the filling ingredients or just want to change it up, you can try using different meats (ground chicken, sausage), making it half ground beef and half shrimp, or making it vegetarian (mushrooms, spinach).
  • If you have leftover meat sauce, use it in something creative or freeze it for later.
  See the recipe: https://sipbitego.com/stuffed-shells-with-ground-beef See the recipe video for Italian stuffed shells on Sip Bite Go’s YouTube.  
Calories: 856kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 140mg | Sodium: 1395mg | Potassium: 1245mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1816IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 361mg | Iron: 6mg
Mention @SipBiteGo or tag #sipbitego!
Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce - Mountain Mama Cooks

05-10-2020 · A delicious, easy, weeknight stuffed shells recipe with a spinach-ricotta filling and savory meat sauce. Ingredients 1 lb. sausage (pork, chicken, Italian, breakfast….whatever you …

05-10-2020

There are so many reasons to love these Stuffed Shell with Meat Sauce. Make ahead, freezer friendly, easily adaptable for vegetarians, and really, these shells are just delicious! A Mountain Mama family favorite for sure!

Shells stuffed with ricotta, spinach, fresh herbs and covered with a savory meat sauce. www.mountainmamacooks.com

STUFFED SHELLS WITH MEAT SAUCE

Call me lazy but stuffed shells aren’t something I make often. Or at least that used to be the case. They’re just a little fussy, you know? While none of the recipe is actually hard, there are multiple steps and stuffing the shells can feel a little tedious. I’ve changed my tune though as I think the little extra effort is more than worth it. Especially if you double the recipe and freeze half so you have an easy dinner down the road!

Shells stuffed with ricotta, spinach, fresh herbs and covered with a savory meat sauce. www.mountainmamacooks.com

STUFFED SHELL FILLING

My favorite part of these stuffed shells is definitely the spinach-ricotta filling. Creamy, savory, a little bit sweet thanks to the ricotta, and the addition of spinach, chives and basil add the perfect fresh notes. The egg makes it just rich enough, and the Parmesan adds a welcome salty note. It really is delicious!

Shells stuffed with ricotta, spinach, fresh herbs and covered with a savory meat sauce. www.mountainmamacooks.com

EASY MEAT SAUCE

Browned sausage jarred marinara = the easiest meat sauce in the history of meat sauces. 🙂

Any browned, ground meat works well here. I’ve used ground beef, ground chicken, turkey sausage, and Italian sausage. My favorite is actually browned breakfast sausage. I know, I know. It sounds a little weird but it’s great. Jimmy Dean will forever be my favorite.

Rao’s is, hands down, my favorite jarred marinara. It’s expensive but worth every penny.

Shells stuffed with ricotta, spinach, fresh herbs and covered with a savory meat sauce. www.mountainmamacooks.com

MAKING THE SHELLS VEGETARIAN

There are a few ways to make these stuffed shells vegetarian. You can simply omit the ground meat and just used the marinara as is. Another way- and my recommendation- is to sauté a pound or so of finely chopped mushrooms and then add the marinara as directed.

MAKING SHELLS AHEAD OF TIME

Like I mentioned above I usually double the recipe and freeze a tray of shells to make at a later time. Make the shells as directed. Instead of baking, let the shells cool completely and then cover tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. You can store the shells in the fridge for up to days. Bake as directed.
Shells stuffed with ricotta, spinach, fresh herbs and covered with a savory meat sauce. www.mountainmamacooks.com

FREEZING SHELLS

Freezing the shells is a great way to save yourself on a busy night! You’ll thank yourself (and me!) when you find yourself wondering what’s for dinner and remember that you’ve got a tray stashed in the freezer. After wrapping the totally cooled shells, store in the fridge for up to 3 months. Remove the plastic, cover again with foil and bake as directed, adding 15-20 extra minutes to the baking time to compensate for the frozen shells.

Shells stuffed with ricotta, spinach, fresh herbs and covered with a savory meat sauce. www.mountainmamacooks.com

OTHER DELICIOUS BAKED PASTA RECIPES

Here are a few of my favorite baked pasta dishes that are make ahead and family friendly!

Baked Chicken & Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
Cheesy Baked Tortellini with Pepperoni
Baked Rigatoni with Cauliflower and Sausage

Shells stuffed with ricotta, spinach, fresh herbs and covered with a savory meat sauce. www.mountainmamacooks.com

I hope you’ll love these stuffed shells with meat sauce as much as my family does! If you try them please leave a comment below and share on Instagram! Have a delicious week and thanks for reading! xo, Kelley

photos by Deborah DeKoff/ recipe by Mountain Mama Cooks

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A delicious, easy, weeknight stuffed shells recipe with a spinach-ricotta filling and savory meat sauce.

  • 1 lb. sausage (pork, chicken, Italian, breakfast….whatever you like!)
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. baby spinach
  • 12 oz giant pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. In a medium stock pot or sauce pan, add the sausage and cook over medium-high heat. *If using a lean sausage like turkey or chicken, you’ll need to add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the sausage, breaking into pieces as it cooks. Drain excess fat. Add sausage and marinara back to the pot and simmer on low while you prepare the shells.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. Fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch the spinach, just until wilted, about 20 seconds and transfer to the ice water, then drain. Squeeze out excess water. Bring the water in the pot back to a boil and add the pasta shells. Cook al dente, about 10 minutes, and drain and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Put spinach and minced garlic in the food processor and pulse until spinach is finely chopped. Add ricotta cheese, egg, minced chives, basil, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until well blended.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Coat the bottom of a large baking dish or two 2-quart dishes with about 1/3 of the marinara sauce. Fill each shell with a tablespoon or so of the spinach-ricotta filling. Arrange in a single layer in the baking dish. The shells should fit into the dish(es) in one layer. Top with the remaining tomato sauce and the shredded mozzarella. Cover the dish with foil.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

