This easy stuffed shells recipe with sausage, spinach, tomato, and ricotta cheese will make just about anyone reach in for more. Jump to the Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe or read on to see our tips for making them.
The first time we made these, I left the table for a minute or two and came back to find that Adam had single handedly finished at least half of the shells. It was at that moment that we both knew these had to be shared with you.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: This Perfect Sausage and Beef Lasagna Recipe has Italian sausage, ground beef, and lots of cheese. Hop over to the recipe to see our tips for making it best (and in advance).
How to Make Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach
These stuffed shells are pretty simple to make and are perfect for making in advance. (We’ve shared lots of tips below for making them ahead).
The meat filling is made with sausage, spinach, tomato, and ricotta cheese. We used pork sausage in the photos, but a chicken or turkey sausage also work. After browning the sausage, we throw in a can of diced tomatoes and some thawed spinach that has been squeezed dry.
Once the mixture cooks down a bit, ricotta cheese is stirred in to make it creamy.
Then we generously fill cooked jumbo shells, scatter with cheese, and then bake until the cheese has melted and the tips of the shells begin to brown.
Make Ahead Tips
- The filling can be made in advance and should last in your refrigerator up to 3 days and in your freezer for about 3 months. We recommend using freezer-safe glass containers, or double layers of freezer bags to store the filling. To thaw, leave it overnight in the refrigerator.
- Baked shells freeze well. Let them cool completely on a rack before freezing, and then wrap it well with foil (we use two layers). Defrost the frozen shells overnight in the refrigerator and then bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until heated through.
- Filled and unbaked shells can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cover the unbaked stuffed shells with foil then bake the next day in a 350 degree F oven.
Recipe updated, originally posted December 2011. Since posting this in 2011, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe with Spinach
The filling for these easy stuffed shells holds up well. These double as dinner or finger food. The sausage you choose is up to you. Chicken or turkey sausage instead of pork sausage would be great. If you do choose a sausage that’s lower in fat, add a little oil to the pan before browning. When making stuffed shells, add a few more dried pasta shells to the water than you will need since some will rip. The filling for this recipe should fill about 16 shells.
You Will Need
20 jumbo dried pasta shells
1 pound fresh pork sausage, casings removed (see note)
3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (about 1 1/4 cups)
4 ounces ricotta cheese (about 1/2 cup)
2 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (about 1/2 cup)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Warm marinara sauce, for serving (optional)
- Prepare Shells
- To Finish
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta shells then follow package directions for cooking the shells. Drain, and then rinse the shells with cold water.
Meanwhile, heat a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. As the sausage cooks, use a wooden spoon to break the sausage up into small pieces in the pan.
Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, as well as the thawed and ringed out spinach. Cook until heated through and liquid reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat then stir in the ricotta cheese. Taste for seasoning then adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
Fill each shell with sausage filling and arrange into the baking dish. Scatter mozzarella cheese on top. Bake until the tips of the shells begin to brown and the cheese has melted, about 25 minutes. Serve with a warm marinara sauce (optional).
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Depending on the store, you can find bulk sausage. If you cannot and instead buy sausage formed into links, remove the casings by cutting a slit down the sausage and pulling the casing away from the meat.
- Cooked fresh spinach can be substituted for frozen. Cook about 1 pound of fresh spinach until wilted, squeeze out excess moisture and add to the filling.
- The filling can be made in advance and should last in your refrigerator up to 3 days and in your freezer for about 3 months. We recommend using freezer-safe glass containers, or double layers of freezer bags. To thaw, leave it overnight in the refrigerator.
- Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.