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removing a stuffed shell with gooey cheese
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5 from 4 votes

Classic Stuffed Shells

Pasta shells are stuffed with a cheesy ricotta, spinach and garlic filling, then smothered in marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and baked until bubbly and golden brown!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: homemade italian food
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 1170kcal


  • 24 oz jar marinara sauce (or approximately 3 cups of homemade sauce)
  • 12 oz box dried jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 cups fresh baby spinach leaves roughly chopped
  • 30 - 32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced basil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese freshly grated is best
  • minced fresh parsley or basil for garnish (optional)



  • Spray a 9x13” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Boil pasta

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then boil jumbo shells several minutes less than the package directions state (I boil mine for 8 minutes).  Drain.

Make filling

  • While pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over MED HIGH heat.  Once oil is hot, add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute or so, until it just begins to turn golden brown.
  • Add spinach and cook for about 4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and reduced by about half, but the leaves are still green.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  • In a mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, minced basil, salt, pepper, 3 cups mozzarella cheese, eggs, and Parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.  
  • Stir in cooked spinach and garlic mixture.


  • Spread about half of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Fill each shell with a generous amount of the ricotta filling, then add to the baking dish (they should fit 6 down and 4 across for a total of 24).
  • Spoon the rest of the marinara sauce over the tops of the shells, then sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese.


  • Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes, until sauce is hot and bubbly and cheese is melted and starting to brown.


  • Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve hot.


  1. Even though you'll only be using approximately 24 shells, I do recommend cooking the whole box. Some will inevitably break during the boiling/draining/filling process.


Calories: 1170kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 73g | Fat: 69g | Saturated Fat: 39g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 289mg | Sodium: 2129mg | Potassium: 2036mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 21081IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 1420mg | Iron: 10mg