Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe with Spinach

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

After taking the photo for our sausage stuffed shells recipe, I scrambled into the kitchen to grab plates, knifes, forks and napkins — you know, like any normal person would do before sitting down to have a nice meal with their husband. Just as I was leaving the kitchen, I realized something. I left the shells with Adam. Alone.

How he did it, I’m not sure, but in the time it took me to go to the kitchen, grab our supplies and get back to him, he had finished at least half of the shells. Being someone who likes to look on the bright side of life, that made me think the recipe was a success and as Adam mentioned to me just after his last stuffed shell, hey, maybe we can say these are finger food!

So, there you go. Serve these stuffed shells as the main event or serve as  finger food — while the the filling is not dry, it really isn’t overly soft either, so taking a bite doesn’t leave you with a mess.

How to make Our Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe with Spinach

Our stuffed shells recipe is pretty simple. Cook some large pasta shells according to the package directions. Then, when they are cooked, drain and add to a large bowl filled with ice water.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Now, on to the filling. Start by removing the casing from sausage links. Just use a sharp knife to pierce the casing and peel it off the meat.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the pork sausage to the pan and use a wooden spoon or similar to break the sausage apart. Cook the sausage until browned.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Add a tablespoon of minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Watch the garlic does not burn, here.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Pour in a can of diced tomatoes, juice and all.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Now defrost some frozen spinach in the microwave (this takes 1-2 minutes), once defrosted, squeeze the spinach over a bowl. We do not want the water, only the spinach. By the way, you could use fresh spinach here, instead.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Add the spinach to the pan and stir.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Now, remove the pan from the heat and add in some ricotta cheese. This will make the filling creamy. Taste for seasoning, then use a spoon to fill each pasta shell.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Sprinkle a little cheese on top of the stuffed shells then bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tips of the shells begin to crisp up and brown.

Sausage Stuffed Shells with SpinachDid you like our Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe with Spinach? If so, we bet you’ll love these, too!

4.6 from 27 reviews
Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe with Spinach
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The filling for our sausage stuffed shells recipe with spinach isn't overly gooey or soft, so not only do they make for an excellent dinner served with a salad on the side, they double as finger food for your next party. Substitute pork sausage for chicken sausage, just add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan before adding the chicken sausage so it does not stick to the pan.
Created By:
Yield: 4
You Will Need
  • 16-18 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage links, casing removed
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeeze dry
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and fill a large bowl with cold water and ice, set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta shells and cook according to package directions. Drain well then add to ice water until ready to stuff.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork sausage then use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage, cook 5-6 minutes until browned.
  3. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds then add tomatoes and spinach (make sure the thawed frozen spinach has been squeezed dry); cook 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese.
  4. Using a spoon, fill pasta shells with pork filling and arrange in a baking dish (9-inch x 9-inch baking dish works well). Sprinkle tops with shredded cheese then bake in the oven 25-30 minutes until cheese has melted and tips of shells begin to crisp and brown.

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168 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Sara March 22, 2016, 7:12 pm

    I love these recipe!the creamy flavor of all the ingredients combined tops it off my family loves it and I do to hands down a 5 star meal???????????

  • Tine August 29, 2015, 11:30 am

    What is a good replacement for the ricotta?

    • Joanne October 16, 2015, 12:59 pm

      Cottage cheese is a poplar substitute for ricotta cheese.

    • Katie B. March 14, 2016, 10:16 am

      This is an older comment but I use CREAM CHEESE! I’ve made these a dozen times.

  • Bonnie Coey June 13, 2015, 7:19 pm

    love these! Making them for the second time tonite! I give it 5 stars!

  • Kirsten Stevenson March 8, 2015, 10:55 pm

    My husband and I made this for supper tonight. It was delicious!

  • Carolyn February 21, 2015, 12:55 pm

    Do you not drain the sausage before adding the other ingredients?

    • Adam March 2, 2015, 2:09 pm

      If you notice a ridiculous amount of excess fat, it wouldn’t hurt to drain it. Otherwise, we just continue on with the recipe.

  • Chris January 23, 2015, 2:59 pm

    This is my go to recipe for stuffed shells. Everyone raves about them. I add bacon bits too! Glad I finally put it in my reading list, so I have it on hand! I give it

  • Paul November 26, 2014, 6:01 am

    Lovely recipe and the step by step photos are great. Definetly trying this out 🙂

  • MARIA September 27, 2014, 2:52 pm


  • Sarah September 12, 2014, 5:52 pm

    Could I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta?

