Cheese-Stuffed Shells Recipe: Vegetarian Italian Dish

Cheese-stuffed Shells

Cheese-Stuffed Shells Recipe: Vegetarian Italian Dish
Region / culture: Italy | Preparation time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 6 | Vegetarian diet


Cheese-stuffed Shells
Cheese-stuffed Shells

Cheese-stuffed shells are a classic Italian-American dish that is loved by many for its creamy and cheesy filling encased in tender pasta shells. This recipe is a comforting and satisfying meal that is perfect for a family dinner or a special occasion.


The origins of cheese-stuffed shells can be traced back to Italy, where stuffed pasta dishes have been enjoyed for centuries. In America, this dish became popular in the mid-20th century as Italian immigrants brought their culinary traditions with them. Today, cheese-stuffed shells are a staple on many Italian restaurant menus and are a favorite among home cooks.


How to prepare

  1. Combine eggs, cheeses, and seasonings in a bowl.
  2. Spoon about 3 tbsp of cheese.
  3. Spread 2 tbsp of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 13"x9" baking dish.
  4. Arrange shells in the dish over the sauce.
  5. Pour the remaining sauce over the stuffed shells.
  6. Sprinkle cheese over the sauce.
  7. Bake in a 350°F (177°C) degree oven for 30 minutes.


  • Add cooked ground meat to the cheese mixture for a meaty version of this dish.
  • Use different types of cheeses, such as mozzarella or fontina, for a unique flavor.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

Make sure to cook the pasta shells until they are al dente, as they will continue to cook in the oven.

- Use a piping bag or a spoon to easily fill the pasta shells with the cheese mixture.

- Feel free to customize the filling with your favorite cheeses or add in some cooked ground meat for extra protein.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the cheese-stuffed shells with a side salad and some garlic bread for a complete meal.

Cooking Techniques

Bake the cheese-stuffed shells in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Ingredient Substitutions

Use whole-milk ricotta cheese for a richer filling.

- Substitute the parsley with fresh basil or oregano for a different flavor profile.

Make Ahead Tips

You can assemble the cheese-stuffed shells ahead of time and refrigerate them until ready to bake.

Presentation Ideas

Garnish the cheese-stuffed shells with fresh parsley or basil before serving.

Pairing Recommendations

Pair the cheese-stuffed shells with a glass of red wine, such as Chianti or Sangiovese.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave until heated through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of cheese-stuffed shells contains approximately 400 calories.


Each serving of cheese-stuffed shells contains approximately 45 grams of carbohydrates.


Each serving of cheese-stuffed shells contains approximately 15 grams of fats.


Each serving of cheese-stuffed shells contains approximately 20 grams of proteins.

Vitamins and minerals

Cheese-stuffed shells are a good source of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.


This recipe contains dairy (cheese) and eggs.


Cheese-stuffed shells are a delicious and satisfying dish that is rich in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They are a good source of calcium and vitamins A and C.


Cheese-stuffed shells are a delicious and comforting dish that is perfect for a family dinner or a special occasion. With a creamy and cheesy filling encased in tender pasta shells, this recipe is sure to be a hit with everyone at the table.

How did I get this recipe?

The first time I saw this recipe, I knew it was something I had to try. It was a cold winter day, and I was visiting my dear friend Margie. As soon as I walked into her cozy kitchen, I was hit with the delicious smell of bubbling tomato sauce and melted cheese. Curious, I peeked over her shoulder to see what she was making.

Margie was busy stuffing large pasta shells with a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. She then nestled the shells in a bed of rich marinara sauce before popping them in the oven to bake. The result was a mouthwatering dish that was both comforting and indulgent.

I begged Margie for the recipe, and she happily obliged. She told me that she had learned how to make cheese-stuffed shells from her own grandmother, who had passed down the recipe to her. Margie's eyes sparkled with nostalgia as she recounted the memories of cooking with her grandmother in the warm kitchen of their family home.

I knew that I had to make this recipe my own. I took notes as Margie guided me through the steps, making sure to ask plenty of questions along the way. I wanted to understand the technique and the flavors so that I could recreate this dish in my own kitchen.

Once I had the recipe memorized, I went home and set to work. I gathered all the ingredients and got to work on the cheese filling. I mixed the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese together with a touch of nutmeg and pepper. The mixture was creamy and savory, with just the right amount of seasoning.

Next, I boiled the pasta shells until they were al dente, then carefully stuffed them with the cheese mixture. It was a messy process, but I found it oddly satisfying to watch the shells plump up with the creamy filling. Once all the shells were stuffed, I arranged them in a baking dish and covered them with a generous helping of marinara sauce.

As the shells baked in the oven, my kitchen filled with the same mouthwatering aroma that had drawn me to Margie's kitchen. I couldn't wait to taste the finished dish.

When the timer finally dinged, I pulled the bubbling dish out of the oven. The cheese on top was golden and gooey, and the sauce was thick and fragrant. I scooped up a shell and took a bite, savoring the rich and cheesy filling. It was every bit as delicious as I remembered from Margie's kitchen.

I knew then and there that this recipe would become a staple in my own cooking repertoire. It was a dish that brought me comfort and joy, and I loved the idea of passing it down to future generations, just like Margie had done for me.

Over the years, I have made cheese-stuffed shells countless times, experimenting with different cheeses and seasonings to put my own twist on the classic recipe. Each time I make it, I think of Margie and her grandmother, and I am grateful for the culinary legacy that they have passed down to me.

Now, whenever I make cheese-stuffed shells for my own family, I tell them the story of how I learned to make this dish. I hope that it will inspire them to create their own food memories and traditions, just as Margie and her grandmother did for me.

As I sit here, enjoying a plate of cheese-stuffed shells with my loved ones, I am filled with gratitude for the simple pleasures of good food and good company. And I know that as long as I continue to cook and share recipes with those around me, I will keep the spirit of my grandmother alive in my kitchen.


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