To freeze: prepare shells up to step 4. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then again with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, remove foil and plastic, cover again with just foil, and bake as directed adding 15-20 minutes longer time to compensate for being frozen.

cooks.com

Add and saute ground beef. Remove from heat, stir in bread crumbs, set aside to cool. Blend in egg, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Pour 1/2 can spaghetti sauce into greased 2-quart baking dish. Using a small spoon, carefully fill each shell with meat filling. Place stuffed shells, side by side, filling side up into ...

allrecipes.com

Stir in the taco seasoning and water; cook over low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir the refried beans and 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese into the taco meat. Spoon meat mixture into prepared pasta shells. Step 4 Spoon 1/4 cup salsa over the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange filled shells over salsa. Spoon remaining salsa over shells.

Stuffed Shells with Meat

06-01-2020 · How To Make Stuffed Shells with Meat Preheat oven to 400℉. Cook pasta shells according to instructions on the package. While the shells are cooking, heat a large skillet over …

06-01-2020

Stuffed Shells with Meat – easy casserole dinner made with jumbo pasta shells, seasoned ground beef and sauce, spinach, and cheeses. It’s warm, filling, cheesy and very comforting. Plus it’s also a wonderful make-ahead dinner that the whole family would love!

Stuffed Shells

I couldn’t stress enough how our family loves ANYTHING pasta! But this stuffed pasta shells recipe is just on another level. Extra tasty and comforting!

Everything in this dish is a people-pleaser! I love how I get to taste the pasta and when you dig deeper, you also get to enjoy the melting double cheeses, spaghetti sauce, some spinach and finally the seasoned ground meat. Uggh! Writing this just makes me hungry!

What are Stuffed Shells?

Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shell pasta is an Italian-inspired dish that mainly features a variety of pasta called Conchiglie (pronounced as con-KEEL-yay) or popularly known as shells or seashells. The smaller shape of this kind of pasta is called conchigliette while the jumbo ones are conchiglioni.

They are commonly used in pasta salads and those with heavy meat sauces. And they’re quite versatile too with the fillings.

Ingredients for Stuffed Shells with Meat

Although it isn’t the usual dump and bake kind of dinner  – something we all could consider easy – it’s still right there on the easy weeknight dinner category. I can promise though that browning the meat is worth the few extra minutes! And if you can brown the meat, then surely you can assemble them.

Here’s what you need for this stuffed shells recipe. For a complete and detailed recipe, please refer to the recipe box below.

  • jumbo pasta shells
  • lean ground beef (may replace with ground turkey, pork or chicken)
  •  onions and garlic
  • Italian seasoning (see my HOMEMADE Italian Seasoning)
  • dried thyme
  • tomato paste
  • spaghetti sauce
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh spinach
  • mozzarella and parmesan  
  • fresh parsley

Other Common Stuffed Shells Ideas

Beef and ricotta are somehow considered to be the classic stuffed shells filling. However, you can pretty much play around with it, depending on who are you serving this to. To give you a little bit of inspiration, here are other fillings that you can try.

  • Turkey stuffed shells (replace ground beef with ground turkey and add mushrooms if you like)
  • Pizza stuffed shells (use mini pepperoni, sausage, olives, peppers, and mushrooms instead)
  • Vegetable stuffed shells (with roasted vegetables like bell pepper, zucchini, pepper, and spinach)
  • Tuna stuffed shells (tuna, celery, mayo, shredded carrots, and peppers; great for summer picnics and luncheon)

Stuffed Shells with Meat

How to Make Stuffed Shells with Meat Ahead of Time?

Aside from its versatility, what I also love about this Beef Stuffed Shells recipe is that it can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve. What I usually do is assemble them ahead in a casserole and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Then come dinner time, I just pop it in the oven and bake as directed. Easy peasy dinner for busy weeknights! 😉

Can You Freeze Stuffed Shells?

Alternatively, you can also freeze them for a far more advanced make-ahead dish. And who doesn’t love freezer-friendly meals? If you’re a busy mom like me, I’m sure you will love this just as much as I do.

To freeze these stuffed shells, assemble and place them in a casserole dish and cover with a plastic wrap – pressing the wrap against the shells to remove as much air as possible. And after that, cover it again with an aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months.

How to Cook Frozen Stuffed Shells?

When ready to bake, you may thaw it first in the fridge overnight or bake the frozen stuffed shells casserole (remove the plastic wrap and keep the foil) at 350°F for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes to brown the cheese on top.

What Goes with Stuffed Shells?

Just like all casseroles, this dish is already a meal on its own. But I’d like to say that you can always, (and always) serve it with another carb (heck yes!) like this Homemade Garlic Bread, Garlic Knots Bread or these Easy Dinner Rolls. To make you feel a little less guilty, you may swap those carbs with Caesar Salad or Wedge Salad.

More Cheesy Pasta Recipes

Can’t get enough of cheesy pasta nights? I’ve got loads of them for you to choose from- perfect for weeknight dinner or when entertaining!

Stuffed Shells with Meat

How To Make Stuffed Shells with Meat

Stuffed Shells with Meat

Preheat oven to 400℉. Cook pasta shells according to instructions on the package. While the shells are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and saute until evenly browned about 2-3 minutes. Add in the onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, thyme, tomato paste, ½ cup of spaghetti sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. 

Stuffed Shells with Meat

Saute for 2-3 minutes more, then add basil leaves, spinach and cook until wilted.

