Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

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.

Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe with Spinach

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.

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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).

How to Make Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

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.

The filling is made from sausage, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, and ricotta cheese.

Once the mixture cooks down a bit, ricotta cheese is stirred in to make it creamy.

Add ricotta cheese to the filling 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.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: These fun and easy Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells, a riff on our favorite hot wing recipe.

Baked Stuffed Shells with Sausage and Spinach

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

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

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.

Makes approximately 5 servings

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)

Directions

  • Prepare Shells
  • 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.

    • To Finish
    • 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.Remove Sausage Casings
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Calories 625 / Protein 33 g / Carbohydrate 32 g / Dietary Fiber 7 g / Total Sugars 8 g / Total Fat 30 g / Saturated Fat 13 g / Cholesterol 86 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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155 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Aminah January 30, 2012, 3:25 pm

    Joanne,

    This recipe looks great. I was wondering what would you substitute for ricotta?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Joanne January 30, 2012, 3:36 pm

      Hi Aminah, Give goat cheese a try, it will melt into the shells really nicely. If that isn’t up your alley, you could try cream cheese or mascarpone cheese. Hope that helps!

      -joanne

      Reply
  • Jessymay January 29, 2012, 12:30 pm

    These look amazing! My dad and bf will go crazy, BUT I hate tomatoes!!! Anyone have a suggestion for a substitute? I’m afraid I wont be able to because the sauce is in the recipe too!

    Reply
    • Joanne January 29, 2012, 3:48 pm

      Jessymay, You should be fine if you remove the tomatoes. There really is not much of a sauce here since any juice from the tomatoes actually gets reduced down. Flavor-wise, the shells will still be delish!

      If you are going to use sausage, just remove the tomatoes, if you use ground chicken or turkey, add a splash (1/4 cup) of chicken stock to add back some moisture.

      -joanne

      Reply
  • Brittany January 26, 2012, 1:03 pm

    How long should these keep for? I was thinking of making them as finger food snacks for a party but would need to make them the day before because of prep time constraints.

    Reply
    • Joanne January 26, 2012, 3:32 pm

      Brittany, you would be fine making them ahead of time. We suggest no more than 2 days if kept tightly covered in the fridge and no more than a month if tightly covered in the freezer.
      -joanne

      Reply
      • Brittany January 27, 2012, 1:26 pm

        Thanks!!!

        Reply
  • jadablue January 25, 2012, 11:16 pm

    These are yummy! However, the shells seem to break easily. I tried not cooking them so long in the water, and they were hard, and then when I left them in longer, some of them tore. I couldn’t find a happy medium. Only a few remained completely in tact. I still stuffed the torn ones, and they were good anyway! I wonder if some shells are better quality than others.

    Reply
    • Joanne January 26, 2012, 3:34 pm

      I know what you mean, i do think it is the brand. We currently are using San Giorgio — we have not had issues, but are looking for other brands to test out.
      Make sure you cook them in a large pot of boiling water, so they have room to move around.
      -joanne

      Reply
    • Christine January 29, 2012, 1:29 pm

      Hi Jadablue,

      I have found that if you add a little evoo to the water while you boil the shells, they won’t tear or break. I have been using the cheapo store brand of shells with no problem. Also, to Joanne, GREAT RECIPE!!

      🙂

      Reply
      • Joanne January 29, 2012, 3:46 pm

        Hi Christine! Thanks so much for your tip 🙂 Great idea!
        -joanne

        Reply
  • Michelle January 25, 2012, 4:17 pm

    Amazing! I made this as my first meal to impress the boyfriend. We both loved it! I shared some with my coworkers the next day and they liked it as well. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Joanne January 25, 2012, 5:34 pm

      So happy to see that you and your boyfriend loved the recipe 🙂
      -joanne

      Reply
  • Valerie January 25, 2012, 9:41 am

    plan to make for super bowl party – looks like finger food to me

    Reply
  • julio January 24, 2012, 5:37 pm

    My family and I will make one of the most beautiful dishes, The stuffed shells with sausage and spinach that was inspired by Adam and Joanne. Thou, I might say I will add a little of Puerto Rican homemade hot sauce.

    Reply
  • Michelle Mendoza January 21, 2012, 12:22 pm

    These look amazing!! Totally making these tonight. What kind of side item, if any, would you put with it?

    Reply
  • Jon January 13, 2012, 10:16 pm

    Saw it this morning, made it for dinner tonight. Amazing. I actually made a double batch to feed my roommates. 🙂

    Reply
  • Tina January 9, 2012, 10:39 pm

    I literally gave myself a pat on the back when I made this. I saw this recipe two nights ago and wanted to show off to my husband (we just got married 3 weeks ago) that I could make this. The next day, I bought all of the ingredients and got to work. IT WAS A HIT!! Hubs was verrry happy. I will be attempting more of your recipes soon. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Lauren December 31, 2011, 11:24 am

    I’ve made these four times already, and we love them! If you don’t mind, I’d love to blog about making them and link back to your website for the original recipe! Thanks for sharing these!

    Reply
  • Daisy December 26, 2011, 8:47 pm Reply
  • Daisy December 26, 2011, 8:46 pm

    Joanne,
    I wanted to let you know that I made these shells for my Christmas Eve party and they were a huge hit! Everyone raved about them. Here’s the link for my post, with credit given to you and a link back to your blog.

    Thanks for sharing!
    daisy

    Reply
    • Joanne December 27, 2011, 9:27 am

      Awesome! So happy that you and your guests liked them!!! Love the post, too!
      Joanne

      Reply
  • Becca December 26, 2011, 8:04 pm

    Made them as planned! They turned out AMAZING and were a big hit with everyone! Even the kids!

    Reply
  • Shannon December 23, 2011, 1:10 pm

    This looks delicious, I’ve never made stuffed shells! Why do you have to put the shells in cold water after cooking them?

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2011, 1:12 pm

      Hi Shannon, we add them to cold water so they do not dry out while we make the filling.
      -Joanne

      Reply

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