This creamy beef shells recipe is a delicious comfort food style dish that can easily be made in bigger batches and frozen for later. Packed full of seasoned ground beef, tender shells and a cheesy tomato sauce, it is also quick and easy to make.
If you have some ground beef left and want another creamy pasta dinner, you could try Ground Beef Stroganoff. Or, if using the pasta shells inspired you to try more pasta shapes, make these Stuffed Shells with the giant version.
Creamy Beef and Shells ingredients
You will need:
- 8 ounces medium shell pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 (15 ounces) can tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, about 1 1/2 cups
Substitutions and Additions
Ground Beef: For a change to the recipe, you could use diced Italian sausage in place of the ground beef. You could also use different ground meat such as ground turkey, ground chicken or ground pork.
Spicy: If you don’t like things too spicy, you may want to reduce the paprika a little.
Cheese: If you don’t have cheddar cheese ready, you can use Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or any other cheese that melts well. You could even use a Mexican blend cheese for a spicier version. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top to complete the dish.
How to Make This Creamy Beef and Shells Recipe
STEP ONE: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain well.
STEP TWO: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, crumbling the ground beef. Drain excess fat and set it aside.
STEP THREE: Add diced onion to the skillet, cook stirring frequently until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
STEP FOUR: Stir in garlic, Italian seasoning, paprika and mustard powder and then cook for about 1 minute.
STEP FIVE: Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
STEP SIX: Gradually whisk in beef stock and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer. Stir occasionally until reduced and slightly thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
STEP SEVEN: Stir in pasta, beef and heavy cream and heat through.
STEP EIGHT: Stir in cheese until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
STEP NINE: Garnish with fresh parsley and extra cheese if you’d like. Serve warm and enjoy!
How to Serve
Serve this comforting family meal with garlic bread on the side. It is a complete meal on its own so you are all sorted. You could also opt to serve it as part of a larger meal or add a caesar side salad.
IN THE FRIDGE: You can store any leftovers of this hearty pasta dish in an airtight container once cooled and use within 4 days.
IN THE FREEZER: Leave the pasta to cool to room temperature and then store in an airtight container in the freezer for 1 to 2 months. Defrost and heat on the stovetop until warmed through.
Creamy Beef and Shells is a tasty way to serve pasta. It has a delicious creamy tomato sauce and the beef absorbs all of the flavors. The recipe is simple to make although you might find there’s never enough for everyone!
You can use half and half or milk but heavy cream really will make a big, delicious difference for this sauce.
Any kind and brand of jarred, plain tomato sauce will work.
If you’re increasing the noodles, we would suggest increasing the other ingredients as well so the consistency stays the same; otherwise it will be dry.
You could substitute another broth or stock, like chicken broth or vegetable stock.
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Creamy Beef and Shells
- 8 oz medium pasta shells
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups beef stock
- 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded, about 1 1/2 cups
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain well.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown, about 3 to 5 minutes, crumbling the ground beef. Drain excess fat and set aside.
- Add onion to the skillet, cook stirring frequently until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, Italian seasoning, paprika, and mustard powder then cook about 1 minute.
- Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk in beef stock and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer. Stir occasionally until reduced and slightly thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in pasta, beef, and heavy cream then heat through.
- Stir in cheese until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve warm and enjoy!