Stuffed Shells with Meat

When the shells and the meat sauce are done, place shells face up into a large casserole dish, place 1 ½ tablespoon of meat into the opening of each shell. Then spoon spaghetti sauce on top. Sprinkle a combination of mozzarella and parmesan. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and starts to slightly brown. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve warm.

  • Cook pasta shells according to instructions on package.
  • While the shells are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and saute until evenly browned about 2-3 minutes. Add in the onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, thyme, tomato paste, ½ cup of spaghetti sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Saute for 2-3 minutes more, then add basil leaves, spinach and cook until wilted.
  • When the shells and the meat sauce are cooked, place shells face up into a large casserole dish, place 1 ½ tablespoon of meat into the opening of each shell.
  • Then spoon spaghetti sauce on top. Sprinkle a combination of mozzarella and parmesan.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and starts to slightly brown.
  • Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve warm.
  1. This recipe yields about 16 shells with a serving of 3-4 shells per person.
  2. You may replace ground beef with ground turkey, pork or chicken.
  3. To refrigerate, assemble in a casserole and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Then come dinner time,  pop it in the oven and bake as directed. 
  4. To freeze these stuffed shells, assemble and place them in a casserole dish and cover with a plastic wrap – pressing the wrap against the shells to remove as much air as possible. And after that, cover it again with an aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. 
  5. When ready to bake, you may thaw frozen stuffed shells in the fridge overnight or bake the casserole (remove the plastic wrap and keep the foil) at 350°F for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes to brown the cheese on top.
  6. Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.
Serving: 1shell| Calories: 99kcal (5%)| Carbohydrates: 12g (4%)| Protein: 7g (14%)| Fat: 3g (5%)| Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)| Cholesterol: 14mg (5%)| Sodium: 214mg (9%)| Potassium: 202mg (6%)| Fiber: 1g (4%)| Sugar: 2g (2%)| Vitamin A: 562IU (11%)| Vitamin C: 4mg (5%)| Calcium: 70mg (7%)| Iron: 1mg (6%)
Amount Per Serving (1 shell)
Calories 99 Calories from Fat 27
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Stuffed Shells with Meat
Stuffed Shells with Meat
Stuffed Shells with Meat
Stuffed Shells with Ground Beef & Cheese

31-01-2017 · Stir the ground beef into the cheese mixture, combining thoroughly. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Spoon about ¼ cup of the cheese/ground beef …

31-01-2017

This recipe has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MuellersMatchmaker #CollectiveBias

To me, dinner is the most important meal of the day. It is the one meal during the day when we are all together as a family. This is something we try to do every day – gather together for dinner. This Stuffed Shells with Ground Beef & Cheese recipe is great for weeknight meals.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Today’s the last day of January and I am ready for a new month. This year started out with a lot of sickness in my house from strep throat to influenza getting passed around, it hasn’t been pretty. It put things in a funk and I am ready to take things head-on and turn it around.

One thing that helps me have a productive smooth week is lots of prepping on Sundays. I get the house straightened up, make sure all the laundry is caught up, make all my lists for the week, update my calendar, and plan meals for the week ahead. Plan. Plan. Plan. That is the key.

Pasta Matchmaker Quiz

This past weekend I was struggling to come up with new meal ideas for the week. I feel like I am always making the same things. Pasta is a weekly must, as the boys have never had a pasta dish they didn’t like. However, I needed new inspiration. So I went to Pasta Matchmakers looking for new recipes to try.

They have a quiz that is designed to give a custom result based on what occasion you are planning for and the mood you are in. After taking the quiz with the hopes of getting a family meal for a weeknight, I was paired with this Stuffed Shells recipe which included all the boys’ favorite things: pasta, ground beef, cheese, and red sauce.

Mueller's Pasta at Schnucks

After I am done planning my meals, I make a very detailed grocery list and head to the store. While I was at Schnucks, I grabbed Mueller’s® Jumbo Shells for pasta night.

Mueller's Jumbo Shells

Stuffed Shells with Ground Beef & Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 20 Mueller’s® Jumbo Shells
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 15 ounce container ricotta (or cottage cheese)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (26 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce, divided
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain well and set aside.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Cook the beef & garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and pour off excess drippings, if necessary.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Mix together ricotta, mozzarella, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, and egg in a large bowl.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Stir the ground beef into the cheese mixture, combining thoroughly.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce in a 13×9-inch baking dish.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Spoon about ¼ cup of the cheese/ground beef mixture into each shell and place in baking dish in a single layer.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Sprinkle any remaining meat mixture over shells. Top shells with the remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Bake for 25 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

Serve immediately. We like to have french bread and salad on pasta night.

The recipe is also fun for weekends to let the kids help make the mixture and stuff the shells. More family time!

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

  • 20 Mueller's® Jumbo Shells
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (15 ounces) container ricotta (or cottage cheese)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (26 ounces) jar spaghetti sauce, divided
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain well and set aside.
  3. Cook beef & garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and pour off excess drippings, if necessary.
  4. Mix together ricotta, mozzarella, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, and egg in a large bowl. Stir the ground beef into the cheese mixture, combining thoroughly.
  5. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce in a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  6. Spoon about ¼ cup of the cheese/ground beef mixture into each shell and place in a baking dish in a single layer.
  7. Sprinkle any remaining meat mixture over shells.
  8. Top shells with the remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

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Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

If you are looking for new pasta dishes that are versatile, head to Pasta Matchmakers to find a recipe that fits into your evening. I have already planned another dish for next week and I hope to share it with you, too! You can also find more recipe inspiration here.

