Stuffed Shells Recipe

A stuffed shells recipe made with lemon zest and bright tomato sauce. Classic, with a hint of a twist. Everyone loves them.

Stuffed Shells

Wayne loves stuffed shells - straight up, red sauced, ricotta-stuffed snails of baked deliciousness. I made them five years ago, when we moved from our apartment a few blocks south of where we currently live, and I baked a batch the other night. They've made appearances on our table dozens of times in between. Said another way, as far as pasta recipes are concerned, stuffed shells are just straight-up crowd pleasers, and couldn't be simpler to make!

Stuffed Shells Recipe
When I originally post this, I admitted stuffed shells were a bit of a cheat for a first-night meal. I did all the prep ahead of time, and then drove the shells up the street in the backseat of our car. But, man, did they hit the spot after an incredibly long day. And it was no big deal to make them.Stuffed Shells Recipe
Although most of the kitchen was packed up, I was able to made a quick pot of my favorite tomato sauce a couple days prior. The day before the move, I made the ricotta mixture, filled each shell, and arranged them in a big baking dish. All I had to do is get them to the new apartment intact, and wash a mixing bowl and spoon.
Stuffed Shells Recipe
You fill each shell with a generous dollop of the ricotta mixture. The shells are nested in a baking dish coated with simple tomato sauce. More of the sauce goes on top, and then everything is baked.Stuffed Shells Recipe

Stuffed Shells: A Few Tips and Techniques

The sauce: I like to make these shells with lemon zest in the filling and in the sauce. Not typical, but really tasty. The sauce I use is basically this five-minute tomato sauce. It's great here, on pizza, on just about everything. I love the pop of heat you get from the red pepper flakes in the sauce.

Individual Portions: You can bake the shells family-style, in one big pan, as pictured here. But, you can also bake them in individual portions in ramekins, gratin dishes, or Staubs, if you like.

Filling Ideas: Play around with the ricotta filling too - sometimes I add chopped olives, or chopped spinach, herbs, roasted seasonal vegetables, etc.

Stuffed Shells Recipe

A Kid-friendly Recipe

Kids love filling the shells, and then lining them up side by side in the baking dish. It's a great recipe to get the whole family involved. Enjoy! -h

More Pasta Recipes

Favorite Pasta Sauces

Other Favorite Italian Recipes

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Stuffed Shells Recipe

4.24 from 34 votes

As I mention up above, you can make the components for this a couple days ahead of time if needed - i.e. sauce, filling. Also, you won't be able to fit 25-30 shells in your pan, but a few are always casualties of the boil, so I call for more than you'll likely need.

  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • scant 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed red tomatoes
  • 1 14- ounce can crushed red tomatoes
  • 1 15- ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 cup / ~5 oz grated mozzarella
  • 1 bunch of chives, minced
  • 25-30 jumbo dried pasta shells
  1. Oil a 13 x 9-inch / 33 x 23-cm baking pan, or equivalent, and sprinkle the zest of 1/2 the lemon across it. Set aside. Get a big pot of water boiling, and preheat your oven to 350F / 180C with a rack in the middle.
Make the Sauce
  1. To make the sauce, combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant - you don't want the garlic to brown. Now stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer, just a minute or two. Remove from heat and carefully take a taste (you don't want to burn your tongue)...If the sauce needs more salt add it now. Let cool.
Make the Filling
  1. To make the filling, combine the ricotta, egg, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until combined, then stir in the mozzarella, remaining lemon zest, and 3/4 of the chives. Set aside.
  2. Cook the shells according to package instructions in well-salted water - until al dente. If you overcook, the shells will tear as you attempt to fill them. Drain and let cool long enough to handle with your hands - see photo.
  1. Spread 1/3 of sauce across the bottom of the prepared pan. Fill each shell with ricotta, and arrange in a single layer in the pan. Ladle the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover for the final 15 minutes or until the shells are cooked through. Sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve hot.
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
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Recipe Rating


Hi- I’ve made these shells a ton and they never disappoint. I was just wondering- might they freeze? I’m making food for an elderly neighbor and I was trying to think of stuff she could just pull out of the freezer, and I think these would be great if they froze…5 stars


    Hi Max! Yes – absolutely. The mushroom lasagna is another favorite freezer meal around here.

