Anyone can perfect this classic Stuffed Pasta Shells recipe!

The ultimate comfort food is surprisingly quick and easy to make! A luscious combination of seasoned ricotta and parmesan cheeses is mixed with spinach and savory seasonings and then stuffed into jumbo shells and placed in a casserole dish. Topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, it is baked until melty and golden for a spectacular Italian dinner that is sure to satisfy. Why not make this special meal ahead of time, then pop it in the oven just before it’s time to eat? So easy! 

close up of a piece of Classic Stuffed Shells     

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Best Pasta Recipe

  • No one will miss the meat in this recipe! It’s the go-to recipe for vegetarians!
  • Pasta shells and cheese are a win-win combination that will become a family favorite in no time! Just add some homemade No Knead Bread, a crispy Kale Caesar Salad and dinner is served!
  • Simple, casserole-style recipes are perfectly portable for potlucks and picnics. Stuffed pasta shells can be prepped in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to bake!
  • Freeze uncooked or cooked stuffed shells in individual portions for future meals. Just pop out what’s needed, defrost, and bake.

ingredients to make Classic Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shells Ingredients

PASTA: This recipe uses jumbo shells to hold all that cheesy, seasoned filling. But if large shells aren’t available, try manicotti. Manicotti is a large tubular-shaped pasta that can be filled easily as well!

FILLING: This recipe has the perfect combination of cheeses and spinach! If ricotta is a bit outside of the budget, substitute small curd cottage cheese. Add small diced mushrooms, petite diced tomatoes, or thinly sliced brussels sprouts to the filling for more texture and flavor. Mix a choice of meat (optional) into the cheese filling, choose finely ground cooked pork sausage, ground beef or turkey.

MARINARA: Top stuffed pasta shells with any favorite marinara or even a jar of Alfredo sauce for an interesting twist to this recipe!

before and after filling Classic Stuffed Shells

How to Make Stuffed Shells

A fancy Italian dinner doesn’t have to be hard to make, there are just a few steps to pasta perfection!

  1. Cook pasta shells al dente and set them aside.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients (except marinara and mozzarella) in a bowl and then scoop the cheese mixture into a zippered bag. Snip off a corner of the bag and pipe into prepared shells.
  3. Cover with marinara, mozzarella cheese, and bake (per recipe below) until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

PRO TIP: Cook a couple of extra shells in case one or more breaks. Slightly broken pasta shells will still work!

Classic Stuffed Shells on a spoon

Simple to Follow Pasta Tips

  • Cook pasta al dente. This helps maintain the structure of the pasta.
  • For bests results, after cooking pasta, run the shells under cold water to stop the cooking process and rinse off extra starch.

PRO TIP: Save leftover pasta water in an ice cube tray and use to thicken future sauces or soups!

plate full of cooked Classic Stuffed Shells

Other Delicious Main Dishes!

close up of a piece of Classic Stuffed Shells
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Stuffed Pasta Shells

Make this stuffed pasta shells recipe with three types of cheese. It's a delish vegetarian dish that is easy to make and really satisfies.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Candace

Ingredients  

  • 24 jumbo pasta shells about 8-10 ounces*
  • 15-16 ounces ricotta cheese about 2 cups or so
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry, 1 package, (about ½ cup)
  • cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or ½ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon basil, and ¼ teaspoon parsley)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups tomato pasta sauce 1 jar, a little more or less is OK
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded

Instructions 

  • Grease a 3 quart or 9x13 baking dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Cook pasta shells to al dente according to package directions. Do not overcook. Run cold water over them to cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, egg, salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Add to a zip top bag** and cut the end (or a piping bag). Use a bag clip to close it to make it easier to handle.
  • Add 1 cup pasta sauce to the bottom of the baking dish and spread.
  • Pipe ricotta mixture into shells evenly and place in the baking pan, squeezing them in to fit.
  • Spoon remaining pasta sauce over top, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned.

Notes

*I suggest cooking a couple extra shells in case they break. However, stuffing broken ones will work and taste just as great!
**I use a bag clip to keep the bag sealed well and easy to handle
5 from 7 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 370 | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 1236mg | Potassium: 685mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 6513IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 398mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

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Recipe slightly adapted from Spend With Pennies

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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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