Classic Stuffed Shells

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Prepare to fall in love with these easy stuffed shells!

With a filling of creamy ricotta cheese, fresh spinach, and herbs tucked into jumbo pasta shells, all baked under marinara and a blanket of bubbly melted cheese.

This stuffed shells recipe is just the easy, cheesy comfort food your dinner table has been missing!

plated Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe with dish full in the back

Savory Stuffed Shells

  • Stuffed shell recipes are meatless, filling, and flavorful. Vegetarian guests will want the recipe!
  • Three cheese stuffed shells are easy but impressive to make or to gift since everyone loves a hearty and comforting casserole.
  • Perfect for busy weeknights, just cook the shells, add the filling, and bake!
  • Add a simple green salad and some crispy garlic bread and dinner is served!
ricotta , egg , spinach , marinara , parmesan , pasta shells , seasonings , and mozzarella with labels

Ingredients for Stuffed Shells

  • Pasta Shells: Jumbo shells are used in this recipe, but feel free to swap in manicotti or turn the filling into lasagna roll ups.
  • Ricotta Cheese: This is the creamy base for the filling, cottage cheese is a budget-friendly substitute.
  • Spinach: Use frozen chopped spinach or replace the frozen spinach with fresh cooked spinach.
  • Filling: Egg helps hold the filling together, while parmesan cheese, and seasonings add flavor.
  • Marinara Sauce: Store-bought or homemade marinara, either works great. For a twist, try Alfredo or cheese sauce.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: Gives that bubbly, golden top. Try different types of cheese or use an Italian blend of shredded cheese.

Recipe Variations

  • Toss in some finely ground Italian sausage, ground beef, ground turkey or diced chicken into the filling mix.
  • Up your veggie intake with diced bell peppers, finely chopped cooked broccoli, shredded cooked zucchini, mushrooms, or shredded carrots.
  • Stir in some chopped shrimp or crab meat for a seaside take.
  • Swap the seasoning for Italian Seasoning or add in few red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce will heat things up.
ingredients in a bowl to make Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe
adding spinach mixture to shells to make Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe
casserole dish of Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe
adding cheese to Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe

How to Make Stuffed Shells

  1. Cook Shells: Cook pasta shells al dente.
  2. Prepare the Filling: Prepare the filling as directed in the recipe below.
  3. Fill & Bake: Gently scoop or pipe the cheese mixture into each shell and place in a casserole dish. Top with cheese & bake.

Garnish with fresh basil if desired.

Stuffed shells are easy to make, here are a few tips for perfection!

  • Extra Shells: Cook a few more pasta shells than you need, as some might break during boiling or stuffing.
  • Al Dente Pasta: Don’t overcook the shells (rinse under cold water to stop cooking). They should be cooked al dente (firm) as they’ll continue to bake in the oven.
  • Sauce on Bottom: Spread marinara sauce in the baking dish before placing the stuffed shells to prevent sticking.
  • Easy Filling: A piping bag or a zip-top bag with a corner snipped off makes filling the shells a breeze.
cheesy Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe in the dish

Make-Ahead Meal

This is a favorite make ahead along with White Chicken Lasagna and Chicken Spaghetti Bake! Add in a side of garlic bread and a tossed salad for a delicious meal!

  • Prep Ahead: Assemble this stuffed shells recipe and pop them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. If they’re chilled from the fridge, you may need to add 10 minutes of extra cooking time.
  • Freezer Friendly: When freezing unbaked stuffed shells, follow the recipe but hold off on that cheese topping. Make sure the filling is cool. Then, wrap your dish tightly first with plastic wrap, then foil. They’ll be good in the freezer for up to a month. To serve, thaw the casserole overnight in the fridge before baking. Add 15 minutes to the cooking time.

Storing Leftovers

Leftover stuffed shells will last up to 4 days in the fridge in a covered container and can be reheated in the microwave or in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 350°F.

taking Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe out of the dish

More Cheesy Pasta Favorites

White Chicken Lasagna and Chicken Spaghetti Bake are more great make-ahead and freezer-friendly casseroles!

Did your family love these Stuffed Shells? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

baked Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe

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Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe

Jumbo shells stuffed with creamy ricotta and hearty spinach, baked to perfection in a zesty marinara sauce and topped with bubbly, golden cheese!

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 50 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

  • 24 jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese about 2 cups
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
  • cup + 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly spritz a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick spray.

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta shells and cook until al dente, per package instructions. Drain, then immediately run under cold water to stop cooking.

  • In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach, ⅓ cup of Parmesan cheese, egg, salt, dried parsley, basil, oregano, and pepper. Transfer this mixture to a piping bag or a large zippered bag and cut off ½-inch at the end.

  • Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

  • Fill each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture and arrange them in the baking dish, ensuring the filling is divided evenly. You might have to squish the shells a little to fit.

  • Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with mozzarella and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.

  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the edges are bubbly and the cheese is melted.

  • Cook a few extra shells in case any break while filling.
  • Use a piping bag or freezer bag to pipe the filling. Shells can also be filled using a small spoon.
  • Prep Ahead: Assemble this stuffed shells recipe and pop them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. If they’re chilled from the fridge, you may need to add 10 minutes of extra cooking time.
  • Freezer Friendly: When freezing unbaked stuffed shells, follow the recipe but hold off on that cheese topping. Make sure the filling is cool. Then, wrap your dish tightly first with plastic wrap, then foil. They’ll be good in the freezer for up to a month. To serve, thaw the casserole overnight in the fridge before baking. Add 15 minutes to the cooking time.

Calories: 429 | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1435mg | Potassium: 663mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 5500IU | Vitamin C: 9.2mg | Calcium: 545mg | Iron: 2.9mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dinner, Entree, Main Course, Pasta

Cuisine American, Italian

© SpendWithPennies.com. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe made with ricotta with writing
Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe with writing
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Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe in the casserole dish and plated with a title

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

See more posts by Holly

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