    Heidi Swanson

I have been making this recipe for years now (5/6 maybe?) I came across it when I was in college and it’s been a staple ever since. It’s always a crowd pleaser. I just add some cooked hot Italian sausage to the mixture before stuffing for my fiancée now.5 stars


So wonderful! My mail question was I am allergic to tomatoes, could I use the filling sauce for the actual topping also? O made this before, before I developed the allergy and it was amazing5 stars

F Sethman

This was delicious! My brother had several helpings! We all loved. Thank you!5 stars


This is a fabulous recipe. The lemon zest gives it bright note and I love the idea of mixing in chopped olives with the ricotta. And the sauce rocks. Thanks so much for a recipe that even the picky eaters in my home love : )


Omg this is delicious!! The best stuffed shells recipe I have ever tried (and I’ve tried a few!) But i was wondering if this could be converted to a crock pot meal? Any tips on doing that, or big changes to the recipe?


I found this recipe about a year ago, and it’s become one of my family’s favorites. I always make a double batch and freeze a pan!

Stephanie F

Can this stuffed shells recipe be made ahead of time and frozen for a few days? Looks and sounds delicious!


Heidi, I love the unique flair you add to your style of cooking. I don’t recall ever having a particular yen for stuffed shells, but for some reason I needed to make these the moment I saw your recipe. The lemon zest was perfect in the tomato sauce, and adding it to the pan, well — the aroma of the while it was baking was incredible! I did find, however, the 11/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes to be quite overwhelming, and that was after I pared it down to only 1 teaspoon, and also added an extra can of tomatoes (I wanted to make sure I had plenty of what I was sure would be delicious sauce). The sauce was quite hot, even with the reduced pepper flakes and the extra tomatoes, although it mellowed out after 2 or 3 days. I found the heat quite unexpected in a stuffed shells recipe, while your tomato soup recipe, where I might expect heat, calls for only 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes in a greater amount of tomatoes. Of course, none of this stopped me from devouring every last shell … I’ve been on a tomato kick lately, and I love that your recipes tend toward the savory rather than the sweet.


Heidi, I love, love your recipes but I, unfortunately, have a complaint about the stuffed shells. It had way too much red pepper flakes. I had an inkling it was too much so cut down to 1 teaspoon and still felt like it gave the sauce to much ‘burn’. I would make it again but leave out the red pepper flakes entirely. I’m curious as to why you would put so much in. Sorry to complain because I love your cooking and own one of your cookbooks.


I fell in love with this recipe some years ago before becoming vegan. I now make a vegan version with crumbled tofu, nutritional yeast and vegan yoghurt (rest is the same). It’s not quite as good, but still hits the spot! Thanks.


I’ve made your shells before and we loved them. And I think I’m going to make them again for my birthday dinner on Wednesday. Thanks Heidi!

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Made this last night! The lemon zest is perfect! I also added a bit of nutmeg–YUM. I also made a few special for my 3 year old by request–with some chevre folded into the stuffing. Both were delicious! I used Frankies Sputino Marinara sauce recipe. I followed the rest as outlined here but I found the numbers a bit off. The box of shells yielded way more than this stuffing allowed for, so next time I will use either half the box or double the sauces. Thanks, Heidi!


This is one of my favorites too. I love it with some chopped spinach too. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since you first posted it. I used to make it regularly but during those 5 years I’ve produced two babies who sadly do not enjoy ricotta cheese. Maybe they will one day.


Hi Heidi, I remember you posting this recipe – was it really 5 years ago?? We made them back then and have done variations on that dish regularly ever since. One of our favourite variations is to char grill slices of eggplant and chop them through the mix.
We moved house ourselves a month ago – sadly, cheese and crackers was our first meal!


