The filling in these four cheese-stuffed shells is creamy and somewhat sweet, which pairs perfectly well with Marinara sauce. 4 cheese-stuffed shells are easy to make and look impressive when presented at the table. Nothing says Italian like hot cheese stuffed shells bathed in marinara sauce and topped with melted gooey cheese!
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Giant pasta shells: 20 cooked shells fit a 9×13-inch baking dish
- Marinara sauce: store-bought, but we will add herbs and spices to make it better
- Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and ground cinnamon: season the store-bought marinara sauce and make it taste like homemade. Cinnamon is an unlikely spice to add to tomato sauce, but a pinch will elevate its flavor immensely
- Ricotta cheese: provides a creamy texture and somewhat sweet flavor to the filling
- Four cheese Italian blend: this blend has Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano, and Asiago
- Dry minced onion: to elevate the flavor of the cheese filling
- Egg: one egg will bind the filling and make it custard-like
- Freshly chopped basil: to top the pasta shells once baked
- Freshly chopped parsley: will be added to the filling for flavor.
How To Make Cheese Stuffed Shells:
Four cheese-stuffed shells are easy to make if you follow these instructions:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cook the pasta shells in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain and reserve. Separate them to make sure they don’t stick together once they cool down.
- Season the marinara sauce: place the marinara sauce in a medium-sized saucepan and season with one teaspoon of Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, and a pinch of cinnamon. Simmer for 10 minutes and reserve
- Make the cheese filling: in a medium-sized bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 ½ cups Italian four cheese blend, egg, minced onion, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.
- Spoon 1 ½ cups of marinara sauce into a 9×13-inch baking dish making sure it covers the bottom. Fill each cooked shell with about a tablespoon of cheese filling and place them on top of the sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells
- Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of Italian cheese blend and bake until melted and heated through about 30-35 minutes. Serve with freshly chopped basil on top.
You can fill giant pasta shells with anything you want. Here are some suggestions:
- Ricotta and spinach filling with marinara sauce
- Italian sausage and ricotta filling with marinara sauce
- Bolognese-style ground beef filling with Alfredo sauce
- Four-cheese Italian blend and ricotta filling with Alfredo sauce
- Garlic shrimp with cheese filling and Alfredo sauce
- Roasted eggplant and cheese filling with marinara sauce
Can You Freeze Stuffed Shells?
You certainly can. You can freeze it before or after baking it. Cover it with two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of foil, and freeze for up to three months. If you freeze it already baked, just make sure it has cooled down completely before wrapping and storing it.
How Long are Stuffed Shells Good For?
You can keep your leftovers in the fridge for up to three days if stored in an airtight container. Let them cool down completely before storing them in the container.
Classic Stuffed Shells Recipe
- 20 giant pasta shells
- 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese, full fat
- 2 cups Italian 4 cheese blend, divided
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp minced dry onion
- 2 tbsp parsley, freshly chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1- 24 oz jar Marinara sauce
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp Pinch of cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cook the giant pasta shells according to package directions until al dente. Drain and reserve. Separate them to make sure they don’t stick together once they cool down.
- Season the marinara sauce: place the marinara sauce un a medium-sized saucepan and season with one teaspoon Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and a pinch of cinnamon. Simmer for 10 minutes and reserve.
- Make the cheese filling: in a medium-sized bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 ½ Italian 4 cheese blend, egg, minced onion, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
- Spoon about 1 ½ cups of Marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish and make sure it covers the bottom evenly
- Fill each cooked shell with about a tablespoon of cheese filling and place them on top of the sauce.
- Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells
- Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup Italian 4 cheese blend on top of the shells and sauce. Bake until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through, about 30-35 minutes. Serve with freshly chopped basil on top.