Bacon, Beef and Beer Stuffed Shells are a tasty comfort food dish with cheesy beef and bacon cooked into a hearty filling for jumbo shells!
When it comes to rich and hearty comfort food, cheesy beefy shells with meat sauce are hard to beat. This new, fun and delicious recipe swaps out the traditional ricotta cheese filling for a stuffing inspired by our Bacon, Beer and Cheese Sloppy Joes. It’s meaty, cheesy, super easy and the ultimate comfort food dinner!
Bacon, beef, and Beer Stuffed Shells are a comforting dish full of flavor. The tasty meat sauce is flavored with your favorite beer then mixed with melty cheese and crispy bacon before being stuffed into jumbo pasta shells and baked. It takes about 15 minutes of prep time, then about 30 minutes to bake it until bubbling and melty, for a hearty, delicious meal in less than an hour.
Along with the rich marinara sauce, cheese, and bacon goodness, the beef mixture gets an extra hit of flavor from the beer. Cooking with beer gives the entire dish a more rich, warm, and slightly earthy flavor. You can use most kinds of dark beer for this recipe. A stout, dark lager, or dark ale will all flavor the meat mixture nicely.
Just like this beefy pasta recipe, lots of your family favorite meals are even more delicious made into stuffed pasta shells. If you love this twist, be sure to try Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Shells, Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells, and Chicken Parmesan Shells! No matter what meaty, cheesy shell dish you choose, it’s a meal in an hour that the entire family will be asking you to make over and over again.
How to Make Bacon Beef Beer Stuffed Shells
- Prep: Start by preheating the oven and bringing a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta shells to the boiling water and cook them for 2 minutes shy of al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse the shells before setting them to the side.
- Bacon: To the same pot add the strips of bacon and cook over medium heat. Once the bacon is cooked on both sides, remove them from the pan and chop the meat into small pieces. Discard all the bacon grease except one tablespoon.
- Beef: Add the ground beef, salt, pepper, and onions to the pan over medium-high heat. Break apart the meat while it cooks so that it browns well on all sides. Drain the grease, then add the cooked bacon back into the pot.
- Sauce: Add the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, beer, and beef broth to the pot. Stir while bringing the mixture to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Add 1 cup of cheese, then stir to combine.
- Bake: Place the pasta shells in a baking dish with the opening facing up. Fill shells with ground beef mixture and top them off with the remaining cheese. Pour the rest of the beef broth around the pasta and bake for 30 minutes. Allow the shells to cool slightly, but serve while the dish is still warm.
FAQs for Bacon Beef Beer Stuffed Shells
Adding beer to beef dishes imparts a subtle savory bitterness to the meat. The beer helps tenderize the beef and adds flavor, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
Absolutely! If you prefer not to use beer, you can replace it with an equal amount of beef broth or even chicken broth for a milder flavor. You can also use non-alcoholic beer without changing the overall flavor.
The issue of stuffed shells turning out watery is usually excess moisture in the filling. To avoid this, make sure that the cooked beef, bacon, and onions are drained well before filling the pasta shells. Additionally, using the right amount of sauce and cheese can help bind the filling together, preventing any unwanted wateriness.
Cheesy meaty stuffed pasta recipes like Bacon Beer and Beef Stuffed Shells go great with quick easy sides like fresh salad with an Italian Dressing and Garlic Bread. Some Roasted Broccoli or Sauteed Green Beans are a great fast, tasty veggie side without a lot of work too.
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- Jumbo Shells: The jumbo shells are a perfect vessel to hold the flavorful filling. Cook them until they are slightly underdone to prevent them from becoming mushy during baking.
- Beef: The ground beef is the bulk of the filling for these tasty shells versus the normal creamy ricotta cheese stuffed shells. It’s best to use 85/15 fat ratio so that the meat is extra moist, but it is cooked in bacon grease so you can use lean ground beef if you want to cut some fat.
- Bacon: The crispy, smoky flavor of bacon grease adds depth to the beef filling, making it irresistibly delicious. Meanwhile, the crispy bacon adds some extra texture and flavor.
- Cheese: Cheddar cheese is the perfect shredded cheese for melting in this recipe. It has a sharp flavor that pairs perfectly with the beer and bacon and melts perfectly for a gooey, cheesy filling.
- Beer: The alcohol in the beer bakes out, so this dinner is completely family-friendly. The beer infuses the sauce with a subtle bitterness that makes the meat more savory. Use a beer you like to drink that isn’t heavily flavored.
- Sauce: The beef filling is cooked in rich and robust tomato sauce full of savory ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, beef broth, and yellow onions along with the beer.
Can Bacon Beef Beer Stuffed Shells be made ahead of time?
Absolutely! The beauty of this recipe is that you can prepare the stuffed shells in advance and keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake them. Simply follow the recipe until you’ve filled the pasta shells and topped them with cheese. Then, cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to serve, bake the shells as directed in the recipe.
- Vegetables: For more texture and flavor add your favorite veggies to the filling like green onions, bell pepper, carrots, frozen spinach, or peas.
- Meat: If you want to make a slightly healthier Bacon, Beef, and Beer Stuffed Shells, you could use lean ground beef in the filling. You could also try ground chicken, or turkey, though that would change the flavor a lot more.
- Cheese: Cheddar cheese tastes absolutely amazing in this recipe, but there’s no reason you can’t add even more cheesy goodness with a second kind of cheese in the mix. Try pairing the cheddar with Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, or mozzarella cheese
- Mexican: Replace the beer with a Mexican lager, and add a blend of chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika to the beef mixture. Top with a dollop of sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro before serving.
- BBQ: Instead of the tomato-based sauce, use your favorite BBQ Sauce for the filling. The smoky and tangy notes will complement the bacon and beef beautifully. Top with crunchy fried onions!
- Italian-Inspired: Add some Italian sausage to the beef mixture and swap the beer with red wine for a robust Italian twist. Top with a blend of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese for a classic finish.
How to Store
- Store: After cooking the Bacon, Beef, and Beer Stuffed Shells, don’t leave them at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Seal any leftovers in an airtight container or carefully wrap them in plastic wrap to store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Reheat: To reheat the stuffed shells, place them in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
- Freeze: If you want to freeze the baked stuffed shells for future meals, wrap the dish securely in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Store in the freezer for up to 2-3 months and reheat from frozen covered in foil until hot.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook pasta two minutes shy of the instructions, then drain and rinse.
- To the pasta pot add the bacon, cook and chop.
- Discard all but one tablespoon of bacon grease.
- Add ground beef, salt, pepper, and onions on medium-high heat and cook, breaking apart, until well browned.
- Drain grease, add bacon back into the pot.
- Add in the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, beer, and beef broth.
- Stir well and bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat.
- Add 1 cup of cheese to the pot, stir gently, then scoop the beef into the pasta shells.
- Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese.
- Pour remaining beef broth around the shells.
- Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.