In this Stuffed Shells with Meat Recipe, hearty sausage and an herb ricotta cheese mixture are stuffed into pasta shells, topped with marinara and cheese, and then baked to bubbly, ooey-gooey perfection!
The Heart and Soul of the Best Stuffed Shells with Meat
Primary Cooking Method: Baking
Dietary Info: Meat-Lover’s Dream
Key Flavor: Rich and Herbaceous with the robust taste of meaty sausage and bold red sauce.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Perk 1: Make-Ahead Magic
Prep ahead, relax later. These shells are your ticket to a stress-free dinner party.
Perk 2: Freezer-Friendly
Double the batch and stash some in the freezer for that last-minute gourmet dinner rescue mission.
Italian Sausage- I like to use spicy sausage for an added KICK! But, if preferred, a milder variety will be just as delicious.
Ricotta- Light, creamy, and decadent, ricotta is an incredible canvas for herbs. For the best result, use a whole-milk ricotta.
Parmesan- Pasta without parmesan? I don’t think so folks. Taste the parm first though, if it’s on the saltier side you’ll need to cut back on the added sodium.
Italian Seasoning- Extra seasoning ensures that the shells are balanced and full of aromatic, earthy notes.
Garlic Powder- Garlic powder is sweeter and less assertive than fresh garlic.
Jumbo Pasta Shells- If for some reason you can’t get your hands on shells, manicotti will also work here.
Shredded Mozzarella- That top layer of bubbly, golden-brown cheese is everything! So, pile it on people!
How to Make Stuffed Shells with Meat
If you’re looking for a simple, throw-together dinner recipe, look no further. With a bit of quick prep and little baking time, dinner is set to hit the table in under an hour!
Seriously y’all, all it takes is 3 steps:
- Cook the Shells- Multitasking makes all the difference, so if you can manage to boil the shells as you cook the meat, I’d recommend doing so. Once the shells are done, transfer them to a baking sheet and allow them to come to room temperature. Cool shells are easier to stuff!
- Stuff ‘Em- Set up a little procession line for yourself! Ricotta stuffing, shells, and baking dishes should each be set out on the counter. Work one at a time until they’re all stuffed to the gills!
- Top, Bake, and Serve- This is the fun part! Smother the shells in copious amounts of mozzarella, marinara, and maybe some extra Parmesan. Watch the shells dance as they bake, then remove from the oven once bubbly and hot. Serve with fresh parsley and enjoy every dang bite!
Leftover Storage and Reheating
Store stuffed shells in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze them on a baking sheet before transferring to a freezer bag for up to 2 months.
To reheat these Stuffed Shells, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the desired portion in an oven-safe dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, then bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is melted. Hearing or seeing the shells sizzling is a great sign that they’re ready to eat!
If you have to use a microwave to reheat the shells, you should work with one portion at a time.
Here’s how to do it:
- Place a single serving of shells on a microwave-safe plate and drizzle a little extra marinara sauce or water on top to keep them moist.
- Tent the plate with a moistened paper towel, then microwave for about 2 minutes.
- If the shells haven’t warmed all the way through, continue to microwave at 15 second intervals until completely heated.
Amazing Italian Recipes to Try
- If you adore stuffed shells, check out my Chicken Stuffed Shells. Next level!
- There is nothing more satisfying than this comforting Lasagna or Italian Pot Roast recipe.
- If you love a classic, try my amazing Spaghetti and Meatballs.
- Want a vegetarian version of your favorite, try my Lentil Meatballs!
- Don’t forget the most perfect Garlic bread recipe to serve with your Italian dish!
Best Weeknight Pasta Recipes
Tonight is pasta night! Pour yourself a glass of wine, toss up a side salad, and let’s indulge in one of my cheesiest, sauciest, carb-filled recipes.
Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausages removed from caseins
- 1 jar Marinara sauce get high quality
- 2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon Italian herbs and seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 12 jumbo pasta shells cooked
- 1 package shredded mozzarella cheese
- Optional: Chopped parsley for garnish
- Start by preheating your oven to 350°.
- Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Crumble and cook italian sausage in pan until browned through. Set aside.
- Spray your baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Spread 1/3 of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish.
- In a large bowl, stir together crumbled and cooked sausage, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, the egg yolk, Italian herbs and seasoning, garlic powder and salt and pepper until well combined.
- Carefully begin to stuff pasta shells with filling (about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons each) and add to the bottom of the baking dish on top of the sauce.
- Once all are stuffed and arranged in the dish, pour the rest of the marinara sauce on top and finish by sprinkling cheese over the dish.
- Cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes then remove cover and allow to bake and brown for additional 10 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.