May 13, 2013

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

In this easy spinach and ricotta stuffed shells recipe, three cheeses combine with quick sauteed spinach and jumbo pasta shells for a hearty and comforting, crowd-pleasing vegetarian dinner.

spinach and ricotta stuffed shells recipe from forkknifeswoon.com

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 spinach and ricotta stuffed shells recipe, 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.

Print
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

Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Save

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. Making a purchase through one of these links pays me a small referral fee at no added cost to you. These tiny fees add up, and help keep the blog running. Thank you for supporting Fork Knife Swoon!

Make this recipe? Let us know what you think!

Comment Policy: Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! The most helpful comments include recipe feedback and ratings, along with information on ingredients you may have added or substituted, or advice to other commenters. Disrespectful or abusive comments will be deleted. I do my best to respond to each and every comment, but it may take me a day or two to get back to your question. Thank you so much for following along!

Leave a Comment & Review

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

319 Comments

  • Reply
    Laura Thorstenson
    May 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Great recipe. So glad I somehow found it, so delicious and so easy to make. Thank you so much for posting it!

    • Reply
      Laura
      May 13, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks, Laura! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Woodward
    April 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    These are so delicious! We have picky eaters in our family and this recipe has made it into the rotation. That says A LOT! Thank you so much for a happy vegetarian meal (with spinach, even) that everyone enjoys.

    • Reply
      Laura
      April 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks so much, Elizabeth! I’m so glad to hear you and the family love these as much as we do!

  • Reply
    Gwyn
    April 21, 2015 at 11:01 am

    So, so good. I make these once a week now. It’s just my husband and me, so it’s two days of dinners for us and actually tastes better the second day.

    • Reply
      Laura
      April 21, 2015 at 11:26 am

      Thank you so much, Gwyn! I’m so glad you and your husband are enjoying them as much as we do! And I agree, sometimes pasta is a little better the next day, all melded together 🙂

  • Reply
    Ann
    April 13, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Very good. The spinach really makes a difference. My family loved it.

  • Reply
    Cassandra
    March 17, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I’ve made these numerous times since I first found the recipe on Pinterest a while back. Easy and delicious! Finally now just checking out this website and very excited to try a bunch of the other recipes out!

  • Reply
    Joanne
    February 20, 2015 at 10:22 am

    A little confused, in the picture it’s in an 8×8 dish with 9 shells but the recipe says to use 16 shells. I think the recipe would be better suited to a 9×13 dish.

    • Reply
      Daisy
      October 3, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      I didn’t read the full recipe before I started and only had a 9×13 dish on hand and it was packed with shells (and a little left over). Great recipe though!

      • Reply
        Laura
        October 5, 2015 at 8:34 pm

        Thanks, Daisy! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Reply
    Julie
    February 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I don’t usually comment on things like this, but I just had to mention that these were amazing! My fiance and I made them on Valentine’s Day after making a different version of stuffed shells a few months ago that were a complete disaster. We loved the fresh basil in these. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      Laura
      March 4, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks so much for letting me know, Julie! I’m so glad you and your fiance loved them as much as we do!!

  • Reply
    Rachel
    February 9, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    I made this a few nights ago! It was perfect. My boyfriend asked if we could include this in our regular rotation. Awesome, and easy!

    • Reply
      Laura
      February 11, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Thanks, Rachel! So glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed!

  • Reply
    Friday Favorites {1/16/15} - Sarah Sincerely
    January 16, 2015 at 3:08 am

    […] Oh my! These are so yummy! I made them on Wednesday night for dinner, and they were a hit with both John and me. I was afraid they’d be labor intensive and take a while to do. Start to finish, they took maybe 45 minutes. And 25 minutes of that time was just the assembled shells baking in the oven. And we had plenty leftover for Thursday night’s dinner. Recipe from Fork Knife Swoon. […]

  • Reply
    Zoila
    January 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Amazing recipe just made that for my Family they love it and I will be making it again. Love love love it

    • Reply
      Laura
      January 19, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Thanks, Zoila!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    January 11, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I am loving your blog! I just discovered it the other week and have already tried the stuffed shells and banana chocolate muffins-both fantastic!

    Keep the recipes coming, they’re wonderful! 🙂

    • Reply
      Laura
      January 11, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Thank you so much, Jennifer!!

  • Reply
    Tammy
    December 21, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Is this really supposed to be made in an 8×8? I’ve been looking at other recipes for Stuffed Shells that use the jumbo pasta shells and they mostly say to use a 13 x 9. I am definitely making YOUR recipe (making 2 trays – one to take on Christmas, and one to freeze for a couple of days later!).

  • Reply
    tina
    December 11, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I don’t have fresh spinach, can I use frozen spinach?

