Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells

Story by Holly
Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella with a serving spoon
Tap any image to pin it.

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

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. There’s something about that classic combination of pasta, gooey melted cheese and fragrant, herb-y tomato sauce that is truly divine and oh-so-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.

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!! 

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.

Easy Stuffed Pasta Shells

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 lb ground chicken
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp fennel seeds
¾ tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz ricotta cheese
16 oz mozzarella, grated
½ cup parmesan, grated
6 basil leaves, julienned
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
1 12-oz box jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente
1 24-oz jar private selection tomato sauce (3 cups)

Method

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large skillet on high heat brown chicken along with garlic, Italian seasoning, fennel and salt until liquid cooks off.
  3. In a large bowl mix together cooked chicken, ricotta, 2 ½ cups mozzarella, parmesan, basil and spinach.
  4. Stuff each (cooked al dente) shell with 2 heaping tablespoons of the chicken/cheese mixture.
  5. Pour a little sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Place the shells meat side up on the sauce, then cover with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes.