Giant cheese stuffed shells with spinach, now that's a lot of delicious words. These stuffed shells feature a creamy filling with a trio of cheeses-- ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan! The filling has loads of fresh baby spinach leaves and garlic too! The giant pasta shells are the perfect boat to hold the cheese filling and then they are nestled in rich marinara sauce, topped with MORE cheese, and then baked until bubbly. This baked pasta dish is sure to be a family favorite this fall!
A little backstory on these shells. They are not at all a new Season and Thyme recipe, I have shared them many times over on Instagram and Instagram stories because they are something I often make for my family. Whenever I post them, I get lots of DMs asking for the recipe which I happily send to whomever asks. But for some reason, I have never properly photographed them and got them up here! But with so many people loving the recipe (I mean it's easy to see why-- they are giant pasta shells stuffed with loads of cheese!) I knew it was time for them to have a permanent place on the blog.
So without further adieu, Giant Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells with Spinach.
- marinara sauce
- jumbo pasta shells
- ricotta cheese
- shredded mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- baby spinach (fresh or frozen)
- garlic powder
- Italian seasoning or dried basil
How to Make Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Parboil jumbo shells in a large pot of boiling water until they are about 75% cooked.
In a 9x13 glass dish pour jar of marinara sauce.
Chop up spinach roughly and then place in a dry saute pan. Cook spinach on medium heat to allow it to wilt down a bit. This should take 1-2 minutes.
In a mixing bowl combine all remaining ingredients, leaving 1 cup of the mozzarella to sprinkle on top.
Drain pasta shells, and once cool enough to work with, stuff with spinach-cheese mixture.
Place stuffed shells in the sauce filled baking dish and top with remaining cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes.
- Add protein. It is super easy to add meat to this recipe, I suggest either ground beef or italian sausage. Simply brown the ground meat in a pan and mix that in with your marinara sauce before pouring it into your baking dish.
- Make them copycat Olive Garden stuffed shells! This recipe is similar to the Olive Garden Jumbo Stuffed Shells recipe. Those are topped with breadcrumbs and alfredo, and don't have spinach. Try adding breadcrumbs on top while they bake, and pour alfredo sauce over shells for an extra creamy stuffed shell recipe!
The only part of this recipe that is a little tedious is stuffing the shells. It's not difficult, you will just need to be delicate when handling the shells because they can rip easily. They also fold in on themselves, which can make stuffing them a challenge.
My best advice is to take a seat and have your supplies ready in front of you. Your cooled, par cooked shells, your filling, a dinner spoon, and a sheet pan. I prefer to stuff all the shells and place them on an empty sheet pan first and then transfer to the baking dish filled with marinara sauce. This helps me to work faster and cut down on some of the mess. By doing it this way, I can fill all the shells in just a few minutes!
Don't fret if some of the shells rip, they are all baked together under a blanket of melty cheese. You will not notice the difference when you are eating them-- that's for sure!
Freezing Stuffed Shells
This recipe freezes well and would make a great casserole to bring to a loved on or have on hand if you need to make ahead! Prepare everything as is, omitting the final step of baking the giant stuffed shells until you are ready to eat the dish.
Cook from frozen. Cook covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes, and then remove foil and cook for another 25 minutes, or until cooked through.
Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells with Spinach
- 1 24 oz. jar of marinara sauce
- ½ box of large shell pasta around 20-25 shells
- 1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 oz. baby spinach
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Parboil jumbo shells in a large pot of boiling water until they are about 75% cooked.
- In a 9x13 glass dish pour jar of marinara sauce.
- Chop up spinach roughly and then place in a dry saute pan. Cook spinach on medium heat to allow it to wilt down a bit. This should take 1-2 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl combine all remaining ingredients, leaving 1 cup of the mozzarella to sprinkle on top.
- Drain pasta shells and once cool enough to work with, stuff with spinach-cheese mixture.
- Place stuffed shells in the sauce filled baking dish and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes.