Cheesy Stuffed Shells

  • By KJ

Cheesy Stuffed Shells are a mouthwatering dinner that both vegetarians and omnivores will love.

Large al dente pasta shells are stuffed with a creamy spinach and cheese mixture. Layer the shells in a baking dish with marinara, top with more cheese, and bake the dish until bubbly.

This comforting Italian dinner is super simple to make, with only six ingredients + seasonings. It’s perfect for an easy weeknight meal or a date night. Plus, the leftovers reheat wonderfully.

And honestly, you just can’t go wrong with a dish of gooey, melty cheese.

Cheesy Stuffed Shells in a baking dish with a serving spoon digging in.

Cheesy Stuffed Shells

Cheesy Stuffed Shells are a mouthwatering dinner that both vegetarians and omnivores will love. 

Large al dente pasta shells are stuffed with a creamy spinach and cheese mixture. Layer the shells in a baking dish with marinara, top with more cheese, and bake the dish until bubbly. 

This comforting Italian dinner is super simple to make, with only six ingredients + seasonings. It’s perfect for an easy weeknight meal or a date night. Plus, the leftovers reheat wonderfully.

And honestly, you just can’t go wrong with a dish of gooey, melty cheese.

Cheesy Stuffed Shells in a baking dish with a serving spoon digging in.

Why KJ Loves

Cheesy Stuffed Shells

Cheesy Stuffed Shells

A cheesy comfort food dish that is so fun to make and eat! Trust me, stuffed shells are much easier to put together than you may think – and the end result is so delicious! Can be a comforting weeknight meal or a fancy date night dinner. My kind of recipe!

All of the ingredients for the spinach ricotta filling in a bowl.

What are cheesy stuffed shells?

Introducing manicotti’s more dynamic sibling. 

Cheesy stuffed shells are jumbo pasta shells that are filled with a ricotta/spinach mixture, nestled in a tangy marinara, and covered with mozzarella cheese. 

The shells hold in the filling better than manicotti (no filling squishing out the other end!). They also have a delicious, chewy texture.

The filling ingredients mixed together in a bowl.

Cheesy Stuffed Shells Ingredients

Jumbo shells

The best way to get cheese into your mouth. You’ll want to cook these for 1-2 minutes less because the pasta will cook a little in the oven. 

Ricotta cheese

Ricotta forms the creamy base of the cheese filling. 

Asiago cheese

I love that this cheese adds a decadent, nutty flavor that makes these stuffed shells stand out. You can buy shredded asiago cheese or buy a block of the cheese and shred it yourself. 

Frozen spinach

Frozen spinach is the easiest to use for this ricotta cheese mixture. Make sure to defrost it and squeeze all the extra liquid out before you add it to the filling. 

Seasonings

Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder are simple yet delicious.

Marinara sauce

Use your favorite marinara sauce for this recipe. Here’s my go-to!

Mozzarella cheese

Top this pasta dish off with some shredded mozzarella cheese before baking it, to make this dinner all sorts of melty and gooey.

Stuffed shells before baking.

How to Make Cheesy Stuffed Shells

Preheat the oven. 

Cook the jumbo shells to al dente according to package instructions. Make sure not to let the pasta get too soft or mushy. We need these shells to be firm — so they can hold all the deliciously cheesy filling! Drain and cool the pasta.

Prepare the ricotta cheese filling in a small bowl by combining the ricotta cheese, shredded asiago, spinach, and seasonings. Pour the marinara into the bottom of a baking dish.

Gently stuff the cooked shells with the filling and place them in the dish cheese side up. Continue until all the shells are stuffed. 

Spread the mozzarella cheese over the top and bake until bubbly and slightly golden brown.

Quick Tip

To get the cheese filling into the shells quickly, try using a large Ziplock bag.

Simply fill the bag with the cheese filling, cut a small corner off, and carefully pipe the cheese into the shells.

Easy cheesy. 

 

 

 

A close-up photo of a stuffed shell prior to baking.

How to Serve Cheesy Pasta Shells

Serve cheesy stuffed shells with a salad (like this raspberry walnut salad), breadsticks, or super simple garlic bread to make a full meal.

Cheese-topped cheesy stuffed shells prior to baking.

Cheesy Pasta Shells Variations

Substitute parmesan for asiago. You’ll still end up with a nice, nutty flavor that complements the ricotta. 

Add more protein like ground beef, Italian sausage, or shredded chicken. Just make sure to cook the meat first. 

Pile on the veggies: sauteed mushrooms, cooked bell peppers…whatever you like best! 

Baked cheesy stuffed shells in a round baking dish.

Cheesy Stuffed Shells FAQs:

Can I use fresh spinach?

You can use fresh spinach, but it will be easier if you use frozen spinach. If you’re using fresh spinach, chop it up so it combines better with the ricotta mixture.  

How long should I cook the pasta?

You’ll want to cook your pasta until it’s al dente — slightly firm to the bite. No mushy pasta here! If in doubt, stop cooking a little earlier. The pasta will cook a little more in the oven. 

What if my ricotta is watery?

If you have watery ricotta, use a cheesecloth to strain it before mixing the ricotta with the other cheese filling ingredients. 

Can you freeze cheesy stuffed shells?

Prepare the stuffed shells all the way up until right before they go in the oven. Store in the freezer for up to several months. When it’s time to cook the stuffed shells, bake them directly from frozen. You’ll need to add a little extra time in the oven.

A close-up photo of cheesy stuffed shells in a baking dish.
Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Cheesy Stuffed Shells in a baking dish with a serving spoon digging in.

Cheesy Stuffed Shells


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Loading...

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Description

Cheesy Stuffed Shells are a mouthwatering dinner that both vegetarians and omnivores will love. 

Large al dente pasta shells are stuffed with a creamy spinach and cheese mixture. Layer the shells in a baking dish with marinara, top with more cheese, and bake the dish until bubbly. 

This comforting Italian dinner is super simple to make, with only six ingredients + seasonings. It’s perfect for an easy weeknight meal or a date night. Plus, the leftovers reheat wonderfully.

And honestly, you just can’t go wrong with a dish of gooey, melty cheese.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 oz jumbo shells
  • 32 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup asiago cheese, shredded
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 24 oz marinara sauce
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Cook the jumbo shells to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool to be able to touch. 
  3. Prepare the ricotta cheese filling in a bowl by combining the ricotta cheese, asiago, spinach, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper until smooth. Pour the marinara into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish or a 3 1/2 quart baking dish. 
  4. Gently stuff the cooked shells with about 2 tablespoons each of the filling and place the opening side up in the prepared baking dish. Continue until all the shells are stuffed. 
  5. Spread the mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Nutritional information for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Dinner

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 477
  • Sugar: 9.2g
  • Fat: 21.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 40.8g
  • Fiber: 4.1g
  • Protein: 30.5g
Cheesy Stuffed Shells.

Did you make this recipe?

SHARE THE LOVE
If you made this recipe and love it as much as I do, I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, rate the recipe, or share a picture tagging @kjandcompany or using  #kjandcompany so that I can see your fun pictures! Thanks for following and cooking along with me.

Affiliate Links

This post may contain affiliate links, which mean that KJ and Company would receive a small commission if anything is purchased. Thank you for supporting KJ & Company in all the ways that you do.

Previous

Next

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Running Dry on Culinary Inspiration?

Running Dry on Culinary Inspiration?

Look no further than your inbox. We’ll send you ideas to help you put delicious meals on your table. Or dessert in bed. No judgment either way.

You have Successfully Subscribed!