Stuffed Shells Recipe (Spinach and Cheese)

February 8, 2019

Hearty Stuffed Shells made with a trio of flavorful cheeses, tender spinach, fresh herbs, and homemade or store-bought marinara. Pure comfort food that’s sure to satisfy and a dinner everyone can agree on!

Stuffed Shells in a large oval baking dish. They're filled with cheese and spinach and covered with marinara sauce.

What Are Stuffed Shells?

Who could resist these jumbo pasta shells brimming with cheese and spinach and baked until perfectly melted and delicious? Aren’t extra cheesy foods just the best foods?

Stuffed shells come in so many different fillings (taco, pizza, chicken, etc.) but I love this Italian classic best. They’re are a lot like lasagna with without the beef (though you can definitely add some beef to the sauce if you’d like), and they’re also a lot like Manicotti.

Photography Credit: Jenn Davis at Two Cups Flour.

Image of ingredients needed to make stuffed shells.

They’re easier to make than you’d think and they make great left overs if you are lucky enough to have any left the next day.

Plus they are picky eater approved recipe, even kids will love these!

Can I Freeze Them?

These are a great make ahead dinner, for those busy days when you just don’t have time to cook. They’ll freeze well for several months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge then let rest at room temperature while oven preheats and bake.

Image of large pasta shells in a oval pewter baking dish.

What Ingredients go into Cheesy Stuffed Shells?

  • Jumbo pasta shells – cook to al dente so they don’t end up soggy.
  • Fresh spinach – adds some nutrition and a pop of color.
  • Egg – helps bind the cheeses
  • Fresh basil, oregano or thyme – I love fresh herbs here but dried can be used as well (use 1/3 the amount).
  • Garlic – a classic Italian ingredient.
  • Ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese – the delicious blend of the three will remind you of lasagna.
  • Salt and pepper – always a key ingredient, so the dish isn’t flat. You won’t need much since there’s salt in the cheeses and sauce.
  • Red pepper flakes – optional, if you like a little heat.
  • Marinara saucehomemade or store-bought will work great here.

Showing how to make stuffed shells. Filling cooked shells with cheese and aligning them into baking dish.

Can I Use Frozen Spinach?

Frozen Spinach will work great here too. Thaw it out first and drain then dab dry with paper towels and proceed as directed.

How do You Make Stuffed Shells?

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, using a fork, blend together Ricotta cheese and egg. Stir in herbs and garlic.
  • Add 2 cups mozzarella and parmesan cheese and stir then mix in prepared spinach.
  • Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spread 1/3 cup pasta sauce into an even layer along bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.
  • Divide cheese mixture among cooked pasta shells, stuffing each shell full with about 2 Tbsp cheese mixture.
  • Align shells in baking dish side by side, with the opening of shells facing upright. Stir red pepper flakes to taste into marinara sauce if desired.
  • Cover shells evenly with remaining marinara sauce then sprinkle tops evenly with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

Scooping one spinach and cheese stuffed shell from the casserole dish.

How Are They Cooked?

  • Bake prepared stuffed shells in a preheated 375 degree oven covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.

What Should I Serve with Stuffed Shells?

Since these shells are very hearty I recommend serving them with steamed or roasted vegetables or a side salad.

Stuffed shells on a white serving plate with the baking dish of stuffed shells in the background.

More Delicious Italian Recipes You’ll Love!

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

5 from 3 votes

Hearty stuffed shells made with three cheeses, spinach, herbs, and marinara. Pure comfort food that's sure to satisfy! It's a dinner everyone can agree on.

Servings: 10
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 30 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to directions listed on package
  • 15 oz fresh spinach, steamed just until wilted, squeezed dry with paper towels and chopped*
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano or thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 cups (12 oz) mozzarella cheese, finely shredded, divided
  • 1 cup (3.5 oz) parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, using a fork, blend together Ricotta cheese and egg. Stir in basil, thyme and garlic. 
  2. Add 2 cups mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and toss mixture to combine. Mix in prepared spinach. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread 1/3 cup marinara sauce into an even layer along bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish (or similar size casserole dish). Divide cheese mixture among cooked pasta shells, stuffing each shell full with about 2 Tbsp cheese mixture. 

  4. Align shells in baking dish side by side, with the opening of shells facing upright. 
  5. Stir red pepper flakes to taste into marinara sauce if desired. Cover shells evenly with remaining marinara sauce then sprinkle tops evenly with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. 
  6. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

  • *If you don't want to steam fresh spinach, you could also use frozen and thawed spinach, just dry it well by squeezing dry with several layers of paper towels.
  • Recipe source: Cooking Classy
Nutrition Facts
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells
Amount Per Serving
Calories 338 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 71mg24%
Sodium 834mg36%
Potassium 619mg18%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 21g42%
Vitamin A 4855IU97%
Vitamin C 17.2mg21%
Calcium 436mg44%
Iron 2.7mg15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Stuffed Shells
Author: Jaclyn