    • Joanne September 19, 2014, 2:25 pm

      Yep, cottage cheese is a great alternative.

  • Jennifer September 8, 2014, 7:37 pm

    FANTASTIC! Even my picky kids gobbled it up. Thank you

  • Susan July 29, 2014, 11:09 am

    I wanted to let you know that I have a very picky eater, and she absolutely loves these shells!!! is always requesting grandma to make the sausage shells.

  • jas June 28, 2014, 5:28 pm

    I cook….alot. I cook all kinds of food and so does my husband. But I’ll tell you, this has to be the most requested recipe by him. Ever. He would have it almost every other day if I would make it. When I make it we have enough for lunch the next day, it’s only the two of us. Then when lunch is over he complains that I didn’t make enough. Great recipe.

    • jas June 28, 2014, 5:29 pm

      I do have one modification…creamed spinach instead of plain.

  • Megan June 22, 2014, 9:25 pm

    These were a hit with my young boys, which is always a challenge! Yummy, yummy! I did add marinara to them:)

  • Luz June 15, 2014, 6:51 pm

    I was looking for a different recipe for stuffed shells and found yours. I am so glad I did! I used hot Italian sausage. I made a cheese sauce with parmesan cheese to pour over the shells. Delicious!

    • Joanne June 20, 2014, 12:18 pm

      Hi Luz, the cheese sauce was such a great idea! Yum.

  • Joan June 9, 2014, 8:12 am

    What a wonderful idea. It’s like a lasagna, only instead of layers of ingredients, it’s combined in the pasta shell. This will be my next Sunday dinner, and I know it will be a big hit. What a great idea!

    • Joanne June 9, 2014, 11:34 am

      Hope you love it, Joan!

  • Jennifer June 7, 2014, 11:43 pm

    I’ve made this recipe several times and it’s always a hit. I wished I’d taken a picture of it in the pan before I added the ricotta though. It was so pretty! And it was so delish! I don’t like the shells crunchy but I do like them saucy so I covered them with a homemade tomato sauce. Yummy!

  • Kathy April 29, 2014, 8:46 am

    This looks fantastic and I see that Ms. Gallagher has included links to other yummy variations on this theme. I’d like to add that these would be great stuffed with: good quality surimi (fake crab meat), little shrimps, chopped green onions, chopped red bell peppers, spinach, a bit of minced garlic and several tablespoons of capers. Instead of the ricotta, I’d recommend some shredded swiss and a jar of Classico 4-Cheese Alfredo Sauce (it’s much lighter than homemade alfredo sauce) and finally some lemon juice drizzled over the whole mixture. All of the ingredients could be mixed in a bowl without ‘pre-saute-ing’ (i.e. fresh) and simply stuffed into the shells. Cook time would still be 35 minutes at temp of 375. Yum-yum! We’ve done this with manicotti and lasagna – both turned out wonderfully!

  • Brianna February 7, 2014, 11:37 pm

    This recipe is AMAZING! I made it two days ago and have looked forward to the leftovers every meal since then! I used spicy sausage and it turned out great! Thanks so much for sharing, I will definitely be making it again!!

  • Anita February 1, 2014, 3:40 pm

    Making this now to put in the oven for the BIG GAME tomorrow. New take on game day finger food. It is so yummy.

  • Belinda January 9, 2014, 8:00 am

    I made these last night and they were absolutely delicious. Thank you for the step by step instructions and pictures.

  • Sara December 25, 2013, 12:51 pm

    Love love this recipe and have made it many times! The only tweak I make to the recipe is that I cover them in marinara sauce before baking 25 minute and then add shredded mozzeralla for the last 5 minutes. Delicious! And so easy!

  • Brooke December 24, 2013, 3:30 pm

    I’ve made these before and they are soooo delicious!

  • Wendy H November 28, 2013, 6:14 pm

    This was a great, easy to make recipe. I used hot Italian sausage and 14 oz of Classico Florentine pasta sauce instead of the diced tomatoes. My family wanted extra sauce on the side but I liked it just the was it was. Definitely a keeper!

  • Alex Randell November 20, 2013, 12:09 am

    Superb recipe …My family loved it!!!!


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