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.

Sausage and Beef Lasagna RecipeYOU 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).

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

Food Travel: Our Lives Outside the Kitchen

A Perfect Weekend in Walla Walla, Washington

We’re in love with our hometown, Walla Walla. Read on for lots of insider’s tips for where to eat and drink, including some of our favorite wineries. Read More…

Get Free Recipes by Email

Get insanely delicious FREE recipes and cooking videos in your inbox. Enter your email address below:

155 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Sarah September 12, 2014, 5:52 pm

    Could I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta?

    Reply
    • Joanne September 19, 2014, 2:25 pm

      Yep, cottage cheese is a great alternative.

      Reply
  • Jennifer September 8, 2014, 7:37 pm

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

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • jas June 28, 2014, 5:29 pm

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

      Reply
  • 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:)

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
    • Joanne June 20, 2014, 12:18 pm

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

      Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
    • Joanne June 9, 2014, 11:34 am

      Hope you love it, Joan!

      Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
  • 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!!

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
  • Brooke December 24, 2013, 3:30 pm

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

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply

Leave a Comment or Review

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you so much for waiting. First time commenting? Please review our Comment Policy.

Did you make it? How was it?:

 

Previous Post: Next Post: