Classic Ricotta Stuffed Shells made with flavorful three cheese ricotta filling and homemade marinara sauce. This stuffed shells recipe is extra cheesy and made with fresh garlic and herbs flavors. The whole dish will take about 45 minutes to prepare but the shells can also be stuffed ahead of time.
I always recommend to prepare your own Marinara Sauce and it can easily be made ahead of time. Make an extra batch of the sauce to have enough for some Homemade Lasagna as well.
So much comfort in one easy pasta dish. Jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a delicious three cheese mixture of ricotta cheese, shredded whole milk Mozzarella cheese, and fresh grated Parmesan cheese. To give the filling some extra flavor, I love to add some fresh herbs like basil and parsley. Don’t forget a dash of oregano and some fresh garlic.
These tasty ricotta stuffed shells are baked in some amazing homemade marinara sauce. You can always make the sauce ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, in an air-tight jar, if you don’t have time to make your own sauce. Or, you can use your favorite store-bought sauce to make it super simple.
Of course, the cheesier the dish the better, so save some Mozzarella sauce to sprinkle on top of the stuffed shells before baking. Add a sprinkle of oregano over the top as well and bake until bubbly and hot.
It’s pure, comforting joy in less than an hour!
HOW TO MAKE STUFFED SHELLS
There are four basic steps to making stuffed shells – cook pasta, prepare ricotta filling, stuff shells, and bake them.
Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly grease a 913 baking dish.
Cook jumbo shells pasta according to the package instructions until they are al dente. You want the shells to be just slightly under-cooked because they will finish cooking in the oven. Once set, strain and cooked aside to cool down enough to be handled.
TIP: this recipe makes about 18 stuffed shells but cook 2-3 extra shells just in case some rip and break apart.
While pasta is cooking, mix the filling. Combine ricotta herbs, cheese, garlic and egg Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella cheese, and seasoning in a mixing bowl. Use a fork to mix everything well, until all ingredients are evenly incorporated throughout.
Spread about 3 cups of marinara sauce over the bottom of the 913 baking spread and dish it evenly.
Fill each shell with about 1.5-2 tablespoons of ricotta filling and place it in the pan.
TIP: So place shells in the pan seam up, I don’t like to place shells seam down because the filling often leaks out of the shells.
Sprinkle some Mozzarella cheese, oregano, and parsley over each shell and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
Leftover shells should be covered air-tight and refrigerated. Cooked stuffed shells will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
CAN STUFFED SHELLS BE MADE AHEAD?
Absolutely! Stuffed shells can be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated. Cook jumbo shells and stuff each shell with the ricotta filling. Place them in an air-tight container or in a baking dish that can be covered with plastic wrap. Make sure it’s covered tight and refrigerate for a day or so.
I wouldn’t recommend making stuffed shells any more than a day ahead.
When ready, nestle shells in marinara sauce, in a baking dish, and sprinkle Mozzarella cheese and herbs on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
HOW TO FREEZE STUFFED SHELLS
You have several options for freezing stuffed shells. It can be frozen with or without sauce. You can bake it straight from the freezer or let it slow-thaw for several hours first.
TIP: if you are planning on freezing stuffed shells, prepare them right in the aluminum foil baking dish. This will make it easy to cover and freeze, and then bake.
Cook jumbo shells and stuff each shell with the ricotta filling. Place them in an aluminum baking dish and let shells freeze for about 2 hours. Once shells are frozen, you can transfer them into a large freezer zip-lock bag or a freezer container with a lid.
When ready to bake, nestle frozen shells in marinara sauce in a baking dish and sprinkle Mozzarella herbs and cheese on top. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
To freeze stuffed shells with sauce is even easier. Use aluminum foil baking dish to prepare the shells.
Prepare stuffed shells according to the recipe up to the step of baking. Instead of baking it, wrap it tight and freeze. I recommend double wrapping the pan with a layer of plastic wrap all around and then a layer of aluminum foil all around. Make it air-tight.
Label and place in the freezer. Stuffed shells can be frozen for 3-5 months.
To bake frozen stuffed shells, you can either bake them frozen or let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight or up to 12 hours.
If you are going to bake shells frozen, take off the plastic wrap and cover the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake for 60 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or so.
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