These Stuffed Shells are packed with cheese and kid-approved! This quick weeknight dinner is easy, cheesy perfection!
I’m a big fan of easy dinners…especially ones that involve pasta…and cheese…and more cheese. Did I mention cheese? Seriously, these stuffed shells are going to be a hit at the dinner table. So cheesy, so easy, and so yummy!
Pasta, a simple cheese filling, and store-bought tomato sauce make the BEST stuffed shells.
- Jumbo Pasta Shells – the perfect vessel for a creamy filling and bright tomato sauce.
- Cottage Cheese – ricotta cheese may be more traditional, but I love the flavor and health benefits that cottage cheese provides.
- Mozzarella Cheese – the classic stringy cheese with creamy flavor. YUM.
- Parmesan Cheese – adds a delicious, nutty and salty flavor to the filling.
- Italian Seasoning, Dried Basil, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder – my go to blend of spices for all my Italian inspired dishes.
- Salt and Pepper – enhances flavors.
- Eggs – bind the filling together.
- Pasta Sauce – I use store-bought to save time, but feel free to make your own!
How to make
This semi-homemade recipe couldn’t be easier or more delicious. Store-bought pasta shells stuffed with a homemade cottage cheese filling, then doused in jarred pasta sauce.
- Place cottage cheese, half of the mozzarella, half of the parmesan, eggs, and the seasonings in a food processor and combine.
- Pour half the sauce into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Stuff cooked shells with your cheese mixture and place in baking dish.
- Cover the shells with the remaining sauce and cheese.
- Bake then serve and enjoy!
How long to bake
Bake the stuffed shells for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. You’ll know the shells are done when they have set slightly and the edges are bubbly.
Do you cook the pasta before baking?
Yes! The shells should be boiled according to package directions before you stuff, assemble, and bake them.
- Cook extra shells. It’s great to have a few extra just in case some rip when you’re stuffing them.
- Boil pasta al dente. The pasta will continue to cook when you bake the shells so it’s better that they’re slightly underdone to start.
- Coat the shells in olive oil. After you’ve boiled the pasta to al dente, gently toss them in olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
- Use a food processor. This really helps distribute the seasonings through the cheese mixture and makes it extra creamy.
- Use store-bought marinara. You can make homemade sauce but I love the convenience of using my favorite store-bought kind!
- Place shells seam-side up. You don’t want the stuffing oozing out when they bake.
These stuffed shells are filling and delicious as they are, but feel free to add in some meat or veggies to fill them out more!
- Add veggies. Add mushrooms, squash, or greens. If you’re adding veggies, cook them until tender, then stir into the filling mixture.
- Try it with meat. Add ground beef, Italian sausage, ground turkey, or chicken. If using meat, stir this into the the pasta sauce.
- Substitute cheeses. Not a fan of cottage cheese? Use ricotta cheese instead. Don’t have parmesan? Try asiago! Adjust cheeses based on your tastes!
What to serve with stuffed shells
I love to serve my stuffed shells with some garlic bread and a simple green salad, but here are some other yummy side dishes to go with this easy vegetarian dinner!
- Easy Roasted Vegetables
- Pear, Blue Cheese, Candied Pecan Salad
- Roasted Green Beans
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Can stuffed shells be made ahead of time?
Yes! Fully assemble the shells according to the directions, but don’t bake them. Cover and store them in the fridge for 2 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
When you’re ready to bake, let them thaw in the fridge overnight (if frozen) and bake as directed. Add additional cook time as needed.
How to store
Store the baked shells in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or freezer for up to one month.
Reheat (thawed shells, if frozen) in the oven or microwave until warm. Add additional pasta sauce or water if the shells seem dry.
Equipment for this recipe
- 28 jumbo pasta shells cooked al dente according to package directions (I made the whole box, in case some ripped.)
- 1 (24 oz) container cottage cheese drained
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided; 1 cup each
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese divided; 1/2 cup each
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (24 oz) jar pasta sauce plus more for serving, if desired
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place cottage cheese, 1/2 of the mozzarella, 1/2 of the parmesan, Italian seasoning, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and eggs into a food processor.
- Process until combined. It's okay if it's still a little chunky. Set aside.
- Pour half the sauce into the bottom of prepared pan.
- Stuff cooked shells with the cheese mixture (spoon it in or pipe using a ziplock baggie), then place them in prepared baking dish.
- Pour on remaining sauce then top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until edges are bubbly and shells are slightly set.
- Serve and enjoy!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.