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.
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.
- Jumbo shells
- Marinara sauce
- Ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Minced garlic
- Italian seasoning
- Mozzarella cheese
- Chopped parsley (for an optional garnish)
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
STEP 1: Cook the pasta shells
STEP 2: Mix together ingredients to make cheese mixture
STEP 3: Stuff the shells with cheese mixture (see tips below)
STEP 4: Top with marinara sauce
STEP 5: Bake for 30 minutes
STEP 6: Serve!
How to stuff shells
- Use a piping bag
- To stuff shells without a piping bag place the mixture in a Ziplock bag and snip the bottom corner off.
- Pipe the filling easily into each shell.
TIPS for Making Stuffed Shells
Tip 1: In order for the noodles to be just right, it’s really important that they are cooked to just under al dente, and immediately rinsed with cold water. If you don’t do this, they could be overcooked and they will get extremely mushy when you put them in the recipe. I usually take 3 minutes off of the directions for the cook time on the box.
Tip 2: To easily pipe the cheesy mixture into the shells, if you don’t have a pastry bag, or if you just prefer not to use a bag, you can also use a spoon to scoop the filling into the shells. I have done it this way before and it works just fine.
Tip 3: If you like it really saucy, you can double up the sauce amount that’s called for in the ingredients list!
Tip 4: 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!
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!
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These over-stuffed jumbo pasta shells filled with a delicious mixture of cheese, sauce and delicious seasonings and then baked to perfection.
- 24 jumbo shells
- 28 oz marinara sauce (divided)
- 2 ½ cups ricotta cheese
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese (finely grated)
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
- Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Cook pasta shells according to package directions except reduce the time by 3 minutes to just under al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain and rinse immediately in cold water. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Spray the bottom of a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
- Place 1 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan.
- In a medium bowl stir together the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Place this mixture in a Ziploc bag and snip off the end or use a pastry bag.
- Pipe the filling into the ricotta shells and place the shells in your prepared 9x13 pan.
- Top with the remaining marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling around the edge of the pan and cheese is melted.
- Cook the noodles to just under al dente, and immediately rinsed with cold water. I usually take 3 minutes off of the directions for the cook time on the box.
- To easily pipe the cheesy mixture into the shells, if you don’t have a pastry bag, or if you just prefer not to use a bag, you can also use a spoon to scoop the filling into the shells.
- If you like it really saucy, you can double up the sauce amount that’s called for in the ingredients list!
- Double the recipe and freeze half for another meal! You can freeze them for up to 3 months.
Nutrition per serving
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.
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