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20 Minute Cheesy Beef and Shells Recipe


20 Minute Cheesy Beef and Shells Recipe

This cheesy beef and shells recipe is so simple to make with just a few ingredients straight out of your pantry, plus it all comes together in 20 minutes. Comforting, cheesy dinner that the whole family will love!

One of my favorite shell pasta is this chicken broccoli garlic alfredo shells and this three cheese stuff pasta shells recipe. They both have a rich, thick sauce that is SO amazing and comes together quickly for a delicious family meal!

Cheesy beef and shells in a skillet with a ladle stirring them up.

20 Minute Cheesy Beef and Shells

Our family loves all things pasta. It is simple, delicious and everyone approves! With this pantry style meal you will have a complete meal in no time. I say pantry style because this truly is all pantry ingredients and ready to go for you. 20 minutes all pasta, brown beef and cheese is all cooked and stirred together ready for your family. It is one of my kids all time favorite dinners and I love it just as much because it is little, to no effort making it!

The ultimate cheesy beef and shells recipe is going to be one you will add to your weekly menu plan. This is picture perfect for a quick meal on a busy night or just a comforting meal after spending long hours doing it all around the home or at work. Gather around the table and be comforted with this cheesy beef and shells recipe that will sure please the whole family!

Ingredients for Cheesy Beef and Shells:

Simple ingredients right from your pantry! Cook up the meat, pasta and combine adding in all the delicious cheese and seasonings. You will love this pasta dish in no time!

  • Medium Sized Shells: Our family loves shells. It soaks up all the sauce and even stores it inside the shell.
  • Olive Oil: Cooking the ground beef in
  • Onion and Garlic Cloves: Adds flavoring to the meat while it is being sautéed.
  • Ground Beef: Lean beef is what I prefer but what you have on hand will work well. Cook until it is tender and brown.
  • Flour: This will create a thickener for the sauce.
  • Italian Seasoning: Bring in some Italian flavoring that is simple and already mixed together.
  • Salt and Pepper: to taste
  • Beef Broth: Adds flavoring as well as liquid while cooking together.
  • Tomato Sauce: Any type of sauce works even flavored tomato sauce is delicious!
  • Cream Cheese: Melt into the skillet for a rich and creamy sauce.
  • Cheddar Cheese: It is best to shred your own cheese since pre shredded cheese has added flour.

How to Make a 20 Minute Family Meal:

It doesn’t take long to create a family meal everyone will love. It is a simple dinner that is over the top delicious!

  1. Cook the Pasta: In a large pot, cook the shells according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
  2. Brown the Meat: In a large skillet over medium high heat add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes until almost tender and add the ground beef. Cook and crumble the ground beef until brown.
  3. Create a Thickener: Add the flour, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and mix. Slowly stir in beef broth and tomato sauce. Let simmer until it starts to thicken.
  4. Combine Together: Add in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese.  Let the cheese melt and stir until heated throughout.

The Recipe Critic Pro Tip:

To prevent the pasta from becoming soggy by the end, cook the pasta al dente. That way when combined with more ingredients it will continue to cook and soften without becoming soggy or mushy.

The process of browning beef then adding in seasoning, pasta, cream cheese and cheese.

The Recipe Critic Tips:

Make this easier with my tips to help make this 20 minute meal even better!

  • Cooking Pasta: It is best to add in salt to the water to keep the pasta from sticking together when you drain it.
  • Pasta: Cook your pasta al dente which is slightly under being cooked. Th pasta will continue to cook as it is being sautéed in the skillet with the remaining ingredients. This will keep it from becoming soggy and mushy at the end.
  • Ground Beef: Once the ground beef is cooked through, I recommend draining the grease after it is cooking. If you are using a leaner beef you may not have to drain it.
  • Grating Cheese: It does take a little longer but I recommend using freshly grated cheddar cheese. This will help melt faster and in your favor.
  • Cream Cheese: To speed up the process, let your cream cheese soften at room temperature before adding it to the sauce.


Try this cheesy beef and pasta shells your way or even a little healthier with different variations.

  • Pasta: Bowtie, elbow macaroni, rotini or penne pasta are also great choices.
  • Meat: Chicken or turkey are delicious substitutions.
  • Sauce: Pick and choose your favorite tomato sauce to add in.
  • Seasoning: Add some spice with red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
  • Stock: Make this pasta dish a little healthier with unsalted or low sodium stock or broth. Vegetable stock also works for a vegetarian style pasta meal.
  • Cheese: Create a Mexican style variation with Mexican blend cheese or use Colby jack cheese for a different flavoring.
  • Add Ins: Vegetables like zucchini, carrots, bell peppers and even onions make this a little more flavorful and healthy.

Cheesy beef and shells in a skillet cooked together.

How to Store Beef and Shells Dinner:

  • Refrigerate: After cooking, let it cool completely. Once cooled add the pasta dinner to an airtight container or ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days long. For best results reheat on the stove top or in the microwave.
  • Can you Freeze Pasta? Yes! This will freeze well in an airtight ziplock bag. When you are ready to reheat, thaw the bag completely. Warm up on the stove top or in the microwave gently stirring until it is warm. This will last in the freezer for about 1 to 3 months long.

Cheesy beef and shells in a bowl.

More Comforting Pasta Dishes:

20 Minute Cheesy Beef and Shells

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 20 minutes

Author Alyssa Rivers

Servings 8 People

This cheesy beef and shells recipe is so simple to make with just a few ingredients straight out of your pantry, plus it all comes together in 20 minutes. Comforting, cheesy dinner that the whole family will love! 

  • 8 ounce Medium Sized Shells
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 small Onion diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 pound Lean Ground Beef
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 1 15 ounce can Tomato Sauce
  • 4 ounce Cream Cheese cubed
  • 2 cups Cheddar Cheese shredded

Nutrition Facts

20 Minute Cheesy Beef and Shells

Amount Per Serving

Calories 382 Calories from Fat 171

% Daily Value*

Fat 19g29%

Saturated Fat 10g50%

Cholesterol 80mg27%

Sodium 630mg26%

Potassium 364mg10%

Carbohydrates 26g9%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 2g2%

Protein 25g50%

Vitamin A 484IU10%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Calcium 246mg25%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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