Italian Stuffed Shells Recipe
Italian Stuffed Shells Recipe photo by Taste of Home
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Italian Stuffed Shells Recipe

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4.5 29 31
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A dear friend first brought over this casserole. Now I take it to other friends' homes and to potlucks, because it's always a big hit! —Beverly Austin, Fulton, Missouri
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 50 min. Bake: 35 min.
MAKES:8 servings
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 50 min. Bake: 35 min.
MAKES: 8 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) 4% cottage cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 24 jumbo shell noodles, cooked and drained

Nutritional Facts

4 stuffed shells and sauce: 430 calories, 17g fat (8g saturated fat), 94mg cholesterol, 866mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 3g fiber), 32g protein.


  1. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat, crumbling beef, until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in water, tomato paste, bouillon and oregano. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine egg, cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Stuff shells with cheese mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange shells in a greased 13x9-in. or 3-qt. baking dish. Pour meat sauce over shells. Cover; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer.
    Freeze option: After assembling, cover and freeze. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake as directed, adding remaining 1 cup mozzarella after 30-40 minutes and increasing time as necessary for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°.
    Yield: 8 servings.

Test Kitchen Tips
  • Get a nutritious boost by adding a 5-ounce package of chopped baby spinach to the cheese mixture.
  • The sweet aniselike flavor and bright color make basil a great garnish choice for this.
  • Originally published as Italian Stuffed Shells in Country Ground Beef 1993, p54

    Medium-Bodied Red Wine

    Enjoy this recipe with a medium-bodied red wine such as Chianti, Sangiovese, Malbec or Zinfandel.

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    mrscrazyed1 User ID: 6143812 266281
    Reviewed May. 24, 2017

    "This was very rich and cheesy, so much so that two stuffed jumbo shells were sufficient for me. After I had realized that i added all the mozzarella to the cheese mixture, I waited to add the Parmesan during cooking. Turned out just fine! Used beef broth instead of the water and beef bouillon granules, and found that more broth was necessary. Am looking forward to leftovers."

    mlhawks User ID: 5429552 265389
    Reviewed May. 1, 2017

    "My husband thought this was fabulous. I didn't have much time so I used bottled pasta sauce, and fried up some hamburger to put in the sauce. It was so good, he asks for it all the time. I think this would be a great dish to serve to company."

    dschultz01 User ID: 1076910 259460
    Reviewed Jan. 9, 2017

    "Thought these were good, but we prefer the ones stuffed with meat. Also, as others have pointed out, I only had enough filling for about 17 or 18 shells. Luckily I had enough ingredients on hand to make up more filling so I didn't have to waste as many shells."

    NH-rescue User ID: 4255840 259169
    Reviewed Jan. 3, 2017

    "Nice hearty casserole. Substituted ricotta cheese for some of the cottage cheese for a creamier filling. Like the idea of adding chopped spinach for flavor and color- would increase the garlic and seasonings if I did."

    Rick User ID: 8973299 257124
    Reviewed Nov. 22, 2016

    "This is not Italian stuffed shells if your using cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese. Get rid of the cottage cheese and in place of that use the ricotta cheese. Cottage cheese is yummy but when making an Italian Dish like lasagna or in this instance stuffed shells manicotti ect. Anyone making an authentic Italian Dish will use ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese, it will have a better flavor."

    delowenstein User ID: 3766053 255665
    Reviewed Oct. 20, 2016

    "I tried this recipe today and used ground turkey in place of beef! I didn't drain the meat as it was lean ground turkey! I did add 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper to the meat sauce! I used 1 beef bouillon cube instead of the granules! Instead of just Mozzarella cheese, I used the cottage cheese, mixture of 6-cheese Italian blend and the Parmesan cheese! I found that the cheese filling filled about 1-1/2 dozen jumbo pasta shells! I also baked the shells in my 3-qt. casserole. This was a very tasty and filling dish! I think what I might do the next time is stuff the shells and layer half in the casserole dish, then add half the sauce, stuff the balance of the shells and layer, then add the rest of the sauce, cover and bake the 1/2 hr., then top with rest of 6-cheese Italian blend-I'll just see how that goes. I did assemble the casserole as recipe stated and it did work out! delowenstein"

    jstowellsupermom User ID: 7101358 255097
    Reviewed Oct. 6, 2016

    "Great meal!! SUPER family friendly! I had my 5 & 7 year old stuff the shells so they of course loved supper!"

    Lamandra User ID: 8447265 229427
    Reviewed Jul. 12, 2015

    "I used ricotta instead of cottage cheese and added saut?ed chopped spinach to the shells filling. Absolutely delicious and great for entertaining - a hit with young & old!"

    jetthill User ID: 8061543 221640
    Reviewed Feb. 28, 2015

    "I followed the recipe as was a big hit with everyone.....I can see us going back to this many times......"

    angieact1 User ID: 1990802 221241
    Reviewed Feb. 23, 2015

    "My family really liked this! Thanks, we will be making again."

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