    • Reply
      Laura
      December 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Yes, just be sure that the spinach is defrosted and drained. Hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    Samantha
    November 8, 2014 at 6:11 am

    What is the calorie break down for this?

  • Reply
    Friday Favorites {10/17/18} - Sarah Sincerely
    October 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    […] But, y’all, they are so delicious! Even my meat loving, skeptical-of-veggies husband loved these. They were easy to throw together and made enough for leftovers throughout the […]

  • Reply
    Elena
    October 15, 2014 at 11:35 am

    This recipe is absolutely delicious. I made it ahead of time and put it in the freezer. All I had to do was throw it in the oven! I love the combination of flavors of the spinach and cheese. I made this for my boyfriend and he loved it. Thanks for the great recipe 🙂

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 16, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Thanks, Elena! So glad you loved the recipe as much as we do!

      • Reply
        Samantha
        November 5, 2014 at 3:47 pm

        Can you put this in the refrige and cook at a later time in the day? Temp of oven and how long to cook it then?

        • Reply
          Laura
          November 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

          Hi, Samantha! Absolutely, you can make this even the day before. It will bake at the same temperature, but might take a bit longer to cook. Some of this depends on the baking dish, but maybe 10-15 minutes more.

  • Reply
    Jeanne
    October 15, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Does this freeze well? I’m expecting international guests and I’m trying to prepare several meals ahead so I won’t have to be in the kitchen most of the time while they are here.

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 16, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Hi, Jeanne! They do! I’ve had a couple of readers also suggest freezing the pre-made shells individually or in small batches for more flexibility on serving size.

  • Reply
    Amber
    October 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    These were delicious! My whole family enjoyed them, including my 3 year old. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 10, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Thanks, Amber! I’m so glad you and your family loved them!

  • Reply
    Amber
    October 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    These were delicious! Even my 3 year old loved them! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Angela
    September 20, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Your presentation photo is beautiful, but it doesn’t look as though there is any sauce on top of the shells. I’m making this for a birthday celebration, and I’d like my dish to look as lovely as yours, so should I top the shells with sauce, or not? Also, I love the idea of adding spinach into the cheese mixture. I’m very anxious to make this dish. Of course, I’ll serve it with a large tossed Italian-style salad and garlic bread. I’m sure our guests will truly enjoy this meal.

    • Reply
      Laura
      September 21, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Thanks, Angela! It’s important to have at least a light coating of sauce on top of the shells… This keeps the pasta from drying out or burning while they cook. You’re right, there isn’t much on top of the shells in the photo – I wanted the filling to show through – but normally I would use the full amount in the recipe. If you want more of that “look,” try using a thinner pasta sauce rather than a chunky one. Hope that helps, and that you and your guests love the recipe!

  • Reply
    Judith Markham
    September 19, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Laura I want to use this for my eating light group. Do you have the nutritional value and calories for this dish? How could I make it light?

    • Reply
      Laura
      September 21, 2014 at 9:36 am

      Hi Judith! I am working on adding nutritional info to all FKS recipes, but I’m not quite there yet. Soon! In the meantime, try using whole wheat pasta shells (if you can find them), and light/skim ricotta and mozzarella.

  • Reply
    Adina
    September 14, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    My daughter won’t eat eggs. Do you think I can just increase the ricotta and add a little water? Or should I use egg replacer?

    • Reply
      Laura
      September 15, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Hi Adina,

      Is it that she doesn’t like eggs? Or can’t/is allergic to eggs?

      If she just doesn’t like eggs, I promise you she will never notice. The egg is not there for flavor, but rather as a binder, to keep the cheese together, and you really don’t taste it at all.

      If she is allergic, simply omit the egg and continue with the rest of the recipe – no water needed.

      Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Katie
    July 17, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Thank you Laura for the reciepe. I made it for dinner today and it came out amazing. My boyfriend and friends loved it.

    • Reply
      Laura
      July 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks, Katie! So glad you all loved the recipe!

  • Reply
    Dorothy Taylor
    July 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Sounds wonderful!!! But what do you serve with it?? Salad?? If so what kind??

    • Reply
      Laura
      July 12, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Dorothy! I would definitely serve this with a salad… The stuffed shells are almost a complete meal themselves, but a light salad would be a nice side. Lately I’ve been loving big spinach salads with fresh cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, kalamata olives, cucumber, avocado, pine nuts (or almonds) and a liberal amount of goat cheese (or feta), which has a really fresh, summery/Mediterranean vibe that would be really good with the shells. Honestly though, I think any green salad would be great with this. Let me know what you end up making, and enjoy your dinner party!!

  • Reply
    steph
    July 10, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Thanks so much for this recipe, it’s one of our favorites now. My boyfriend loves pasta and I usually avoid it, but I actually really like this one and of course so does he. 🙂 Thanks again!

