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Creamy Stuffed Pasta Shells

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18 jumbo pasta shells
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
5 minced garlic cloves
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (26 ounce) jar pasta sauce
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Creamy Stuffed Pasta Shells

If you love pasta you have to try this recipe. Tender pasta shells are stuffed with the creamiest cheese mixture ever. Yum.

  • Serves 6
  • Easy

About This Recipe

Before we get to the recipe for Creamy Stuffed Pasta Shells, I have a problem. I love cream cheese, and it seems that many people do not. I’ll never understand this. Not liking cream cheese is like not liking chocolate. Or ice cream. I do not trust people with these hangups.

When I worked at Pillsbury I developed recipes, which means I first sat in their extensive cookbook library and browsed to find inspiration. Then I would work in the test kitchens, creating recipes to present to home ecs who were responsible for cookbooks and recipes on package labels.

I developed this fabulous recipe that was made of pork chops stuffed with a creamy filling that included spinach and lots of garlic and the dreaded cream cheese. I’ll never forget the words of one home ec who said, “this filling is just too cream cheesy.”

That phrase has become legendary at my house. We use it to express distaste for something, and to mock those with food hangups. But for me, nothing is ever “too cream cheesy.”

If you like cream cheese too, with its velvety texture and rich tangy flavor, this recipe for Creamy Stuffed Pasta Shells is the pasta recipe for you. A rich filling made of ricotta, Parmesan, lots of onions and garlic, mozzarella, Parm, and … cream cheese … is stuffed inside jumbo pasta shells, and the whole thing is baked in a tangy red sauce. It’s so good and so simple. Ricotta tastes too thin to me, and it needs the heft and body of cream cheese.

And if anyone ever says to you, “this is too cream cheesy,” cut them out of your life. You don’t need that kind of negativity.

Serve this wonderful recipe with Cheesy Toasted Bread Sticks for even more carbs (why not?) and a green salad. For dessert, Black Forest Bars would be delicious.

Tips for the best Creamy Stuffed Pasta Shells:

  • Don’t overcook the pasta in the first step. You want the shells pliable enough so you can fill them, but they should not be fully cooked to al dente. They will cook more in the sauce.
  • Make sure the cream cheese is softened so it blends well with the other ingredients.

Why this recipe works:

  • The combination of creamy cheesy filling, tender pasta shells, and herbed and savory tomato sauce is a classic. Plus it’s fun to eat!
  • You can make this recipe ahead of time. Cook and stuff the pasta shells, put them on a plate, cover, and refrigerate. When you’re ready to eat, assemble the casserole with the shells, pasta sauce, and cheese, then bake. Add another 10 to 15 minutes to the baking time because the shells were cold.

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Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13" x 9" glass baking dish with nonstick baking spray.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta shells for 2 minutes less than the recommended time. The shells will finish cooking as the dish bakes in the oven. Drain the shells, rinse with cold water, and set aside.


Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 9 minutes or until tender. Remove the pan from the heat.


In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, cream cheese, egg, and basil and mix well. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and mix again.


Now add the onion mixture to the cheese mixture and stir.


Put the pasta sauce in the prepared glass baking dish.


Make sure that each shell is drained and doesn't have water hiding inside. Stuff each with some of the cheese mixture. As you work, put the stuffed shells on top of the pasta sauce in the dish.


When you're all done, if you have any leftover cheese mixture add it to the shells. It's nice if the shells are overflowing, since the filling will cook down a bit in the oven. Sprinkle everything with the Romano cheese.


Bake the casserole for 30 to 40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the filling is all melty and starts to brown. Eat up.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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