Delicious Stuffed Shells Recipe with Ricotta Cheese

Get ready to delight your taste buds with our mouthwatering stuffed shells recipe with ricotta cheese. This classic Italian dish combines jumbo pasta shells filled with a rich and creamy mixture of ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, spinach, and flavorful seasonings. Loved by both kids and adults alike, this recipe is a surefire crowd-pleaser that will have everyone coming back for seconds.

Key Ingredients and Why They Matter

Jumbo Pasta Shells

Jumbo pasta shells are ideal for this recipe. They provide ample space for the filling and hold their shape well during baking. Look for brands known for their quality and consistency, ensuring the shells cook evenly without becoming mushy.

Ricotta Cheese

The star of the filling! Whole-milk ricotta offers the richest flavor and creamiest texture. However, part-skim ricotta can be used for a lighter option. Avoid pre-shredded varieties, as they tend to be drier and less smooth.

Parmesan Cheese

Freshly grated Parmesan adds a salty and nutty complexity to the filling, complementing the ricotta’s creaminess.

Spinach (Optional)

Chopped fresh spinach adds a vibrant pop of color, nutrients, and a subtle earthy flavor. Frozen thawed spinach, squeezed dry, can also be used.

Marinara Sauce

Choose your favorite jarred marinara sauce or a homemade version. Select a flavor profile you enjoy, considering options with varying acidity, sweetness, or spiciness.


Simple seasonings like salt, pepper, and garlic powder enhance the overall flavor profile of the filling.

These key ingredients come together to create a mouthwatering dish that is sure to please your taste buds and impress your guests.

Why This Recipe is a Crowd-Pleaser

This stuffed shells recipe with ricotta cheese is beloved for its comforting and indulgent qualities. It’s a dish that appeals to a wide range of palates and occasions, whether you’re hosting a casual family dinner or entertaining guests for a special gathering. The combination of creamy cheese filling, savory marinara sauce, and perfectly cooked pasta shells creates a harmonious medley of flavors and textures that is simply irresistible. Plus, it’s easy to prepare in advance, making it a convenient option for busy weeknights. Get ready to impress your loved ones with this delectable dish that never fails to satisfy!

Making Stuffed Shells with Ricotta Cheese


  • 1 (12-ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese (whole-milk or part-skim)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach (or 1 cup frozen, thawed and squeezed dry) 
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • (28-ounce) jar your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). This ensures the filling cooks through and the cheese melts beautifully without burning.
  2. Cook the pasta shells according to package directions. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook until al dente, meaning slightly firm to the bite. Drain the shells and drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Sauté the vegetables (Optional). When using fresh spinach, heat olive oil on medium in a large skillet. Cook the chopped onion for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add minced garlic and cook another minute. Cook chopped spinach for 1 minute until wilted. Stop cooking and cool. Avoid this step if you are not using spinach.
  4. Prepare the ricotta cheese filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, chopped spinach (if using), beaten egg, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Using a fork or spatula, mix until well combined and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. Assemble the stuffed shells. Spoon the ricotta cheese mixture into the cooked pasta shells, filling them generously without overpacking. A small spoon or piping bag can be helpful for easier filling. Arrange the filled shells in a single layer in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.
  6. Cover with sauce and cheese. Pour the marinara sauce over the stuffed shells, ensuring they are evenly coated. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the top of the dish.
  7. Bake and serve. Bake the stuffed shells for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the sauce is heated through. Let the dish cool slightly before serving for easier handling and to prevent burns.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Stuffed Shells

  • Don’t overcook the pasta shells. Aim for al dente, which means slightly firm to the bite. Overcooked shells become mushy and can burst during baking, compromising the structure of the dish.
  • Let the filling cool slightly. Before assembling the shells, allow the ricotta cheese mixture to cool for a few minutes after mixing. This prevents the hot filling from cooking the egg prematurely, resulting in a runny interior.
  • Reserve some pasta water. A good tip is to reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water before draining the shells. This starchy water can be used to thin out the tomato sauce if it seems too thick or adjust the consistency of the filling if needed.
  • Leftovers and storage. Stuffed shells can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat them in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through.

Serving Suggestions

  • Garnish with fresh herbs: A sprinkle of fresh basil or parsley adds a pop of color and a bright flavor to the finished dish.
  • Sides and pairings: Serve your stuffed shells with a side salad or garlic bread for a complete and satisfying meal. Pair it with a glass of red wine for a delightful culinary experience.

Flavor Variations for Stuffed Shells with Ricotta Cheese

This recipe is easily customizable to suit your preferences. Here are some ideas:

  • Spinach and Artichoke: For a vibrant twist, add chopped fresh spinach or frozen thawed spinach (squeezed dry) and chopped artichoke hearts to the ricotta cheese mixture.
  • Sausage Delight: Brown some Italian sausage and crumble it into the ricotta cheese mixture for a heartier and more savory filling.
  • Vegetable Medley: Add chopped roasted vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms for a colorful and flavorful twist. Saute them lightly before adding them to the filling.
  • Meatless Monday Option: Omit the sausage and add additional vegetables for a vegetarian-friendly version.
  • Creamy Ricotta: For an extra creamy filling, add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream to the ricotta cheese mixture.
  • Spicy Kick: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of your favorite hot sauce to the filling for a touch of heat.
  • Bechamel Sauce: For a richer and more decadent experience, consider replacing some of the marinara sauce with a creamy bechamel sauce poured over the stuffed shells before baking.


This recipe for Stuffed Shells with Ricotta Cheese is a delightful and versatile dish perfect for any occasion. The creamy ricotta filling, combined with the rich tomato sauce and melted cheese, creates a satisfying and comforting meal. With its ease of preparation and the ability to customize it with various additions, this recipe is sure to become a favorite in your kitchen. So, grab your ingredients, preheat your oven, and get ready to enjoy a delicious and comforting plate of stuffed shells!

We hope you try this recipe. If you have any inquiries or feedback, please feel free to leave it in the comments section below.

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