Meatball Stuffed Shells

Meatball Stuffed Shells – a family favorite! Jumbo shells stuffed with cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and frozen meatballs and baked in marinara sauce. This recipe makes a lot of food. Great for dinner parties and potlucks. Can make in advance and refrigerate or freeze for later. Serve with garlic bread and a salad for a meal better than in any restaurant!

scooping stuffed shells from baking dish with text overlay

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Easy Stuffed Shells Recipe

These Meatball Stuffed Shells are a favorite at our house. I’ve been making this delicious recipe forever! This recipe is super easy to make and tastes great! Jumbo shells stuffed with three kinds of melty cheese and frozen meatballs and smothered with spaghetti sauce. Comfort food at its best! We ate this casserole for dinner and fought over the leftovers for lunch. It is equally delicious, if not better, the next day. Give this a try the next time you need an easy meal the whole family will enjoy!

baking dish of stuffed pasta shells

How to Make Meatball Stuffed Shells

This casserole is super easy to make with only a few simple ingredients. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook jumbo pasta shells in a large pot of salted water according to the package instructions for al dente. 

While the pasta is cooking, combine cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley, and an egg in a medium bowl. Drain the pasta shells and cool until easy to handle. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and spread some spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the dish. Set aside.

With a spoon, stuff the cooked shell with the cheese filling. Stuff a frozen meatball on top of the cheese and place them in the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Pour the remaining pasta sauce over the top of the shells and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the casserole. Bake uncovered until bubbly. Garnish with casserole with parsley or fresh basil.

Helpful Tips & Frequently Asked Questions

  • My favorite store-bought spaghetti sauces are Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Marinara (green label), Rao’s, and La Famiglia DelGrosso.
  • I use half-ounce frozen beef meatballs
  • There is no need to thaw the meatballs before stuffing them into the shells. They will bake along with the pasta.
  • What cheese goes in stuffed shells? I use cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Feel free to use different types of cheeses
    • Don’t like cottage cheese? You can substitute ricotta cheese.
  • Feel free to add some fresh spinach to the cheese mixture.
  • Add some red pepper flakes to the dish for a little spicy.
  • Can Stuffed Shells be made in advance? Yes! You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the cooking time if baking straight from the refrigerator.
  • Can Stuffed Shells be frozen? Yes! Assemble the casserole and cool completely. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze.
    • When ready to bake, thaw the frozen shells and bake as directed.
    • The shells will keep for 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
  • This makes a lot of food. Feel free to split the casserole between two pans. Bake one and freeze one for later.
scooping stuffed shells from baking dish

What to Serve with Baked Pasta

This baked pasta is an all-time family favorite. I might have eaten two large servings of this cheesy goodness. Sorry, not sorry! This is a great recipe to make when you need to feed a crowd. It always gets rave reviews. We like to serve this with some garlic bread and a side salad. Perfecto!

Looking for more side dish ideas? Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the blog that go great with this easy stuffed shells recipe:

Creamy Italian Dressing

Creamy Italian Dressing Recipe – our favorite salad!!! Romaine, tomatoes, thinly sliced seedless cucumbers, sliced banana peppers, croutons, parmesan cheese,…

Garlic Parmesan Skillet Bread

Garlic Parmesan Skillet Bread – refrigerated biscuits chopped and tossed in butter, garlic, italian seasoning and parmesan cheese. Baked in…

Carrabba’s Bread Dip

Carrabba’s Bread Dip recipe – the real thing! Recipe straight from Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, red…

scooping stuffed shells from baking dish with text overlay

Meatball Stuffed Shells

Yield: 6 people
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Meatball Stuffed Shells – a family favorite! Jumbo shells stuffed with cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and frozen meatballs and baked in marinara sauce. This recipe makes a lot of food. Great for dinner parties and potlucks. Can make in advance and refrigerate or freeze for later. Serve with garlic bread and a salad for a meal better than in any restaurant!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Cook jumbo pasta shells according to package. Drain and cool.
  • Combine cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, dried parsley and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  • Stuff pasta shells with cheese mixture and one meatballs per shell. Place shells in prepared baking dish. Top with spaghetti sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese. (Can freeze at this point)
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.

Notes:

  • My favorite store-bought spaghetti sauces are Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Marinara (green label), Rao’s, and La Famiglia DelGrosso.
  • I use half-ounce frozen beef meatballs. 
  • There is no need to thaw the meatballs before stuffing them into the shells. They will bake along with the pasta.
  • What cheese goes in stuffed shells? I use cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Feel free to use different types of cheeses
    • Don’t like cottage cheese? You can substitute ricotta cheese.
  • Feel free to add some fresh spinach to the cheese mixture.
  • Add some red pepper flakes to the dish for a little spicy.
  • Can Stuffed Shells be made in advance? Yes! You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the cooking time if baking straight from the refrigerator.
  • Can Stuffed Shells be frozen? Yes! Assemble the casserole and cool completely. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze.
    • When ready to bake, thaw the frozen shells and bake as directed.
    • The shells will keep for 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
  • This makes a lot of food. Feel free to split the casserole between two pans. Bake one and freeze one for later.

Steph

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scooping stuffed shells from baking dish with text overlay
baking dish of stuffed pasta shells with text overlay

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Comments

  1. This sounds great! I was looking for an alternative to using all cheeses, especially ricotta. Last time I used ricotta the dish was so sweet we had to throw the whole thing out. Has anyone else had ricotta cheese that was sweet? I think using cottage cheese will work out great. I also make my meatballs rather large, so I’ll probably have to cut them in half.

  2. Ok, I am not very good at stuffing shells. LOL. I thought this was going to be very simple, but it turns out the shells don't like to cooperate with me. I did cook them al dente so they weren't too soft, but stuffing these suckers had me cursing. LOL

    With that said, the recipe is actually very yummy. I really like this dish, and if I can figure out an easier way to stuff the shells, I would definitely make this again. Served it with a green Italian salad, and garlic bread.

  3. If you were to freeze it before cooking, would you want to defrost or bake frozen? Thanks! My kids love this. I finally froze a batch but now I am unsure how to cook.

    1. You can do either – if you bake it frozen, cover it and bake it about 15 minutes to thaw it in the oven. Remove the foil and bake it an additional 25-30 minutes.

  4. Make ahead, when you get home from Christmas shopping, just pop in the oven! This looks soooo good, can't wait to try it ! Happy Thanksgiving!

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