Stuffed Shells

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This stuffed shells recipe is an easy, classic dinner to feed a crowd. Stuffed shells are filled with a ricotta mixture featuring fresh herbs, then smothered in marinara sauce and topped with even more cheese. An irresistible meal loved by all!

A spoon scooping Stuffed Shells out of a baking dish


This stuffed shells recipe is an easy, crowd-pleasing dinner that everyone absolutely adores (just like this beef lasagna and vegetable lasagna).

I mean, what’s not to love? Pasta shells are filled with cheese & herbs, then topped with sauce and more cheese and baked to bubbly perfection!

You can even prepare these easy stuffed shells in advance and bake at dinnertime. I suggest serving them with a yummy side salad – like burrata salad, and some homemade french bread!

A spoon scooping Stuffed Shells out of a baking dish

Stuffed Shells: Ingredients & Substitutions

overhead photo of the ingredients in this Stuffed Shells Recipe
  • Pasta Shells. make sure to get “jumbo” shells for this recipe.
  • Parmesan cheese. Romano is a good substitute.
  • Fresh basil & parsley. I highly recommend fresh herbs for this recipe, however you can use freeze-dried herbs if necessary.
  • Marinara sauce. Use your favorite brand – I love tomato basil sauce. Or, make this homemade marinara sauce.
a fork taking a bite of stuffed shells

How to Make Stuffed Shells

This recipe is pretty simple – simply cook the shells, make the filling, fill and bake! As always, we will walk through the process step-by-step, and don’t forget to watch the video.

Begin by preheating the oven and greasing a 9×13” glass baking dish. Set the dish aside.

a greased 9x13" baking dish

Cook the shells.

Then, cook the jumbo shells by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Then, cook the shells in the boiling water for 7-8 minutes, or until slightly tender but still a little firm.

a wooden spoon holding 3 cooked jumbo shells

Then, strain the shells in a colander and let cool slightly – but do not rinse.

jumbo shells in a colander to make stuffed shells

Make the stuffed shells filling

Making the filling is really easy, simply combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until the mixture is homogenous (uniform throughout).

two photos showing How to Make Stuffed Shells ricotta cheese filling

Assemble the Stuffed Shells

 Once the shells are cooked and the filling is made, it’s time to assemble the stuffed shells! Begin by evenly spreading 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

marinara sauce spread on the bottom of a baking dish

Then, fill each each partially cooked shell with 1 heaping tablespoon of the ricotta filling. Arrange the shells on top of the sauce in the pan in rows of 6 rows of 6 (slanted so they all fit). Continue until all the shells and filling are used.

two photos showing How to Make Stuffed Shells - filled shells in a baking dish on top of sauce

Next, spread the remaining marinara sauce evenly over the shells.

two photos showing How to Make Stuffed Shells - spreading marinara sauce over the assembled shells

Then, top the stuffed shells with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

cheese being put on top of stuffed shells

Bake

Next, cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Be careful not to let the foil touch the cheese or it will stick.

Then, uncover the dish and bake until the cheese is melted (about 15-20 additional minutes).

two photos showing How to Make Stuffed Shells - baking dish covered in foil then after baking with foil removed

Serve

Let cool slightly, garnish with fresh herbs (if desired), then serve warm. Here are some dishes that pair well with these stuffed shells:

baked Stuffed Shells in a baking dish with parsley

Store

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven.

stuffed shells in a baking dish after baking

Freeze

I recommend freezing the stuffed shells before baking. This way they can be baked fresh and enjoyed the same day.

To do this: assemble the recipe in a baking dish then cover with plastic wrap and foil, then freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking according to the recipe instructions.

a fork taking a bite of stuffed shells

Stuffed Shells Recipe FAQs

Can I use manicotti instead of jumbo shells?

Yes, you can use manicotti.

What goes best with stuffed shells?

There are many dishes that go well with this recipe:
Salad – such as this burrata salad or panzanella salad.
Roasted vegetables – try roasted carrots, baked asparagus, roasted broccoli, green beans or Brussels sprouts.
Homemade bread – dinner rolls or French bread.

How long does it take to boil jumbo shells?

To boil shells for this recipe, it takes about 6-7 minutes because you do not want them fully cooked. They finish cooking in the oven.

How long do stuffed shells last in fridge?

They last four to five days.

How many shells are in a box of jumbo shells?

There are usually around 40 to 46 shells in a 12 oz box of jumbo shells. It’s good to have more than this recipe calls for (36) because some shells rip or are broken.

Is it better to freeze stuffed shells cooked or uncooked?

I like to freeze them before cooking. To do this, assemble the recipe in a baking dish then cover with plastic wrap and foil, then freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking according to the recipe instructions.

a spoon scooping Stuffed Shells out of a baking dish

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Easy Stuffed Shells Recipe

Laura
This stuffed shells recipe is an easy, classic dinner to feed a crowd. Stuffed shells are filled with a ricotta mixture featuring fresh herbs, then they're smothered in marinara sauce and topped with even more cheese. An irresistible meal loved by all!
5 from 1 vote
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 18 Servings
Calories 162
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
1 hour
Total Time1 hour

Ingredients 
 

  • 12 ounces jumbo shells (about 36 shells)

Filling:

  • 30 ounces ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup basil leaves finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian parsley finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Sauce

Topping

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • parsley & basil to garnish (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Grease a 9×13” glass baking dish, set aside.

Cook the Shells

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Cook the shells in the boiling water for 7-8 minutes, or until slightly tender but still a little firm.
  • Strain in a colander and let cool slightly – do not rinse.

Make the Filling

  • Add filling ingredients a large bowl, and stir to combine.

Assemble

  • Add 1 cup marinara sauce to the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Fill each partially cooked shell with 1 heaping tablespoon of the ricotta filling. Arrange the shells on top of the sauce in the pan in rows of 6 rows of 6 (slanted so they all fit). Continue until all the shells and filling are used.
  • Pour the remaining marinara sauce evenly over the shells and spread evenly.
  • Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake

  • Cover the dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake until cheese is melted (about 15-20 additional minutes).
  • Let cool slightly, garnish with fresh herbs (if desired), then serve warm.

Video

Notes

Ingredient Substitutions
  • Pasta Shells. make sure to get “jumbo” shells for this recipe.
  • Parmesan cheese. Romano is a good substitute.
  • Fresh basil & parsley. I highly recommend fresh herbs for this recipe, however you can use freeze-dried herbs if necessary.
  • Marinara sauce. Use your favorite brand – I love tomato basil sauce. Or, make this homemade marinara sauce. 
Store
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven.
Freeze
I recommend freezing the stuffed shells before baking. This way they can be baked fresh and enjoyed the same day.
To do this: assemble the recipe in a baking dish then cover with plastic wrap and foil, then freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking according to the recipe instructions.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Shells | Calories: 162kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 530mg | Potassium: 193mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 229mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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