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!
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.
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:
- 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 Recipe
- 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.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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I would like to make this recipe, but I’m not a big fan of Ricotta so was wondering if Cottage cheese could be used instead.
Thankyou for all your great recipes, we have enjoyed many of them and look forward to making this dish.
Hi Donna, yes you can replace the ricotta with cottage cheese. I am so glad you’ve been enjoying the recipes!
Great recipe. What I do is make the individual stuffed shells and then freeze them on a cookie sheet. I then freeze the individual shells in a freezer bag, 5 or 6 to a bag, and then I have a great individual meal. Just take them out to thaw, cook them with marinara sauce, and voila! dinner!
Great idea, Anne! Thanks for sharing.
I place the shells in the dish with the open side facing down so there are no pasta edges that can become hard if browned above the sauce/cheese. I also use a hand mixer on the cheese filling to break the curds up and evenly distribute the herbs and spinach.
Sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing Robert!
So excited to try these delicious recipes out thank u
Do you mean the Parmesan cheese that comes on a block that I can shred/grate? Or do you mean the Parmesan that comes in a can grated that you sprinkle on pasta normally? Thank you!!
Either one would work in this recipe Lauren, but we used a block of Parmesan and shredded it :)
Can I freeze these before baking them with the raw egg in them?
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. :)
Can I use Fresh Spinach?
Sure Fay, check out our spinach substitution guide for help on quantities :)
Great recipe and very tasty! My husband and I loved this version!
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.