Pasta Matchmaker Challenge

On Pasta Matchmakers, you can also take part in the Pasta Matchmaker Challenges! You can put your own spin on a Mueller’s® classic recipe and submit for a change to win prizes. Contest dates are as follows:

  • Challenge #1: January 1 – January 21
  • Challenge #2: January 22 – February 4
  • Challenge #3: February 5 – February 18
  • Challenge #4: February 19 – March 4
  • Challenge #5: March 5 – March 18
  • Challenge #6: March 19 – April 1

Easy Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe (with ground beef and cheese)

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The Best Stuffed Shells Recipe - Chef Billy Parisi

13-04-2022 · Instructions. Preheat the oven to 425°. Boil the conchiglie pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling salted water, which takes about 8-9 minutes while gently stirring. Remove the noodles from the water, chill in an ice bath and then spread out on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and set to the side.

13-04-2022

These amazing stuffed shells recipe is baked in a classic tomato and white sauce with delicious meat and ricotta cheese filling. I like to use a combination of Italian sausage and ground beef to make this a hearty meal to serve to friends and family.

If you love this pasta recipe as much as I do, then I highly recommend making my spaghetti carbonara or pasta primavera.

stuffed shells on a spoon

Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells are a classic Italian recipe consisting of cheese or meat-stuffed pre-cooked pasta shells that are baked with a red or white sauce until the cheese stuffing is hot and melty. This classic recipe is commonly served up for holidays in the United States, however, in Italy and Sicily, this is a traditional Sunday lunch or dinner.

My family makes and serves this up every single Easter for as long as I’ve been alive. It’s a dish I look forward to eating but does require processes similar to that of my lasagna Bolognese recipe.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Red Sauce – Use a good Pomodoro sauce for this.
  • White Sauce – I prefer to cut the tomato sauce with bechamel sauce to make it richer in flavor.
  • Pasta – You will need some jumbo shell pasta for this.
  • Cheese – I like to use a combination of whole milk ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. You can also use pecorino Romano.
  • Vegetables – Onions, garlic, and baby spinach will be needed for my recipe.
  • Eggs – Large eggs will help bind together the filling.
  • Herbs – Fresh basil and flat-leaf Italian parsley will help add flavor and color to this.

How to Make Stuffed Shells

These stuffed shells recipe is a little bit of a labor of love but my promise to you is that the result is delicious. Use these step-by-step instructions to make it:

  1. Make the Sauces: Prepare the Pomodoro sauce and bechamel sauce and set them aside.
mixing basil in with pomodoro sauce
  • Brown the Vegetables: Sauté the onion and garlic until lightly browned
browning onions and garlic in a pan
  • Brown the Meat: Add the Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned and cooked throughout.
cooking ground beef
  • Cook the Spinach: Add the chopped spinach into the pan and cook until wilted. Add everything to a plate and spread out slightly and chill in the refrigerator.
cooking spinach with ground beef
  • Boil the Noodles: Boil the shell pasta until al dente and then chill immediately in cold ice water. Drain and then spread out on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and set to the side.  
cooking shell pasta
  • Make the Filling: Add the ricotta cheese to the bowl of chilled meat and vegetables along with eggs, parmesan cheese, mozzarella chunks, basil, salt, and pepper, and mix until combined.
making shell stuffing
  • Stuff the Shells: stuff the shells with a spoon or using a piping bag and set them aside.
stuffing up shell pasta
  • Assemble: Pour some of the Pomodoro sauce and bechamel into a 13×9 baking dish and add the stuffed shells seam side up. Garnish with more sauces, parmesan, and chunks of mozzarella and bake at 425° for 25 to 30 minutes.
stuffed shell pasta that is cooked

Make-Ahead and Storage

Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be eaten as soon as it’s done cooking. You can however keep it warm and covered in the oven at 200° for up to 30 minutes before cooking. In addition, if you want to prepare everything, you can assemble everything if it’s cold and chilled and then refrigerate covered 1 day before baking and serving. Add 10 minutes to your baking time since everything will be cold going into the oven. 

How to Store: Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This will freeze covered for up to 3 months. You can freeze them in the sauces or separate them.

How to Reheat: Add the number of stuffed shells with sauce to a saucepan and cover with foil and heat at 350° in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are stuffed pasta shells called?

What is the difference between Manicotti and Stuffed Shells?

  • Manicotti are long tube-like pasta that is stuffed up with meat and cheese. Stuffed shells use conchiglie pasta which is shell-shaped and can also be stuffed with meat and cheese.

Do you put eggs in stuffed shells?

  • Yes, you will use some eggs in the stuffing to help hold it together.

Chef Notes Tips

  • You can absolutely keep this recipe vegetarian by using all cheese and no meat. If doing so, add 1 more cup of cubed fresh mozzarella cheese to this recipe.
  • It is ok to have leftover shell pasta as some of them will tear in the cooking and cooling process. Feel free to discard or keep the leftovers after stuffing.
  • I had 8 shells that did not fit into the casserole dish so I baked them in a small separate dish.
cooked stuffed shells

