Stuffed Shells

5 from 1 vote

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Cheesy, satisfying, and special, this stuffed shells recipe is one of the best baked pasta dishes around.

Stuffed Shells topped with mozzarella cheese and basil.

Stuffed shells might just be the most substantially satisfying baked pasta dish around, with the exception of lasagna. But there is something about stuffed shells…they look and feel a little more special than other baked pasta dishess, probably because there is some individual pasta stuffing involved.

I used ground turkey instead of ground beef or other red meat in this stuffed shells recipe, and they definitely have all of the satisfaction and substance that we are all seeking in our baked stuffed pasta.

Spoon grabbing a Stuffed Shell from a baking dish.

Stuffed Shells: Cheesy, satisfying, and special, this is one of the best baked pasta dishes around.

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The Best Cheese for Stuffed Shells

I use a combination of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan in this recipe, but you can mess around with the cheese choices as you like.

You can use packaged mozzarella with no compunctions here — it melts fantastically, and this dish is so nicely old-school that shredded supermarket mozzarella feels very right. You can also use fresh mozzarella, though, for a slightly lighter and creamier cheesiness. Fresh mozzarella can be grated or if it’s easier you can slice it thinly and then chop it on a cutting board into tiny pieces, just the right size for sprinkling on top. 

Plate with Stuffed Shells and salad.

How to Make Stuffed Shells

  1. Make the stuffing base: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add the ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/4 cup basil, parsley, and oregano, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine well. Set aside.
  2. Cook the turkey and veggies: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender and golden. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Add the ground turkey and the red pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the turkey is cooked, brown and crumbly. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  3. Finish the stuffing: Add the cooled turkey to the ricotta mixture.
  4. Cook the pasta: Use a tablespoon to stuff the cooked pasta shells with the ricotta mixture, dividing it evenly between the shells. It’s easiest to stuff the shells while holding them in your hand.
Woman spooning ricotta mixture into a pasta shell.
  1. Add stuffed shells to pan: Line the shells up neatly in the prepared pan, following the shape of the pan. Pour the rest of the spaghetti sauce evenly over the stuffed shells. Distribute the mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over the top of the shells.
Adding stuffed shells to pan and topping with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.
  1. Bake and serve: Bake the shells for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and turning a bit golden and everything is lovely and bubbling. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with extra slivered basil before serving.
Baked Stuffed Shells in green baking pan topped with slivered basil.

What to Serve With Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shells and salad on a white plate.

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5 from 1 vote

Stuffed Shells

Cheesy, satisfying, and special, this stuffed shells recipe is one of the best baked pasta dishes around.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 People

Ingredients 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil (plus more for serving)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground turkey (preferably 85/15% dark meat)
  • 1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells
  • 4 cups tomato pasta sauce (homemade or store-bought)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella (fresh or packaged)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/4 cup basil, parsley, and oregano, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine well. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until tender and golden. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, until you can smell the garlic. Add the ground turkey and the red pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the turkey is cooked, brown, and crumbly. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Add the cooled turkey to the ricotta mixture.
  • While the turkey cools, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the shells according to package directions (there should be a set of instructions for cooking them for a shorter time, if they will be baked later. If not, cook them for 4 minutes less than the full cooking time). Drain the shells and set aside.
  • Spoon a thin layer of the spaghetti sauce into the bottom of a shallow 3-quart baking dish (a 9×13-inch pan works well). Use a tablespoon to stuff the cooked shells with the ricotta mixture, dividing it evenly between the shells; it’s easiest to stuff the shells while holding them in your hand. Line them up neatly in the prepared pan, following the shape of the pan. Pour the rest of the spaghetti sauce evenly over the stuffed shells. Distribute the mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over the top of the shells.
  • Bake the shells for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and turning a bit golden and everything is lovely and bubbling. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with extra slivered basil before serving.

Notes

You can use packaged mozzarella with no compunctions here — it melts fantastically, and this dish is so nicely old-school that shredded commercial mozzarella feels very right.  You can also use fresh mozzarella, though, for a slightly lighter and creamier cheesiness.  Fresh mozzarella can be grated or if it’s easier you can slice it thinly and then chop it on a cutting board into tiny pieces, just the right size for sprinkling on top. 

Nutrition

Calories: 526kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 38g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 130mg, Sodium: 1055mg, Potassium: 825mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 1320IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 408mg, Iron: 3mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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