Easy Stuffed Shells is made with jumbo pasta shells stuffed with a cheese mixture and smothered with tomato sauce and baked. Simple, easy to make, and satisfying meal. This is Italian comfort food at its best!
Incredibly Easy Stuffed Shells Casserole…
Stuffed Shells are a classic Italian meal that requires a few ingredients, and a little patience, but worth it.
- A satisfying meal, and great to make for a large gathering.
- Very impressive casserole and a hearty one.
- Inexpensive to make.
- Not weighed down with a ton of cheese.
- Perfect for serving guests, or to make for someone special as a gift.
- The cheese filling is simple and made with 5 ingredients (and no eggs).
- Only need to cook the shells and fill them. Great for busy weeknight meals.
- Plus, this casserole is an easy clean-up! 😉
When it comes to stuffed shells, our Italian mothers and grandmothers always made them for special occasions and holidays.
It is LOVED by everyone in our family.
How to make these Easy Stuffed Shells?
For this recipe, it is a good idea to have some “already-made” marinara sauce to make these stuffed shells quick and easy.
A QUICK TIP! If you don’t have tomato sauce, you can easily make our mom’s recipe for her quick marinara sauce. Have it simmer for a few minutes while you boil the jumbo shells, and make the cheese filling.
Ingredients Needed for our Easy Stuffed Shells…
- Jumbo pasta shells – one box, contains about 16 dried pasta shells.
- Whole milk ricotta cheese – for the cheese filling.
- Grated pecorino cheese – is needed to make the cheese filling and to add some on top.
- Grated parmesan cheese – is also needed to add flavor to the filling.
- Marinara sauce – our mom’s easy recipe for Mom’s Quick Marinara Sauce. Or you can use jarred sauce.
- Fresh herbs – both Italian parsley and fresh basil.
- Shredded mozzarella – for the filling, and if you prefer, you may add some on top before baking.
- Seasonings – only black pepper is needed. NO salt is required.
How to Make Easy Stuffed Shells? (*full recipe card below!)
There are a few easy steps to making this easy stuffed shells casserole.
1. First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Next, boil the jumbo shells in a pot of boiling salted water, until they are al-dente, and drain.
2. Meanwhile, make the cheese filling. Mixing the ingredients together until well blended.
3. Next, spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
4. Fill each shell with some cheese filling, and sit them on top of the sauce in the baking dish, creating 2 rows.
5. Spoon additional sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with pecorino cheese and chopped basil. QUICK NOTE: Here is where you can top it with shredded mozzarella cheese if you prefer.
6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Cook’s Notes & Tips…
- Keep in mind, a 12-ounce box of Jumbo Pasta Shells comes with approximately 40 shells. I used only 16 shells for my recipe. Save the remaining shells for another dinner in the future.
- Fish out any “broken shells” and discard those. Then save the remaining uncooked shells for another casserole dinner.
- Fresh herbs are always a must! Don’t use dried herbs in this casserole. Fresh herbs will give optimal flavors.
- Also, it’s best to buy the “real” grated Pecorino-Romano cheese and grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese. You will find those in the refrigerated section in most supermarkets.
- Make Ahead? You can make them early in the day, and cover and refrigerate them before baking. Then bake for dinner or just before your guests arrive.
Q & A…
1. Can we make these stuffed shells using a different tomato sauce? Yes, in fact, there are 6 recipes for tomato sauce and you can use any of them. You can find them, at this link -> The Sunday Sauce (6 recipes!). Also, you may use any leftover sauce you may have on hand.
2. Can we use jarred sauce? Yes, of course! Short on time, or just prefer to use jarred sauce, go for it! Use your favorite jarred tomato sauce, it will be fine.
3. How many servings does this recipe make? This recipe calls for 16 stuffed shells and will make 6 servings, allowing 3 stuffed shells per person. For a larger gathering, you can double all the ingredients to make 2 trays of stuffed shells (32 shells).
4. Can we stuff shells with meat? Yes, you certainly can. To make it easier, use a meat sauce, like our mom’s classic bolognese sauce, add some cheese filling, then top them with shredded mozzarella, and grated cheese and bake.
5. Can we freeze them? However, if you want to freeze them, do not bake them. Prepare the entire casserole, then double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap and freeze. Freeze for up to 1 month.
6. How to cook frozen stuff shells? Thaw overnight in your refrigerator, then place it on your countertop for at least one hour before baking. Remove any “plastic” wrapping. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil before baking. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes, until they are heated through.
Everyone will enjoy our Easy Stuffed Shells.
After you make this casserole for the first time, you will enjoy making it for years to come.
Best of all, this satisfying meal will cost less than $20 dollars for a family of 6. …Perfect! 😉
Serve with a side of green salad and some crusty bread for dipping and dinner is ready!
Try our recipe… (it’s the best!)
ENJOY and have a great day!
Additional delicious dinner ideas and casseroles…
- Best Vegetable Lasagna
- Pasta Alla Nonna
- Spinach Parmesan Rice Casserole
- Easy Chicken Casserole (Cordon Bleu)
- Best Rice Ball Casserole Stuffed with Meat & Peas
- How to Make Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles (4 easy steps!)
FOR THE CHEESE FILLING:
- 16 ounces (454grams) whole milk ricotta
- 1/2 cup (50grams) grated pecorino cheese, plus extra
- 1 cup (225grams) of shredded mozzarella
- 3 Tbsp. of freshly chopped Italian parsley
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
FOR THE CASSEROLE STUFFED SHELLS:
- 16 Jumbo Shells - uncooked
- 2 to 3 cups (450grams) of marinara sauce
- 2 to 3 Tbsp. (42grams) grated pecorino cheese
- a few fresh basil leaves - chopped
- 2 to 3 Tbsp. (45grams) of grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat the Oven to 375 degrees F (200C).
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water.
- Next, add 16 jumbo shells and cook the shells for about 8 to 9 minutes. They should be al-dente when you poke a fork through one. When ready, drain them in a colander and allow them to cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling mixture. In a mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of grated pecorino, mozzarella, black pepper, and fresh parsley. Stir to combine.
- In a 9 x 13 baking dish, ladle a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
- Begin to stuff each shell, one at a time with the cheese filling, using a teaspoon to fill them. Then sit each one in the tomato sauce in the prepared baking dish, creating 2 single rows.
- Spoon additional marinara sauce over the shells. Scatter with additional grated pecorino cheese on top and with some chopped fresh basil. Cover with sheet of aluminum foil.
- BAKE on the center rack for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, and remove the cover.
- Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese on top and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes, before serving.
- Then serve.
- Yields: 6 servings (3 stuffed shells per person)
To Make Ahead: Prepare the shells in the casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate for up to 1 day before baking and serving.
Ready to Bake: Allow the casserole to sit on your countertop for at least 30 minutes before baking, then reheat your oven, and follow the directions.
To Store Leftovers: Allow stuffed shells to cool completely, transfer any leftovers to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or in your oven.
Serving Size:1 serving (3 stuffed shells)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 358Total Fat: 15.5gCarbohydrates: 37.5gFiber: 3.3gSugar: 12.2gProtein: 15.9g
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xo anna and liz