★★★★★

Easy, Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells Recipe

Easy, Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells are delicious and freezer friendly. Baked in one pan, these stuffed shells are the perfect meal to bring to friends and family. You’ll love the cheesy topping and hearty flavors!

Stuffed Shells are the ultimate crowd pleaser! For a kid friendly favorite, try our Pizza Stuffed Pasta Shells next. Or give these Alfredo stuffed shells for a chicken and broccoli twist!

Sausage stuffed shells in casserole dish with melted cheese.

Why this Recipe Works

  • This recipe makes about 40 shells. Perfect for feeding a crowd or a large family.
  • You can prep and freeze the stuffed shells in advance. When you’re ready to eat, just add sauce and cheese and bake.
  • Everyone in the family will go crazy for these saucy, cheesy shells!

I’ve been making these Sausage Stuffed Shells for almost 20 years. I know this because the first time I had them was when my aunt brought me some after my third child was born.

She dropped off a jar of pasta sauce with a bag of these stuffed shells for the freezer. It was so easy to just pop the shells in a pan with sauce and cheese and have a homemade meal!

Time has passed and the kids have grown–but these stuffed shells taste just as good as they did 20 years ago!

We love keeping a bag of these in the freezer for a quick and easy weeknight dinner!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed for sausage stuffed shells.

Italian Sausage. You can use hot, medium or mild sausage depending on your preference. Turkey sausage or chicken sausage can be used instead.

Mozzarella cheese. Feel free to substitute provolone, Feta or another favorite white cheese.

Parmesan cheese. It should be freshly grated (not from a shaker!). Substitute more mozzarella or another preferred white cheese if desired.

Pasta shells. You’ll need the large (or “jumbo”) shells for this recipe.

Prego Chunky Sauce. Or use any chunky marinara style pasta sauce you like! Homemade marinara sauce is also delicious!

Easy Instructions

Step by step photos showing how to prepare ingredients for stuffed pasta shells.

Cook pasta shells.

After cooking the shells according to package directions, drain and separate them so they don’t stick together.

Make the sausage filling.

While the pasta is cooking, cook the sausage in a large skillet until browned. Drain excess grease. Add spinach, onion and butter to the pan and saute for 2 minutes. Mix in the spices and seasonings.

Fold in the cheeses.

Assemble the shells.

Step by step photos showing how to stuff pasta shells.

Spoon filling into each pasta shell. From here, you can freeze the shells until you’re ready to bake them.

Baking stuffed shells.

When you’re ready to eat, pour 2 cups of sauce at the bottom of a baking dish. Add the shells and cover with more sauce.

Bake the shells covered for about 45 minutes. Remove the cover, sprinkle cheese on top and bake for another few minutes until the cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

Stuffed pasta shells stacked on eachother before baking.

Tips and Tricks

  • You don’t have to bake all the shells at once! I love to double the recipe and keep a bag full of stuffed shells in the freezer. Then, we can just bake as many as we will eat in one meal.
  • Make sure your baking dish is rimmed and is large enough to fit all the shells you plan to bake.
  • If you have extra spaghetti sauce leftover, feel free to pour it over the shells before adding the cheese. Yum.

Serving Suggestions

Easy, buttery Beer Bread goes well with every dinner! Cut it into bite size pieces and use it to soak up extra sauce.

Healthy and light, this fresh Cucumber Tomato Salad is a delicious side dish with pasta! It’s a great accompaniment to these stuffed shells.

For fruit lovers, you can’t go wrong with Strawberry Pecan Salad.

This Frozen Cranberry Salad can also be made ahead of time and is perfect for the holidays.

Whip up a batch of Green Bean casserole for the perfect holiday side dish.

Stuffed shells in freezer bag for storage.

Recipe FAQs

Can you freeze stuffed shells?

Yes! Once you have stuffed the shells, place them an inch apart on a cookie sheet. Freeze for one hour. Remove from freezer and slide shells in a freezer safe ziploc bag.

To cook, remove desired number of shells and place in a baking dish . Cook with sauce and cheese according to the recipe.