More Pasta Recipes

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Print Recipe
These amazing stuffed shells recipe is baked in a classic tomato and white sauce with delicious meat and ricotta cheese filling.
Author: Chef Billy Parisi
  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • Boil the conchiglie pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling salted water, which takes about 8-9 minutes while gently stirring. Remove the noodles from the water, chill in an ice bath and then spread out on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and set to the side.
  • Add the olive oil to a large rondeau pot over medium heat and cook the onions until lightly browned, which takes about 10 minutes. Next add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add in the Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Make sure to cut it down into small pieces.
  • Mix in the baby spinach just until wilted and then transfer the mixture to a large plate and slightly spread everything out and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  • Once cool transfer to a large bowl along with the basil, ½ the amount of small diced mozzarella, ricotta, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, large egg, and salt and pepper, and mix until completely combined.
  • Using a small spoon or a piping bag stuffed with the meat and cheese filling, stuff each shell until they are completely full. I was able to get 28 stuffed shells.
  • Evenly pour the pomodoro sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish until it is coated.
  • Next, randomly bour ¾ of the bechamel sauce on top of the tomato sauce. See Video.
  • Line up as many stuffed shells as possible over the sauces. You may need to cook some in a separate dish if they all do not fit.
  • Sprinkle on remaining small diced mozzarella and ½ cup of grated parmesan all over the top and bake at 425° for 25-30 minutes or until browned on top.
  • Garnish with optional chopped parsley or basil.
Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be eaten as soon as it’s done cooking. You can however keep it warm covered in the oven at 200° for up to 30 minutes before cooking. In addition, if you want to prepare everything, you can assemble everything if it’s cold and chilled and then refrigerate covered 1 day before baking and serving. Add 10 minutes to your baking time since everything will be cold going into the oven.  How to Store: Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This will freeze covered for up to 3 months. You can freeze in the sauces or separate. How to Reheat: Add the number of stuffed shells with sauce to a saucepan and cover with foil and heat at 350° in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot. You can absolutely keep this recipe vegetarian by using all cheese and no meat. If doing so, add 1 more cup of cubed fresh mozzarella cheese to this recipe. It is ok to have leftover shell pasta as some of them will tear in the cooking and cooling process. Feel free to discard or keep the leftovers after stuffing. I had 8 shells that did not fit into the casserole dish so I baked them in a small separate dish.
Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 562mg | Potassium: 292mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1438IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 351mg | Iron: 2mg
The Best Stuffed Shells Recipe was last modified: April 11th, 2022 by Chef Billy Parisi
Stuffed Shells Recipe - NYT Cooking

Of all the baked pasta dishes, stuffed shells are beloved for good reason: The fluffy ricotta filling, punchy tomato sauce, melted cheese and oversize noodles creates the ultimate comfort food, …

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato purée
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta (about 2 cups)
  • 10 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 5 ½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about 2 cups)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 12 ounces jumbo shells
  1. Make the sauce: In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the paste turns one shade darker, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée, season with salt, then bring to a simmer. Cover halfway to reduce splattering, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta with 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan and the egg yolks. Grate the garlic directly into the bowl, then season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine, then set aside.
  4. Add the shells to the boiling water and cook until just shy of al dente. (You’ll want to cook the shells about 2 minutes less than the minimum time listed on the package, as the shells will continue to cook in the oven in Step 5.) Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water to cool. Count out 24 shells. (You will have cooked off more shells than will fit in the dish; that’s insurance in case any rip. Reserve extras for another use.)
  5. Stir the pasta water into the sauce, then add half the sauce to a 3-quart/9-by-13-inch baking dish and spread it in an even layer. Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling into each of the 24 shells, lining up the stuffed shells in the dish as you go. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup Parmesan.
  6. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. (If you’d like to brown the cheese, you can broil for a few minutes.) Let sit 5 minutes, then serve.
picky-palate.com

Instructions. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Pour 1/2 cup pasta sauce into bottom of two 9 x 13 inch baking dishes. Brown sausage in large skillet over medium heat until browned and crumbled. Add sausage to the remaining pasta sauce stirring to combine. Cook shells according to package directions until al dente.

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pasta shells, ground beef, shells, cheddar cheese, butter, flour and 3 more Spinach Stuffed Shells Mess For Less garlic, ricotta cheese, spinach, olive oil, mozzarella, shells and 4 more

Cheesy Meatless Stuffed Shells

While the shells are cooking, heat olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatless ground beef and cook and stir until brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes; add spinach and simmer until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes more.

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Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe - The Chunky Chef

09-03-2022 · Fill each shell with a generous amount of the ricotta filling, then add to the baking dish (they should fit 6 down and 4 across for a total of 24). Spoon the rest of the marinara sauce over the tops of the shells, then sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese. Bake Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

09-03-2022

Pasta shells are stuffed with a cheesy ricotta, spinach and garlic filling, then smothered in marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and baked until bubbly and golden brown!

This is one of my Pasta recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!

removing a stuffed shell with gooey cheese
Pin this recipe for later!

I’m so glad my love of Italian and Italian-American food has passed along to my kids!

My son’s favorite meal ever is lasagna, and these shells are probably a close second (since they have a lot of similar flavors).

Stay tuned for that lasagna recipe coming up in the next couple of months, as well as a lasagna stuffed shells recipe!

But back to these stuffed shells though; they’re such a great comfort food.

Plus they can be made ahead in multiple ways and even frozen, which makes this meal perfect for a busy weeknight!

This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.

step by step photos of how to make filling for stuffed shells
  1. Cook spinach and garlic. It will look like a ton of spinach, but it’ll cook down.
  2. Combine filling. I just use a wooden spoon for this.
  3. Stir in spinach. Stir until well combined.
step by step photos of how to make baked stuffed shells
  1. Bottom layer of sauce. Use about half the sauce.
  2. Fill shells. You can use a spoon or add the filling to a piping bag to fill them.
  3. Add shells to baking dish.
  4. Add top layer of sauce. Spoon it down the center of each row of shells.
  5. Top with cheese.
  6. Bake.

