stuffed shells featured image
These over-stuffed jumbo pasta shells filled with a delicious mixture of cheese, sauce and delicious seasonings and then baked to perfection.
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Table of Contents
  1. Classic Stuffed Shells
  2. Ingredients
  3. Variations
  4. How to Make Stuffed Shells
  5. Tips for Making Stuffed Shells
  6. What to Serve with Stuffed Shells
  7. How to Reheat
  8. MORE EASY WEEKNIGHT DINNER RECIPES
  9. MORE CASSEROLE RECIPES
  10. Stuffed Shells Recipe
  11. TIPS 

Stuffed Shells are one of our favorite dinner recipes! Perfect for a weeknight dinner, they are over-stuffed jumbo pasta shells filled with a delicious mixture of cheese, sauce and delicious seasonings and then baked to perfection.

stuffed shells hero image

Double the recipe and make one for now and freeze one for later! A great make-ahead freezer meal! Cheesy, saucy, delicious! This stuffed shell recipe is an easy pasta dish that everyone loves!

Classic Stuffed Shells

This stuffed shells recipe is a great, simple pasta dish that makes for a quick and easy dinner for the whole family. Not to mention, the kids will go nuts for it. Saucy, cheesy, stuffed noodles? It doesn’t get much better than that for them!

All in all this recipe only has a prep time of about 20 minutes and makes enough to serve 6-8 people. It’s also great for leftovers as it reheats well.

Ingredients

  • Jumbo shells: Barilla was the best brand I found for this recipe because the noodles are larger and hold their shape the most consistently and cook the same every time. A lot of the off brands cooked at drastically different times and often fell apart. The ridges on Barilla are very defined and add a pretty texture to the dish while also making a stable home for the delicious ricotta filling.
  • Marinara sauce: Prego marinara sauce brand is great because it doesn’t get watery like a lot of other marinaras during the time in the oven.
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Egg
  • Minced garlic
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Chopped parsley (for an optional garnish)

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cheesy stuffed shells

Variations

This recipe is super simple in terms of ingredients. You basically just have three players –your noodles, your sauce, and the cheese filling. Since they are so simple, there’s definitely room for spicing things up a little bit

  • SAUCE: The main area that you could change it up, would be with your sauce. You could definitely swap out the marinara sauce for a different type of sauce. If you aren’t a fan of red sauce, you could choose a white sauce instead. This would be really tasty with an alfredo sauce. Also, if you’d like to add a little protein to this recipe, you could use a meat sauce instead. There are also tons of different types of store-bought red sauces, some with basil flavor, some with mushrooms, you name it! You could swap out any of these sauces if you prefer something else, or just want to get creative with this recipe! If you want to make it an even heartier meal, add in meat sauce! 
  • PASTA: As far as the noodles go, you’ll want to stick with a type of noodle that can be stuff easily. I have used manicotti noodles before for this recipe, when I had them on hand, and they worked great!
  • CHEESE: I would stick to the recipe when it comes to the cheese mixture. It’s seriously so delicious, and the texture is perfect for stuffing your shells.
  • SPINACH: Love spinach or trying to get your kids to eat it without realizing it? Add is some chopped spinach. They won’t know it is there and they will love it! 

How to Make Stuffed Shells

pipe filling into the shells
  1. Cook pasta shells based on directions on the box in water with 5 tsp of salt until al dente. Drain and rinse immediately in cold water
  2. Spread the marinara sauce at the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a medium bowl stir together the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and onion powder. Place this mixture in a Ziploc bag and snip off the end.
  4. Pipe the filling into the ricotta shells one at a time. Place the shells in the prepared 9×13 pan.
  5. Top with the remaining of marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the foil, garnish and serve immediately.
stuffed shells collage

Tips for Making Stuffed Shells

  • The water used to cook the pasta should taste like salt water. This is a great way to start infusing flavor into the noodles from the beginning of the cooking process.
  • In order for the noodles to be just right, it’s really important that they are cooked to al dente (fairly soft but also still firm to the bite) and immediately rinsed with cold water. This is key in helping the noodles stop continuing to cook which can lead to mushiness.
  • If you like it really saucy, you can double up the sauce amount that’s called for in the ingredients list!
  • Shells change shape and flatten if you let them rest for very long. Serve immediately. They’re great with a fresh or dried parsley or basil garnish and some fresh shredded parmesan on top!
  • Double the recipe and freeze half for another meal! You can freeze them for up to 3 months.

What to Serve with Stuffed Shells

Since this pasta dish is lacking in the veggie department, I always tend to serve this with some sort of veggie. Many times, I will make a mix of steamed vegetables, like carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. It also goes great with mixed bell peppers!

