Stuffed Shells yum (1)
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  • Food: Stuffed Shells
  • Writer: Nicolas Wilson
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

These stuffed shells are the epitome of spicy, cheesy comfort food! Fresh spinach, lemon zest, and ricotta cheese are mixed into a creamy, delicious filling.

These stuffed shells are the epitome of saucy, cheesy comfort food. I like how the chewy spaghetti contrasts with the creamy ricotta filling, and the marinara — store-bought or homemade – adds just the right amount of tang.

I always find myself back in the kitchen after one helping, unable to resist the pull of seconds. These stuffed shells are incredible!

This stuffed shells recipe is simple to prepare (and can be prepared ahead of time! ), and it’s perfect for feeding a crowd. If you’re throwing a dinner party or get-together this season, this is a great dish to include on the menu. It’s guaranteed to be a hit because it’s both comforting and classic.

Ingredients for Stuffed Shells Recipe

You’ll need about ten basic items to make these stuffed shells. I like to divide them into three categories:

The shells — To cook this dish, you’ll need large pasta shells.

Use your favorite store-bought tomato sauce (I like Rao’s) or prepare your homemade marinara sauce. Both are fantastic!

The ricotta filling is made up of ricotta cheese and fresh spinach that has been cooked and diced. For added flavor, I add dried oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, garlic, and grated pecorino cheese.

How to make Stuffed Shells?

Stuffed Shells (1)
Food: Stuffed Shells yum (Source: Kitchen Swagger)

Stuffed shells are a show-stopping dish that’s tasty, cozy, and perfect for entertaining, but they’re also quite easy to make! Here’s how to make this dish:

  1. First and foremost! You’ll need to steam the spinach before you start making the filling. Remove it from the fire when it’s soft and bright green, set it in a strainer, and squeeze off the extra moisture. Chop it up roughly. Then, to prepare the filling, combine it with the ricotta, pecorino, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Cook the pasta in the meantime. When you drain it, it should be slightly shy of al dente. In the oven, it will finish cooking.
  3. Stuff the shells after that. This is the exciting part! (As well as the filthy part.) Fill each shell with the cheese mixture using a small spoon. The filling should be plenty for 18-20 shells if properly divided.
  4. After that, bake. In the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, spread 2 cups of marinara sauce. Place the shells in the dish, cover with foil, and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes.
  5. If you wish to make this recipe ahead of time, place the stuffed shells in a baking dish, cover it with foil, and chill it for up to 4 hours. Simply bake the shells and serve when ready to dine. See the recipe notes for information on freezing.

Serving Suggestions for Stuffed Shells

Garnish the stuffed shells with extra pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese and fresh parsley before serving. Serve with more marinara on the side. I like to spread the sauce over the shells as I eat to ensure that I receive lots of sauce in each bite.

Finish with a green salad and some excellent bread. I usually serve these stuffed shells with my Homemade Caesar Salad, but they would also go nicely with my Arugula Salad, Beet Salad, or Simple Green Salad.

And when it comes to bread, there’s no such thing as a bad loaf! Make rosemary focaccia, garlic knots, or dinner rolls with a crusty loaf.


Stuffed Shells

Time to Prepare: 20 minutes

30 minutes to cook

4 servings

These spinach and ricotta stuffed shells make a delicious and filling meal! You can pack the shells and put them in the baking dish with the marinara up to 4 hours ahead of time to save time.

Cover them with foil and keep them refrigerated until ready to serve. After that, all you have to do is bake and consume!


  • 18 to 20 jumbo pasta shells
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 5 ounces spinach
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, more for the pasta water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Marinara Sauce, plus more for serving
  • chopped parsley, for serving


Stuffed Shells yummy (1)
Food: Stuffed Shells yum (Source: Kitchen Swagger)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the spinach in a steamer basket over 1-inch of water in a pot. Bring the water to a low boil, then cover and steam for 1 minute, or until the spinach is wilted. Place the spinach in a colander and press out any excess water before chopping.
  3. Cook the pasta shells in a large pot of salted boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. To keep them from sticking together, drain them and sprinkle them with a little olive oil.
  4. Combine the spinach, ricotta, pecorino, garlic, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, and several grinds of pepper in a medium mixing bowl.
  5. In the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, spread the marinara. Place each shell in the dish after stuffing it with the filling. Bake for 20 minutes, covered in foil. More marinara can be served on the side.


  • This dish freezes beautifully! Cover and freeze the shells after they’ve been assembled in the baking dish. Transfer the dish to the fridge to defrost about 10 hours before serving (i.e. the morning that you plan to serve them for dinner). Remove from the refrigerator and set aside to come to room temperature while the oven heats up. Bake for 30 minutes, covered, or until thawed and warmed.