Ricotta Stuffed Shells with an easy homemade marinara sauce and garlicky three cheese ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan filling in 30 minutes.
Stuffed shells are a family favorite, and these are popular because they’re like 30 minute cheesy lasagna without all the extra effort! You can mix up different flavors, too, like Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Shells, Cheesy Taco Stuffed Shells, and Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed Shells.
Ricotta Stuffed Shells are a comforting, baked pasta dish with all your favorite classic Italian flavors like garlic, cheese, and marinara sauce. Because the shells naturally create individual servings, it’s perfect for a large group or party, too!
Why stuffed shells? They’re a total breeze to make and freeze into individual servings, or to take for lunch or to serve to kids. Little ones eat 1 shell usually while the adults do 2-3 shells each and you can just serve it up with an easy Italian salad made with Olive Garden Italian Salad Dressing (Copycat).
The trick to making the stuffed shells is in not overcooking the pasta. When you boil it at first you can cook it for 1-2 minutes shy of the instructions because you are going to be baking it for almost 30 minutes in the oven. If you are worried about the pasta drying out, you can even add a ½ cup of water to the marinara sauce to give the pasta more moisture to soak up.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The classic name for stuffed shells is conchiglie which is comes from conchiglia which is the Italian word for shells. You might even hear a kid call them “conch noodles” which is a fun nickname!
The stuffed shells can be made 1-2 days ahead of baking in the refrigerator, but do not cover it with the pasta sauce until just before baking as the noodles will soak up excess moisture and the texture of the pasta will be different.
Yes, you can freeze the stuffed shells at the step before baking. When you’re ready to bake them, you can place the frozen pieces onto a baking pan, cover with the tomato sauce and bake for 5-10 more minutes than directed in the instructions.
To make Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells, add one 10oz package of frozen spinach, well drained, to the cheese mixture before stuffing. You can also add sautéed mushrooms, crumbled cooked Italian sausage, or red pepper flakes for a kick. Try garnishing with fresh chopped basil.
How to Store Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Serve: Ricotta Stuffed Shells can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours before they should be refrigerated.
- Store: Sealed in an airtight container, Stuffed Shells will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees, adding a little marinara sauce if needed.
- Freeze: Freeze Ricotta Stuffed Shells in an airtight container, or a tightly covered baking dish, for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating in the oven.
- 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells , dried
- 2 large eggs , beaten
- 32 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 8 ounces shredded parmesan cheese , divided
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 3 cups marinara sauce , about 28 ounces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Add the shells and cook for 1 minute shy of the directions on the box.
- To a large bowl add the eggs, ricotta, garlic the mozzarella and half the parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Mix the ingredients well.
- Spoon the mixture into the shells and put them in a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Top with marinara sauce and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.
Photos used in a previous version of this post.
Baking now — ran out of filling used 3 cups of ricotta – used my homemade sauce — turned out good ??
Definitely a solid recipe, this is my second time making it. My reason for the 4 star rating is that the suggested cook time is not appropriate. I found 50 minutes at 350F to be appropriate. Overall, solid recipe. Thank you for sharing.
Dear Miss Sabrina,
I see the recipe calls for 3 cups marinara, However I am having a slight issue, this makes 40 shells approximately from a 12oz box for me stuffing fits well about 2Tbsp per shell. But a 24 oz jar of Marinara does not cover them well and I have to split them between 2 9 by 1e glass casseroles. So this time I used a 1/8c per shell to sauce the tops then mixed em up to cover all the shells throughly bu hand when I realized they would probably get crunchy, do you recommend covering them with foil? Ir just adding some more sauce? Thankyou very much for your time and effort!!
Yes, you can either cover with foil or add more marinara. I hope you enjoy it.
Almost followed recipe, added one more quart of sauce, I like it cooked down and thick. Love the stuffing, being a man tryin gto make stuffed shells must look comical to my wife. I am Irish, she is the Italian…love the recipe, it’s cooking now…
Followed recipe completely! It turned out beautifully, My casserole dish was smaller than a 9×13 so I had extra filling which I just re I poured the Mariana sauce over it. No leftovers, Great recipe!
Thanks for coming back to let me know, Penny. I appreciate the 5 star rating!
Love the recipe, a family favorite. We make the sauce with a couple of italian sausage links and then put them in the pan during baking.
You mentioned that the shells can be frozen right before the baking step. Can I add the marinara sauce before freezing; or, will it be soaked up by the shells making them to soft?
I’d wouldn’t freeze the sauce with it. I like pouring fresh sauce over the frozen shells before getting it into the oven.
It made plenty for my big family. Ended up filling two 9×9 pans and a small casserole dish. I had to run to dg and grab another marinara sauce and used the whole thing. I had about a fourth of the cheese left over after stuffing but after reading some comments learned it would have been great on my toast.
I really enjoyed making the stuffed riccato shells.and so easy and delicious. The 2nd time I made it I added browned ground beef, it was also fabulous.
So glad you enjoyed it!
