Back to Italian Stuffed Shells

Print Options


Card Sizes

Italian Stuffed Shells Recipe

Italian Stuffed Shells Recipe

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. YIELD: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 shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 24 jumbo shell noodles, cooked and drained


  • 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.

Recipe Note

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.
  • 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.

    Reviews for Italian Stuffed Shells

    Sort By :

    Average Rating
    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."

    jlmckinion User ID: 2698248 221171
    Reviewed Feb. 23, 2015

    "To make this have any flavor at all, I would have to totally re-make the recipe. It was ok, but really had no flavor."

    1katzzee1 User ID: 7687853 220680
    Reviewed Feb. 16, 2015

    "It sounds Wonderful and so easy!!

    Whether you are using Ricotta or Cottage Cheese doesn't really matter, you can always adjust the recipe to suit your taste, Without slamming the original recipe ladies!! That's The Fun of cooking, tweaking a recipe to suit your own taste!
    This one looks like a Winner!! As soon as I have a Kitchen again, I will be making this dish!! Thank you for sharing...."

    jwilton User ID: 3787251 220658
    Reviewed Feb. 16, 2015

    "We've made this recipe for years using our own sauce... but we add frozen chopped spinach, and the ground beef to the cheese and stuff all inside the jumbo shells...One of my favourite meals."

    LouiseWebb User ID: 8065401 214759
    Reviewed Dec. 13, 2014

    "This was great! My family were very pleased with it in want it again soon1"

    ChefKK User ID: 7297399 46536
    Reviewed Aug. 21, 2013

    "I ended making quite a few substitutions in order to use most of the items that I had in my cabinet, but it turned out great! I used Italian Sausage instead of beef, no garlic, 1 cup chopped onion, 2 cups of hot water, 1/4 cup of Prego Spaghetti Sauce (Marinera), no beef bouillon, lots of ground oregano (season to taste), the can of tomato paste and about 8oz of Medium Shells. So yes, I had to stuff all of these minature shells! When I served it, I garnished it with parsely. I did not have any cheese left to sprinkle on top.

    For the cheese mixture, I split it up into 2 batches: (1st batch) 1/2 cup of Cottage Cheese, 3/4 cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese, 1 cup of Mozarella Cheese, 1 egg (2nd batch) 1/2 cup of Cottage Cheese, 1 cup of Mozarella Cheese, 1 egg
    One tip about the shells: If you cook them according to the package, and let them sit for a few minutes after you rinse them with hot water, they will be the perfect tecture. Make sure they are cool to touch before you handle them though!"

    SparkysCountryGirl User ID: 5640291 20395
    Reviewed Apr. 10, 2013

    "We enjoyed this recipe very much. I made some changes to fit our family. I used 6oz of tomato paste instead of 12oz, and sautéed mushrooms, onion and garlic with the meat. Also, my shells totally came apart in the cooking process. Before I cooked them they had some cracks, then they fell apart in the water. So I assembled it like a Lasanga. Turned out well."

    pottaway User ID: 3077832 18520
    Reviewed Mar. 18, 2013

    "Family loved this recipe!"

    VictoriaElaine User ID: 3422096 40587
    Reviewed Oct. 8, 2012

    "Very easy to make & very yummy! I followed the recipe with no substitutions. Next time, however, I might substitute a jar of spaghetti sauce for the homemade sauce to speed things up a bit. The 24 jumbo shells was right on - used up all the filling with none left over. Love this cheesy shells recipe!"

    VictoriaElaine User ID: 3422096 40585
    Reviewed Oct. 7, 2012

    "Very easy to make & very yummy! I followed the recipe with no substitutions. Next time, however, I might substitute a jar of spaghetti sauce for the homemade sauce to speed things up a bit. The 24 jumbo shells was right on - used up all the filling with none left over. Love this cheesy shells recipe!"

    dknudson User ID: 3256388 20491
    Reviewed Jan. 7, 2012

    "Great recipe! Will be making this again. I added Italian sausage with the ground beef for more flavor."

    allaboutcookies86 User ID: 4740624 20374
    Reviewed Oct. 22, 2011

    "I was a little aprehensive with all the cheese in the middle. I wasn't quite sure I would like it. I don't care for A TON of cheese. My husband on the other hand can't get enough cheese which is why I tried this recipe. And I am GLAD I did! It was SOOO delicious! The three cheeses aren't overpowering they were perfect. I will Definitely make this again and again. Thank you for the AWESOME recipe. I didn't put Oregano in mine. I don't care for the taste of it. I did add about 1/2 a cup of chopped onion and some salt, pepper and garlic powder to the sauce when simmering. It came out FANTASTIC!! Thank you for the great idea!"

    sdeb User ID: 5934110 20353
    Reviewed Jun. 7, 2011

    "I LOVE THIS RECIPE!!!! I get requests for it all the time. I just put a little cheese on top & YUMMM!!! Been making it for about 6 or 7 years now. Thanks for the recipe :)"

    kimheath User ID: 3417538 47385
    Reviewed Apr. 18, 2011

    "Great recipe!"

    cpal2552 User ID: 5915363 44415
    Reviewed Apr. 3, 2011

    "I was really disapointed in this especially after reading the reviews. The oregano was overpowering. The filling is too bland. I will adjust next time and use jar sauce and probably use a few onions, garlic and maybe some parsley in the cheese filling. Also will try using ricotta cheese. I made this for the first time for a sick neighbor and after tasting it, I chose not to deliver it. I had to come up with something different. Also, the recipe states to pour the sauce over the stuffed shells. But the picture clearly shows the shells on top and what is the green garnish? I would suspect that it is parsley, but it shoud be mentioned."

    jenjerry User ID: 5442744 20490
    Reviewed Oct. 10, 2010

    "This is my favorite stuffed shells recipe. I like how it has cottage cheese instead of ricotta which I don't care for. I simplified it a bit and use Classico tomato basil spagetti sauce but either one is good. I also heat up some extra sauce to poor over the shells after being served. I make this very often."

    Jessyka1980 User ID: 5246281 44414
    Reviewed Sep. 4, 2010

    "Oh also italian sausage instead of ground beef is excellent! added the chopped spinach"

    Jessyka1980 User ID: 5246281 47383
    Reviewed Sep. 4, 2010

    "Loved this recipe..I put my own twist to it though. Instead of pouring the meat over top I added it to the cheese mixture and put it all together inside the shells...liked it much better."

    tanoean User ID: 4066639 20264
    Reviewed Feb. 4, 2010

    "My husband requests this dish over any other pasta dish I make. Great for potlucks."

    FriedaG User ID: 1671534 44410
    Reviewed Jan. 17, 2010

    "I've been making these yummy stuffed shells about every other month for fifteen-plus years. My family nevers tires of them. Sometimes I add chopped spinach to the cheese mixture."

    Loading Image