Stuffed Cheese Shells Recipe 2023



  • 1 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • Aluminum foil


  1. Boil the Pasta Shells:
    • Cook the jumbo pasta shells according to the package instructions. Make sure to slightly undercook them since they will continue to cook in the oven. Drain and set aside.
  2. Prepare the Filling:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, black pepper, and pressed garlic. Mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  3. Stuff the Shells:
    • Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, carefully stuff each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture.
  4. Assemble in the Pan:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
    • Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce at the bottom of a baking dish.
    • Place the stuffed shells in the dish, arranging them in a single layer.
    • Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the stuffed shells, ensuring they are well-covered.
    • Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top, covering each shell.
  5. Bake:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.
    • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
    • After 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese on top is bubbly and golden.
  6. Serve:
    • Carefully remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
    • Garnish with additional fresh herbs if desired.
  7. Enjoy:
    • Serve these delicious stuffed cheese shells with a side salad or garlic bread for a complete and satisfying meal. Watch as it becomes another big hit in your house!

Feel free to customize the recipe to suit your taste preferences or add any extra ingredients you love. Enjoy your stuffed cheese shells dinner!

Here are some tips to enhance your Stuffed Cheese Shells Recipe and make it even more delightful:

  1. Quality Ingredients:
    • Opt for high-quality cheeses, including a good-quality ricotta, fresh Parmesan, and mozzarella. Fresh and flavorful ingredients can make a significant difference.
  2. Fresh Herbs:
    • Whenever possible, use fresh herbs for a burst of flavor. You can grow your own basil and parsley or buy them from the store. Fresh herbs add a vibrant and aromatic element to the dish.
  3. Seasoning:
    • Taste the filling mixture before stuffing the shells to ensure it’s well-seasoned. Adjust salt, pepper, and herbs according to your taste preferences.
  4. Extra Cheesy Goodness:
    • Consider adding a variety of cheeses to the filling for more complexity. A touch of creamy fontina or a sharp cheddar can complement the flavors well.
  5. Garlic Infusion:
    • Roast or sauté the garlic before adding it to the filling. This can mellow the garlic’s sharpness and add a rich, sweet flavor to the dish.
  6. Homemade Sauce:
    • If time allows, make your own homemade spaghetti sauce using fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs. It will elevate the overall flavor of the dish.
  7. Spinach or Vegetables:
    • Incorporate finely chopped spinach or other vegetables into the ricotta mixture for added nutrition and flavor. Sauté them before mixing to enhance their taste.
  8. Protein Boost:
    • Add cooked and crumbled Italian sausage or ground beef to the filling for a protein boost and an extra layer of savory goodness.
  9. Bake Al Dente:
    • Make sure not to overcook the pasta shells initially. They will continue to cook in the oven, and a slightly firmer texture (“al dente”) will prevent them from becoming too mushy.
  10. Garnish:
    • Sprinkle freshly chopped herbs, such as basil or parsley, on top just before serving for a burst of freshness and color.
  11. Make-Ahead Option:
    • Prepare the stuffed shells a day in advance and refrigerate them. Allow them to come to room temperature before baking. This is a great time-saving option for busy days.
  12. Side Dish Harmony:
    • Pair the Stuffed Cheese Shells with a side salad, garlic bread, or a light soup to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

Remember, cooking is an art, and these tips are just suggestions. Feel free to experiment and adjust the recipe based on your taste preferences. Enjoy your delightful Stuffed Cheese Shells!

Here are some tips to take your recipe to the next level:

