Sausage Stuffed Shells with Spinach

Easy stuffed shells recipe made with sausage, spinach, tomatoes and ricotta cheese. Everyone we have ever served these to loves them. Just like our cheesy veggie stuffed shells and these buffalo chicken stuffed shells, these are perfect for making ahead and for a crowd. Jump to the Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe or read on to see our tips for making them.

Sausage Stuffed Shells Recipe with Spinach

How to make stuffed shells with sausage and 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. 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 in advance).

Here are two more popular make ahead recipes: We love this Cheesy Meat Lovers Lasagna as well as this Easy Baked Spaghetti (with a creamy pesto layer in the middle).

Stuffed shells filled with sausage and spinach

The first step when making stuffed shells is to cook the shells. Look for large shells and cook them in salted water. The package they came in will list how long to cook them (around 10 minutes). We like to reduce the cooking time by a minute to two, which leaves the shells slightly undercooked. That’s okay, though. Once we stuff them with our sausage filling and bake them, they will be perfect.

The sausage filling is made with sausage, spinach, tomato and ricotta cheese. We love to used pork sausage in the photo below, but 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.

Making the filling for stuffed shells with pork sausage, spinach, tomatoes, garlic and ricotta cheese.

Once the sausage is cooked and the liquid in the pan has reduced some, add some ricotta cheese. We don’t use as much as when we make these cheese stuffed shells, but since this filling is all about the sausage, it’s okay.

Adding ricotta cheese to the filling to make it creamy.

The last step is to fill each shell with the sausage mixture, 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.
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 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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167 comments… Leave a Comment
  • DaisGee July 5, 2021, 10:27 pm

    This was so easy to make and so good! Love how there was very little prep required. New favorite!

    Reply
  • Megan June 30, 2021, 7:42 pm

    Super easy and yummy! I make this but add 1/8 tsp of cinnamon and it really just turns it up a notch! I also add marinara to the bottom of the pain! Yum!

    Reply
  • Jazmynn April 30, 2021, 8:12 pm

    This is my 3rd time making this in less than 2 weeks. I’m addicted and this recipe is why. The only thing I did differently was add about 2-3 oz of shredded Parmesan cheese to the recipe. I love these stuffed shells and they will NOT disappoint.

    Reply
  • NB January 14, 2021, 5:01 am

    Pasta shells are hard to find here, I finally found some and may need to buy them in bulk before they disappear because the family loved this.

    Reply
  • Sue November 26, 2020, 9:06 pm

    Excellent! We’re not big fans of ricotta so I used cream cheese. Delicious.

    Reply
  • Michelle November 20, 2020, 8:23 am

    This was fantastic! Even my picky highschooler ate multuple shells, spinach and all. Followed the recipe almost exactly, I just used breakfast pork sausage instead and it was so easy!

    Reply
  • Sal - New York May 10, 2020, 6:27 pm

    I cant find plain pork sausage in my area. Should I use sweet italian sausage please?

    Reply
    • Joanne June 6, 2021, 3:30 pm

      Yes, that would work nicely.

      Reply
  • MIRIAM TORRES January 2, 2019, 1:28 am

    We love the stuff shells but mom can’t keep them from breaking up. After trying she just doesn’t what she can. Is there a way to stuff them without breaking? Please show me by pictures. I want to make them right for a friend. Want them to like shells. Please help.
    Miriam

    Reply
    • Joanne January 2, 2019, 2:01 pm

      Hi there, you can try undercooking the shells by a minute or two so that they are more sturdy and easy to handle.

      Reply
  • Karen kern August 19, 2017, 12:58 pm

    Sounds great. Do you serve this alone or with a marinara sauce?

    Reply

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