Another option for adding in some vegetables is to serve this with a big garden salad. The salad could also act as an appetizer while the shells are cooking. When I do garden salads I like to mix in romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, and edamame. We always have an assortment of dressings at home, so everyone can pick their own.

Let’s not forget that with any type of pasta dish, you have to have garlic bread! It’s especially good with these stuffed shells. Check out our Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread or our Easy Cheese Stuffed Garlic Rolls!

stuffed shells cut in half

How to Reheat

This recipe is a great option for leftovers! Storing it is as easy as popping a lid on your 9×13 pan and putting it in the fridge. When you’re ready to enjoy again, simply scoop out what you want onto a microwave-safe plate and place it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Easy at that. And personally, I almost think that pasta is better leftover!

MORE EASY WEEKNIGHT DINNER RECIPES

Easy Chicken Enchiladas |Baked Mac & CheeseCreamy Pesto SkilletEasy Crescent Roll Taco Ring | Creamy Beef and Shells 

MORE CASSEROLE RECIPES

Hamburger Casserole | Tater Tot CasseroleRavioli Lasagna CasserolePoppyseed Chicken CasseroleChicken Alfredo BakeChicken Pot Pie CasseroleMillion Dollar Spaghetti Casserole

stuffed shells in baking pan
5 from 1 vote
stuffed shells featured image

Stuffed Shells

Serves — 8
These over-stuffed jumbo pasta shells filled with a delicious mixture of cheese, sauce and delicious seasonings and then baked to perfection.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 24 Barilla Jumbo Shells
  • 23 oz Prego Marinara Sauce divided
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese finely grated or chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese chopped small
  • Chopped parsley for garnish optional

Instructions
 

  • First you want to cook your noodles. (Barilla was the best brand I found for this recipe because the noodles are larger and hold their shape the most consistently and cook the same every time. A lot of the off brands cooked at drastically different times and often fell apart. The ridges on Barilla are very defined and add a pretty texture to the dish while also making a stable home for the delicious ricotta filling.)
  • Cook pasta shells based on directions on the box in water with 5 tsp of salt. The water should taste like salt water! This is a great way to start infusing flavor into the noodles from the beginning of the cooking process!
  • The noodles are typically done after around 9 minutes. You want the noodles to be al dente (fairly soft but also still firm to the bite).
  • Drain and rinse IMMEDIATELY in cold water, this is key in helping the noodles stop continuing to cook which can lead to mushiness. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray the bottom of a 9x13x3 pan with nonstick spray.
  • Place 1 and ½ cups of Prego marinara sauce (this brand is great because it doesn’t get watery like a lot of other marinaras during the time in the oven) in the bottom of the pan. Spread the sauce out evenly with a spatula.
  • In a medium bowl stir together the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and onion powder. Place this mixture in a Ziploc bag and snip off the end or use a pastry bag with a medium sized plain round tip.
  • Pipe the filling into the ricotta shells one at a time as you hold them in your hand. Be sure and open the shells wide so you can fill them with as much ricotta filling as they can hold. Once filled, place the shells in your prepared 9×13 pan.
  • Top with the remaining marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese as evenly as possible.
  • Cover your pan top entirely with aluminum foil and place in the oven on the bottom rack.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling around the edge of the pan and the cheese is melted.
  • Next remove the foil and move the pan to the top rack and continue cooking uncovered. (Turn the oven to 450 degrees and cook for approximately 5-7 min or until the cheese starts to slightly show golden bubbles on top.)
  • Remove and serve immediately. Shells change shape and flatten if you let them rest for very long. They’re great with a fresh or dried parsley or basil garnish and some fresh shredded parmesan on top!

Jenn’s Notes

TIPS 

  • The water used to cook the pasta should taste like salt water. This is a great way to start infusing flavor into the noodles from the beginning of the cooking process.
  • In order for the noodles to be just right, it’s really important that they are cooked to al dente (fairly soft but also still firm to the bite) and immediately rinsed with cold water. This is key in helping the noodles stop continuing to cook which can lead to mushiness.
  • If you like it really saucy, you can double up the sauce amount that’s called for in the ingredients list!
  • Shells change shape and flatten if you let them rest for very long. Serve immediately. They’re great with a fresh or dried parsley or basil garnish and some fresh shredded parmesan on top!
  • Double the recipe and freeze half for another meal! You can freeze them for up to 3 months.
  •  

Nutrition Info

Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 866mg | Potassium: 432mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 856IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 338mg | Iron: 2mg

This easy stuffed shells recipe is such a simple pasta dish. Just noodles, cheese, and sauce! It’s something that everyone will like and it’s really easy to throw together on a busy night.

Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

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