Deliciously cheesy Stuffed Shells with Spinach are the perfect easy dinner idea. Jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a cheesy spinach filling, covered in red sauce and baked to perfection.
If you enjoy this pasta dish, check out our Shrimp Scampi!
The Best Stuffed Shells with Spinach
If you are in the mood for a big Italian dinner, I can’t tell you how fulfilling and tasty these jumbo pasta shells stuffed with cheese and spinach are. You’re truly going to have to try them for yourself to find out how delicious and comforting they are. Instead of making the same old lasagna recipe time after time, opt for something different and try this pasta dish instead!
Even if you’ve had stuffed shells before, I can promise you that these are different. First off, the shells are the jumbo ones which automatically makes them better because they are packed with filling! Secondly, there’s so much cheesy goodness inside that it’s truly a surprise to your mouth. The kids might even try to get out of eating these if they hear the word “spinach”, but if you don’t tell them, I promise they’re going to be fighting over who gets a second helping! We tell the girls the green inside is just seasonings, like basil, and they gobble these up!
These stuffed shells use simple, traditional ingredients:
- Jumbo shells
- Frozen chopped spinach
- Cottage cheese
- Ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Egg, optional
- Garlic cloves, minced
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Marinara sauce
- Mozzarella cheese
Why is the egg optional?
Some people like to add in an egg to make it a bit lighter and more fluffy texture. I also like to add it in sometimes to give it an extra boost of protein. It’s totally up to you and you can even try the recipe both ways to see which one you like the most. Neither way is incorrect!
Can you use fresh spinach in this recipe?
Absolutely! I prefer to use frozen spinach because it is easier and I always have it in my freezer. If you have fresh spinach, you will need to sauté it down and strain out any excess liquid from it.
How to make stuffed shells with spinach:
1. Preheat: Preheat oven two 350°F. Grease a 10×15 baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. Boil: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. Do not overcook pasta.
3. Mix: While pasta cooks, in a large bowl, combine spinach, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, salt, and pepper.
4. Assemble: Add 1 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of the prepared dish and spread evenly. Fill each cooked pasta shell with 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture and place them on the sauce layer. Repeat with the shells until all are filled.
5. Top: Top the shells with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle on the mozzarella.
6. Bake: Cover casserole with foil and bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10 minutes more until edges are bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve immediately!
Can you prep these stuffed shells ahead of time?
You certainly can! We do it all the time, this is the perfect make ahead recipe! If you like to meal prep, you can make up this dish ahead and time, store it in the fridge and then bake it later. This is a great way to save you some time the day that you’re wanting to cook it so that all you have to do is pop it in the oven to cook.
You can prep these up to 48 hours ahead, just make sure and wrap the pan tightly with foil or saran wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Allow the pan to rest on the counter for 30 minutes before baking to warm up a little, then pop them into the oven and cook according to the recipe directions!
Tips for the best results:
- If you do not have a 10×15 sized casserole pan, you can use a 9×13 and will have a few extras to add to a smaller casserole dish. Don’t be afraid to be flexible with this. You can use multiple dishes to create this simple recipe.
- Do not overfill your shells or they will ooze while baking. And while this doesn’t really affect the taste, it does make the centers less “stuffed” which is all part of the fun! (It’s also not as pretty, either.)
- Make sure you drain the excess liquid out of the spinach fully. I like to use cheese cloth to do this, but you can also use a mesh strainer and a spatula or wooden spoon to press the excess liquid out!
How to serve Stuffed Shells?
We serve ours with a big Italian or Caesar salad and some garlic bread! You don’t need anything more than that for a filling and delicious meal. If you are feeling extra special, you could round out your meal with a gorgeous Instant Pot Cheesecake for dessert!
This is one of our favorite family dinners that we have at least twice a month for our Sunday family dinner. It’s delicious, comforting and can be prepped ahead so we don’t spend all day in the kitchen. Please leave a review below letting us know how this recipe turned out of you!
Stuffed Shells with Spinach
- 12 oz jumbo shells
- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
- 24 oz cottage cheese
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 28 oz good-quality marinara sauce
- 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven two 350°F. Grease a 10×15 baking dish with non stick spray.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water. Do not over cook pasta.
- While pasta cooks, in a large bowl, combine spinach, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Assemble: Add 1 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of prepared dish and spread evenly. Fill each cooked pasta shell with 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture and place them on the sauce layer. Repeat with the shells until all are filled.
- Top the shells with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle on the mozzarella.
- Cover casserole with foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10 minutes more until edges are bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve immediately!