Classic Stuffed Shells combine the best parts of pasta with creamy ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and creamed spinach, smothered in marinara sauce.Jump to Recipe
For as long as I can remember, my family has been making stuffed shells. We’ve only ever made them one way. Imagine my shock when I learned that there are other recipes! (See my recipe for Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells here.) From what I gather, our recipe is the “classic” way of preparing stuffed shells.
When I was little, I would scoff at the spinach in the shells, but ate most of it anyway. The only time I pulled it out was if the piece was really long. Or it wasn’t mixed in with the cheese. Yes, I was a picky eater. As I’ve gotten older, I am much better about trying new things.
Stuffed shells were always my cousin’s favorite, too. I remember any time I was with them for his birthday we would always have stuffed shells. It was also a common food during our annual family reunion beach week vacation. My mom would prep them the day before we left for the beach and keep them refrigerated. Then, the first night, she wouldn’t have to worry too much about dinner. Just pop the shells in the oven and let them bake while we got settled into our condo.
I have always been a fan of cheese. I love cheese. Especially mozzarella cheese. And add some red sauce and I am in heaven! My best friend and I used to buy mozzarella stick cheese and a bottle of marinara sauce and just have a snack of cheese dipped in sauce.
So, naturally, stuffed shells are one of my favorite meals, too. I always thought they were hard to make, but they aren’t too bad. Although, my hands always get messy. And, if I want to talk to my grandma, I just need to make a batch of stuffed shells… Almost every single time I am in the middle of stuffing them (with dirty hands) she calls me!
Step by Step
Boil the shells according to the package directions. I have found that the Barilla brand works the best. The off-brand tends to tear which doesn’t work well for stuffing.
Also, cook the spinach according to the directions. I have used both frozen and fresh spinach, both work well. If you use fresh spinach, wilt it in a pan with a bit of oil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, pepper, and cooked spinach. Add about 1/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce and stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Add a small layer of sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish so the shells don’t stick when they bake.
Once the shells are cool enough to handle, stuff a spoonful of mixture into the shells. Continue until you run out of shells or filling, placing them in a single layer in your baking dish.
If you have to do a second layer, spread some sauce between the layers.
Cover the shells with the remaining sauce then cover the pan with foil or an oven-safe lid.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, then let cool for about 5 minutes before serving warm.
Originally Published On: January 12, 2016
Last Updated On: October 31, 2019
- 1 box jumbo shells
- 1 pkg creamed spinach
- 1 lb ricotta cheese
- 4 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 24 oz spaghetti sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Boil the shells according to package
- Cook the spinach according to package
- In a large mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and pepper with the cooked spinach
- Add 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce and stir
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Add a small layer of sauce to the bottom of 9×13 baking dish
- Stuff shells with a scoop or two of the cheese mixture and place in the baking dish in a single layer
- If you need more than one layer of shells, put some sauce in between layers
- Cover the shells with the remaining sauce
- Cover the baking dish with foil or an oven-safe lid
- Bake 30-40 minutes then let cool for about 5 minutes before serving warm
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutrition content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.
46 thoughts on “Classic Stuffed Shells”
OMG I remember growing up eating these sometimes and boy did I LOVEEEEEEEE them! You made an amazingly DELICIOUS looking dish!!!
I feel like everyone I talk to remembers having them as a kid!
Woah! These look delicious! All my favourite foods combined. Going to definitely bookmark this to make for later.
I know, I think that’s why they work so well. Such a wonderful combination of delicious food!
I am such a huge pasta fan! These look so delicious! I will try them out this weekend!
Me too! I love cheese, so pasta with a bunch of cheese is always a winner for me.
These look so delicious! Stuffed shells were something that my mom and grandma made a lot during my childhood. I will give these a try.
Isn’t it funny how many people remember them from childhood? My mom and grandma made them a lot, too.
Stuffed shells remind me of my great grandma. She used to make them for us every time we visited. So yummy!