This is a pretty straightforward recipe, but my main tip is to undercook the shells a bit. You want them pliable, but not cooked until al dente. The reason for this is that the shells will continue to cook during the baking process, and you don’t want them to end up soggy. All pasta varieties have slightly different cooking times, but I usually use Barilla brand, and I cook mine for 8 minutes.

baking dish with stuffed shells on wooden table

Variations of this recipe

  • Sauce – I like to use a quality store-bought marinara sauce (Rao’s is my personal favorite), but if you’d like to make a homemade marinara, you certainly can.
  • Filling – if you’d like some meat in your filling, some crumbled Italian sausage, shredded chicken, or ground beef would be a great option.
  • No spinach – we love the added nutrition and flavor of the garlic spinach, but if you’re not a fan, you can omit the spinach completely.
  • Cheeses – feel free to add in some Romano or Asiago cheese, or any cheese you like.
  • Herbs – you can increase or decrease the amount of herbs to your tastes.
overhead photo of shells baked in sauce and cheese in baking dish
How are stuffed shells different than manicotti?

The filling is usually the same, or similar, but the pasta the filling is put into is where the difference is. Manicotti is made with ridged tubular pasta, vs the large shell-shaped pasta the stuffed shells use.

Best way to fill stuffed shells?

There are multiple ways to fill pasta shells, but my favorite two are to use a spoon, or add the filling to a piping bag (or ziploc bag with the end snipped off) and piping the filling into the shells.

This recipe is super easy to make entirely ahead of time.

Just assemble the stuffed shells in the baking dish, cover tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 days. Let sit on the counter while the oven preheats, then bake as directed.

spoon scooping a stuffed shell out of the baking dish

You can also make this ahead in other ways.

  • Prep ahead – the filling can be made ahead and refrigerated, shells can be boiled and refrigerated, and cheese can be shredded and refrigerated.
  • Partially make ahead – fill the shells with the filling, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, add pre-made shells to the baking dish and proceed with recipe.

Freezing

I love making a double batch of these stuffed shells, and freezing one of the batches.

Pasta shells are stuffed with a cheesy ricotta, spinach and garlic filling, then smothered in marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and baked until bubbly and golden brown! Perfect as a make-ahead dinner idea, and it's freezer-friendly as well.

Just assemble as directed, then cover tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil (or whatever you normally use to cover your freezer dishes), and freeze for up to 3 months.

Thaw in the refrigerator, then bake as directed.

You can also bake from frozen, at 350°F for 50 minutes covered, then uncover and bake another 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly throughout.

Storage

Leftover stuffed shells should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoyed within 4-5 days.

three stuffed shells on white plate with gold fork cutting into one of them
white baking dish

You can use any 9×13″ pan, but if you’re in the market for a great set of white baking dishes, this 3 pack is a great deal! The largest size is perfect for this recipe.

Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!

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Pasta shells are stuffed with a cheesy ricotta, spinach and garlic filling, then smothered in marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and baked until bubbly and golden brown!
  • Spray a 9×13” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then boil jumbo shells several minutes less than the package directions state (I boil mine for 8 minutes).  Drain.
  • While pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over MED HIGH heat.  Once oil is hot, add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute or so, until it just begins to turn golden brown.
  • Add spinach and cook for about 4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and reduced by about half, but the leaves are still green.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, minced basil, salt, pepper, 3 cups mozzarella cheese, eggs, and Parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.  
  • Stir in cooked spinach and garlic mixture.
  • Spread about half of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Fill each shell with a generous amount of the ricotta filling, then add to the baking dish (they should fit 6 down and 4 across for a total of 24).
  • Spoon the rest of the marinara sauce over the tops of the shells, then sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes, until sauce is hot and bubbly and cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  • Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve hot.

Want to save this recipe for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own recipe box!

  1. Even though you’ll only be using approximately 24 shells, I do recommend cooking the whole box. Some will inevitably break during the boiling/draining/filling process.

The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

Hey there! I'm Amanda. Wife, mother, photography nerd, and bacon lover! I believe that delicious meals should be easy to make. Now that you’re here, stay a bit, browse a few recipes, and let’s get cookin’!

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Crock Pot Stuffed Shells With Ground Beef Recipe

Add the onion to the skillet and continue to cook until the beef is no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer; drain mixture well. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, and egg. Mix together thoroughly. Stuff the meat and cheese mixture into the drained pasta shells set aside.

Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

​​These crowd-pleasing stuffed shells are easy to prepare and cook in the slow cooker. The shells are filled with a delicious mixture of browned ground beef, mozzarella cheese, and breadcrumbs, then they're slow-cooked with your favorite spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese.

The ground beef filling makes this a hearty meal and a favorite of meat lovers. Feel free to use ground turkey for a lighter filling, however. Italian sausage is another great option for the filling—just make sure to brown the sausage with the garlic and onion and then continue with the recipe as listed.

  • 18 to 20 jumbo pasta shells (about 6 to 8 ounces)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1/2 cup Italian, Parmesan, or garlic-seasoned breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 32 ounces spaghetti sauce, or marinara

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water following the package directions, just until tender and still firm; drain and set aside.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. When the skillet is hot, add the ground beef making sure to break it up into smaller chunks with a spatula or wooden spoon as it cooks. Add the onion to the skillet and continue to cook until the beef is no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer; drain mixture well.

  3. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, and egg. Mix together thoroughly.

  4. Stuff the meat and cheese mixture into the drained pasta shells set aside.

  5. Pour about half of the spaghetti sauce or marinara into the slow cooker insert.

  6. Arrange stuffed shells in the sauce.

  7. Spoon the remaining sauce over the stuffed shells and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

  8. Cover the pot and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

  • Make sure you cook the pasta just until it's al dente. The shells will be much easier to fill and arrange in the slow cooker that way, plus they'll soften even more when they're cooked with the filling and could be mushy if they're overcooked initially.
  • Drain the fat from the beef into a container and discard it in the trash. Fats can cause clogged drains and damaged pipes—never pour fats down the drain.