I remember when you first posted these, and making them soon afterwards. I can’t believe it’s already been 5 years! Brava for everything you’ve accomplished since then.


I’ve made these shells for just about every dinner guest we’ve had. I’m afraid I don’t have many friends left to reveal it to. Many have requested the recipe and made it for ALL THEIR FRIENDS. The lemon zest is non-negotiable in my mind 🙂


I guess that means I’ve been following you for at least 5 years! This recipe is still one of my favourites from your site. So delicious, always a hit.


crazy!! just made this last evening! delicious!


Baked stuffed shells are such a comfort food. I’m super impressed you cooked during the last days of moving. That week is usually all takeout in our household. Homemade is definitely better 🙂

Elina (Russian Bites)

This looks absolutely fantastic! About half my family is vegetarian. It’s always nice to be able to find recipes that are vegetarian-friendly, but still appealing to the meat-eaters.


I made this two nights ago and it was awesome. I honestly cannot believe how easy and wonderfully tasty they were – the lemon zest really added the wonderful undertone for the sauce. Cannot stop talking about it.

Sara Graham

I made these last night and they were awesome! The lemon zest is a stroke of genius in this dish. I also just made your zucchini bread with the curry in it. Wow! I can’t wait to make it again. I did make my own crystallized ginger instead of store bought which got me to thinking that a post or a series might be cool on this site for those of us who are interested in “making” our own ingredients occasionally. Tonight, I’m tackling the Buttermilk Farro Salad. Thanks for such a creative and beautifully photographed site!

HS: Thanks Nan!


what a cool idea to use pepper flakes to spice things up a little! will definitely try that in my next tomato sauce!


Hi Heidi,
I’m a huge fan of your work. I have enjoyed many of your recipes and the second I saw this post, I knew I wanted to make it! I don’t, however, eat dairy. So, I made your version for my husband and a dairy-free version for myself by just changing the filling. It was successful and delicious and I thought you might have other readers who are dairy-free. Here is what I did for the filling (everything else was the same as yours!)
Filling: 2 15 ounce cans of Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed.
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp oregano
drizzle of olive oil
squeeze of a lemon
water, if needed
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a thick, creamy mixture. Add a little water if the mixture is too stiff. Stuff the shells and bake as directed. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes.


Just made this for dinner and my husband says its his new favorite thing! Delicious, Heidi, thank you. The lemon zest is a stroke of genius, the chives add a delicate flavor as well. And the spicy sauce was the perfect accompaniment. This will definitely go into our dinner rotation!


Oooh, lovely! Just the right thing to put in the oven during these cold southern hemisphere nights… Thanks Heidi!


have this in the oven now, and am excited for some “moving” stuffed shells. my husband and i are on the tail end of a 2.5 week stint of staying with different friends in between our leases, and home-cooked comfort food is definitely in order! i’m learning to improvise with the different gadgets & equipment [no cheese grater or zester!] … but did add some paper thin zucchini coins below and on top of the shells and hope that is good 🙂 thanks as always!

katie anne

These look so delicious, and I’m truly impressed you had a meal on the table your first night in your new (gorgeous) place…I would’ve been ordering a pizza and a six-pack!
I’m sure someone else has mentioned this, but I love to do a mixture of ricotta and tofu — gives it a little protein punch and I don’t feel as guilty with all that cheese (because I have to add parmesan to the top too).
Congrats on the move.


I made these last night and loved it! The sauce with a kick is delicious and the shells are perfect- I sprinkled the mozz on top instead of in the mixture and added sauteed spinach, summer squash and peppers to the ricotta mixture. I made my first batch of ricotta for this as well =) All great! Your new apt looks beautiful, congratulations!


I made this dish last week and it was great. Plan to make this again for a retirement party this week.
thank you for the recipe.


Just made these and the flavor is incredible! The lemon and the red pepper flakes really do set it off. First time ever making stuffed shells and I feel like a pro. 🙂


Made this on father’s day. The lemon is inspired. I went a bit easy on the red pepper flakes so my girls wouldn’t overact to the heat and they were absolutely perfect. Great timing!