Such wonderful memories! It’s awesome that even something as simple as food can remind us of our childhood.
I am just salivating now! This is one of my favorite combinations! Such a fun meal and healthy too! Thanks for sharing your own version!
It’s one of the ways I will always eat spinach! My mom used to put double the spinach, but that was still too much for me.
My grandma use to make something just like these, totally makes me think of her. Will have to make them the next time my folks are around.
I’m sure they would love that trip down memory lane. So many people commenting that their family made these, I didn’t realize it was such a common dish!
Now you are talking!! This is deffo my kind of dish. Looking for new foodie ideas to meal plan, so will add this to my list xx
Yes, definitely add them to the plan! They are great when you have a group of people, and they reheat well which is my kind of food!
These are something I’ve never tried. But you make it look so easy, I am definitely tempted to see when I can squeeze them into the rotation! 🙂
I hope you find time to make them. They are like pasta but so much cheesier!
These shells look amazing. Anything pasta and add a little cheese to it and you have me. But I think even my daughter would appreciate it. I’ll have to try it out.
I’m the same way, I love pasta! My boys will usually eat these when I make them, if they decide they like them that day!
This looks like a great dish for any cheese lover. I can think of a lot of people who would absolutely love this meal.
It’s definitely very cheesy!
Yes, stuffed shells can be made with all sorts of combos. I used to enjoy them in my college days because they were popular in the dining room.
I never saw stuffed shells in college, but that’s awesome you were able to get them there!
Oh Stephanie! You’ve done it again. Yum, I totally love your recipes and how gorgeous the pictures look. Would love to try this, because like you I love mozzarella…but currently not doing any pasta, is there an option you can recommend for the shells?
I’ve never tried this without pasta, so not sure what could be substituted in this one. I have seen zucchini used for lasagna noodles, maybe there’s a way to make that work.
love stuffed pasta! this looks really yummy and i love that it’s vegetarian!
We try to have quite a few meatless meals in our meal plan. I love how cheesy this pasta is.
This looks so delicious yummmm!!! I never had stuffed shells before, can’t wait to make it.
There are many different ways to stuff shells, but this is easily my favorite!
This is legit making me hungry! This looks so good and like such a perfect fall/winter comfort food meal!
I eat stuffed shells any time of the year, but yes they are great for the cooler months!
Cheese, pasta, and sauce . . . how can you go wrong? I often buy stuffed shells in the frozen food section but your recipe has given me the inspiration to give it a try. Besides, I’m sure I’d feel a bit better about eating them with the addition of something healthy like spinach.
Yes! So many wonderful ingredients. I love making them at home and having control over everything in the meal.
Ooh, this sounds like a delicious recipe… we eat a lot of pasta and this definitely looks like a meal we would all love!
I love pasta, and my boys will eat most pasta meals. I hope you enjoy this one, too!
This is an interesting recipe & looks great too, from the photo. I’ll have to try it out this week to relish some myself.
It’s a family classic for me, so we make it often. It’s a delicious cheesy pasta, I hope you enjoy!
These look so delicious! I’ll def have to add them into our recipe rotation – was just thinking the other day that we haven’t had pasta in ages…
I try to do some type of meatless meal once per week, and often it’s pasta since it’s so easy to make without meat in it.
This looks soooo delicious! These classic stuffed shells combine the best parts of pasta with creamy ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and creamed spinach, smothered in marinara sauce. Can’t wait to make some.
Yep, it doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to pasta for me! I hope you enjoy it, too.
My kids absolutely love stuffed shells! It’s always a hit at Sunday supper, I will have to try your recipe next time…YUM!!!
We had it a lot while I was growing up, too. There are so many ways to make stuffed shells, so hopefully they like this version too!
My grandmother made the BEST stuffed shells. This recipe looks equally delicious!
This recipe comes from my grandmother, too! They always make the best foods 🙂