Cheese Stuffed Shells are a hearty and delicious pasta dish that is filled with three cheeses and topped with a ground beef meat sauce. It is pure comfort food that is perfect for a cold winter night dinner at home, or for feeding a crowd!
Stuffed shells are one of those meals that I make that I know my kids are going to love. They pretty much always love any sort of pasta with meat sauce, and how can you go wrong with big shells filled with three types of cheeses?! This is a dish I’ve been making for years, and love saving it for a special occasion. The first time I made it was during a cabin weekend with our big group of friends – way back when none of us had kids!
Suffice to say, a LOT has changed since then, but this recipe keeps on being made and enjoyed. I don’t think that will ever change.
This recipe is definitely not one of those easy weeknight meals that I love to post about. This recipe is definitely a labor of love. To start, you’ll make the meat sauce. Begin by sautéing the onion in olive oil, followed by the garlic and Italian sausage. Once the sausage is cooked, add the red wine, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and salt, and let it cook for 20-25 minutes. You want it to reduce to intensify the flavor.
While the meat sauce is cooking, cook the pasta shells and prepare the cheese filling.
To make the cheese filling, simply mix together ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, egg, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper until combined. I like to put the filling in a large Ziploc bag and then cut one of the corners to make it super easy to pipe into the stuffed shells.
Once the sauce has finished cooking, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. Pipe the cheese filling into the cooked jumbo shells and then arrange in the baking dish. Top with the remaining meat sauce and then sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes – until golden brown and bubbly! Serve, and enjoy.
Sure! Simply omit the Italian sausage from the sauce.
Yes! Simply prepare the shells all the way up until baking. Then cover with foil, and freeze. Once you’re ready to cook it, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then bake according to instructions. You may need 5-10 additional minutes if it’s still a little frozen.
Definitely. I’ve used an Italian blend of shredded cheese in place of the Romano cheese before, all Parmesan cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese instead of Parmesan cheese and all of these ways have turned out great.
Yes! I actually think they are better the next day.
You can. You could also use ground turkey if you prefer. The flavor will be slightly different, but it will still be delicious!