Hello Heidi! Thank you for the awesome tip about the lemon zest. I added some to the ricotta and spinach mixture for my lasagna rolls (didn’t have shells!) and it was phenomenal. My hubby spent five minutes trying to figure out what was different about it before I revealed the secret ingredient. Such a small thing really made the dish so light and wonderful. Thanks again! xx


Made this pasta recipe exactly as written, turned out absolutely perfect, wouldn’t change a thing. The lemon zest added that mystery flavour that everyone liked but couldn’t guess! Perfect do-ahead dish.


I made this recipe tonight and my husband & I ate it in one sitting. It’s sure to become one of our favourites. Thank you for sharing such a simple, perfect dish.

Khali Whatley

I made this last night and it was amazing!


what lovely photos, you’ve made something so simple look so divine!

jess white

My husband and I made this for dinner last night – delicious! We have both of your cookbooks and everything we have made out of them has been beyond fantastic — you are quickly becoming our favorite cook! Keep those recipes coming!


My second post today. Now after having made and thoroughly enjoyed this meal. Wow, i will definitely be making these again. Since I love lemon I added all of the lemon zest to the filling of homemade ricotta. I also had a bit of leftover pesto, so I added that to the sauce. So delicious, thanks for the inspiration.


I haven’t made stuffed shells in a long long time…
Thanks for the inspiration!

Rocky Mountain Woman

Sounds great! Have you ever frozen these? I am thinking this would be a wonderful frozen gift for a pregnant friend.


This is amazing. I was not sparing with my Kalamanta olives, and the tang of the olives with the chives and lemon zest… superb. Due to a sad disaster with an otherwise delicious fresh pasta sheet, I made this as a lasagna. And this was the first pasta sauce I’ve made that I was happy with, so thank you! I will recommend using fresh mozzarella, the texture and taste are superior to store brand blocks!


Great recipe – those shells look delicious, I’ll certainly try this in the not so distant future.
I must commend you on your photography also, the photo of them in the pan looks great.


This is our dinner tonight, with homemade ricotta. You have a wonderful blog. Your photos are beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for the delicious recipes.


mmm this looks so good! I think I am going to make it on Sunday night while watching the sneak preview for Extreme Chef on The Food Network

Alexandra Avdey

I’m a newbie, a question about your tomato sauce: Is it just as good with fresh tomatoes? How do you convert from canned to fresh? Anyone reading who could help please chime in!


I made these stuffed pasta shells for dinner last night and they were gorgeous. Thanks for the great recipe.

Alex Godfrey

I am in the process of moving too … this gave me a good idea for a simple dinner meal I can cook up. Thanks!


Ricotta and I are currently in the midst of an intense love affair, so this dish strikes a chord. Do you ever make your own? (ricotta, I mean).

Caroline @ French Ponytail

Just made these on fathers day and again today. Heidi- question about prepping ahead. I made the sauce and I stuffed the shells and stored both separate in the fridge. Now I just need to slather on sauce and bake tomorrow. Is that ok or should I store it in the fridge with it slathered in sauce???
HS: Either way Rpat.


Made this yesterday – very good added onions – I love onions and a little basil to the sauce.. paired it with sauteed Kale.. yummy!


I’ve been craving stuffed shells for the past 6 months or so and made this recipe last night for dinner. Threw in several big handfuls of raw chopped spinach into the ricotta mixture(couldn’t taste it at all but I have a surplus of spinach and am putting it into everything I can) and liberal fresh parsley on the finished product. RAVE reviews from my family. I think they may have been the tastiest stuffed shells I’ve ever had. And, I agree completely about the lemon zest giving it a wonderful kick. I used a whole lemon’s worth. Thanks for the great recipe!


My house loves stuffed shells too. I do half ricotta, half tofu and no one notices the difference. I like to cut the richness and get the tofu-y benefits. 🙂 I like to add chopped spinach too. Yum. I think I will make some this weekend!


