This Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe couldn’t be easier to put together! Made with Ricotta, spinach, and Italian herbs and seasonings covered with marinara sauce and smothered in cheese.
I stuffed these shells with a mixture of Ricotta, Parmesan, spinach and Italian herbs, but you could mix things up and add in Romano cheese or other herbs if you like. Have some fresh herbs exploding in the garden? Throw those in instead!
Stuffed shells are perfect for gifting to a family with a new baby or someone else in need, as they are easy to make ahead, and the creamy, comforting filling makes this recipe a hit with everyone around the dinner table.
How to Make Stuffed Shells
Stuffed shells are relatively easy to make if you have a few tricks up your sleeve.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Boil Pasta: Slightly undercook shells (just to al dente). A little firmer is essential since they will be baked later
- Make Filling: Prep cheese/spinach mixture.
- Fill Shells: Fill the shells. Stuffed shells need to bake about 30-35 minutes or until bubbly.
TIPS for Stuffed Shells
- Boil shells only to al dente (or even a little less). If you overcook them, they will fall apart when you try to stuff them.
- Use a piping bag or a large Ziploc bag with the tip cut off to fill your shells — this will get it done so quickly and with much less mess!
- Choose ingredients you like. If you don’t like basil, don’t add basil in. If you don’t like Ricotta, try cream cheese or cottage cheese!
- Select a bottle of marinara with great taste and simple ingredients or better yet, make homemade Marinara Sauce.
- For a heartier meal, swap out marinara and make stuffed shells with meat sauce.
- Double the recipe and make a second batch to freeze for later.
How Long Can You Keep Stuffed Shells in the Refrigerator?
Stuffed pasta shells are perfect for dinner parties, busy weeknights and gifting to a new mom or family in the neighborhood because they can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.
You can fill and refrigerate these stuffed shells up to 24 hours in advance, provided all your ingredients are as fresh as they can be. Then, simply place in the oven and bake as directed.
How to Freeze Stuffed Shells
Alternatively, you can prepare stuffed shells and freeze up to 3 months.
To freeze stuffed shells, place in the casserole dish as directed and cover with plastic wrap pressing the wrap against the shells to remove as much air as possible. Cover with foil and label. Freeze up to 2 months.
How to Cook Frozen Stuffed Shells: Defrost in the refrigerator 24 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F and remove plastic wrap. Bake 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.
More Cheesy Pasta Favorites
- Easy Homemade Lasagna – Classic.
- Cheesy Beef & Macaroni Casserole – Kid friendly, macaroni in meat sauce!
- Taco Lasagna – Fun twist, add your fave toppings.
- Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole – Personal favorite.
- Homemade Chicken Spaghetti – Reader favorite.
- Baked Ziti – Make ahead.
Classic Stuffed Shells
- 24 jumbo pasta shells
- 475 grams extra smooth Ricotta cheese about 2 cups
- 225 grams frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry (about ½ cup)
- ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 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
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta shells, reduce to a low boil, and cook just until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain, and cool immediately by running under cold water.
- Stir together the Ricotta, spinach, ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, egg, salt, parsley, basil, oregano, and pepper. Place in a piping bag or large zippered bag and snip the end off.
- Lightly grease a 9x13" baking dish with non-stick spray and spread 1 cup marinara sauce in the bottom.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Divide Ricotta mixture evenly between shells and place in prepared pan. You might have to squish a little to fit, that's okay.
- Top with remaining marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly at the edges and cheese is melted. Serve.