This stuffed pasta shells recipe with meat is a hearty and delicious meal that is sure to make everyone excited to gather around your dinner table. This simple and easy to follow recipe uses savory ground Italian sausage, creamy ricotta cheese, rich marinara and herbs–-all stuffed inside large jumbo pasta shells and baked to cheesy perfection.
What are stuffed pasta shells with meat?
Stuffed pasta shells with meat is one of those pasta dishes made of large pasta shells, stuffed with a creamy mixture of ricotta and mozzarella cheese and herbs. The stuffed shells are then topped with rich sauce and crumbled ground Italian sausage and of course, extra cheese! It is such an easy recipe, that I think you will find it one of your go tos soon enough!
Why you’ll love stuffed pasta shells with meat
- Stuffed pasta shells with meat is a fast and fail-proof recipe. With simple ingredients, basic steps, this flavorful meal can be one of your easy weeknight dinners that can be on your table in an hour.
- Stuffed pasta shells with meat is versatile! You can adapt the ingredients to suit your tastes, use what you have available in your pantry, and even make this into an easy vegetarian option if you want!
- This stuffed pasta shells with meat makes a generous portion with 12 servings. You will not need to double your recipe to feed a large family or growing teens. And, if you are feeding a smaller group, there will be leftovers for a delectable lunch or fast re-heated for dinner tomorrow night!
- Stuffed pasta shells with meat is the perfect weekly meal prep recipe for the busy mom. You can easily assemble the stuffed pasta shells ahead of time and either refrigerate prior to baking or freeze until you are ready to bake.
- This is a crowd pleaser–from feeding hungry kiddos to entertaining for at a dinner party, stuffed pasta shells with meat hits all the right notes. It is a family favorite around here!
- Stuffed pasta shells with meat is also a fun meal to let those little chefs in your home participate in. The oversized pasta is easy for small hands to hold, fill and place in the baking dish. Let them add the final sprinkles of extra cheese and get excited about tasting their creation!
Tell Me About This Stuffed Pasta Shells With Meat
Stuffed Pasta Shells with meat is the ideal comfort food that provides the perfect hearty meal. The soft shells filled with creamy different types of cheese blend, topped with red sauce and wholesome ground sausage, will remind you of home.
Perhaps the best part of the entire dish is the layer of perfectly bubbly and browned mozzarella to top it off. Easy ingredients, fast prep, and guaranteed to please your pickiest eater.
How long does it take to prepare Stuffed Pasta Shells With Meat?
Stuffed pasta shells with meat can go from pantry to plate in less than an hour. In terms of time and taste, this recipe is likely to become a staple on your weekly menu. Life is busy so this meal is a great recipe that provides mouth-watering nourishment without hours of kitchen time.
Can this Recipe be Made Ahead?
Stuffed Pasta Shells with Meat is a cinch to throw together in advance.
You can make the entire dish ahead of time and then refrigerate until you are ready to bake. You can also wrap the baking dish in foil or air tight plastic wrap, then freeze for a later.
Tips and Tricks for Making Stuffed Pasta Shells with Meat
- Save time by making boiling the jumbo shells early in your day and whipping up the cheese mixture when you have a spare five minute window. This is basically the nuts and bolds of your whole dish!
- You can brown your ground meat of choice the day before or morning of your dinner. This will cut down on the total time it takes to serve your family a tasty and nourishing meal.
- You can easily use Italian sausage, but have used a ground beef filling as well. The hearty meat sauce is the perfect addition to the shells and cheese.
What Dishes go well with this Recipe?
Stuffed Pasta Shells with Meat is a well-rounded meal on its own accord so no need to spend extra energy making hefty sides. You could add a warm loaf of bread, store-bought garlic rolls with butter, or pair it with my Yeast French Bread Recipe.
A simple salad of fresh greens or a caesar salad and your favorite vinaigrette dressing would give you a complete meal!
If you are aiming to serve a larger group of people and need additional sides, roasted vegetables like zucchini, asparagus and cauliflower would be the perfect companion to this stuffed pasta shells with meat dish.
