Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells
Try this simple stuffed pasta shells recipe and be prepared for the ultimate in delicious, cheesy pasta! Perfect for a freezer meal!
You really can’t go too long in life without examining whether or not you have a tried-and-true recipe for stuffed pasta shells.
It’s the ultimate in comfort food – jumbo pasta shells stuffed with a creamy, cheesy filling baked up all saucy and delicious – and it’s just one of those recipes you need to be able to pull out of your rock star hat and whip up when dinner is awaiting.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can very easily be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated until baking time (love that) and it freezes beautifully, too.
Who doesn’t need a good, save-your-busy-bacon freezer meal now and then? I know you know what I know I’m talking about.
I like to throw spinach into the filling to add a pop of color and also a little extra nutrition.
My kids are so eager to devour sauce and cheese and pasta that the spinach is a total afterthought for them which is awesome for me.
Not only is this meal high on the family-pleasing spectrum, it also freezes magnificently and makes a really great take-in meal to your friend that just had a baby or the new neighbor moving in or the coworker who just had surgery or even the family you know who just got a new puppy and whose mom feels like she’ll never have time to make dinner again (ok, that one was thrown in just for my benefit because I’m still having a pity party over how much work a puppy is – how come no one warned me?).
However or to whomever you choose to serve it, these cheesy spinach stuffed pasta shells are a total winner winner pasta dinner.
What To Serve With This:
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Skillet Squash Medley or other steamed vegetable
Green salad (thrown together with fresh ingredients on hand or this lovely version)
One Year Ago: Chipotle Chicken Skewers with Creamy Dipping Sauce
Two Years Ago: Old-Fashioned Banana Cream Pie
Three Years Ago: Marinated Caprese Salad
Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 24 large pasta shells, about 3/4 of a 12 ounce box
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 15 ounces (about 2 cups) part skim ricotta cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry of excess liquid
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- For the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- While the sauce simmers, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta shells al dente according to package directions. Drain and immediately place them in an even layer on paper towels or parchment.
- For the filling, in a medium bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and basil. Add the spinach and mix until combined. Stir in the cheeses.
- Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spoon about half of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan and spread evenly. Fill each pasta shell with an even amount of the filling (about 1/4 cup per shell, more or less) and place the shells on top of the sauce in the pan – making three rows of eight shells.
- Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top of the shells. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. Uncover and bake five or so more minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let the shells sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
40 Comments on “Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells”
The best flavor and an easy prep meal, freezes well I make a triple batch and freeze. Delish
I make these for my daughters who are both pregnant and froze them for dinners later! They love them their husbands and kiddos love them – bravo on this easy yummy recipe
WOW ❣️I woke up thinking of these today. Already made my shopping listI made them back in September 2019. looks like im making them again. I added mushrooms with the spinach wonderfully AMAZING ! That added more than enough filling to fill All the shells. So I made care packages and took them to friends at church. It was a success….Thank You
Have made these several times as freezer meals and they are delicious!
I am going back and forth between the two stuffed shells recipe on this blog. I used the filling from this recipe and the sauce from the other recipe because it makes more and has more flavor. I am wondering why you cover the shells with foil in this recipe when baking and not in the other recipe. . . Because I merged the two recipes and I wondering which instructions to follow.
I slightly prefer covering in foil so they don’t dry out…so that’s usually the method I use, but either works!
This was AMAZING. So good I just had to comment even three years late. Everyone in the family absolutely loved it and we’re still fighting over leftovers!
I had to tweak the recipe a bit because I realised after I’d bought all the other ingredients that my local supermarkets didn’t carry jumbo pasta shells! I subbed in 500g of regular pasta shells instead and it still worked perfectly.
I know this comment is like 2.5 years late (haha) and I’ve actually made these before and loved them! Now I’m pregnant though and noticed I can freeze them, but I’m never sure just how long they can stay in the freezer. I’m not due until January 18th. Should I hold off a few more weeks before making this and freezing it?? Thank you!!
Hey Jessica – congrats on your upcoming new baby! I think you are fine to make and freeze now. I usually consider two months a safe bet for freezing casseroles – it will hold better if it’s cooled all the way before freezing so it doesn’t get a lot of unnecessary ice crystals.
