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February 29, 2024

Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells

A true crowd pleaser, our easy stuffed pasta shells are filled with ground chicken, creamy ricotta cheese, Italian spices and vibrant fresh basil.


Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella with a serving spoon

Ditch Your Weeknight Lasagna Routine For These Cheesy Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells!

Loaded with the classic flavors of Italy, this hearty pasta is truly impressive. If you’ve never made a stuffed shells recipe believe us when we say they are easy, delicious and come together quick. From hectic weeknights to a last minute dinner party, they’re sure to please even the toughest crowd.

Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella with a serving spoon

How Do You Make Stuffed Shells?

I’ve never met a pasta dish I didn’t love, and these stuffed shells are no exception. Just like our Manicotti, there’s something about that classic combination of pasta, melted cheese and fragrant, tomato sauce that is truly comforting.. The best part? This stuffed shell recipe comes together fast in a few short steps:

  1. Boil the shells. Keep a close eye on them—you want them a little soft, but not over-boiled, since they’ll be taking a turn in the oven after they’re stuffed.
  2. Mix seasoned, ground chicken with cheese, basil and spinach in a bowl.
  3. Fill the cooked giant pasta shells, and place them in a casserole dish.
  4. Reach for your favorite pasta sauce, and pour it over the stuffed shells.

For this recipe we are using Private Selection brand tomato sauce, (the Basilico Tomato & Basil Sauce is my favorite!) that I picked up at my local Fred Meyer Store. I appreciate that this richly flavorful tomato sauce is made from an authentic recipe, and uses premium ingredients like fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic.

ingredients laid out pasta shells, tomato sauce mozzarella cheese, basil, parmesan, garlic.
ingredients for stuffed pasta shells ground chicken, spinach, mozzarella cheese, ricotta, parmesan
ricotta and spinach filling for pasta in a bowl
hand pouring tomato sauce over stuffed pasta shells in a baking dish
ricotta stuffed pasta shells in a pan with tomato sauce

What Makes These the Best Stuffed Pasta Shells?

Call me crazy, but I’ve been making my kids spaghetti with ground chicken instead of the more traditional ground beef for years. Not everyone I’ve served it to is as big a fan as I am, but my kids don’t care for it cooked any other way. I love how tender ground chicken can be (when flavored correctly) and I love that chicken is a little healthier, too. Stuffed into a pasta shell with creamy cheese, and loads of sauce—you’ve got a trio made in heaven!

  • Italian herbs, fennel seed and garlic add tons of flavor to the ground chicken, and make the dish really sing.
  • Next up: not one, but two kinds of cheese! Mozzarella is king for that stringy, satisfying gooey cheese pull, while milky ricotta which adds another layer of tender, pillowyness to this stuffed shell recipe.
  • Fresh basil brightens everything and adds a hint of summery lightness. There’s nothing like the flavor of fresh basil—I like to use it often and in every season, if possible.
  • Again, we can’t stress how important it is to use a great pasta sauce is in delivering an extra punch of flavor to your dish! Private Selection Basilico Tomato & Basil Sauce FTW!!
Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella
spoon lifting Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells out of a pan

Tips For Making These Cheesy Stuffed Shells a Success:

There’s something that people find intimidating about stuffed shells, but fear not because they really can be such a satisfying, simple supper—for your family or even for a dinner party. This will the most praiseworthy dish you’ve made all year:

  1. Salt your pasta water. Always! I can’t stress this enough, you want the water you cook your pasta shells in to be as salty as the sea.
  2. Cook your giant pasta shells for one minute less than the package suggests. You want them to be slightly undercooked, because they will continue to soften as they bake under all that cheesy goodness.
  3. Use a large ziplock bag with one corner snipped off to pipe the filling into the shells. This will help make sure the shells keep their shape, save you time and keep your kitchen clean. You don’t have to measure it exactly, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for about two tablespoons of filling per pasta shell.
  4. Use quality ingredients. Salty, aged parmesan, fresh basil and Fred Meyer’s Private Selection Basilico Tomato & Basil Sauce will all shine beautifully in this dish—you really can taste the difference.
Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella with a serving spoon

More Jarred Pasta Sauce Recipes.

