The ultimate cheesy stuffed pasta shells recipe!! This incredible pasta recipe is so hearty, cheesy and warming! The pasta shells are stuffed with a combination of three cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan), onions, garlic and spinach. For the sauce, I’m using my Homemade Bolognese Sauce – this pasta sauce recipe is the best! The creamy and cheesy filling is perfectly complement by the hearty beef sauce! This pasta recipe is the best comfort food!
My Stuffed Pasta Shells Video Tutorial
Watch my YouTube video recipe for step-by-step instructions and watch me make these cheesy stuffed pasta shells! Want to receive new recipe emails in your inbox? Make sure to subscribe to my website emailing list and my YouTube channel and turn on notifications!
Ingredients for Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells
Here are the main ingredients you’ll need to make this delicious pasta dish!
- Jumbo Pasta Shells: cook the pasta shells according to package instructions until al dente. Keep the pasta shells in a little bit of water to keep them from sticking together.
- Ricotta Cheese: one of three cheeses for the filling! I like to use whole milk ricotta for an extra rich and creamy filling.
- Mozzarella & Parmesan Cheese: more cheese for filling! I also like to add these cheeses over the pasta shells and I add more parmesan cheese over each serving.
- Spinach: adding wilted spinach to the filling adds great texture and flavor.
- Ground Beef & Pork: for making my homemade Bolognese sauce. You can also use mild Italian sausage for the sauce.
- Tomato Paste & Diced Tomatoes: canned diced tomatoes work best for making the sauce.
- Red Wine: wine adds tons of great flavor the tomato sauce! If you prefer not to use alcohol in your cooking, simply replace it with beef broth.
- Garlic, Onions, Carrots, Celery: aromatics for making the sauce.
- Whole Milk: for making the sauce. You can also use cream for an even richer tasting version!
The Best Bolognese Sauce
I love to make this cheesy stuff pasta shells recipe with my Homemade Bolognese Sauce! This hearty, beefy and warming sauce is perfect for so many pasta recipes, especially this one! The sauce is made with ground beef and pork, tomato sauce, red wine and lots of Italian spices. I love to slow cook it for 2 hours until it’s reduced and aromatic! Make sure to watch my video recipe for this sauce to see how it’s made!
- Easy Bolognese Sauce: Don’t have the time to make a homemade sauce? Don’t worry! A store-bought sauce will also work in a pinch! Just brown 1 pound of ground beef, sauté 1 large diced onion and combine everything together with a jar of store-bought sauce. Cook for 15 minutes, then use in this recipe!
3 Cheese Filling!
These cheesy stuffed pasta shells have a serious amount of cheese in them! It’s the best cheesy filling ever!! I make these pasta shells with three different types of cheese: whole-milk ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan! This combination of cheeses makes the filling so incredibly creamy and cheesy!
I combine the cheeses with softened onion, garlic and wilted spinach. To prepare this mixture, sauté the onion in salted butter, then add the garlic and spinach. The spinach will wilt down super fast! Combine this cooked mixture with the cheese, egg yolks and seasonings. The filling is super easy to make!
Cooking the Pasta Shells
As you’re working on the filling, you can also get the pasta cooked and ready to go! I like to prepare 1 ½ to 2, 12-ounce boxes of pasta shells, just to make sure I have enough whole shells to fill. Most boxes will have a few that are broken and unusable for this recipe.
Cook the pasta to al dente in a large pot of salted water. Once the pasta is done cooking, I drain it and then pour cold water into the pot. I also like to add a drizzle of oil to the pot. This way, the pasta shells won’t stick together and it will be easier to stuff them!
Preparing the Stuffed Pasta Shells
You’ll love how easy it is to make these stuffed pasta shells!
- First, I prepare 1 extra large or 2 medium casserole trays and spread a generous amount of the prepared Bolognese sauce onto the bottom.
- Now it’s time to stuff the pasta shells! Using a spoon, I fill each pasta shell generously with the cheese and spinach filling. Don’t be shy with the filling!
- Place the filled pasta shells on top of the Bolognese sauce and fill up the casserole! You want to pack them snuggly together in the pan.
- Next, sprinkle on more cheese over the top and then the shells are ready for the oven!
- Bake at 350F for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted. I also like to turn on the broiler for 5 minutes, to caramelize the cheese on top!
Serving the Stuffed Pasta Shells
And now for the best part – time to enjoy this pasta dish! I recommend allowing the shells to cool for at least 15 minutes before enjoying. They will be extremely hot out of the oven!! Sprinkle on more parmesan cheese, if desired, and garnish with fresh basil. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, which can be reheated in the oven or microwave.
