Creamy Seafood-Stuffed Shells Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 40 min. Bake: 30 min.
Seafood-stuffed shells celebrate the decadent flavors of crab and shrimp. Baked with a rich Parmesan cheese sauce, these shells are comforting enough for a weeknight dinner but elegant enough for a dinner party.

Updated: Jun. 13, 2024

These seafood-stuffed shells are rich, decadent and loaded with seafood. Crab and shrimp create a luxurious filling for jumbo shells, and a creamy Parmesan cheese sauce makes the dish feel homey and comforting. Stuffed shells are fancy enough to enjoy as a seafood recipe for Christmas or a date night at home—and cozy enough for any ol’ weeknight dinner.

This elegant dish is surprisingly easy to make, although stuffed shell recipes require more prep work than regular pasta casseroles. If you’re the type to plan ahead, you can assemble the dish a day ahead so it’s ready to pop in the oven at dinnertime.

Ingredients for Seafood-Stuffed Shells

  • Jumbo pasta shells: Pasta shells come in a variety of sizes. The jumbo shells are the easiest to fill and provide the most room to fit all that delicious seafood stuffing.
  • Crab: We recommend splurging on lump crabmeat for this recipe. It has a different flavor and texture than imitation crab, which is made from finely pureed whitefish.
  • Shrimp: Use small shrimp (41-50 per pound), or chop larger shrimp into bite-sized pieces. You can buy precooked shrimp or cook the shrimp in the pasta water after removing the pasta shells.
  • Seafood seasoning: Seasoning blends like Old Bay add a little kick to the dish.
  • Eggs and mayonnaise: These ingredients work as binders to hold the crab and shrimp together. Mayonnaise might sound like an odd ingredient for baked pasta, but trust us. It adds a lovely, creamy texture to the seafood mixture.
  • Parmesan cheese sauce: This sauce is a riff of a basic white sauce. It starts with a roux, a combination of flour and butter that thickens the milk into a creamy sauce. Parmesan cheese adds a light nuttiness and accentuates the sweet flavor of the seafood stuffing.

Directions

Step 1: Cook the pasta shells

Cook the pasta shells according to package directions.

Editor’s TipIf you need to cook your shrimp, drop them into the simmering pasta water after removing the pasta shells. Cook for one to three minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Transfer them to an ice bath to halt the cooking.

Step 2: Cook the green pepper mixture

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, saute the green pepper and onion in 1 teaspoon butter until tender. Set aside.

Step 3: Make the seafood mixture

In a large bowl, combine the crab, shrimp, egg, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, pepper and green pepper mixture.

Step 4: Stuff the pasta shells

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Drain and rinse the pasta shells. Stuff each one with 1 rounded tablespoon seafood mixture. Place the stuffed shells in a greased 13×9-inch baking dish.

Step 5: Make the cream sauce

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and coarsely ground pepper. Gradually whisk in the remaining milk. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Step 6: Bake the seafood-stuffed shells

Pour the cream sauce over the stuffed shells. Sprinkle with the remaining seafood seasoning. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Recipe Variations

  • Add bread crumbs: Top the stuffed shells with panko or buttered bread crumbs before baking.
  • Change the seafood filling: Use any combination of fresh or frozen seafood (thawed first). Use all shrimp if crab is too rich for your taste, or add whitefish, scallops or lobster to the mix. You can even use canned tuna to make tuna-filled shells.
  • Turn it into seafood manicotti: Swap in manicotti shells for the jumbo shells, as we do in our crab-stuffed manicotti recipe.

Can you make seafood-stuffed shells ahead of time?

Stuffing the shells can be a bit labor-intensive, so feel free to make this dish a day ahead. Assemble the casserole, and cover it tightly. Store in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Then, bake as directed. The sauce will thicken in the refrigerator but regain its saucy consistency once it’s reheated.

How long do seafood-stuffed shells last?

Leftover seafood-stuffed shells are good for up to three days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy them while you can, because we don’t recommend freezing dairy-heavy casseroles like stuffed shells. The creamy sauce can separate in the freezer, giving the dish a gritty texture when thawed.

Seafood-Stuffed Shells Tips

How do you keep jumbo shells from falling apart?

Overcooked jumbo shells can fall apart, so cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Then, rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process. The pasta shells can also break apart if they stick together. Follow our tips for cooking pasta, and use plenty of boiling water, stirring the pot occasionally so the pasta doesn’t clump together. Once cooked, keep the cooled shells separated on a greased baking sheet.

What do you serve with seafood-stuffed shells?

This seafood pasta is rich and filling, so we recommend pairing the shells with vegetable side dishes like roasted broccoli, sauteed green beans or a garden salad. If you want to lean into the decadence, serve seafood-stuffed shells with garlic bread.

Creamy Seafood-Stuffed Shells

Prep Time 40 min
Cook Time 30 min
Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red onion
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup butter, divided
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) lump crabmeat, drained
  • 8 ounces peeled and deveined cooked shrimp (41-50 per pound)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons plus 4 cups 2% milk, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons seafood seasoning, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, saute green pepper and onion in 1 teaspoon butter until tender; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine crab, shrimp, egg, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, pepper and green pepper mixture.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Drain and rinse pasta; stuff each shell with 1 rounded tablespoon of seafood mixture. Place in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
  5. In a small saucepan, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and coarsely ground pepper; gradually whisk in remaining milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
  6. Pour over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with remaining seafood seasoning. Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes or until bubbly.

Nutrition Facts

3 each: 448 calories, 23g fat (11g saturated fat), 148mg cholesterol, 710mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 1g fiber), 29g protein.

Inspired by my love of lasagna, pasta shells and seafood, I created this recipe that's easy to make but special enough to serve company. I serve it with garlic bread and a salad. —Katie P. Sloan, Charlotte, North Carolina
Recipe Creator