Ingredients for this Stuffed Pasta Shells with Meat
- Jumbo Shells: Go big or go home, friends! Buy the jumbo shells so you have ample room for the filling. Boil the entire box of shells, which may leave you with some extras, just in case a few tear or rip while cooking. You can easily find these at your local grocery store.
- Ricotta Cheese: this creamy ricotta filling will give you the perfect creamy texture for this easy stuffed shells recipe
- Shredded Mozzarella: this cheese will be divided evenly between the filling for the shells and sprinkled on top for that extra melty cheese topping
- Eggs: Don’t skip the eggs! They’re basic but important because this will allow your filling to stick together nicely
- Garlic powder
- Spaghetti sauce: Store-bought or homemade work well so just add your preferred sauce
- Fresh Spinach: Stick to fresh greens here and chop finely so it cooks down well and blends into the your cheese filling.
- Ground Italian Sausage: The sausage is going to deliver the savory and hearty punch to this meal. You can choose mild or spicy based on your personal preference.
- Fresh Parsley (optional) –you can sprinkle some fresh parsley on top as a beautiful garnish
How to make the Stuffed Pasta Shells with Meat
Making this classic recipe is so fast and easy! First, you simply brown your Italian sausage until crumbly and set aside, draining any excess fat for best results. Then, you will boil your jumbo shells until they are soft but pliable so they can be filled without falling apart.
As the jumbo shells are cool down a bit, in a large mixing bowl, create your cheese filling by combining the ricotta, eggs, half of your mozzarella and your seasonings or fresh herbs. Finely chop the spinach and add to the cheese mixture.
Using a 9×13 baking dish, cover the bottom of the dish with half the jar of sauce. Take your jumbo shells and carefully spoon the cheese mixture into them. Place them open side up in the baking dish, layer the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle the crumbled sausage and remaining mozzarella over the top of the sauce.
Cover the pan with foil and bake!
What Can I use for Ingredient Substitutes or Extra Add-Ons?
- Substitute any ground meat or your choice if you don’t have ground sausage. You may want to throw in some Italian seasoning to your meat mixture as you brown it.
- This meal is easy to turn into a vegetarian option. Skip the meat and if you want to add another ingredient in its place you can easily do so! Sometimes we like to top with chopped mushrooms before baking!
- Pesto is a game changer if you want to add an extra punch of flavor to this dish! Using jarred pesto, you can add a few dollops over the shells prior to topping off with sausage and cheese for baking.
You are going to love this stuffed pasta shells with meat! Feedback is awesome so feel free to rate this recipe or drop a comment so I can know what you loved about it, and what little tweaks you decided to make for your family!
Stuffed Pasta Shells Recipe with Meat
- 1 Package jumbo shells (16 oz)
- 4 cups Cups Ricotta Cheese (around 48 oz)
- 2 cups Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese divided in half
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 45 oz Jar Spaghetti Sauce
- 2 cups Cups Fresh Spinach chopped finely
- 1 lb Ground Italian Sausage
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a large skillet, brown the ground sausauge until it is brown and crumbly. Remove from heat and drain any excess fat.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add in the jumbo shells and cook until they’re relatively soft. You want them to be pliable, but not too soft that they fall apart when stuffing them. Once they’re done cooking, remove from the boiling water and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, half the mozzarella cheese, eggs, garlic powder, and oregano. Stir until combined.
- Chop the spinach into fine pieces, stir into the cheese mixture.
- In the 9×13 pan, spread half of the spaghetti sauce.
- With a large spoon, carefully spoon the cheese mixture into each jumbo shell. Place the shells open side up and close together in the 9×13 pan. Sometimes I run out of room when filling the 9×13 dish. You can always start another pan OR freeze the extra stuffed shells for later.
- Layer the rest of the spaghetti sauce over the top of the stuffed shells.
- Sprinkle the browned sausage over the top of the whole dish.
- Add the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top of the entire dish.
- Cover the 9X13 pan with aluminum foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. You will want the cheese to be bubbly. Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. This will thicken everything up and make the tastiest dinner!