Rate This Recipe

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Stuffed Shells Recipe - Love and Lemons

12-12-2021 · These stuffed shells are saucy, cheesy comfort food at its best. I love the contrast of the chewy pasta with the creamy ricotta filling, and marinara – store-bought or homemade – is the perfect tangy accent for both. After I eat one helping, I always find myself back in the kitchen, unable to resist the allure of seconds.

12-12-2021

These stuffed shells are saucy, cheesy comfort food at its best! They're filled with a creamy, flavorful mix of fresh spinach, lemon zest, and ricotta cheese.

Stuffed shells

These stuffed shells are saucy, cheesy comfort food at its best. I love the contrast of the chewy pasta with the creamy ricotta filling, and marinara – store-bought or homemade – is the perfect tangy accent for both. After I eat one helping, I always find myself back in the kitchen, unable to resist the allure of seconds. These stuffed shells are just that good!

This stuffed shells recipe is easy to make (and make ahead!), and it’s great for serving a group. If you’re hosting a dinner party or get-together this season, it would be a fantastic dish to add to the menu. Comforting and classic, it’s guaranteed to be a hit.

stuffed shells recipe ingredients

Stuffed Shells Recipe Ingredients

To make this stuffed shells recipe, you’ll need 10-ish basic ingredients. I like to think of them in three parts:

  • The shells – You’ll need jumbo pasta shells to make this recipe.
  • Tomato sauce – Use your favorite store-bought brand (I like Rao’s), or make homemade marinara sauce instead. Both are great!
  • And the ricotta filling – It’s a mix of ricotta cheese and steamed, chopped fresh spinach. I also stir in dried oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, garlic, and grated pecorino cheese for depth of flavor.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Ricotta, steamed spinach, lemon zest, grated garlic, pecorino, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt in glass bowl

How to Make Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells are a fairly impressive dish – they’re flavorful, comforting, and ideal for entertaining – but they’re still really simple to make! Here’s how this recipe goes:

First thing’s first! Before you start mixing up the filling, you’ll need to steam the spinach. When it’s tender and vibrant green, remove it from the heat, place it in a strainer, and squeeze out the excess moisture. Roughly chop it. Then, you can stir it together with the ricotta, pecorino, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, and red pepper flakes to make the filling.

Hand using spatula to stir spinach and ricotta mixture in glass bowl

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. It should be just shy of al dente when you drain it. It’ll finish cooking in the oven.

Hand filling stuffed shells with ricotta mixture

Then, stuff the shells. The fun part! (And the messy part. 🙂 ) Use a small spoon to fill each shell with the cheese mixture. Divided evenly, the filling should be enough for 18-20 shells.

Ricotta stuffed shells in a baking dish

Next, bake. Spread 2 cups of marinara sauce at the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Nestle in the shells, cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes at 425°F.

Alternatively, if you want to make this recipe ahead of time, you can place the stuffed shells in the baking dish, cover it with foil, and place it in the fridge for up to 4 hours. When you’re ready to eat, just bake the shells and serve. For freezing instructions, see the notes in the recipe.

Overhead close-up shot of ricotta stuffed shells with marinara sauce

So creamy!

Stuffed shells in baking dish with metal serving spoon

Stuffed Shells Serving Suggestions

Before serving, garnish the stuffed shells with more pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Serve them with extra marinara on the side. I like to spoon it over the shells as I eat so that I can get plenty of sauce in every bite.

Round out the meal with a green salad and good bread. I often serve these stuffed shells with my Homemade Caesar Salad, but my Arugula Salad, Beet Salad, or Simple Green Salad would also pair well with this recipe. And when it comes to bread, you really can’t go wrong! Stick with a crusty loaf, or make rosemary focaccia, garlic knots, or dinner rolls.

Enjoy!

Stuffed shells recipe

More Favorite Pasta Recipes

If you love this stuffed shells recipe, try one of these comforting pastas next:

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Serves 4

These spinach and ricotta stuffed shells are such a comforting, flavorful dinner! To get ahead, you can stuff the shells and place them in the baking dish with the marinara up to 4 hours in advance. Cover with foil and store them in the fridge until you're ready to serve. Then, just bake and eat!

  • 18 to 20 jumbo pasta shells
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 5 ounces spinach
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, more for sprinkling
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, more for the pasta water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Marinara Sauce*, plus more for serving
  • chopped parsley, for serving

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Place the spinach in a steamer basket and set over a pot with 1-inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer, cover, and let steam for 1 minute, until the spinach is wilted. Transfer to a strainer and squeeze out the excess water and chop the spinach.
  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta shells for 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and drizzle with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the spinach with the ricotta, pecorino, garlic, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, and several grinds of pepper.
  • Spread the marinara in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Stuff each shell with the filling and place in the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with more marinara on the side.
*Our favorite store-bought marinara sauce is Rao's Marinara. This recipe freezes well! After you've assembled the shells in the baking dish, cover with foil and freeze. To thaw, transfer the dish to the fridge about 10 hours before you plan to serve (i.e. the morning that you plan to serve them for dinner). Remove from the fridge and let sit at room temp while the oven preheats. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, or until thawed and warmed through.
peartreekitchen.com

06-08-2019 · Meat lovers rejoice! Here’s a stuffed shells recipe with meat! The shells in our recipe are loaded with Italian sausage and ground beef. It’s like a large meatball wrapped in …

06-08-2019

Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with ground beef and Italian Sausage covered with sauce and baked under a melty mozzarella cheese blanket are sure to be a hit at dinner!

Meat stuffed pasta shells on a white plate with Texas toast

Italian stuffed shells filled with meat are my solution for the picky eaters in my life that don’t like ricotta cheese shells.

