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Three Cheese Stuffed Shells Recipe

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Three Cheese Stuffed Shells Recipe



Three Cheese Stuffed Shells are a delicious twist on lasagna using jumbo shells that are stuffed with the classic lasagna cheese blend with Italian seasoning all baked in spaghetti sauce for a classic Italian dish. A tried and true family favorite dinner!  
Shell pasta is always a favorite at our house. If you love Italian as much as I do try these shell dinners are sure to please your family: Chicken Broccoli Garlic Alfredo Shells, Cheesy Chicken, Asparagus, Bacon and Mushroom Shells or Three Cheese Mexican Shells.
Three cheese stuffed shells on a plate.

Three Cheese Stuffed Shells Recipe

You really can’t go wrong with a good lasagna. Rich red sauce, creamy white sauce, and lots of cheese all layered between pasta noodles… It’s heavenly! But when I feel like something EXTRA cheesy, I make these stuffed shells! They have the same basic principle as lasagna, but with a triple dose of cheese and stuffed inside a cute pasta shell. I like my food cute… and cheesy.

What you need to make Stuffed Shells:

Before you bake the shells, add more red sauce on top and extra cheese. You can never have enough cheese! After about 40 minutes in the oven, you will have an incredible Italian dinner that is sure to be a big hit! I like to serve these with a nice salad and garlic bread, and they make a beautiful presentation for guests too!

  • Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Basil
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Egg
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Spaghetti Sauce 
The process of making three cheese stuffed shells.

How to make Cheese Stuffed Shells:

And this recipe really couldn’t be any simpler to make: Boil the pasta shells until just shy of al dente (I did 9 minutes). Mix together all the yummy cheeses along with some seasoning, fresh basil for color and extra flavor, and an egg to bind it all together. Then spread your favorite red sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, stuff your shells with the cheese mixture, and add them to the dish. I usually take a shortcut and use a good pasta sauce from the grocery store, but feel free to use your favorite homemade recipe too! I have a spaghetti sauce recipe with Italian sausage that is out of this world!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta shells according to package directions for al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, parmesan, basil, Italian seasoning, egg, salt and pepper. Spread 3/4 of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish.
  3. Spoon the cheese mixture into the pasta shells and place in the baking dish. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over shells and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5-10 minutes more.

Variations when making Cheese Stuffed Shells:

  • Veggies: Add any kind of veggies you’d like from steamed broccoli to chopped peppers or even sauteed mushrooms.
  • Meat: Hot or sweet Italian sausage, ground beef or soy crumbles can be added to the cheese mixture or to the sauce. If you do decide to use meat, be sure to pre-cook and cool before adding to the cheese.
  • Cheese: These stuffed shells are made with cottage cheese for more flavor. But if you like a milder and sweeter taste, then use ricotta instead. Either one works well in this recipe.

Tips for making Cheese Stuffed Shell Recipe:

Just look at all that cheesy goodness stuffed inside! This is one recipe you’ll want to make again and again!

  • Place the cheese mixture in a ziplock bag and cut the end, squeezing it like a pipe bag to fill each of the shells.
  • Boil shells only to al dente (or even a little less). If you overcook them, they will fall apart when you try to stuff them.
  • Use a piping bag or a large Ziploc bag with the tip cut off to fill your shells — this will get it done so quickly and with much less mess!
  • Choose ingredients you like. If you don’t like basil, don’t add basil in. If you don’t like Ricotta, try cream cheese or cottage cheese!
  • Select a bottle of marinara with great taste and simple ingredients or better yet, make homemade Marinara Sauce.
  • For a heartier meal, swap out marinara and make stuffed shells with meat sauce.
  • Double the recipe and make a second batch to freeze for later.
  • You can use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef if you prefer.
  • The sauce is a mixture of mild salsa and taco sauce. You can also use enchilada sauce or a spicy salsa for a different flavor take.
  • These shells can be assembled up to 8 hours before you plan to bake them. Simply cover the pan and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to heat them up. You will have to increase the bake time accordingly.
  • You can use your favorite kind of cheese for these stuffed shells. I used a combination of cheddar and Monterey jack, but other great choices are pepper jack or colby jack.
Three cheese stuffed shells baked in a pan with a spoon.

What to Serve with Stuffed Shell Recipe:

  • Stuffed shells taste great with bread warm from the oven. Serve them with buttery garlic bread or parmesan breadsticks. A crisp green salad with a zesty homemade vinaigrette is always welcome with any cheesy Italian dish like this.

How to Store Three Cheese Stuffed Shells:

The best part about this recipe is you can prep them ahead of time! Stuffing the shells does take a bit of time, so I get that out of the way when I have company coming over or I need quick weeknight freezer meals. Make the recipe as directed (but don’t bake them yet) and store in the refrigerator overnight. Then take them out about a half hour before baking, and you have an easy meal ready to go! If you’re looking to prep some freezer meals, do the same thing but put them in disposable foil pans so you can easily store the shells in the freezer until you need them.

  • Can you freeze stuffed shell recipe? if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd, place half the batch in a freezer safe container before you cook them and store in freezer. When ready to eat, pull them out to thaw before cooking. You may need to cook an additional 20 minutes as well
  • To freeze for a later meal, cool and carefully transfer each shell into a foil pan. Pour the sauce on top, cover and freeze. Stuffed shells will keep for up to four months in the freezer or four days in the refrigerator.

More Delicious and Comforting Pasta Meals:

Three cheese stuffed shells baked in a pan.

Three Cheese Stuffed Shells Recipe

Three Cheese Stuffed Shells are a delicious twist on lasagna using jumbo shells that are stuffed with the classic lasagna cheese blend with Italian seasoning all baked in spaghetti sauce for a classic Italian dish. A tried and true family favorite dinner!  

  • 20 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 – 26 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta shells according to package directions for al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, parmesan, basil, Italian seasoning, egg, salt and pepper. Spread 3/4 of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish.
  3. Spoon the cheese mixture into the pasta shells and place in the baking dish. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over shells and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5-10 minutes more.

Updated on January 24, 2020

Original Post on August 21, 2013



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