Sausage-Stuffed Shells

Total Time

Prep: 25 min. Bake: 20 min.


2 servings

Updated: Oct. 04, 2023
I wanted to make manicotti one day but was out of the noodles. So I came up with this recipe, using jumbo shells instead. They were much easier to work with. —Lori Daniels, Beverly, West Virginia
Sausage-Stuffed Shells Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 1/3 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/3 cup 4% cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons beaten egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 6 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small saucepan, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Reserve half the sausage for filling. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, brown sugar and Italian seasoning to sausage in pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, egg, parsley and reserved sausage. Stuff into shells. Spread 1/4 cup meat sauce in an ungreased 1-qt. shallow baking dish. Place stuffed shells in dish; drizzle with remaining meat sauce.
  3. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and, if desired, Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes or until filling reaches 160°. Garnish with additional parsley.
Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage Tips

What's the best way to stuff the shells?

You can use a spoon to scoop the mixture into each pasta shell, but you'll probably have to get another utensil dirty to get the mixture off of the spoon. Instead, you can create a "piping bag" for squeezing the mixture into each shell. Just put the filling in a plastic zip-top bag and cut a hole in a bottom corner. (Make sure the hole is big enough that Italian sausage crumbles don't get stuck!)

What else can you put in stuffed shells with Italian sausage?

For a little more bite to your shells, opt for a spicy Italian sausage. Otherwise, try using ground beef or ground chicken in place of the sausage. You could also swap the minced parsley for basil. Finally, finely shredded spinach makes for an easy way to get more greens into the meal. Take inspiration from recipes like bacon cheese stuffed shells, vegetarian stuffed shells and beef stuffed shells.

Can you make stuffed shells with Italian sausage ahead of time?

If you want to save time later, you can prep the meat sauce and filling ahead of time. Once you're ready to get dinner in the oven, assemble the bake: spread the meat sauce in the bottom of the pan, set up and fill the shells, and drizzle with remaining sauce and cheese. Dinner will be on the table 20 minutes later!

Lauren Pahmeier, Taste of Home Associate Editor

Nutrition Facts

3 stuffed shells: 437 calories, 14g fat (7g saturated fat), 67mg cholesterol, 1371mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate (13g sugars, 4g fiber), 36g protein.