Stuffed Pasta Shells

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 pastas, probably because there is some individual pasta stuffing involved.  

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

Stuffed Shells

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 packages 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. 

Stuffed Shells

How to to Make Stuffed Shells

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.  

Stuffed Shells

Line them up neatly in the prepared pan, following the shape of the pan.   

Stuffed Shells

Pour the rest of the spaghetti sauce evenly over the stuffed shells.  

Stuffed Shells

Distribute the mozzarella and remaining ¼ cup Parmesan over the top of the shells.

Stuffed Shells

They really are cute as the dickens.

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

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What to Serve with Stuffed Shells:

Stuffed Shells

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Stuffed Shells

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

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 ½ teaspoons dried
  • 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

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the ricotta, ½ cup Parmesan, ¼ 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 saute 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 ¼ 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.

Nutrition Information

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

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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