Today: Get My No Fail, Easy Cookbook Series for 60% OFF
Buy Now

Stuffed Shells

Pin RecipeReview Recipe
close up overhead shot of Stuffed Shells garnished with parsley in a baking dish
This classic Italian recipe for stuffed shells offers big, authentic flavor in one simple, homemade meal. Easy to make and full of delicious cheesy goodness and flavorful tomato sauce, this family favorite will have everyone requesting seconds!
Jump to Recipe
Table of Contents
  1. Stuffed Shells Ingredients
  2. How to Make This Stuffed Shells Recipe
  3. How to Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

Easy to make as a weeknight dinner, this traditional stuffed shells recipe is quick and tasty. If you love Italian flavors, this recipe has the best of rich tomato sauce, fresh herbs, creamy ricotta, tender pasta, and plenty of yummy melty cheese too! 

Try our creamy beef and shells for a delicious meat version of this dish. If you’re looking for other easy dinner ideas, check out our easy lasagna casserole

close up shot of Stuffed Shells garnished with parsley in a baking dish

Stuffed Shells Ingredients

Stuffed Shells raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

  • 25 Barilla jumbo pasta shells
  • 23 ounces Prego marinara sauce, divided
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated or chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1½ cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese chopped small
  • Chopped parsley or fresh basil for garnish, optional

PRO TIP:

Barilla was the best brand I found for this recipe because the noodles are larger, hold their shape the most consistently, and cook the same every time. A lot of other 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.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

MEAT: This recipe is vegetarian — there’s no meat in the filling or sauce — but you can easily add one pound of ground beef or Italian sausage. Cook the meat fully in a large skillet before adding it to your filling or sauce. 

SPINACH: For a tasty twist on this recipe, add spinach to your stuffing and turn this recipe into stuffed shells Florentine. Use a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained. This is a great way to hide some extra veggies in your dinner.

kitchen tools you actually need

How to Make This Stuffed Shells Recipe

STEP ONE: In a large pot, cook shells in boiling water with 5 teaspoons of salt added based on directions on the box. 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).

PRO TIP:

The pasta 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. 

Stuffed Shells process shot of cooked pasta shells in a drainer

STEP TWO: Drain and rinse pasta immediately in cold water, this is key in helping the noodles stop continuing to cook which can lead to mushiness. Set aside.

STEP THREE: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Stuffed Shells process shot of marinara sauce spread on the bottom of a pan

STEP FOUR: Place 1½ cups of marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan. Spread the sauce out evenly with a spatula. 

STEP FIVE: In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and onion powder. 

Stuffed Shells process shot of ingredients combined in a bowl

STEP SIX: Place the cheese mixture in a Ziploc bag and snip off the end or use a pastry bag with a medium-sized plain round tip. 

Stuffed Shells process shot of mixture placed into a ziplock bag

STEP SEVEN: Pipe the cheese filling into each cooked shell one as you hold them in your hand. Be sure and open the shells wide so you can stuff shells with as much ricotta filling as they can hold. 

Stuffed Shells process shot of mixture filed into the ricotta shells

STEP EIGHT: Place the filled shells in your prepared pan. Top with the remaining marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese as evenly as possible.

Stuffed Shells process shot of shells placed in the pan and topped with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese

STEP NINE: Cover the pan top entirely with aluminum foil and place in the oven on the bottom rack.

Stuffed Shells process shot of pan covered with aluminum foil then baked

STEP TEN: Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling around the edge of the pan and the cheese is melted. 

STEP ELEVEN: Remove the foil and move the pan to the top rack, turn the oven to 450°F, and cook for approximately 5 to 7 min or until the cheese starts to slightly show golden bubbles on top.

PRO TIP:

Keep a close eye on the cheese so it doesn’t burn and remove sooner than the 7-minute mark if needed.

Stuffed Shells process shot of foil removed from the pan

STEP TWELVE: Remove and serve immediately. Shells change shape and flatten if you let them rest for very long. They’re great with fresh or dried parsley or basil garnish and some freshly shredded parmesan on top.