Can I use fresh spinach instead of frozen?

Fresh spinach could definitely be used!

How long do I bake the shells if I’m not freezing them first?

If you’re baking the shells right away, they’ll need about 30 minutes covered in the oven. Then, remove and cook until the sauce is nice and bubbly.

How many stuffed shells should I make per person?

My family will eat anywhere from 2 – 3 shells per person in one meal. Small kids will eat 1 or 2, depending on how hungry they are!

How long do stuffed shells keep in the freezer?

Stuffed shells stay good for up to 3 months in the freezer if stored in an airtight container.

Stuffed shells covered in cheese and pasta sauce on a serving plate.

More Easy Dinner Recipes

Yield: 40 shells

Sausage Stuffed Shells

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

These Easy, Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells Recipe are the perfect freezer meal idea! They are also a great dinner to bring to family and friends!

Ingredients

  • 1 box (16 oz) large pasta shells
  • 1 package (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 lb Italian sausage (no casings)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 Tablespoons worchestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoons oregano
  • ½-1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 jars Prego Chunky Sauce

Instructions

  1. Cook large shells pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, separate and place on parchment paper on counter. Set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, brown Italian sausage in a large skillet. Once browned, drain grease and return meat to skillet. Add in spinach, butter and onion. Saute for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add in salt, pepper, garlic salt, worcestershire, oregano, and hot sauce. Mix until well combined.
  4. Fold in parmesan cheese and 2 cup mozzarella cheese.
  5. Using a large spoon, stuff each shell with sausage mixture, until all shells are stuffed. Place shells in ziploc bag and freeze until ready to use. When ready to cook, follow step 6 below.
  6. When ready to bake, pour about 2 cup of Prego sauce in bottom of baking dish. Choose a dish size that will fit the number of shells you are going to be cooking. For my family, we each eat about 2-3 shells per meal. On top of sauce, add shells, then more sauce, if desired. Cover dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes in a 350F oven. Remove foil and add remaining 2 cup cheese. Bake an additional 5-15 minutes, until sauce on bottom is bubbly and mixture inside shells is fully heated, and cheese is melted.

Notes

  • You don't have to bake all the shells at once! I love to double the recipe and keep a bag full of stuffed shells in the freezer. Then, we can just bake as many as we will eat in one meal.
  • Make sure your baking dish is rimmed and is large enough to fit all the shells you plan to bake.
  • If you have extra spaghetti sauce leftover, feel free to pour it over the shells before adding the cheese. Yum.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 518Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 1498mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 30g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

When Cheesy Sausage Stuffed Shells are on the menu everyone is excited for dinnertime. Whether you make them for yourself or to drop off for a friend in need, you’ll love this easy recipe.

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on June 23, 2021

Comments & Reviews

  1. These stuffed shells are amazing and so tasty. The family and I absolutely loved how these turned out! Can’t wait to make these again!

  2. hi! Planning to make these with a group of friends! how many shells can you get into one ziploc bag/how many bags do you need for making this recipe? Thanks! can’t wait to try them!

  3. Soon after Christmas, Japanese people start preparing for the year-end and New Year’s events.
    Compared to Christmas, many of these events are based on Japanese tradition and are deeply related to religion.
    The end-of-year party is called “bonenkai” in Japanese. “Bonen” means to forget (the worries of) the past year.
    People are busy with events on New Year’s Eve.

    1. If making right away, you can cook covered for 30 minutes, remove foil, then cook until cheese is melted and sauce is bubble. ENJOY 🙂

  4. Splendid! That will certainly top my favorite pasta list. Aimee, you did hit the charts with this great recipe. Cheers!

  5. This is like the definition of comfort food! I can’t totally see how this is a signature dish. Looks so good!

  6. Hello, comfort food!  Love that there’s a story behind them – it makes a comforting dish like this one even more comforting.  Hope you’re still enjoying lots of family time!

    1. It’s funny because some of the recipes that I’ve been making for decades, I have yet to share on the blog!!

  7. What a great meal for the new year! I don’t think I’ve ever made stuffed shells before and that just feels wrong!

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