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.