    • Reply
      Dorothy Taylor
      July 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Want to service spinach & ricotta stuffed shells for dinner party…but what do I serve with it?? If a salad,,,what kind of salad?? HELP!!

  • Reply
    Chris
    April 7, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Will attempt my first ravioli/pierogi with homemade pasta tonight and was looking for a spinach ricotta filling and I will try this one. The shells look extremely tempting, but I really must try my own pasta first!

    • Reply
      Chris
      April 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      I don’t understand the following: “The spinach should be reduced by half.” The amount? Wy waste 2 cups of spinach? Not sure what to do…

      • Reply
        Laura
        April 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm

        No, no! Don’t throw away the spinach! What that means is that the spinach will cook down considerably, reducing the overall volume of spinach by about half (as much of the natural water in the spinach cooks away.) You’ll end up using the full amount you start with… Hope that helps!

      • Reply
        Emily
        April 12, 2014 at 11:41 am

        It means that after you cook the spinach, the amount will be reduced by a half.

      • Reply
        Angela
        June 21, 2014 at 5:43 am

        She just means that you should wait to remove the spinach from the heat until the size of the original amount of spinach is half the size of when you started cooking it- that’s when you know it’s done. It’s size is reduced by half. 🙂

  • Reply
    Stevi
    April 6, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    All I can say is ‘YUM!” I found this recipe on Pinterest and my husband and I absolutely loved it! We made it two weeks in a row! Really flavourful and filling, yet still light. Definitely a new favorite so thank you!

  • Reply
    Kelly
    March 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    A friend made this for me after I had my third baby, it was SO delicious that it’s now my go-to when bringing people food or cooking for others! Making it today for my bookclub! This recipe is a total home run!

    • Reply
      Mark Janov
      April 5, 2014 at 3:55 am

      This was fantastic. Thank you I looked like I have been cooking for years. The wife loved it and I now have lunch tomorrow besides a great dinner tonight . The hardest part was buying the food . Then the anticipation of this bothered me a little, I hate to wait as I am a fast food guy. So glad I made this.
      Great recipe … Thanks

  • Reply
    Heaven
    March 30, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Hello, this sounds like a lovely recipe! I dont have much cooking experience because I’m still young, only sixteen and I’m trying to find new and cheap recipes. I’m definitely going to try this one, but what would you recommend on the side? Green beans, sala, carrots?

    • Reply
      Heaven
      March 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      *salad, not sala.

    • Reply
      Kim Dachtler
      April 1, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Salad and garlic bread or bread sticks ~

  • Reply
    Deborah
    March 4, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I made these for a tough crowd on New Year’s Eve this past year for a progressive dinner, the main course being at our home. (Three of my guests were siblings whose father was a professional chef and they’re very opinionated where cuisine is concerned.) I got RAVE reviews on these shells! I had wanted a recipe that would help use the large tub of spinach I frequently buy at Sam’s Club and this recipe was just the ticket. I didn’t have fresh basil in the house so I used dried but otherwise, pretty much followed the recipe as written. It was great to be able to make these up the evening before and we set our oven to come on while we were having appetizers at House #1 on our dinner tour. I am going out of state to care for my elderly parents soon and will be taking the ingredients to WOW my Italian mama and father when I make them dinner. These freeze really, really well so the leftovers will go into their freezer for their caregiver to warm up for them at a later date. Great, easy and delicious recipe! Thanks!!!

  • Reply
    Timo
    February 12, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Dang, these were awesome! I added cooked crumbled bacon into the cheese mixture and it turned out delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Brooke Alexa
    February 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Great recipe for one of my favorites growing up!! I used kale in mine instead of spinach and cooked it the same just in a Dutch oven instead of skillet! Very yummy!! And boyfriend loves it!! xoxo

  • Reply
    jordan
    February 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Just made this tonight. So great. We used a little extra ricotta parm and mozz, just because we had it. Unfortunately I burned the fresh garlic so we had to use garlic powder the second go round. Didn’t affect the flavor (that I noticed), still turned out phenomenal! Thanks for my new go to recipe.

  • Reply
    Carrie Lee
    February 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Hi! These look amazing! I cant wait to try the recipe. You said they could be frozen, any idea on heating instructions after being frozen? Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Reply
      Diane
      August 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      When I make this delicious recipe I always make extra. I put the stuffed shells on a cookie sheet and freeze them. When frozen I put them n a freezer bag and can remove as many as I want when needed without having them all stuck together.

      • Reply
        Laura
        August 21, 2014 at 1:03 pm

        Definitely going to start doing this… Thanks, Diane!

  • Reply
    Dianna
    December 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Would it be possible to freeze these for later use?

