My recipe for Lasagna Stuffed Pasta Shells stars a savory beef-and-ricotta filling, tender shells, and a delicious saucy base with a melted cheese topping – and best of all, it’s totally simple to make!
An Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells Recipe that Everyone Loves
You know those recipes that are just foolproof? The ones that everyone just… likes? That’s what this is! A go-to favorite that won’t let you down. Kids especially love the jumbo pasta shells, that look so similar to small shells used in macaroni, but huge!
Besides, they are stuffed with a cheesy, meaty filling and baked in savory red sauce, which makes them even more irresistible. I like knowing that I’m serving up a hearty meal that is special without being complicated.
- Dry Jumbo Pasta Shells: You’ll need about two dozen for this recipe.
- Olive Oil: For sauteing, so use a light to medium olive oil, if available. The flavor of extra virgin olive oil degrades at high heat! You can also substitute butter or vegetable oil.
- Yellow Onion: You’ll need one small onion, diced.
- Fresh Garlic: Put the garlic through a press, or mince it finely.
- Lean Ground Beef: You’ll need about a pound. I like ground round or sirloin.
- Italian Seasoning
- Salt and Pepper
- Marinara Sauce: A jar of your favorite tomato pasta sauce, or you can substitute 3 cups homemade.
- Ricotta Cheese: I use reduced fat, but regular is fine, as well.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Fresh whole mozzarella is great, but pre-shredded is also good.
- Grated Parmesan
- Eggs: 2, lightly beaten.
- Dried Oregano: You can substitute basil, marjoram, or any other favorite herb.
- Chopped Fresh Parsley: For garnish.
How to Make Lasagna Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Prepare the Shells: Boil the jumbo shells according to the package directions. Then, drain the shells and place back into the pot, with cold water to cover; set aside.
- Prepare the Ground Beef Filling: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions, garlic, seasonings, and beef until the beef is browned, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Stir in ½ cup of marinara, cook 2 minutes more, and set aside.
- Prepare the Cheese Filling and Combine: In a mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, parmesan, eggs, oregano, and one cup of the mozzarella. Add the ricotta mixture to the meat, and mix well to combine.
- Stuff the Shells and Arrange in Pan: Spread a cup of marinara over the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Drain the pasta shells well. Stuff the shells one by one with about 2 tablespoons of filling each, and arrange neatly in the pan. Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella.
- Bake and Serve: Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375˚F for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake 5 minutes more, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, garnish with parsley, and serve.
Tips for the Best Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Dry and Press the Ricotta: Some ricotta may be somewhat too liquidy for this dish. If you’re concerned about that, you can empty the ricotta into a folded-up piece of clean cheesecloth, and wring some of the excess liquid out, before creating the filling.
- Undercook the Pasta: Some cooks recommend boiling the pasta for a minute or two less than the time recommended on the package, for easier handling an al dente finished product. If you’re concerned about overcooked pasta, boil the pasta shells for 9 minutes.
- Channel Your Inner Pastry Chef: I usually spoon the filling into my stuffed shells, but you can also pipe cooled filling into the shells using a pastry bag and large plain tip. Easy peasy!
- For a simple, fun appetizer, I like serving up some Crispy Air Fryer Parmesan Zucchini Fries. They’re so delicious on their own, there’s no need for dipping sauce!
- Need a simple green side dish? It’s always good to accompany a hearty pasta dish with something cool and fresh. A garden salad is a fabulous choice, or you could do something a little unexpected – like my crisp, crunchy Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream Dressing.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for 3 to 5 days.
- To reheat, place in the oven, covered with foil to trap steam. Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes, or until heated through.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
- Yes, you can! If you would like to freeze this dish, first cool it completely. Then place individual portions in plastic freezer bags, pushing out as much air as possible before sealing, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Lasagna Stuffed Pasta Shells
- 24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 jar (24 ounces) Marinara sauce, divided, (you can also use your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce)
- 1 tub (15 ounces) reduced fat ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano, or any other favorite dried herb
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Prepare jumbo shells according to the package directions. Drain and put the shells back into the pot; fill pot with cold water and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large 12-inch skillet set over medium heat.
- Add onions and cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and cook for 15 seconds.
- Stir in the beef; season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Cook the beef until browned, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
- Stir in ¾ cup marinara and cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl combine ricotta, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, parmesan cheese, eggs, and oregano; mix and stir until combined.
- Add meat mixture to the ricotta mixture and stir until incorporated.
- Add 1 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
- Drain the shells.
- Spoon lasagna filling into the shells – about 2 tablespoons of filling per shell.
- Arrange shells in previously prepared baking dish.
- Top shells with remaining cheese and marinara sauce.
- Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for 4 to 5 more minutes, or until top is a little browned.
- Remove from oven.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.