Your recipe inspired me to run to the store last night & make these. I never thought of putting lemon zest in the filling, but I did it & it was FANTASTIC! Hands down, it made the dish!
Thank you!


Your recipe looks great and the pictures make me want to try it. My only issue is, I’m not a fan of ricotta cheese or cottage cheese. Do you have an alternative to using either of these two cheeses?


Ah– stuffed shells just scream “home” to me. My mom used to make huge batches of them and then freeze them for dinner way down the road.
This is a great recipe, thanks for sharing!

Emily G.

These stuffed shells look wonderful! Thanks for the post (and recipe).




I love stuffed shells! I usually fill them with cottage cheese for a healthy-but-richer flavor, but the lemon zest is an interesting twist I never would have thought of. I need to try this!


great stuff, I can’t wait to try this recipe.. btw the photos are amazing too


Wow, I don’t know what I like more: the delicious-looking shells or the details of your stunningly beautiful new home. I would quickly fall in love with that too! 🙂


The stars must be aligned because your stuffed shells recipe is timed perfectly with smittenkitchen’s homemade ricotta recipe. I think I shall try making both this week!


This was Father’s Day dinner – it was awesome. Even better for lunch . Forgot the lemon zest – just an excuse to make them again soon.


I have a few rectangular ramekins that I found at the Dollar Store… they’re the perfect size for 3-4 shells. Everytime I make a batch I set aside a few uncooked shells to freeze in the ramekins with the sauce and the cheese. They bake beautifully in the toaster oven at work, and are perfect for those days when I have nothing else to bring for lunch.


Heidi – this is the 1st recipe of yours that I have cooked and it was great. The lemon zest and red pepper flakes really made it fantastic and unique. While eating the past, my daughter kept saying “delicious”. After she had finished her 1st serving she said she wanted to say thank you. My wife said you are welcome and Ella said no. She clasped her hands and said “God thank you for this delicious food. Amen. Can I have some more?”


I have a container of ricotta waiting for me, I think I’ll make these soon. Sounds delicious with the chives and lemon zest!


I always forget about stuffed shells! I think boarding school and college scarred me with these early on, but having seen this I am ready to try again. Like the idea of using olives and other items…thanks.


Wow that looks so delicious. What a nice warm comforting meal for a first night in a new place 🙂


This recipe was FANTASTIC. Will definitely make it again. Use low fat ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Could not tell at all!

Catherine from San Francisco

This recipe wowed me! The sauce is so fresh and the addition of lemon zest and chives is genius. I used Rustichella shells….. expensive, but they were well worth the extra money. My family was ecstatic.


I love the lemon zest in there!

Dr. Sarah Cimperman

Wow., you’ve put me to shame, I too have just moved but I think you did a better job of your first meal than I love the zesty touch, awesome. Will remember that tip for next time we indulge in the shells, a fave of mine too 🙂
Happy homemaking 🙂

Anna Johnston

I have never used shells but will certainly give them a whirl soon. The stuffing that I would use includes spinach and Parmesan cheese. The problem, of course, would be that the tomato sauce’s flavor overwhelms that of the stuffing. Oh Well we do have to make sacrifices -Don’t we. ENJOY


I made this recipe tonight, it was delicious! Thanks for posting it. I have to say though, it was a bit too spicy for some in my family. I think that next time I will cut down on the red pepper flakes. But, really easy and super delicious!


This photo really captures the dish and makes you want to eat stuffed shells! Definitely worth trying. Yum!


I love stuffed shells, and these look great. Except that I cannot eat ricotta! =( Beautiful details of the new place.


I feel like this is what comfort food is meant to be. Not terrible for you, but definitely terribly delicious. These look amazing, and I’m loving the idea of adding a dash of lemon; totally something I need to try!
Your new home looks lovely. Best of luck with making it your own!


Sounds like a wonderful gift for father’s day to me! Or any day, for that matter.


