Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe


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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.

Ricotta stuffed shells are perfect for making ahead and make a great freezer meal to enjoy at a later time. Add in a side of garlic bread and a tossed salad for a delicious meal!

Stuffed shells in white baking dish

Cheese and pasta are just one of those combinations that I don’t think anyone can refuse. From lasagna to mac and cheese to these stuffed shells, cheesy pasta is just the ultimate comfort food!

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.

Classic stuffed shells before baking

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

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:

  1. Boil Pasta: Slightly undercook shells (just to al dente). A little firmer is essential since they will be baked later
  2. Make Filling: Prep cheese/spinach mixture.
  3. 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.

Stuffed shell being scooped out of pan

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.

Stuffed shells on a plate

More Cheesy Pasta Favorites

Stuffed shell being scooped out of pan
5 from 20 votes
Review Recipe

Classic Stuffed Shells

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 38 minutes
Total Time 53 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Ashley Fehr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
This Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe couldn't be easier to put together! Made with Ricotta, spinach, and Italian herbs and seasonings, they are luscious and comforting.

Ingredients

  • 24 jumbo pasta shells
  • 475 grams extra smooth Ricotta cheese about 2 cups
  • 225 grams frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry (about ½ cup)
  • 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

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Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition Information

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
Keyword spinach ricotta stuffed shells, stuffed pasta, stuffed shells

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Ricotta Stuffed Shells with a title

uncooked Stuffed shells in a casserole dish
Classic stuffed shells in a casserole dish with one being scooped out with a title

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Ashley

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Ashley is a high school teacher turned food blogger and a mother of 3 beautiful girls. She loves to get creative in the kitchen and doesn’t always like to follow The Rules. Ashley shares a combo of healthier main dishes, baked goods and decadent desserts and believes in enjoying all the foods you love in moderation (and sometimes without ;) ).

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Comments

    1. Hi Carol, you can prepare stuffed shells and freeze up to 3 months. Instructions for how to freeze can be found in the post above. :)

  1. I made extra so I could have some for later. My kids LOVED it. We ended up eating almost all of both pans. I added a little garlic to the cheese mixture and a little cottage cheese in with the ricotta. I topped with Ragu sauce (1 jar of chunky garlic and onion and 1 jar of the garden vegetable). You’ll be glad you tried this. I printed it off and added to our recipe binder so we can make it often.5 stars

    1. Hi Jackie, at our local grocery store they sell traditional and extra smooth ricotta by the container. It has a creamy texture that is perfect for this recipe. You can also try making it with regular ricotta, cream cheese, or cottage cheese if you’d like! :)

  2. Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! Followed the recipe exactly, but also added some garlic powder to the filling. Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  3. This was truly an amazing recipe!! I’ve tried to make stuffed shells before and they came out soupy/ soggy and the flavor wasn’t there. It came out perfect and very flavorful. Next time I may use a tad less salt but that’s just my preference. Very excited to have found this recipe and will make again!5 stars

  4. I made this for my kids and husband. However, I added ground sausage and used manicotti noodles instead. One of my favorites, it was delicious!!!5 stars

    1. I am so glad your family enjoyed this recipe Shannon! Sausage sounds like a delicious variation!

  5. Can’t wait to try this out with our Easter lunch. I plan on making this ahead. How much extra time would you recommend for frozen sauce and shells?

    1. I would suggest defrosting in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Bake covered at 350°F for about 35-40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until bubbly.

  6. Easily put together. Tastes great. I did add a little nutmeg as I always add it to spinach. I then froze the left over stuffed shells and threw them in a freezer where they will be easy to grab for a couple more meals since there is only two of us.5 stars

  7. My girlfriend is a vegetarian and I wanted to make something for our pot luck viewing party she would enjoy.
    I altered the recipe just a bit…
    Not a big ricotta fan so I used 1/2 ricotta and 1/2 small curd cottage cheese. Also doubled the herbs but NOT THE SALT and added 2 cloves of garlic…
    They were DELICIOUS and I received many compliments,5 stars

  8. In order to make ahead, freeze. Do I simply prepare as instructions and then freeze or leave the marinara until ready to bake? Can they be frozen in baggies in order to only bake what is needed? Sometimes I am doing dinner for several and then again sometimes it is only for me.

  9. Hi there. Just wondering about the egg that is “divided” in this recipe? I don’t see any mention of whites or yolks in the instructions for the recipe, just to add the egg to the filling mixture.
    Thanks,
    Kelly