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Makeover Cheese-Stuffed Shells Recipe

Makeover Cheese-Stuffed Shells Recipe

You'll love the great flavor in these shells. Our Test Kitchen made them over without using any reduced-fat ingredients, yet still saved a ton on fat and calories!
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 35 min. Bake: 50 min. YIELD:12 servings


  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 Italian turkey sausage link (4 ounces), casing removed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups 4% cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
  • SAUCE:
  • 3 cans (8 ounces each) no-salt-added 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
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • 1. Crumble beef and sausage into a large nonstick skillet; add onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  • 2. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, ricotta and egg. Add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, Italian seasoning, pepper and cinnamon if desired; mix well.
  • 3. Stuff pasta shells with meat mixture. Arrange in two 11x7-in. baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Combine the sauce ingredients; spoon over shells.
  • 4. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutritional Facts

2 each: 318 calories, 14g fat (8g saturated fat), 79mg cholesterol, 714mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 25g protein.

Reviews for Makeover Cheese-Stuffed Shells

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shugarmomma User ID: 4043881 174197
Reviewed Jul. 28, 2010

"My family loves this dish. I have five kids so getting 10 thumbs up on any one dish is difficult! Everyone agreed and it is a "make again" as we call it."

spartan29 User ID: 297028 112712
Reviewed Dec. 4, 2009

"Excellent! This is an expensive recipe and I make it on special occasions. Last year I made it for Easter and this year I got requests for it for New Years. Everyone absolutely loved it. You would never know it had been lightened. The only change I made was that I didn't make the sauce. I poured a good store-bought sauce over the shells and they were wonderful."

MargeAZ User ID: 1297434 158551
Reviewed Apr. 23, 2009

"Too many cheeses used in this recipe.  There's no reason to use cottage cheese AND ricotta.  And, I've never seen cheddar cheese used in stuffed shells.   My family wouldn't eat it.  To us, Italian cheeses are ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, and these are the only ones I'd use in stuffed shells or lasagna.

There's very little flavor difference when using low-fat cheeses, so I don't consider this a makeover recipe.  My own recipe has less fat!  I use low-fat ricotta, 2% Mozzarella, and no sausage.  I haven't found a turkey sausage that tastes good to my family.  I also don't put ground beef in the stuffed shells, I make a meat sauce instead with less ground beef (93% lean.)"

KWhitehead User ID: 956468 104538
Reviewed Aug. 1, 2008

"Very good, although a weee bit expensive for my budget (with all of the different cheeses). Will definitely make again, but perhaps for special occasions."

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