We absolutely loved these! My husband is not an Italian/pasta guy at all, and he was over the moon for these!! Even my two year old ate some. I added1/2 lb of ground beef to the sauce, just to entice my husband a little more, and it worked like a charm. Thanks Mel!!
I made 4 pans of these tonight (3 for freezer meal gifts). I added 1/2 lb of italian sausage to sauce also. My grocery store only had 2 packages of spinach left, so between 4 pans, that was only 1/2 package each. That actually turned out to be plenty for our tastes. I always squeeze my spinach out in a potato ricer, and that works perfect. You can squeeze out every last drop of water with that baby. Anyways, the dish turned out delish. I loved that the sauce was not just a jar of Ragu or something like most other recipes; it tasted more fresh and real. And holy moly there was a lot of cheese in those shells!! I’m all about bringing new mamas food instead of a baby gift, and I’ll be excited to drop these off this month. Thanks Mel!
Why have I never thought to use my potato ricer for that task, Melanie? You are brilliant; thank you!
I know this is a late comment, but I just made this last night and it was fab. Wanted you to know that because my store was out of jumbo shells, I used oven-ready cannelloni; stuffed them with the cheese without cooking them first, and baked as directed. Perfect and super easy. Thanks!
What’s the easiest/best way to thaw the frozen spinach?
Hi Ellen, I usually try to pop it in the fridge the night before but if I forget, I usually take it out of the box and microwave it on low power for a few minutes.
can Italian seasoning be substituted for the basil and oregano?
Hi Portia – that’s certainly worth a try with the Italian seasoning.
I made these amazing cheesy spinach stuffed pasta goodness for dinner last night. Fantastic. My son loved it so much he had it for breakfast this morning. I did make a minor change with the addition of Italian sausage in both the filling and the sauce because my son was appalled there was no meat. I cooked the whole box of pasta so made both a 8 X 8 and a 9 X 13. I froze the large pan and am taking it to my in-laws for dinner on Sat. It is going to be a huge hit! Thank you for another great recipe.
that sounds like a good idea! how did you add the sausage?
Just made this for dinner. Amazing!
Making this tonight! My husband HAS to have meat 😉 so I’m adding some Italian sausage to the sauce. Can’t wait to devour it.
Made it tonight and loved it! Will definitely make again.
Made this tonight and it was a huge hit! Thanks so much for another great recipe! We especially loved the sauce.
Had to laugh about your puppy comment. When we first got ours, my grandma told me that she’d rather have a new baby than a puppy. I do think she had a point 🙂
Holy delicious!!! This is killing me, I am six months pregnancy and cheese and certain spices, like basil, make me really sick for some reason, but I am going to come back to this recipe in three months after my baby is born and eat it up!!
I love freezer meals, too! Do you boil the shells before assembly and freezing, or not?
Kathy – I make the recipe as written and freeze after assembling (before baking). Hope that helps!
I make the whole recipe as written but when I boil the shells, I take them out a little before al dente. They’re perfect when they’re thawed and baked.
Stocking the freezer with this fantastic meal! Winner!
I was thinking just the other day I didn’t have a good recipe for this. You read my mind Mel! Thanks!!!
Oooh this looks fabulous Mel! I often order stuffed shells when I go to an Italian restaurant so would love to try my hand at these at home.
Yay for freezer meals!! Totally trying these 🙂
Oh my goodness, this looks delicious! Now I’m craving some carbs … cheesy carbs!
Thank you for another freezer meal! I love freezer meals that go straight from the freezer to the oven so I can use them on those days that my world goes into unexpected and complete chaos.
Would using fresh spinach, chopped fine work as well? I don’t have frozen, but I have fresh! Thanks!
norniea – you could definitely use fresh spinach but I’d steam it or cook it down first and then drain off the liquid so that the pasta shells don’t get too liquidy/watery.
Stuffed shells are so dang tasty. Love this!
One of my favorite meals! Thanks for instructions on how to bake from frozen (I need to make some of these ahead of time but wasn’t sure how much longer to bake them for).
This looks great! Definitely saving this recipe.
And puppies….kind of like having a newborn.
Yeah, a Mel original! Again, photography is so good drawing me into wanting to make this now for breakfast! Love freezer meals!
Puppies are SO much work, but the love and joy she will bring to your family will make it all worth it! I love stuffed shells. Your recipe looks especially delicious with the addition of the spinach!