This classic ricotta stuffed shells recipe is the best kind of comfort food! Jumbo pasta shells are filled with three kinds of cheese and smothered in marinara and even more cheese for a dinner your whole family will devour!
Stuffed shells are one of those back pocket dinner recipes you’re always ready to whip out on short notice. If you’re doing meal planning and have a gap to fill in, you know you can count on stuffed shells—it’s easy, you can assemble it in advance, and it’s always a winner. Who doesn’t love a super cheesy pasta bake, right?! Stuffed shells, along with Baked Spaghetti, is one of my favorites!
Easy Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe
There’s not one, not two, but three different kinds of cheese in my stuffed shells recipe, for maximum creamy cheesy goodness. You’ll stuff all three into the shells, then after your casserole is assembled, you’ll top the whole shebang with another cup and a half of mozzarella. Talk about comfort food—this dish has it in spades!
I also love that ricotta stuffed shells are one of those versatile recipes that you can serve for a weeknight dinner or for a holiday get-together and it’s an equally good fit for both. And did I mention that it freezes well too? Because it does! In fact, sometimes I like to double the recipe and make one batch to pop straight into the freezer. When I need an easy dinner, I let the stuffed shells thaw in the fridge overnight, then I cook them according to the recipe instructions. So easy!
- Jumbo pasta shells
- Ricotta cheese
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Marinara sauce
- Italian seasoning
- Ricotta cheese – Some people make their stuffed shells with cottage cheese; I always stick with ricotta, but if you want to go with cottage cheese, I recommend giving it a whirl in your blender to make it smooth first.
- Shredded mozzarella – You can use an Italian-blend shredded cheese instead.
- Marinara – You can use another type of pasta sauce if you like.
- Parsley – Fresh basil can be swapped in for the parsley.
How to Make Stuffed Shells
Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and cook the shells according to the package instructions. Spread a cup and a half of the marinara onto the bottom of the dish.
2. Make Filling
Combine the ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, beaten egg, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese in a bowl, and stir to combine.
3. Fill the Shells
Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and arrange them in the baking dish.
4. Finish Assembling
Spoon the remaining marinara sauce onto the shells, then top the sauce with the rest of the mozzarella.
Cover the baking dish with foil, then bake the stuffed shells for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan, then cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown in spots. Top with parsley, if using, then serve.
Hint: If you’re making these for a party and you want them to look perfect, you can use a piping bag without a tip to pipe the cheese mixture into the shells.
- Stuffed Shells with Spinach – Add a package of thawed and drained frozen spinach to the ricotta mixture. (Make sure you squeeze out all the liquid!)
- Stuffed Shells with Meat – Use a meat sauce instead of marinara.
What goes well with stuffed shells?
I recommend serving stuffed shells with a simple side salad and some crusty garlicky bread!
What’s the difference between manicotti and stuffed shells?
The difference is all in the pasta shape! Manicotti involves stuffing the cheese filling into a tube-shaped pasta instead of shells. Making stuffed shells is a lot easier!
What can I use instead of jumbo shells?
You can use lasagna noodles to roll up the cheese or fill manicotti, but they’re not quite the same as shells.
For a crispier top, you can turn on the broiler during the last few minutes of cooking time and let the cheese brown.
If you’re looking for more….try these recipes next!
- 24-30 jumbo pasta shells cooked according to package directions
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- parsley optional for garnish
- Italian seasoning to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9"x13" baking pan with cooking spray.
- Spread 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce in an even layer in the bottom of the pan.
- Place the ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, egg, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Stir to combine.
- Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish.
- Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the shells, then sprinkle the other 1 1/2 cups of cheese over the top.
- Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan, then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
- Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.
Needed a quick and simple stuffed shells recipe and I had all of these ingredients on hand. It was easy to throw together (even though I was distracted by a crying baby and put ALL the mozz in the mix =P). Served with prefab garlic bread and voila! Pretty quick dinner on a busy day. Hubs and the kids (4 & 2) loved it and we nearly ate it all.