How to Serve

Make this great recipe with homemade pasta sauce for extra freshness and pair it with garlic bread, cheesy pull-apart bread or simple homemade Caesar salad for the ultimate Italian-inspired family meal.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: Store leftover shells in an airtight container for up to three days.

IN THE FREEZER: One of the best parts of this delicious recipe is that it’s simple to freeze. Keep these on hand for an easy meal when you know you’ll want to skip cooking dinner. Prepare the shells according to the instructions. Place stuffed shells in the pan but do not bake them. Wrap your pan in plastic wrap, removing as much air as possible between the shells and plastic. Cover the pan tightly in foil and freeze. Store frozen shells for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to eat the shells, bake them at 350°F, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and slightly brown. 

close up shot of a plate of Stuffed Shells garnished with parsley

For busy weeknights, a potluck dish, or a freezer meal, this stuffed shell recipe is easy to make and full of satisfying flavor. It’s a classic recipe with the perfect combination of three kinds of cheese, Italian herbs, and plenty of marinara sauce.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I freeze these shells?

This pasta dish freezes well. Make the recipe according to the above directions right up to before the baking step. Cover well and freeze for up to two months.

Can I add meat to the sauce in this recipe?

These Italian stuffed shells would be delicious with meat added. Combine cooked ground meat or sausage with the tomato sauce and proceed with the recipe as directed.

Can I add extra veggies to the sauce or filling?

If you want to include even more veggie goodness, you can add more veggies to your sauce or filling.

More Recipes You’ll Love

Get Recipes on Pinterest

get recipes on pinterest
get digital lazy cookbooks
Get a Free Cookbook
Subscribe now to receive our FREE Sweet & Treats digital cookbook with 15 amazing desserts inside!
close up overhead shot of Stuffed Shells garnished with parsley in a baking dish

Stuffed Shells

5 from 2 votes
This classic Italian recipe for stuffed shells offers big, authentic flavor in one simple, homemade meal. Easy to make and full of delicious cheesy goodness and flavorful tomato sauce, this family favorite will have everyone requesting seconds!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 25 jumbo shells Barilla brand
  • 23 ounces Prego marinara sauce divided
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • cups mozzarella cheese finely shredded
  • chopped parsley or basil for optional garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, cook shells in boiling water with 5 teaspoons of salt added based on directions on the box. 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 pasta 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°F. Spray the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick spray.
  • Place 1½ cups of marinara sauce 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 the cheese mixture in a Ziploc bag and snip off the end or use a pastry bag with a medium-sized plain round tip. 
  • Pipe the cheese filling into each cooked shell one as you hold them in your hand. Be sure and open the shells wide so you can stuff shells with as much ricotta filling as they can hold. Place the filled shells in your prepared pan. 
  • Top with the remaining marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese as evenly as possible.
  • Cover the 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. 
  • Remove the foil and move the pan to the top rack, turn the oven to 450°F, and cook for approximately 5 to 7 minutes 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 fresh or dried parsley or basil garnish and some fresh shredded parmesan on top.

Notes

TIP: Barilla was the best brand I found for this recipe because the noodles are larger, hold their shape the most consistently, and cook the same every time. A lot of other 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.
TIP: The pasta 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.
TIP: Keep a close eye on the cheese so it doesn’t burn and remove sooner than the 7-minute mark if needed.

Nutrition

Sodium: 866mg | Calcium: 338mg | Vitamin C: 6mg | Vitamin A: 856IU | Sugar: 5g | Fiber: 2g | Potassium: 434mg | Cholesterol: 73mg | Calories: 319kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Fat: 15g | Protein: 19g | Carbohydrates: 27g | Iron: 2mg
Have You Tried This Recipe?Follow me on Pinterest @spaceshipslb

Get Recipes on Facebook

get recipes on facebook

Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

You May Also Like

get digital lazy cookbooks

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave a Comment

    Recipe Rating




    Comments

16108

Free Membership!

Get all our new recipes straight to

your inbox plus a BONUS

download in your first email! ❤

close up shot of Mongolian beef and noodle in a pan