The photos of the stuffed shells actually look appetizing. Thanks

Jim Murphy

Oh, stuffed shells — they are my ultimate comfort food. My mom would stuff the spinach-ricotta filling into jumbo shells and would throw a dash of nutmeg or a stick of cinnamon in the sauce. I still make them whenever I’m feeling nostalgic. Congrats on the move and the new place!
HS: Still representing P. Street – just in the other direction 🙂 Let’s hook up for drinks/lunch soon A. xo

aida mollenkamp

Hi Heidi,
Love the recipe and how beautiful your Blog is. You are truly an Artist! I just want to share my Vegan thoughts on Stuffed Shells! I Puree Firm tofu in my food processor with Olive oil, a little sauteed Garlic, South River Brand Chick Pea Miso (adds a Cheesy flavor) and Some Eden Brand Umeboshi Paste. Blend to a Creamy Smooth consistency and then I fold in Yellow onion which I have gently cooked till translucent in Olive Oil and Sea Salt. I add finely minced Basil and Pipe or spoon the filling into my Shells! Voila Vegan Stuffed Shells!

Jillian Lauren Lisitano

This looks seriously delicious. Don’t even know why I have never made stuffed shells before…
Your new home seems pretty promising. I love old houses.


Looks like Sunday Supper to me!

Vanessa @ Project Zen

Read this today, was inspired and made it tonight for dinner, absolutely fabulous! I loved the idea of adding lemon zest, I also added some to the cheese filling. Everyone loved it! Would for sure make this again and for dinner guests. Thank you for the inspiration!


The shells look so homey, and I can only imagine how great they tasted. I just moved into a new apartment two weeks ago and have been missing getting into the kitchen and making a meal with all the mess around us. Your almond soba noodles really hit the spot last evening and gave us the frist taste of feeling at home in the new apartment. Thanks!

Potato Chops and Boneless Chicken

Looks great and your new house sounds beautiful. I should remember to get pasta shells on my next trip to the store.


Love the lemon zest, ricotta, tomato combination..
Simple and gorgeous!


stuffed shells are a favorite in this house, but i haven’t made them in years. i should, though, so thanks!


How nice to be completely moved and anoint the new place with a first meal. Lemon zest in my pasta sauce from now on. I also chop 1/2 sweet onion really small and nearly burn it while sauteing it to add to my sauce. Learned this at fab Italian restaurant I work at. Try it sometime?


Love your blog. I just purchased your cookbook. Am waiting to get it. I have tried some of your recipes from on-line & enjoyed them all. Good luck on your new place. It looks beautiful..I have to make the stuffed shells with lemon zest.

Carol Couturier

This is one of my favorite childhood recipes. My mother always made the sauce and stuffing from scratch. I’ve never made them or asked her for her recipe (which in any case would consist of “Throw some ricotta and eggs together, ….” etc., with no measurements mentioned!) So thanks very much for posting this recipe, with delicious sounding variations, and enjoy your new home!


Stuffed shells are one of my absolute favorites. They remind me of my small hometown on the east coast where there’s an Italian restaurant on practically every corner. I love that these look fresher than many that I’ve seen – without an obscene amount of mozzarella covering them up. I’ll definitely be making these very soon!


It’s hot and muggy out in nyc right now, but these still look delicious. A good way to use up some summer basil and tomatoes, too! Might have to be dinner sometime next week…

Lynna @wholeytreats

Wow. Absolutely gorgeous. I am also in the midst of a move, so maybe I will gather my Italian spirit and make those shells, they sound firmly grounded and deliciously simple. Happy settling in!


I am always sooo thrilled when I learn I already make something the way you do! Good luck in your new place. Being intimately aquainted with so many lovely homes in SF I can understand your mixed feelings.


FYI, even though the intro says there’s lemon zest in the sauce and the filling, the recipe only mentions it as part of the sauce. It says half the lemon zest goes on the bottom of the pan. I’m guessing the other half goes into the shell filling, but there’s no mention of this.
I think this sounds AMAZING, by the way, and can’t WAIT to try it. My husband will be thrilled by such a simple comfort food meal.

