Unstuffed Shells Casserole
This Unstuffed Shells Casserole is all the flavors of stuffed shells without all the work. This pasta can be made ahead of time and even frozen for an easy dinner. Great for feeding a crowd!
UNSTUFFED SHELLS CASSEROLE
Yesterday was the first day of school for my kids. I take that back. Yesterday, was the first optional day of school for my kids thanks to the eclipse.
The school left it optional which I feel put us in a no-win situation. If we send them to school we’re the worst parents ever and risk our kids burning their retinas getiing off the bus and accidentally looking at the sun.
If we don’t send our kids, they miss out on the first day of school! They feel behind and have FOMO that they missed out.
I wish the school would’ve just made an executive decision (what’s this agency you speak of) and called it one way or another.
We sent them. They wanted to go and we wanted them to go.
Not without a lengthy discussion (and videos) about not looking at the sun. Which terrified the dickens out of all of them.
Sometimes a healthy dose of fear is what good parenting calls for. In my opinion.
I grew up on casseroles and although sometimes there’s a bad association with them, they have their time and place.
I personally love casseroles (hello, I’m feeding an army and the neighborhood) and especially if they can be made ahead of time.
Have you ever made stuffed shells? I love them. I love these Pizza Stuffed Shells and these Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells.
But you know what’s way better than stuffed shells? Unstuffed shells. Yep, half the work, all the flavor. You basically just stir the creamy filling together with the shells and then layer pasta sauce. Soooo easy. Love, love, love.
OTHER PASTA RECIPES
- Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
- One-Pot Bacon Broccoli Pasta
- Creamy Sausage and Spinach Pasta
- One-Pot Creamy Sausage and Tomato Tortellini
- The Best Baked Ziti
- One-Pat Sausage and Broccoli Pasta
- Chicken Parmesan Pasta
Unstuffed Shells Casserole
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 onion,, diced finely
- 1 clove garlic,, minced
- 1 (24 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
- 4 cups medium or large pasta shells,, uncooked
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, , softened
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, , chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
- In a large skillet, brown the beef. Drain. Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the pasta sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, ricotta, parmesan cheese, basil, egg, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. mix until combined well. Stir in the cooked pasta shells.
- Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the meat sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer the pasta shell mixture on top followed with a layer of the remaining meat sauce.
- Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and cover with foil.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 40-45 minutes removing the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Sprinkle fresh basil on top for garnish if desired.
This was fantastic! Thank you!
I’ve been making this meal for the past 2.5 years. Everyone loves Shells for dinner. Great recipe. It’s perfect for a dinner night to gift someone who’s unable to cook or for a workplace event. Will be a crowd pleaser for sure. Pair with a salad and/or Texas toast and chefs kiss.
Would this work with gluten free pasta?
I haven’t tried it but I don’t see why not.
Hi Christy! What can i use instead of ricotta cheese? Here in the Philippines it’s not readily available but i really want to try this recipe. Thanks in advance for replying.
Cottage cheese would be a great sub or sour cream.
Goat cheese and cottage cheese both work
I prepared the recipe to exact, except the store didn’t have beef, so I used ground Italian sausage…. this recipe was amazing. Instant favorite.
That would be great!
How much pasta did you use? 4 cups of dry pasta is not even a full box. I was considering using 1-2 16 oz boxes
Yes, there’s a lot of meat and sauce so 4 cups dry is plenty once cooked.
What is the nutritional information for this recipe. I’m trying to keep track of my calories and the macro-nutrients.
Have you used MyFitnessPal? That’s what I use to calculate but depending on the brands it can vary by a lot so I suggest doing it yourself.
I love this recipe. I season the meat and the sauce to my liking. It’s a hit every time I make it
So happy you liked it!
Subbed the cream cheese for ricotta. Added spinach. Used ground sausage/beef mixture. Turned out wonderfully!!
Subbed the cream cheese for ricotta. Added spinach. Used ground sausage/beef mixture. Turned out wonderfully!! I also mixed it differently. I mixed sauce and noodles then topped with ricotta/spinach mixture. Then spread shredded mozz/parm mixture over top.
Glad it worked out!
What spaghetti sauce brands do you use? Whenever I try prepared sauces in your recipes, they turn out terrible. Way too sweet. Just looked at my jar tonight and it had 50 grams of sugar in the bottle! Yuck!!
