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Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Ricotta and Spinach

Beef & Pork  |  Published on Feb 16, 2019  |  Last modified on Oct 2, 2019

jumbo stuffed shells filled with ricotta and spinach on a white plate

Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Ricotta and Spinach: your weeknight answer to homemade lasagna without the hassle!

What’s not to love about stuffed shells?!

Loaded with a variety of cheeses and marinara sauce, this pasta dish is a total crowd-pleaser. To change it up, you can add a little Italian Sausage or different herbs to the sauce. Also, it’s easy to double the recipe and freeze one batch.

If you’re not a fan of spinach, throw in some arugula instead for a peppery bite!

What to eat stuffed shells with:

  • Try serving yourself to 2-3 shells, and then fill up on a side dish to balance the meal. Like this Strawberry Basil salad or another a Zucchini and Corn salad!
  • Keep it simple! Make a salad and toast some garlic bread and dinner is on.

Different types of cheese to fill the shells with:

  • You can easily vary the filling by adding different cheese to the shells.
  • I would recommend using the ricotta as the base.
  • If you don’t want to use mozzarella you can try Asiago, Fontina, Cottage cheese or freshly grated Parmesan.

Are these cheesy stuffed shells vegetarian?

  • Yes!
  • Can I make the cheesy stuffed shells vegan? I recommend using vegan tofu ricotta if you are vegan. Follow all of the instructions the same way, leaving out the egg and cheeses.

How can I add meat to these cheesy stuffed shells?

  • Add in Italian Ground Sausage! See the directions in the recipe card below to see how to make them with Italian sausage.

*Note: Be sure not to cook the shells too long (I cooked mine for 9 minutes), because they will cook a little more when placed in the oven. You don’t want your shells to fall apart!

If you have leftover spaghetti sauce in your jar, you should make these Spaghetti Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes. SO good and a fun way to eat a whole tomato!

Cheesy Stuffed Shells are a lot less fussy than homemade lasagna, vegetarian and easy to make! Click To Tweet


jumbo stuffed shells filled with ricotta and spinach on a white plate

Cheesy Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells

These cheesy jumbo stuffed shells are a bit more involved than a simple pasta dish but a lot less fussy than homemade lasagna. They will fill you up and pair perfectly with a dinner salad. 
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 28 shells
Author: Tawnie Kroll


  • 20-25 jumbo pasta shells*
  • 1.5 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 jar (24 oz.) or 1 1/4 cup marinara sauce I use homemade pasta sauce
  • 16 oz. Italian Sausage (spicy/hot) optional
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil
  • 4 cups chopped baby spinach (pat dry with paper towels)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Boil water for jumbo shells and cook shells al dente (about 8-9 minutes), drain and set aside on parchment paper to cool. (If making with Italian Sausage, cook the sausage now and set aside in a bowl).
  • Heat olive oil in pan for 30 seconds on medium heat and then add in garlic, stir for 30 more seconds. Then add in dry, chopped spinach, stir and cook for 2 minutes or until leaves wilt and turn bright green. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a large bowl mix together the ricotta, spinach mixture, egg, mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, garlic powder and salt and pepper until combined. Line 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom on a 9x13 inch oven safe baking dish. Stuff each pasta shell with a heaping Tbsp. of the spinach/ricotta mixture and place in dish. *If using Italian sausage, put ground sausage in first, then cheese mixture on top.
  • Cover the shells with the leftover red sauce and bake, covered with foil, for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the foil, top with additional mozzarella cheese and then cook for another 5-10 minutes. Serve warm with Parmesan sprinkled on top!
Find Kroll's Korner on Instagram!Mention @krolls_korner or tag #krollskorner


*Jumbo Shells: always boil off a few extra shells just in case some shells tear in the cooking process.
You can sub ground turkey for the Italian sausage is desired, or leave out the meat completely. 
*Be sure dry your spinach because you don't want any water from the spinach leaves to mix with the hot oil in your pan when you begin the wilting step!


I’d love to see what you made!!

Share it with me on Instagram or Facebook and tag me @krolls_korner or use the hashtag #KrollsKorner!

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What Do You Think?

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  1. I just bought a pack of shells but wasn’t sure how to cook this kind of pasta. Thanks for the idea! Your recipe looks really good, I love such comforting dishes.

  2. Thank you for the great recipe, Tawnie! And the photos are a real work of art! Now I can surprise my family with a new culinary masterpiece. It’s great that you have published it: I will visit your website more often.

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