Alison @ Tree-Top Studio

Dear Heidi, I knew your new home would have this lovely woodcarving and window treatments. I too love the old and always want to see them rehabilitated to their original glory. The shells look awesome too. My hubby love them and your recipe is much like mine. God bless you in your new home!!!

Beverly Jane

I haven’t made stuffed shells in ages!! And the idea of adding lemon zest is brilliant!


That is so funny that you prepped the shells in one apartment and baked them in another.
I really do love shells — I just had a sort of Provencal dish with pasta shells, mussels, and a tomato broth. So I’ll enjoy trying this recipe.

Run Fast Travel Slow

Nice apartment!
this pasta looks very good. I will make it for my boyfriend, he is italian… this means I really trust you!!!! 😉


Love the idea of using lemon zest and even adding olives/roasted veggies to the filling–thanks so much! My mom passed her very traditional recipe down to me and I love making this on Sundays with the option of freezing some or having leftovers for lunch during the week. It’s also a great dish to offer to a friend/relative that’s moving (unless you cook it yourself! 🙂 or a family member that had surgery or had loved ones pass away, because even picky eaters/kids seem to like stuffed shells! Thanks!

Leigh (Books in the Burgh)

Oh yum! I’ve recently become enamored of the ricotta-lemon zest combo, although I’ve been using in layered fruit desserts rather than savory dishes. I’ll have to try with with some GF pizza/ pasta. Thanks for the idea!


If only I ate cheese, and I almost feel like doing it anyway because those shells look so good. What a beautiful place you’ve moved into. Congratulations!

Debra the Northwest Vegetarian

Yup, I’ve just added this to my meal planning list for next week…or maybe this weekend.

laura k

Stuffed shells…one of the best comfort foods on the planet and great for breaking in a new place to make it feel like home. =)


This is a great recipe for Father’s Day. Thanks for sharing, Heidi, and congratulations on the new apartment!

Melanie at Brave the Kitchen

Heidi, love your site and recipes! Enjoy the new apartment.. cannot wait to see more recipes and details..
Greetings from Vienna, Austria


I make these with homemade manicotti noodles. The noodle is like a crepe and it’s as fast to make a batch as it is to cook dried pasta. I like your lemon zest innovation.


Making something comforting and traditional really is perfect for a night in a new home. I love your use of lemon zest in this recipe. It’s just the right ingredient to lift it up. Your new place looks absolutely lovely, tres chic!


Gule gule oturun ! Which can be translated as “May you be happy in your new house ”
Thanks for this tasty recipe. We have a similar version in Turkey with meat as a filling but this one seems to be a great alternative…


looks delicious, ultimate comfort food.

nicole franzen

Beautiful comfort food. I have no idea where to get those giant shells from here in the south of Spain but I’ll try as I really have to make this recipe. Have fun settling into your new pad and thanks.


I’ve not made stuffed shells for ages. Thanks for the reminder! I think I’m going to make a batch with my homemade ricotta. Any ideas whether this will freeze ok?
HS: Yes, I like to freeze the un-sauced shells individually on a cookie sheet for a couple hours, then pile them in a double-freezer bag until I’m ready to use them. That way, I sauce and bake whatever quantity I’m after at the time.


Your stuffed shells look amazing. I have actually made these in the past, but your recipe looks delicious, yet simple, and maybe easy to make on a busy evening. I have always loved non-meat entrees, and these look perfectly delicious. Thank you for the beautiful picture.

Amy (Newbie Veggie)

Your writing and your photos are so beautiful.
I know that feeling of moving from somewhere that was just so…home. My parents moved in November out of my childhood home up to a Lake about 20 minutes north. Going back and packing up their house was so strange and I felt like I’ll never go back to my hometown – even though it’s so close. But now that they’re settled in and it’s summer on the lake, I’m so happy to visit!

d.liff @ yelleBELLYboo

Definately not a cheat meal! These are beautiful, and funnily enough I actually bought some giant shells today to make for dinner as soon as we’re actually home for dinner! Congrats on the first night meal though!

jess☆ @ Multicultural Melbourne

What a classic. It’s one of my family’s most favorite dishes. Yours looks absolutely divine! 🙂


Beautiful apartment! These stuffed shells are now on my menu for next week!