  1. Perfectly Cooked Pasta Shells:
    • Cook the jumbo pasta shells just until they are slightly underdone. They will continue to cook in the oven, and this helps maintain a desirable texture without becoming mushy.
  2. Flavor-Infused Ricotta Filling:
    • Allow the ricotta mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before stuffing the shells. This gives the flavors time to meld and intensify, resulting in a more delicious filling.
  3. Freshly Grated Parmesan:
    • Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese rather than pre-packaged. The fresh grating releases the natural oils in the cheese, contributing to a richer and more flavorful filling.
  4. Customize the Cheese Blend:
    • Experiment with different cheese blends in the filling. A combination of ricotta, mozzarella, and a touch of Parmesan creates a harmonious balance of creaminess and richness.
  5. Herb-Infused Oil:
    • Infuse olive oil with herbs like basil, oregano, and garlic. Brush this mixture over the stuffed shells before baking to add an extra layer of flavor.
  6. Bake with Precision:
    • Preheat your oven to the exact temperature specified in the recipe. This ensures even cooking and proper melting of the cheese.
  7. Layering Sauce:
    • Layering the sauce in the baking dish is crucial. Start with a thin layer at the bottom to prevent the shells from sticking, then arrange the stuffed shells, and finally, generously cover them with sauce.
  8. Proper Cheese Coverage:
    • Ensure the entire surface of the stuffed shells is covered with sauce and cheese. This prevents the exposed pasta from drying out and adds to the overall decadence of the dish.
  9. Foil for Moisture:
    • Using aluminum foil during the initial baking period helps retain moisture and prevents the cheese from over-browning. This ensures the perfect balance of gooey and melted cheese.
  10. Rest Before Serving:
    • Allow the Stuffed Cheese Shells to rest for a few minutes after removing them from the oven. This helps the flavors settle, and it makes it easier to serve without falling apart.
  11. Quality Ingredients:
    • Use high-quality, fresh ingredients whenever possible. This includes ripe tomatoes for the sauce, farm-fresh eggs, and premium cheeses for a superior flavor profile.
  12. Personalize:
    • Tailor the recipe to your taste preferences. Whether it’s adjusting the seasoning or incorporating additional ingredients, making the recipe your own ensures it’s perfect for your palate.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make adjustments based on your personal preferences. Enjoy your journey to creating the perfect Stuffed Cheese Shells!

Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers related to the Stuffed Cheese Shells recipe:

1. Can I use different types of pasta for this recipe?

  • While jumbo pasta shells are traditional for stuffed shells, you can experiment with other large pasta shapes like manicotti or large conchiglie.

2. Can I prepare the Stuffed Cheese Shells in advance?

  • Yes, you can assemble the stuffed shells ahead of time and refrigerate them until ready to bake. Allow them to come to room temperature before placing them in the oven.

3. Can I freeze Stuffed Cheese Shells?

  • Yes, you can freeze stuffed shells before baking. Arrange them in a freezer-safe dish, cover with plastic wrap and foil, and freeze. When ready to cook, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

4. Can I use store-bought sauce instead of making my own?

  • Absolutely! While homemade sauce adds a personal touch, a good-quality store-bought sauce can save time without compromising flavor.

5. What can I serve as a side dish with Stuffed Cheese Shells?

  • Common side dishes include a simple green salad, garlic bread, or a side of roasted vegetables to complement the richness of the stuffed shells.

6. How do I prevent the pasta shells from sticking together during boiling?

  • Add a splash of oil to the boiling water and stir the shells occasionally to prevent sticking. Ensure they are slightly undercooked as they will continue to cook in the oven.

7. Can I use a different type of cheese in the filling?

  • Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with different cheeses like fontina, provolone, or goat cheese to add unique flavors to the filling.

8. How do I know if the shells are cooked perfectly?

  • The pasta shells should be cooked just until they are al dente, slightly firm when bitten. They will continue cooking in the oven, so avoiding overcooking initially is essential.

9. Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

  • Yes, you can make it vegetarian by omitting meat-based ingredients. Additionally, consider adding sautéed spinach, mushrooms, or other vegetables to the ricotta filling.

10. How can I reheat leftover Stuffed Cheese Shells? – To reheat, place the shells in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through. Cover with foil to prevent excessive browning.

11. Can I use a different type of pasta sauce? – Absolutely! You can experiment with different pasta sauces like marinara, arrabbiata, or a roasted garlic sauce to change the flavor profile of the dish.

12. Can I make this recipe gluten-free? – Yes, you can use gluten-free jumbo pasta shells and ensure that all other ingredients, including the sauces and cheeses, are gluten-free.

Feel free to adapt these answers based on your personal preferences and any modifications you’ve made to the original recipe. Enjoy your Stuffed Cheese Shells!

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