Cheese-Stuffed Shells Recipe
Cheese-Stuffed Shells Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Cheese-Stuffed Shells Recipe

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When I was living in California, I tasted this rich cheesy pasta dish at a neighborhood Italian restaurant. I got the recipe and made a few changes to it in my own kitchen. I'm happy to share it with you. —Lori Mecca, Grants Pass, Oregon
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 35 min. Bake: 50 min.
MAKES:12 servings
Contest Winning Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 35 min. Bake: 50 min.
MAKES: 12 servings


  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup 4% cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
  • SAUCE:
  • 1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Nutritional Facts

2 stuffed shells equals 397 calories, 23 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 94 mg cholesterol, 1097 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 24 g protein.


  1. In a large skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, cream cheese and egg. Add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and cinnamon if desired.
  2. Stuff pasta shells with sausage mixture. Arrange in two 11-in. x 7-in. baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Combine the sauce ingredients; spoon over shells.
  3. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 12 servings.
Originally published as Cheese-Stuffed Shells in Taste of Home April/May 1995, p25

Full-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay or Viognier.

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Reviewed May. 5, 2016

"I didn't cook my pasta shells so long since everything was really only warming in the oven. The other reason I didn't cook them so long was because I took the wonderful idea in a review here and began sending the shells to shut-ins or people I know don't cook for themselves much. Since I knew they would have to rewarm them, I didn't want them overcooked."

Reviewed May. 26, 2015

"These shells were absolutely amazing! I omitted the sausage as I was serving them as a side dish, but I also ate the leftovers as a meatless main later in the week and they were equally as good when starring as the main dish. I'm positive these will be equally delicious with the sausage added! My significant other couldn't stop popping shells, he was addicted!"

Reviewed Apr. 10, 2015

"Oh, this is one of our family's favorite recipes! The only change I make is to use a 28 oz. jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce since I'm usually in a hurry to get supper on the table. We love the cheesiness (is that a word?) with the pasta shells & sauce. A little taste of heaven! :)"

Reviewed Nov. 12, 2014

"I have been making this since it first appeared in your magazine, which I believe was 1995! I am preparing it now to take to a shut in. This has become my main dish for people recovering from illness or injury. EVERYONE who I have made it for simply loves it. It is easy to transport and easy for them to reheat. We have a garden and I can my own spaghetti sauce which I use instead of preparing the one in the recipe. Thanks for a keeper."

Reviewed Sep. 17, 2014

"This is amazing!"

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