When fall hits, I go straight for the comfort foods like this easy cheesy stuffed shells recipe. I love how simple it is to make, and it’s fun to eat. Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you click through them.
Every Christmas Eve, I make lasagna for my family. It’s tradition, and I love it. But takes awhile to prepare.
Sometimes I “cheat” and make lasagna roll ups that are a whole lot faster, but stuffed shells bring back so many memories. They have a special place in my heart.
When I happened to notice jumbo shells on sale the other day, I picked some up and added ricotta and the other necessities to my cart and proceeded to make a feast for my family.
One word to note: shells come in a 12 ounce box. To make the entire box, you need two 13×9 pans, and that makes a whole lot of shells.
Needless to say, it’s more than my family eats, so I make half a box and save the rest for another night. Darn, I’ll have to make these easy cheesy stuffed shells again soon.
The night I made these, I invited a friend to join us. When my Italian friend compliments me on my cheesy stuffed shells, you know I did something right. And shhhh I didn’t even get the “good” ricotta because I was in the wrong store for it.
Cheesy Stuffed Shells Tips
You do know there are different kinds of ricotta, right? The kind you grab off the shelf in the refrigerated section is the kind I get only when I forget to get “real” ricotta.
If you want to take this up a notch, make sure you pick up your ricotta from a store with a good deli. They’ll stock quality ricotta that makes this taste even better.
Speaking of making your dish taste better, when I talk about Parmesan, I mean fresh grated Parmesan, not the kind that comes in a green can. You can buy it pregrated or use your food processor to grate a chunk, which is my preferred method.
You can make your shells ahead of time. If you try to do it all right away and quickly, make sure you let the shells cool off a little bit before you handle them. No shocker, when you first cook them, they’re hot from the boiling water.
Make sure you separate the shells from each other carefully, then let them cool down. You can even refrigerate them and make the rest of the dish the next day if you choose.
In fact, you can stuff them in advance and bake them later. I love sneaky make ahead meals for company. This one definitely fits the bill there!
My easy cheesy stuffed shells are vegetarian. One of my favorite things about pasta is that you can easily change up the recipe to make it your own.
If you love pepperoni, slice some pepperoni rounds into little sticks and mix them into the filling for a spicier version. You can do the same with cooked Italian sausage. Add about a quarter or half cup of either.
This would also be fantastic with a little cooked spinach or mushrooms (if you like them – me, nope) or other veggies to give it a different flavor profile.
One note: if you change up the filling, taste it to make sure it has the right seasonings and go light on the salt. The Parmesan is pretty salty already, and you don’t want to overdo it!
How to Make Easy Cheesy Stuffed Shells
Boil salted water, and cook shells until just al dente. Drain and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
While the shells cool, mix up the filling. Add ricotta, 6 ounces of the mozzarella (about 1 1/2 cups), 1 cup of Parmesan, your egg, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper to a bowl. Mix to combine.
In a 13×9 baking dish, add a half cup of marinara sauce to the bottom. Spread it out to make a thin layer that prevents the shells from sticking. You can use my easy marinara recipe or your favorite jarred sauce.
As the shells cool, carefully separate them.
Pick up and open a single shell, then stuff with a heaping spoon of the filling. Place the shell in the pan and repeat with remaining shells.
If you have any extra filling, toss it. Just kidding! Of course add the remaining filling to any shells that are less full.
Add a small dollop of marinara to the top of each shell, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Place in the oven and bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes.
Remove, and serve immediately with additional sauce to top each shell.
These taste great the second day if you have any leftovers. Just store in a tightly sealed container in your fridge and reheat before enjoying.
Have you ever made cheesy stuffed shells?
- 6 oz jumbo shells
- 1 lb ricotta
- 1 1/2 c Parmesan
- 1 egg
- 1 T dried parsley
- 1 t dried basil
- 3/4 t salt
- 1 t pepper
- 1 c marinara sauce
- Boil salted water, and cook shells until just al dente. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Add ricotta, 6 ounces mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan, egg, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper to a bowl. Mix to combine.
- In a 13x9 baking dish, add 1/2 cup marinara and spread to make a thin layer.
- As the shells cool, carefully separate them.
- Pick up and open a single shell, then stuff with filling. Place shell in the pan and repeat with remaining shells.
- Add a dollop of marinara to the top of each shell, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
- Place in oven and bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes.
- Remove, and serve immediately with additional sauce to top each shell.
- One thing I love about this recipe is that you can make it partly or wholly in advance. Cook the noodles ahead of time and separate them, then let them cool and refrigerate for later. Or mix up the filling and stuff your shells then refrigerate to cook later - like when you have company coming!
- This recipe is written vegetarian, but you can add a half cup or so of chopped pepperoni or cooked Italian sausage. Add your favorite veggies, too, like peppers or spinach or mushrooms to make it your own.
- Feel free to use my easy marinara recipe or your favorite jarred sauce.
- These taste great the second day if you have any leftovers. Just store in a tightly sealed container in your fridge and reheat before enjoying.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 10.6gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 552mgCarbohydrates: 21.4gFiber: 1.4gSugar: 2.5gProtein: 16.5g
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