This easy weeknight dinner recipe is cheesy comfort food that everyone loves. Slow Cooker Classic Stuffed Shells are made with jumbo pasta shells that are loaded with ricotta cheese, spinach and topped with ground sausage and pasta sauce.
This stuffed shell recipe is a hearty meal for the whole family to enjoy. I love a good Crockpot dinner and this simple recipe does not disappoint. Dig into all that cheesy goodness in this comfort food classic!
When I make this recipe for my family, it’s always a big hit. I usually don’t have leftovers, but if I do they taste great for lunch the next day. You can make it to use as a freezer meal, too!
If you’re looking for an easy stuffed shells recipe, this is it! Perfect for the home cook who doesn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, but still loves a delicious meal.
Why You’ll Love Crockpot Stuffed Shells
- Easy recipe for home cooks
- Perfect to add to your meal plan for weeknight dinners
- Pasta lovers will enjoy this great recipe
- Made with simple ingredientsPrep work can be done ahead of time
- Meaty, cheesy and filling
- Ricotta cheese
- Frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
- Mozzarella cheese
- Jumbo pasta shells
- Ground sausage (cooked and drained) – I like mild Italian sausage.
- Pasta sauce (use your favorite)
- Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley (garnish)
How to Make Slow Cooker Stuffed Shells
- Step One: Add jumbo pasta shells to a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until they just become soft. You want them to be undercooked because they will cook more in the slow cooker. Al dente is best! Drain and set aside.
- Step Two: Add ricotta cheese, spinach, 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese and egg to a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Step Three: Spoon the ricotta mixture into the shells.
- Step Four: Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Step Five: Place the stuffed shells into the slow cooker. You can stack them to fit them all in.
- Step Six: Spread the cooked sausage over the shells.
- Step Seven: Spread the remaining pasta sauce over the sausage.
- Step Eight: Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours until hot and bubbly.
- Step Nine: In the last 30 minutes of cooking, spread the remaining mozzarella cheese on top.
- Step Ten: Top with Parmesan and parsley and serve.
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What to Serve with Best Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Garlic bread
- Side salad
- Dinner rolls
- Steamed or roasted veggies
Variations and Substitutions
- Substitute cottage cheese or softened cream cheese for the ricotta cheese.
- Use cooked ground beef instead of ground sausage.
- Try a different types of cheese instead of mozzarella and Parmesan. You could use cheddar, Monterey Jack, Romano, or even Swiss.
- Add in some extra spices like black pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onion powder, or red pepper flakes.
- Use a meat sauce instead of the pasta sauce. I love my homemade spaghetti sauce.
- Use fresh spinach instead of frozen spinach. You will have to cook the spinach first. Add to a hot skillet with olive oil for a few minutes until it wilts.
Store leftover shells in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Can I Freeze?
Yes, you can freeze stuffed shells. Place them in a freezer safe dish and cover with aluminum foil. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Can I Make It Vegetarian?
Yes, you can make vegetarian stuffed shells. Just leave out the sausage. You could use a meatless sausage if you prefer.
- Don’t overcook your shells! You want them to be al dente because they will cook more in the slow cooker.
- Thaw your spinach quickly in the sink by placing the frozen spinach in a colander and running cold water on top. Break up the spinach with your clean hands. Don’t forget to drain out the water so it’s not too watery!
- I don’t recommend using pre-shredded mozzarella cheese. It doesn’t melt the same due to extra ingredients. Grate your own cheese for best results.
More Pasta Recipes
- Slow Cooker Beef and Noodles
- Mexican Spaghetti
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Spaghetti Pie
- Slow Cooker Lasagna
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Slow Cooker Classic Stuffed Shells
- 12 oz jumb stuffed shells
- 3 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ cups frozen spinach thawed and drained
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese shredded and divided
- 1 egg
- 1 lb ground sausage browned and drained
- 24 oz pasta sauce
- Parmesan cheese and parsley for garnish
- Add jumbo pasta shells to a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until they just become soft. You want them to be undercooked because they will cook more in the slow cooker. Drain and set aside.
- Add ricotta cheese, spinach, 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese and egg to a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Spoon the ricotta mixture into the shells.
- Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Place the stuffed shells into the slow cooker. You can stack them to fit them all in.
- Spread the cooked sausage over the shells.
- Spread the remaining pasta sauce over the sausage.
- Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours until hot and bubbly.
- In the last 30 minutes of cooking, spread the remaining mozzarella cheese on top.
- Top with Parmesan and parsley and serve.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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