May 13, 2013

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Ricotta | Fork Knife Swoon

Growing up, I was one of those bizarre children who actually liked eating vegetables. For a long time, spinach was my very favorite, and I would eat big bowls of it simply steamed, or sometimes with a little sprinkling of cheese. I loved those leafy greens. Before you envy my parents having a child content to munch on spinach, sweet potatoes, peas, tomatoes, or other fresh produce procured in our family vegetable garden, they also lived through my angst-filled adolescent years, and I’m sure they’ll remind you that it all evens out in the end.

Today we still eat a lot of spinach, and I like incorporating it into recipes for a healthy boost. In this dish, we combine quick sauteed spinach with creamy ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, all tucked in to extra-large pasta shells and baked to bubbly goodness. The result is a healthy and hearty baked pasta dish that makes for a crowd-pleasing vegetarian meal.

Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Ricotta | Fork Knife Swoon

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  • Author: Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x


  • 16 jumbo pasta shells (Cook a couple of extra shells to allow for a few breaking while the pasta cooks.)
  • 11/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves, roughly-chopped
  • 12 oz skim-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded skim-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 11/4 cups marinara sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about a minute or two. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt but are still bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. The spinach should be reduced by half. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a shallow 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Stuff each pasta shell with a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta mixture, and place in the baking dish.
  4. Cover with the remaining sauce and bake covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top begins to brown and the sauce begins the bubble, another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with a dusting of Parmesan.


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  • Reply
    June 1, 2019 at 5:02 am

    It did take me a bit longer to make since you need to stuff individual shells but it was delicious.

  • Reply
    Wendy McPeake
    May 28, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Delish! A favourite in my family.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    This recipe is in my top 5 favorites. Iโ€™ve been making it for years and it is always a hit! I like to add mushrooms to mine.

    • Reply
      April 14, 2019 at 8:46 am

      So happy to hear that! Thanks, Sarah!!

  • Reply
    Sally DuPerron
    March 10, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Made this recipe more than once and the family loves it. It is a little messy stuffing the shells but well worth the time.

  • Reply
    March 9, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    I’ve been making this recipe for a long time and it’s always a major hit in our house! We love spinach, and the mixture works well in lasagna too. I’m actually not a big ricotta fan, but the additional ingredients give it a much more palatable texture for me to enjoy!

    As others have said, you dont have to exact in your measurements. I usually make a double batch and freeze part of the mixture. It holds up well and then I have it ready for a weeknight when I don’t have as much time!

    Italian sausage tastes really yummy with this as do meatballs. I usually throw in one or the other while baking it to make my husband happy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    March 2, 2019 at 11:15 am

    This is straight-up the best “impress your neighbors” recipe out there! So good, and leftovers taste just as great! Definitely a favorite at our house.

  • Reply
    March 1, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    Made this the other night. We loved it!

  • Reply
    February 11, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    **for a time saver, use a block of frozen spinach and toss in the microwave. Less to clean up and makes prep time shrink**

    I’ve been making this for s few years now and it always gets rave reviews! The best part is nothing needs to be measured precisely. One can simply dump everything together loosely measured and season to taste. So good! Thank you for a delicious and quick weeknight hit!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2019 at 11:03 am

    I left a previous review, but after making it again I wanted to add some things. First of all there is no way that 16 jumbo stuffed shells fit into an 8 x 8 pan. (others have mentioned that) I was serving 12 people so I increased the amount of the ingredients and fit 22 jumbo shells (squeezing them) into a 9 x 13 inch pan. I used a big bag of baby spinach from Trader Joe’s, it cooks down so much and then you don’t have leftovers, more garlic and more fresh basil. Also used the entire 16 oz container of ricotta and most of 1 26 oz jar of marinara. One of my main complaints about recipes is the “prep time”. Not just this recipe, but most of them. There is no way you can put this together in 15 min unless you have all of the ingredients out and measured, chopped and ready to go. So be sure you plan accordingly. To me all of that gathering, measuring and chopping needs to be added to the prep time. I think it took me 15 minutes just to stuff the shells and put them in the pan. All that being said it is a great recipe, so easy to make ahead and refrigerate, then put into cook just before serving. It served 12 easily with enough left over for my lunch the next day. For the meat eaters I put a couple of bags of Trader Joe’s Italian style meatballs in the crockpot with more of the marina sauce in the morning.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2019 at 9:21 am

    has anyone ever made it with cottage cheese in place of ricotta. I sometimes do in lasagna so was wondering if it would work in these.

    • Reply
      February 2, 2019 at 8:03 am

      Every time! I followed this recipe, but instead of replacing the ricotta – I just add some additional cottage cheese! Yum!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2019 at 9:24 am

    I’m making this again tonight for my Bunco group. Very tasty! I did add extra spinach, extra fresh basil and a pinch of nutmeg as one reviewer suggested. The really great part is how easy it is to put together ahead of time, have everything cleaned up and just pop in the oven before all ready to go.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    January 23, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Made this tonight and we all loved it! Will definitely make again. Recipe was clear and easy to follow.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    The day I found this recipe it absolutely changed my life. Everyone that has ever tried this recipe (including myself) has said โ€œThese are amazing, they taste better then going to a restaurantโ€. Iโ€™m not one to brag about my cooking but these stuffed shells are so amazing and make me feel like Iโ€™m a brilliant chef ๐Ÿ™‚ I make these all the time year round! I follow the recipe step by step and it has never failed me!


  • Reply
    January 1, 2019 at 9:40 am

    It was an ok recipie. Not to flavorful though. Kind of bland.

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