Woahhhh. Yes way too sweet. Use Rao’s marinara. They sell it at Costco and grocery stores.
This meal is so easy to make and so flavorful!! My grandson, who is incredibly picky, loves it and asks me to make it for him all the time. I would definitely recommend it.
Thank you Laura!
This was a huge hit for our family of six. Not having to stuff the shells makes it doable with our crazy schedule. I subbed baby bella mushrooms, zucchini, and a whole yellow onion (vs. the half called for here) for the ground beef and used a 32-oz jar of sauce. Otherwise true to the recipe. Next time I’ll add some spinach, too. We are adding this to our dinner rotation – thank you, Christy!
Made this tonight and everyone in the family liked it (that never happens, family of 5). I’ve cooked several of your recipes now after following you on Instagram for quite a while, and I have to say, they’ve all been pretty darn awesome! Keep it up!! Fan girl for life right here 🙂
Thank you for posting! My husband requested stuffed shells but I hate the extra time to stuff! This was exactly what a I was looking for!
So glad I could help.
Fairly easy recipe. We subbed Italian sausage for the ground beef. Everyone loved it!
Italian sausage would be stellar!
Scrumptious dinner. One of my favorites.
Have you ever cooked the entire casserole and then frozen it into individual servings after it cooled? I would like to make this for my college kid to have in her freezer for a quick dinner. Thanks
I like how you think. I don’t see why not?
If I make this, and freeze it for later, can I go straight from the freezer to the oven? If so, what kind of cook times / temperature would we use?
Secondly, here’s a suggestion for those that don’t have big families or a lot of freezer space for a big pan. Use the smaller fruit loaf aluminum pans. You make freezer space optimized, and it makes a good lunchtime grab n go.
I’ve made smaller servings like this. Bake it almost all the way, let it cool and freeze them. When you go to reheat, oven at same temp for about 20 mins. Will thaw and heat and you’re done. Plus, aluminum pans save on dirty dishes.
I always have better results when I let it thaw a bit before baking but I have done both. I would do 350 for 40-50 minutes.
I made this tonight and it came out great! I’m really not sure why I’m so surprised, but it tasted amazing! Thanks for the recipe! It was wonderful!
Haha. Yeah we love it too!
I made this for supper tonight. It was sensational. I had to make one change, though. I forgot to add ricotta cheese to my grocery list, but I did have sour cream. I made the recipe exactly as it is written, except I used 1 cup sour cream in place of the ricotta. It tasted yucky in the bowl, but once it baked, it was sensational. No one would know that I made that substitution! This dish is much better than anything I could have ordered at a good Italian restaurant! And a whole lot cheaper.
Thank you for the recipe.
Yes, I totally think that would work because I use sour cream in my baked ziti!
I would love to make this into a freezer meal…at what step do you freeze??
Sprinkle mozzarella on top then freeze!
Do u think I can use cottege cheese instead of ricotta cheese? I just cant seem to like ricotta….lol. I have tried and tried!
Yes, cottage cheese will work!
You knocked it out of the park with this recipe! It is SO GOOD, and so much easier than stuffing shells. Thank you!
Wow! I made this last night for dinner. We loved it. I used light cream cheese and part skim ricotta to save calories. It was so good. Can’t wait to eat the leftovers
Great minds think alike, lol. This is so similar to a casserole I’ve been making for close to 45 years. The only differences I see are that I used homemade sauce, mozzarella instead of cream cheese, and more mozzarella between each layer as well as on top. We even use almost the same seasonings, lol. Oh, and I used smaller shells because our local grocery store didn’t carry the big ones. The ones I used were about a half inch across after they were cooked. They were the biggest our store carried ’til the late 80’s. I’m gonna try using the cream cheese next time I make mine.
So glad you agree!
This looks great, Christy! Both my husband & I are teachers getting ready to head back to school, along with our kindergartner & 2nd grader, in a couple of weeks. This will most definitely become part of the dinner rotation. I’m a big fan of meals I can make ahead, freeze, and cook, especially when trying to get back into the beginning of the year swing of things. I love “deconstructed” meals like this. My mom makes unstuffed stuffed cabbage. It is so simple & so delicious. Thanks for all you do! 🙂
Very easy and yummy dinner! I love that you use the same cheeses that I do for the cheese filling. It’s a family favorite in this house.
hey girl- this looks oh so good!
This looks amazing! Perfect weeknight meal for the fall!