Freezer Instructions for Stuffed Pasta
This cheesy stuffed pasta shells recipe will make about 32 to 36 pasta shells. You can prepare 2 medium casseroles pans when making this recipe – one of now and one for later! These stuffed shells will freeze beautifully! Just assemble the dish into a freezer-friendly container or a disposable aluminum casserole pan. Cover the casserole tightly with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, bake at 350F for 45 minutes if thawed or 1 hour and 15 minutes if frozen, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. To thaw the pasta ahead of time, place the casserole into the refrigerator overnight.
Enjoyed this hearty and delicious pasta recipe? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!
- Cheesy Baked Rigatoni – the ultimate comfort food dish! This baked pasta casserole is made with hearty bolognese sauce and three types of cheese!
- Meat & Cheese Lasagna – the best ever lasagna recipe with homemade sauce, bechamel sauce and loads of cheese! My favorite recipe!
- Skillet Lasagna – enjoy all the best flavors of lasagna with this easy, cheat version of the recipe!
- Cheesy Lasagna Roll Ups – EASY lasagna roll ups filled with a chorizo Bolognese sauce and loads of melty cheese!
- Smoky Pepper & Sausage Pasta – this easy pasta skillet is made with roasted peppers, smoky sausage and a creamy sauce!
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Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells with Bolognese (video)
- 2, 12 oz boxes jumbo pasta shells
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 8 to 10 cups baby spinach, 5 oz box
- 32 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- Sprinkle of ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- ¼ to ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil, for garnish
For Homemade Bolognese Sauce:
- 1 pound ground beef, 85% lean
- 1/2 pound ground pork, 85 to 90% lean
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
- 2 medium celery sticks, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup red wine, or beef broth
- 1 cup beef broth
- 28 oz canned petite diced tomatoes
- 12 oz canned tomato paste
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp EACH: dried rosemary, thyme, basil
- 1 tsp EACH: salt, sugar
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- small bunch fresh basil
For Bolognese Sauce:
- Prepare the Bolognese sauce according to instructions. Recipe link to the sauce with video recipe: https://tatyanaseverydayfood.com/recipe-items/bolognese-sauce/ If you don’t have time to make this sauce, use 1 large jar of store-bought sauce.
- Preheat a large frying pan over high heat and add a drizzle of cooking oil. Once the pan is hot, add the ground beef and ground pork. Brown the meat all over for 7 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned all over. As the meat is cooking, use a spatula to break it apart into small pieces. Watch my video recipe to see how it’s done. Transfer the browned meat into a braising pot.
- Next, add the butter into the same pan and allow it to melt. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots and celery. Sauté the mixture for 3 to 5 minutes, until the aromatics are tender. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Next, pour in the wine and let it cook for a few minutes, until almost completely reduced. Transfer this mixture into the braising pot.
- Combine the remaining ingredients with the browned meat and the aromatics in the braising pot. Add the beef broth, milk, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried herbs, salt, sugar and pepper, mixing well.
- Bring the Bolognese up to a simmer over high heat, then cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Slow cook the Bolognese over low heat for 2 to 2 ½ or even 3 hours, until the sauce is well reduced and aromatic. Once the sauce is done, sprinkle some freshly chopped basil over the top. Sauce is ready to be used right away.
Preparing the Pasta:
- Prepare the jumbo pasta shells. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook it according to package instructions to al dente. Drain the pasta, then fill the pot with cold water. Add about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil and stir. The oil will prevent the pasta shells from sticking together.
Making the Filling:
- Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat and melt the butter. To the melted butter, add the diced onion and saute the onion for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Next, add in the spinach and begin mixing it with the onion. The spinach will wilt down within 1 to 2 minutes; cook it for an additional 2 minutes, until it’s soft.
- Transfer the onion and spinach mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Use a spoon to combine everything together until a uniform mixture forms.
Assembling & Baking:
- Preheat the oven to 350F/177C. Prepare 1 extra-large casserole pan or 2 medium-sized pans. Spoon a generous amount of the Bolognese sauce into the bottom of the casserole(s). Using a spoon, stuff each cooked pasta shell generously with the prepared cheese filling. Place the stuffed shells over the bed of Bolognese sauce, fitting them snuggly together.
- Top the stuffed shells with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is simmering, and the cheese is melted. Turn on the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes at the end, to caramelize the cheese on top.
- Allow the shells to cool for about 15 minutes before serving; they will be extremely hot out of the oven. Garnish the top with freshly chopped basil.
- Freezer Instructions: assemble the stuffed pasta shells into a freezer-friendly container or a disposable aluminum casserole pan. Cover the casserole tightly with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, bake at 350F for 45 minutes if thawed or 1 hour and 15 minutes if frozen, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.