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These creamy Chicken Stuffed Shells are a cozy, satisfying, family-friendly dinner that you can make ahead for busy days. Each pasta shell is stuffed with a flavorful blend of chicken, spinach, three types of cheese, and plenty of fresh basil. Pop the Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells in the oven until hot and bubbly, then serve with a simple green salad and a basket of garlic bread!

Overhead shot of creamy chicken stuffed shells in a blue baking dish on a table

If you’re looking for a simple, freezer-friendly or make-ahead dinner, or if you’re in desperate need of a kid-friendly meal that everyone at the table will enjoy, then these chicken stuffed shells are sure to please!

They include kitchen shortcuts (like jarred Alfredo sauce, frozen spinach, and rotisserie chicken) to cut down on the prep work, and they can be assembled in advance for busy weeknights. While this dish is essentially an entire meal in one casserole, you can bulk it up with your family’s favorite sides, including Caesar salad, garlic breadsticks, or roasted broccoli.

Pouring Alfredo sauce into a baking dish

What are Stuffed Shells?

This Italian-inspired dish includes Jumbo Shells pasta, which are stuffed with a variety of ingredients and baked with sauce and cheese in a casserole dish. Spinach and cheese is a classic stuffed shells filling, but you might also find beef and ricotta stuffed shells, sausage and cheese stuffed shells, or in this case, chicken stuffed pasta shells!

The sauce is often a tomato-based sauce such as marinara; however, this recipe uses a creamy Alfredo sauce that pairs nicely with the chicken, spinach and cheese. Of course, you could substitute with a red sauce instead if you prefer.

Stirring together chicken spinach and cheese in a large white mixing bowl

Ingredients for Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pan of chicken stuffed shells. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Jumbo pasta shells: I always cook the entire 12-ounce box, but you likely won’t need all of them. Some shells tend to break or rip in the cooking process, so it’s nice to have extras.
  • Chicken: use the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken for a shortcut, take advantage of leftovers, or boil about 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breast until cooked through (about 15 minutes).
  • Frozen chopped spinach: thaw the spinach in the microwave, and then squeeze it really dry before adding it to the filling.
  • Ricotta cheese: gives the filling that rich, creamy texture. If you prefer, you can substitute with cottage cheese, but see my notes below for more details on that change.
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese: goes into the filling and on top of the casserole.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: freshly-grated is always my preference, but pre-grated cheese straight from the can is perfectly fine here as well!
  • Egg: gives the filling structure so that it doesn’t ooze out of the shells.
  • Basil: for bright, fresh, Italian flavor.
  • Salt and garlic powder: add even more flavor to the filling. The garlic pairs particularly well with the creamy Alfredo sauce.
  • Nutmeg: a classic ingredient in any creamy Italian pasta dish.
  • Alfredo sauce: use store-bought jarred sauce for a nice shortcut, or feel free to make your own Alfredo at home.
Process shot showing how to make chicken stuffed shells recipe

How to Make Chicken Stuffed Shells

While they might look fancy, I assure you — if you can boil pasta, you can make this recipe! Plus, it’s a great prep-ahead option for busy nights. Stash the stuffed shells in your fridge or keep them in your freezer, and you’ll be glad that dinner’s waiting for you when you’re ready to bake them!

  1. Pour half of the Alfredo sauce into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13-inch dish.
  2. Cook the pasta.
  3. Stir together the chicken, spinach and cheese filling.
  4. Stuff each shell with the chicken mixture.
  5. Arrange the stuffed shells in the baking dish.
  6. Pour remaining Alfredo sauce over top.
  7. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
  8. Cover the dish and bake in a 350°F oven for a total of about 30 minutes. Remove the cover during the final 10 minutes to let the cheese and shells get a little bit crisp on top.
Sprinkling cheese on top of stuffed shells with chicken and spinach

What to Serve with Creamy Chicken Stuffed Shells

If you’re wondering what goes with stuffed shells for dinner, here are a few easy ideas to get you started:

Make Ahead

These chicken and cheese stuffed shells are the perfect make-ahead meal if you’re looking to stock your freezer or if you are bringing comfort food to a friend. To prep the dinner in advance, assemble the dish as instructed (but do not bake), cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or freeze for up to 3 months.

When ready to bake, thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight. Allow the dish to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30-60 minutes, then bake according to the recipe instructions. NOTE: I find that the store-bought jarred Alfredo sauce freezes much better than homemade sauce. The homemade sauce has a tendency to “break” or separate when thawed.

Spoon serving Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells

Storage

The leftover baked stuffed shells will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat the dish in a 350°F oven, covered, just until warmed through (about 20-30 minutes). You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave for about 1 minute.