    • Reply
      Laura
      December 27, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Yes, you can either freeze them prior to baking, or freeze the leftovers.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    December 22, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Laura, I just found this recipe and amazing photo of your spinach-ricotta stuffed shells. I will be making these for our Italian Christmas Eve celebration at my parents house on Tuesday. Thank you so much for posting and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Anxhela
    December 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Thank you for your recipe!!!!!!!! It was as good as it looked. My family loved it and it reminded me of Olive Garden. I will follow this blog more often. Love it!!!!!

  • Reply
    M
    December 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I would like to add ground turkey to this… can I add it into the cheese mixture without ruining them? Or would I need to just add it to the marinara sauce?

    • Reply
      Laura
      December 14, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      I think you could absolutely add it to the cheese/spinach mixture – just make sure the meat is cooked before you stuff the shells (I’m not sure it would cook fully otherwise). Let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  • Reply
    Eli@coachdaddy
    December 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Our frozen spinach was freezer burned, so we just subbed in cottage cheese. And extra ricotta. Oh, and I had to use cheddar … but it was still delicious!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    November 20, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I found this recipe through a search engine last night while at the grocery store and found the photo to be so beautful I just had to try it. Turns out it tasted even better! Everyone went back for thirds! Although your recipe was perfect on its own, I tend to add things and change things up (slightly) while I’m in the middle of cooking. I ended up adding almost the entire bag of spinach (about 3/4 of a large bag), I added about 6 or 7 basil leaves (I grow it fresh from my garden and cut too much and it smelt too wonderful to waste), I also added a tiny pinch of nutmeg and a little granulated garlic to the filling mixture (didn’t think I used enough fresh garlic when I cooked it with the spinach). Once it was ready to go in the oven I also “sprinkled” more of the mozzarella cheese on top of the shells before covering with the tin foil (couldn’t resist). All-in-all it was absolutely the best stuffed shells I, or my family, have ever had! So glad I found it online and it will be a family recipe for life! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Ted
    November 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I have a problem with judgment calls like”packed”, greatly preferring an objective measure like grams or pounds/ounces. Can anyone help with the spinach amount?

    • Reply
      Laura
      November 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Hi Ted, I’m sorry you found the measurement confusing. I’ve never weighed the spinach for this recipe… I use the term “packed” here to describe full cups of spinach, that have been gently pressed down to reduce the air space between the leaves. In all honesty, this recipe has a lot of wiggle room to it, and using slightly more or less spinach won’t make a huge difference. I hope that helps at least a little bit!

  • Reply
    Lorna
    November 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I made this today and really enjoyed it. Rather then using jarred marinara sauce I made it from scratch which I think made the recipe even better. I like the way this recipe will allow me to play around experiment. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Laura
      November 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Lorna, I bet it was great with the homemade marinara sauce! That makes any dish even better. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and played around with the recipe!

  • Reply
    Tami
    November 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks for the recipe!! Can’t wait to try!

  • Reply
    Nora Winchell
    October 19, 2013 at 12:35 am

    I tried these stuffed shells tonight and they were amazing!

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 20, 2013 at 11:35 am

      Thank you, Nora! So glad you enjoyed them! 🙂

  • Reply
    Joe
    October 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    They were terrific!….I made them with frozen spinach, boiled then drained really well before putting them in the cooled down oil.

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 9, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Thanks, Joe! I’m so glad you liked them!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    October 4, 2013 at 10:24 am

    has anyone cooked this from frozen before? I’m assuming you could freeze it right before you would put it in the oven, but just wondering how much longer it would take in the oven if baked from frozen. thanks!

    • Reply
      Cindy
      December 28, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Yes I have and they turn out wonderfully. Just freeze the shells with the filling and then add the sauce when you are ready to bake. I always have s dozen frozen for a quick meal. Just adjust your cooking time like you would for a frozen lasagna.

      • Reply
        Laura
        January 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm

        Thanks for your advice, Cindy!!

  • Reply
    Jamie
    October 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    I added ground meat to these- ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      I’m glad you like these!

  • Reply
    Gloria
    August 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    stuff shells with spinach.

  • Reply
    HaleyAnneHunt@gmail.com
    July 13, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I can’t wait to make this – how much do you think would be lost by using frozen spinach? (That’s almost a cooking crime but if I’m not sacrificing too much of the dish, the time/space/cost savings might be worth it)

    • Reply
      Laura
      July 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Don’t worry about using frozen spinach. I don’t think too much will be lost and it’s definitely more convenient! Just make sure to defrost the spinach first and drain the extra water before you add it to the cheese mixture. Let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  • Reply
    Brooke Schweers
    May 13, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Yum looks amazing. Spinach and Ricotta are a match made in heaven!

    • Reply
      Laura
      May 14, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Thanks, Brooke! It’s one of our favorites…

    1 2 3 4