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Spinach Stuffed Shells is an easy and healthy vegetarian dinner recipe that can be prepared in advance! With three types of cheese, the ultimate cozy, family-friendly meal is a hearty and satisfying meatless dish that’s perfect for hungry appetites.

Close up image of spinach stuffed shells in a baking dish

How to Make Spinach Stuffed Shells | 1-Minute Video

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If you’re trying to eat less meat, or if you’re serving supper to a vegetarian guest, it helps to have a few good go-to recipes that you know everyone will enjoy. These easy spinach stuffed shells do not disappoint!

What are stuffed shells?

This Italian-inspired dish includes Jumbo Shells pasta, which has been 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 or sausage and cheese stuffed shells.

Overhead shot of spinach stuffed shells on a plate with salad and a side of baguette

How to make Spinach 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!

Ingredients for Stuffed Shells:

  • Jumbo pasta shells
  • Frozen chopped spinach
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Egg
  • Basil, salt and garlic powder
  • Marinara sauce

First, cook the pasta shells according to the package instructions. You will only need to use about half of the box of pasta shells (about 20-22 shells total); however, I recommend cooking the entire box because you will find that many of the shells break during the cooking process and will not be useable for stuffing.

Box of jumbo pasta shells

Meanwhile, spread half of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Marinara sauce spread in the bottom of a baking dish

Then squeeze all of the liquid out of the spinach. I find that it’s easiest to put the spinach in a dish towel and then just wring out as much water as you possibly can!

How to squeeze spinach dry in a towel

Prepare the filling by stirring together the spinach, ricotta, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil, salt and garlic powder.

Filling mixture for spinach stuffed shells with ricotta cheese in a large mixing bowl

Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of filling, and then arrange the shells in the baking dish.

Overhead shot of spinach stuffed shells in a baking dish before oven

Pour the remaining marinara sauce over top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Overhead shot of spinach stuffed shells topped with cheese before baking

Cover and bake the shells at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the cover during the final 5-10 minutes to allow the cheese to melt and get crispy on top.

Long overhead shot of baked Spinach Stuffed Shells in a baking dish with wooden spoon

What side dishes go with Spinach Stuffed Shells?

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

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations:

  • To prep ahead: Assemble the stuffed shells in the baking dish as instructed. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • Can you freeze Spinach Stuffed Shells? Yes! 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 degrees 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 cheese to brown on top!
  • 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 22 stuffed shells, and it typically feeds about 6-8 people.
  • 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.
  • If you’d like to make the Spinach Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce, simply add 1/2 pound of cooked ground beef or ground Italian sausage to the marinara sauce.
  • To make these Spinach 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.
  • These stuffed shells are a relatively healthy option, since they have just 329 calories per serving and they’re full of leafy green veggies and satiating protein! One serving includes more than 20 grams of protein, which is a lot for a vegetarian dinner!
Close overhead shot of a plate of three spinach stuffed shells with a kale salad on the side

More easy pasta dinner recipes that you might enjoy:

Close up image of spinach stuffed shells in a baking dish

Spinach Stuffed Shells

5 from 12 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings 8 people
Calories 329.5 kcal
Spinach Stuffed Shells are an easy and healthy vegetarian dinner recipe that can be prepared in advance!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (12 ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups 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
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar marinara sauce (about 2 ½ cups total)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch dish with cooking spray. Pour half of the marinara sauce into the bottom of the dish. Save the rest of the sauce for later.
  • Prepare pasta according to package instructions; drain and rinse under cold water.
  • Squeeze all of the liquid out of the spinach. I like to use a dish towel for this, and just keep squeezing until you wring out as much water as possible. Place spinach in a large bowl.
  • Add ricotta, 1 ½ cups of the mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil, salt and garlic powder to the bowl with the spinach and stir really well with a fork to combine. Add a pinch of optional nutmeg, if desired. Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture.
  • Arrange stuffed shells in the prepared baking dish, open side up. Pour remaining half of the marinara 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 cheese to get a little bit crispy on top.

Video

Notes

  • You will only need to use about half of the box of pasta shells (about 20 shells total); however, I recommend cooking the entire box because you will find that many of the shells break during the cooking process and will not be useable for stuffing.
  • To prep ahead: Assemble the stuffed shells in the baking dish as instructed. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • Can you freeze Spinach Stuffed Shells? Yes! 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 degrees 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 cheese to brown on top!
  • 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 22 stuffed shells, and it typically feeds about 6-8 people.
  • 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.
  • If you’d like to make the Spinach Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce, simply add 1/2 pound of cooked ground beef or ground Italian sausage to the marinara sauce.
  • To make these Spinach 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the recipeCalories: 329.5kcalCarbohydrates: 31.5gProtein: 20.8gFat: 13.7gSaturated Fat: 7.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 58.1mgSodium: 891.8mgPotassium: 101.6mgFiber: 3.8gSugar: 6.3g
Keyword: spinach stuffed shells, Stuffed Shells Recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: 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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