Homemade ricotta solves the “watery” situation. And not hard to make. Just hard to not use it up before making the shells by slathering it on bread! Great recipe.
Thanks for the suggestion!
Just tried this last night — it was the first time I made stuffed shells. I was generous with the garlic and mixed in some extra mozz to tone down the texture of the ricotta which my fiance dislikes and he ended up loving it!
One additional thing I did that my family loved was I took the shells out after 25 mins, turned my oven to a low broil and put some mozzarella on top for browning — made it look extra scrumptious!
Sounds perfect, Jackee! Thanks for the 5 star rating.
Yum! Easy recipe to follow. Family loved it!
Thanks for coming back to let me know how much you all enjoyed it, Wendy.
This link was E-mailed to me by a coworker, so I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks good. My wife is allergic to gluten and eggs, so I’ll try to find gluten-free shells. Any suggestion on egg substitution? What happens if I just omit them? My daughter doesn’t like gluten-free pasta, so I’ll have to cook two dishes, one regular and one gluten-free.
You can just leave the eggs out and add another cup of mozzarella cheese. The egg just acts as a binder but you should be fine leaving it out. Good luck!
Absolutely delicious!!! Easy to find ingredients and clear instructions. I found I had to gently keep shells moving so they wouldn’t stick to pan bottom while boiling. Don’t skimp on sauce-I did as jar was 24 oz. Also, read somewhere recently to simmer garlic briefly to remove bitterness. Worked well. Great recipe for sure fire results!!!
It was not only easy, it looks great served and is delicious. An additional bonus is that it can be prepared a day or two ahead.
So glad you enjoyed it, Julie. I appreciate the 5 stars.
This recipe rocks! The only change I make is that I add sausage to the sauce! This is a crowd pleaser!!
So my daughter and I just made this. So delicious. It is nice to share the cooking experience with her and this recipe was the perfect dish for us to cook together.
How wonderful! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know.
I cooked this per recipe direction but the cheese was unmelted and, even with an extra 5 minutes, the dish was not warm. I was worried about overcooking the dish, so I didn’t second guess the recipe, but with the raw egg issue, I’m now nervous we could feel sick. I have seen other recipes that recommend cooking for AN HOUR. in retrospect, I would cook it for an hour as it was hardly warm and contains raw egg.
oh no! Sounds like maybe your oven was not reaching the right temp to cook it? I’m sorry that happened but yes, if you make it again feel free to cook longer. You can also always add sauce to keep it from drying out if you do. Hope this helps!
Mine was not hust warm at 350 F I do not live at a high altitude, I’m told that makes a difference. However if u let them sit like 10min they cool down very quickly!! I also put my cheese mix in the fridge while I let the shells cool to be able to handle them better. So 15min maybe. Seeing the date I’m sure you got it figured out by now, much love
Going to try this recipe today! When I made stuffed shells in the past, I think I either under or over cooked the shells.
Made this dish for dinner and it was great! I used manicotti instead of regular shells but came out great – the cheese stuffing has a nice flavor.
So glad you enjoyed it!
This is awesome recipe!!! Thanks for sharing. Only issue i had was seemed like a lot of liquid when i took it out of the oven. There was no extra water used, only thing i can figure was the marinara i used seperated. But even a lil watery everyone loved it
So glad you enjoyed it even though that happened.
My husband has made this recipe several times…absolutely delicious!
I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
So yummy! Both of my kids loved them! (Ages 5 and 18 mos). I sprinkled more mozzarella on top a few minutes before they were done to make extra cheesy! SO GOOD!
I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!
Just made these. My family thought they were awesome! Will use this recipe again! I’m one to change a recipe to my taste. I didn’t change a thing in this recipe. Thanks for the recipe!!!
Thanks for much for the 5 stars, Debra! So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
How many shells does this recipe
About 30-35 shells. I hope you enjoy it!
I didn’t use quite as much garlic as the recipe called for and added a cup of cottage cheese to the mixture. I shredded fresh parmesan on top prior to baking and the rest of mozzarella 5 minutes before taking it out of the oven. Letting it rest for about 5 minutes prior to serving.
Thanks for the 5 star rating, Donna! I really appreciate it!
So inviting …..
Such a great family dinner! Everyone would love these!
I love this dinner idea for busy weeknights! Yummy!
Stuffed shells are the best! I have to make these for dinner!
They really are a family favorite! Enjoy!
Great easy to follow
Will add some sausage the next time since others say it adds a little pep
where’s the garlic?
Thanks for catching that! I just edited to read correctly now. Should ready 2 cloves garlic, minced.
I haven’t had stuffed shells with cheese in a long time. Your recipe sounds perfect and your shells look incredible!
These look really good! Would love to try it this weekend!
I hope you enjoy it!
Where or when do you add the second half of the mozzarella cheese?
Sorry about that. I’ve edited to read correctly. I decided last minute not to add any to the top. Thanks for catching that!
YUM!!! Can’t wait to try these!