We love to serve this dish anytime of the year—it’s a favorite comforting weeknight meal—but with Valentine’s Day coming up, we have especially big plans for these cheesy stuffed shells. If you’re also thinking that a saucy pasta dish puts you in the mood for love, here are a few of our other favorites:

Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella with a serving spoon

Tools You'll Need:

Stuffed Shells Success Story?

Did you make these easy stuffed shells, we’d love to hear about it! Post a picture to Instagram and tag @themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can celebrate your dinner win along with you. Happy eating.

This sponsored post is written by TMP on behalf of Fred Meyer in partnership with Kroger. The opinions and text are all ours. Thank you for supporting the brands we love.

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Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  30 min
  • Calories: 522


  • 1 (12 ounce) box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 6 basil leaves, minced, plus more for serving
  • 2 cups roughly chopped spinach
  • 1 (24 ounce)sauce jar Private selection tomato


  1. Heat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain.

  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the chicken, garlic, Italian seasoning, fennel and salt. Cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon until the chicken is cooked through and there is no longer any liquid in the skillet, about 10 minutes.

  4. Transfer the chicken mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the ricotta, 2½ cups mozzarella, parmesan, basil and spinach.

  5. Spread ½ cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Stuff each pasta shell with 2 heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture. Place each shell meat side up in the prepared baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the shells and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

  6. Bake in the oven until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve sprinkled with additional basil and Parmesan cheese if desired.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories522
  • Protein35 g
  • Carbohydrates39 g
  • Total Fat26 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol43 mg
  • sodium676 mg
  • Total Sugars5 g

Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Katy

    Excited to make this dish! Do you think it would be fine to make through step 5, and refrigerate and bake within the next couple of days?

    should work fine!

  • Eileen

    Can I use ground Italian sausage?


  • Melissa

    Does this freeze well?

    We haven't tried freezing it but it should work fine!


    Can you use ground beef instead of the chicken?

    Definitely! Hope you enjoy James!

  • Karen

    How much is a serving per your nutritional information?

    There are 8 servings and each serving has 548 calories.

  • Mary

    Absolutely DELICIOUS! My husband loved it and said the dish was restaurant quality and better than lasagna!
    Followed recipe exactly. It's definitely a keeper!!
    Thank you!

    Thanks Mary, so glad you both loved it!

  • Katie

    My boyfriend recently seemed this “the best thing that I cook” and a meal that he would eat every day. I don’t doubt that because I always prep the full recipe, cook half, and freeze the other half before baking but he always digs out the freezer ones before the week is even over.

    HAHA! Love this, so glad you love this recipe Katie!

  • Yvonne

    This recipe is definitely a keeper! This Nonna has made it twice for my family. Everyone loved the tasty stuffed shells and the grandkids devoured it as well, and they are hard to please. Next up, serving to company this evening. Thank you Modern Proper ladies for this easy and scrumptious entree!

    Thank you so much Yvonne, we are so happy you and your family enjoyed it!

  • Nicole

    This recipe was perfection! I never leave reviews on recipes but I have to say this one had my picky 6 year old saying that "He loves spinach now" . Thank you Thank you! I have many other recipes of yours scheduled to be made in the coming weeks :)
    Great site & easy to follow recipes.

    WOW! So happy to hear that about your 6 year old. We are so glad your family loved this recipe!

  • Ashley

    Great recipe! Even my picky toddler loved it. I just don't know what I was supposed to do with the extra shells, seemed kind of wasteful to throw them out.

    Hi Ashley! So glad you enjoyed this recipe! You can always cook them up and just toss them with some butter and parm for a very simple single serving of large pasta. :-)