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4.95 from 19 votes

The Best Stuffed Shells Recipe!

This easy dinner recipe for Stuffed Shells with beef and ricotta cheese is definitely a family favorite! The 5-star recipe has been featured in Taste of Home magazine, and you're about to see why!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Ground Beef Recipes, Stuffed Shells Recipe, Stuffed Shells with Ricotta
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 446kcal
Author Blair


  • 1 (24 oz) jar marinara sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 c. shredded Italian blend cheese divided (you can substitute with shredded mozzarella cheese)
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb. ground beef (you can substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken)
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c. pesto
  • 1 (12 oz) box Jumbo pasta shells, cooked, drained, and rinsed in cold water*


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Allow beef to cool.
  • Combine 1.5 c. of the shredded Italian blend cheese, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, pesto and ½ of the beef in a large bowl.
  • Place ¾ c. of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 in baking dish. Combine the remaining beef and pasta sauce in a bowl; set aside.
  • Fill the cooked, cooled shells with the beef and cheese mixture. Place the shells in the baking dish.
  • Top the shells with the beef and sauce mixture. Sprinkle remaining ½ c. of Italian cheese over top.
  • Cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until heated through. Remove the foil cover during the final 5-10 minutes to allow the cheese on top to brown.


*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.
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.
This stuffed shells pasta is the ultimate prep-ahead freezer meal! If you would like to make the casserole in advance, simply assemble the dish through Step 6. Do not bake the shells. Cover the dish with foil and either refrigerate for up to 24 hours; or, if freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap, then foil. Keep in 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!


Serving: 1/8 of the casserole | Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 714mg | Potassium: 357mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 705IU | Vitamin C: 2.2mg | Calcium: 494mg | Iron: 2.2mg