How to Freeze Chicken Stuffed Shells with Ricotta

Assemble the stuffed shells in the baking dish as instructed and freeze before baking. Wrapped tightly, the shells will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, you can either thaw the stuffed shells in the refrigerator overnight (and bake according to the recipe instructions); or you can bake the frozen casserole at 350°F for about 50-60 minutes (or until heated through). Don’t forget to remove the foil during the final 5-10 minutes of baking to allow the top to crisp a bit!

Also, it’s important to note that store-bought jars of Alfredo sauce tend to freeze better than homemade Alfredo sauce. The homemade version will likely separate when thawed.

Hands serving a tray of chicken stuffed shells recipe

Recipe Variations

  • This recipe yields a large batch to serve 8, so it’s perfect for entertaining. If you’re feeding a smaller family, you can divide the stuffed shells between two smaller 8-inch baking dishes and freeze one for later.
  • Use about 1 lb. of ground chicken or even Italian sausage in lieu of the cooked, shredded chicken. You’ll need to cook the ground chicken in a skillet before adding it to the filling.
  • To make these Chicken Stuffed Shells without ricotta, you can substitute with cottage cheese instead. If using cottage cheese, I recommend straining off some of the liquid first or using a whipped cottage cheese so that you don’t end up with a watery filling. Also, cottage cheese is much saltier than ricotta, so you’ll likely want to omit the added salt in the filling.
  • Try cooked, chopped broccoli in the filling instead of the spinach.
Side shot of a pan of chicken stuffed shells with spinach and ricotta on a farmhouse table

Tips for the Best Chicken Stuffed Shells Recipe

  • Cook the pasta shells just until barely al dente, since they will continue to cook in the oven. You don’t want to end up with overdone, mushy pasta!
  • Rotisserie chicken is a great shortcut, and it adds nice flavor to the dish. If you prefer, you can boil about 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs to use in this dish instead.
  • Squeeze the spinach really dry by wringing it out in an old dish cloth. You’ll be surprised by how much water comes out!
  • Garnish the shells with fresh herbs like parsley or basil for a bright finishing touch.
  • How many stuffed shells per person? I generally assume about 2-3 shells per person. Larger appetites might like 4, while smaller eaters may prefer 2. This recipe yields about 20-22 stuffed shells, and it typically feeds about 6-8 people.
Close up side shot of chicken stuffed pasta shells in a casserole dish

More Baked Pasta Recipes to Try

Overhead shot of creamy chicken stuffed shells in a blue baking dish on a table

Chicken Stuffed Shells

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings 8 people
Calories 444 kcal
These creamy Chicken Stuffed Shells with spinach, Alfredo, and cheese are a cozy, satisfying, family-friendly dinner that you can make ahead for busy days!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (12 ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (such as from a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese (about 1 ¾ cups)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups Alfredo sauce (I used one 15-ounce jar plus part of a second jar)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 cup of the Alfredo sauce into the bottom of the dish. Save the rest of the sauce for later.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • In a large bowl, combine the chicken, spinach, ricotta, 1 ½ cups of the mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil, salt, garlic powder and nutmeg.
  • Stuff each shell with the chicken mixture. Depending on how full you stuff each shell, you might not need all of the shells in the box. I can typically fill and fit about 20-22 shells in my pan. If you have extra shells and stuffing, you can assemble them in a small dish and save it for another meal (or bake it at the same time as the larger dish).
  • Arrange stuffed shells in the prepared baking dish, open side up. Pour remaining 1 cup of Alfredo sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of mozzarella.
  • Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the foil cover during the final 5-10 minutes to allow the top to get a little bit crisp.

Notes

  • Cook the pasta shells just until barely al dente, since they will continue to cook in the oven. You don’t want to end up with overdone, mushy pasta!
  • Rotisserie chicken is a great shortcut, and it adds nice flavor to the dish. If you prefer, you can boil about 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs to use in this dish instead.
  • Squeeze the spinach really dry by wringing it out in an old dish cloth. You’ll be surprised by how much water comes out!
  • Garnish the shells with fresh herbs like parsley or basil for a bright finishing touch.
  • How many stuffed shells per person? I generally assume about 2-3 shells per person. Larger appetites might like 4, while smaller eaters may prefer 2. This recipe yields about 20-22 stuffed shells, and it typically feeds about 6-8 people.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 444kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 32gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 889mgPotassium: 353mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 4604IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 423mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: chicken alfredo stuffed shells, chicken stuffed shells, stuffed shells with chicken and spinach
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Made this recipe with the shortcuts, rotisserie chicken and bottled alfredo sauce and added fresh grated nutmeg to sauce. It was delish. My husband is not a fan of pasta dishes but thought this was excellent. Making it for a Christmas brunch next week.