Meat lovers rejoice! Here’s a stuffed shells recipe with meat!

The shells in our recipe are loaded with Italian sausage and ground beef.  It’s like a large meatball wrapped in pasta and baked with just enough sauce to finish cooking the shells.

Meat stuffed shells have a couple of steps, but really are super easy to make.  Just follow the tips.

Jumbo Pasta Shells

You can usually find jumbo pasta shells in any large grocery store.  If you find yourself in some fancy store with about a gajillion pastas, it might be called Conchiglie or Conchiglioni.

You really want to boil these just to al dente because the shells are going to cook some more when baked.  It will take around 10 minutes no matter which brand you are using.

Cooked pasta shells in a bowl of ice water

After 10 minutes remove the pasta from the boiling water and add it to a bowl with cold water and ice in it.

This will stop the cooking process and also keep the pasta shells from sticking to each other.

Italian sausage hamburger parmesan cheese eggs onions and parsley in a clear bowl

Meat Filling

The meat filling is almost the same as a meatball mix.

It’s just Italian sausage, ground beef, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, eggs, onions, garlic powder, ground black pepper, and fresh parsley.

Mix it all well just like you would a meatloaf.  Set it aside until you’re ready to fill the pasta shells.

Meat filling in a bowl

Stuffing the Shells

I use cookie scoops to keep the filling equal in all the shells but you can use a spoon if that’s all you have.

Italian meat filling with shells

Scoop out the amount of meat filling you want to stuff into the shells, gently open up a shell and press the meat mixture into the shell and then press the shell around the meat to partially cover the top.

You don’t want the shell to be gaping wide open and you also don’t want it to wrap around onto itself.

Meat filling and pasta shells on parchment paper

Don’t forget to put about 2 cups of pasta sauce in the bottom of your baking dish before adding the meat stuffed shells.

Raw meat filling packed in al dente jumbo pasta shells in a baking dish

Cover with Sauce and Cheese

I add another 2 cups of sauce to the top of the stuffed shells.  If you want more sauce, go ahead and make more, but serve it on the side.

My preferred cheese topping is shredded mozzarella.

Go ahead and just cover the whole dish.  All that cheese will melt around the shells and be so delicious!

Baking

Since the jumbo pasta shells are cooked al dente they need to finish cooking while the meat inside the shells cooks.

Covering with aluminum foil or an oven-safe lid will keep the shells from drying out while the meat cooks.

This is going to take about an hour in the oven to get the meat filling cooked all the way through.

There is pork in this recipe so raw in the middle is no Bueno.

Small baking dish filled with baked pasta shells

Stuffed shells are perfect for meal prep too!

Make an entire batch and put into smaller dishes like the one above.

We can get about 3 to 4 freezer meals this way.

Just take it out of the freezer and out it into the refrigerator in the morning and bake it before dinner time.  Viola! Homemade stuffed shells for supper!

Leftover Filling

Sometimes a shell or two is larger than the others so I usually use any leftover meat I have to fill any shells that look like they just aren’t full enough.

Leftover meat filling can be rolled into balls and used as meatballs in another meal.

You can store preformed meatballs in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Just add them frozen to your favorite sauce and cook until they are completely cooked.

Freezing

These can be frozen before baking.

You can freeze them on a baking sheet in a single layer, once frozen add them to an airtight freezer container and store for up to 3 months.

You can also add the sauce and the shells to a baking pan and freeze it that way.

I would leave off the shredded cheese though, I don’t like the texture of frozen cheese after it’s been cooked.

DO NOT use a glass baking pan if you plan to freeze and bake later without allowing the dish to thaw completely because the dish could break from thermal shock.

Leftovers

Store baked leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

To reheat place up to 3 shells on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

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Meat stuffed pasta shells on a white plate with Texas toast

  • Preheat an oven to 350⁰F.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells for 10 minutes.  Do not cook completely, the pasta will continue cooking during the baking process.
  • While the pasta is cooking, fill a large bowl with ice water.
  • When pasta has finished cooking, remove from the boiling water and put into the ice water.
  • In a large bowl, combine the raw meats, breadcrumbs, ½ cup parmesan cheese, eggs, minced onions, garlic powder, black pepper, and fresh parsley.  Mix well to combine.
  • Prepare a large baking dish or 9 X 13 cake pan by spraying with cooking spray.
  • Place 2 cups of pasta sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Drain the cooked and cooled pasta shells and fill with the raw meat mixture.  Place the shells into the baking dish. 
  • Once all of the shells have been stuffed and placed into the baking dish, cover with 2 cups of sauce. 
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with foil and place into the refrigerator until ready to cook or cook immediately.
  • To cook meat stuffed shells, preheat an oven to 350⁰F and remove the shells from the refrigerator.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the meat and shells are completely cooked.
  • Remove from the oven, remove foil, cover with mozzarella cheese and place back into the oven and continue baking until the cheese has melted.
  • Remove from the oven and serve.
Meat stuffed shells can be assembled and frozen or refrigerated and baked off later. Allow frozen shells to thaw before baking. Meat stuffed shells can be frozen in an individual layer then placed in an airtight freezer container for assembling later. Nutritional data proved is based using simple marinara sauce.

Serving: 3meat stuffed shells | Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 36.3g | Protein: 39.4g | Fat: 19.4g | Saturated Fat: 6.9g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 799mg | Fiber: 3.5g | Sugar: 8.8g

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dinnerthendessert.com

Instructions. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta shells in a pot according to the directions on the box and drain. Add the ground beef to the pot and brown …

saltandlavender.com

Sauté for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, Preheat the oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven. Spread the marinara sauce in an even layer on the bottom of a …