Jenny (@ The Housewife Project)

Stunning! Both the apartment and the shells! Those details in a home are exactly what I would fall in love as well. Congratulations and good luck on your new adventure.


These look delicious, and I am particularly interested in trying this sauce! Also- love your bowl! Is this homemade pottery?
HS: Hi Mich: Thanks! it’s actually a very old black-bottom French baking dish of some sort.


Delicious !!

Hari Chandana

I just made two huge pans of pasta for a family dinner party. One ricotta/spinach stuffed cannelloni with cream sauce & lots of provolone and one with red and white sauced hand made/rolled noodles. After seeing this I think I may make it too- it just looks so good and besides my Italian spouse will finish any left overs. Maybe with roasted vegetables and spring peas. YUM


I think its the perfect first night meal.
I’ve been absent…why did you move?
New digs look awesome !

Tam Glo

My wife loves cheese filled shells, but, the rest of us prefer beef filling. Can you post this variation?

Sheldon Lebowitz

“Casualties of the boil”!!! I love that!


Thank you … I have always wanted to make stuffed shells or manicotti. Can you suggest another non tomato sauce? Allergies to night shade vegs.


I had been thinking of making this dish. You apartment is lovely. I hope you make many happy memories and dishes here.

Ann B.

I just found your post and look forward to following you. I am excited to read today’s post and see that you are in the bay area. And that you have gluten free dishes! Congratulations on the beautiful new apartment.


I love the idea of lemon zest! Sounds tasty!


Stuffed shells are a blank canvas, great recipe that calls for adding what you love, like chopped artichoke hearts and mushrooms for me!

Tom @ Tall Clover Farm

Great recipe! Stuffed shells are such comfort food – sounds like an awesome first night in a new place! Congrats on the apartment (the moulding is beautiful) and good luck with the unpacking. 🙂


This is pretty much what we’re having for dinner tonight – I like a tiny kick of chilli in there too and maybe some nutmeg in the filling just to bring it to life. Although you have managed the impossible and made the dish look pretty which I have never been able to 😉


Gorgeous apartment 🙂
I love pasta with a simple, good tomato based sauce, and stuffed shells beats stuffing cannelloni sheets anyday!


a recipe I will definitely try. one time in college my friend and I decided to make stuffed shells without a recipe because we know we had a plethora knowledge of italian food from watching a lot of giada and surprisingly they came out good. good enough that people started asking us for the recipe.
but these look even better and since I don’t eat meat I love finding recipes that I could cook and eat. bookmarking!


my husband adores shells and cheese. I have been wanting to make them for some time and this might just be the kick in the pants I need. i am totally going to spike olives and capers in the sauce.


Yum! Those look amazing! As simple as they are they still look and sound delicious! May have to make sometime this weekend! As always your photos are gorgeous, and are amazing at adding to your already inspirational writing!


Congratulations on the move, Heidi 🙂 These shells are nearly identical to some I made in January. So comforting 🙂


H – There must be something in the air! I was just putting together a few recipes for dairy free stuffed shells. I was snacking on a few bites of a creamy mushroom quinoa stuffed shell platter that I made tonight. But I must say, the addition of lemon zest in a classic ricotta in yours is just a reminder of how good the classic version of stuffed shells really is! Thank you! + Congrats on the move!

Noelle @

I didn’t realize I was craving stuffed shells until I read this…. one of my favorite meals growing up, thanks for this recipe and the reminder.
(Also, the new place looks brilliant!)


This looks so satisfying. I’d love to eat these with my family.

a Teenage Gourmet

I made some stuff shells the other day and just couldn’t figure out how to photograph them. And then, look here at your beautiful photos. Congratulations on the move end competition and now let the enjoyment begin!

Snippets of Thyme

Holy Crap! I always do my stuffed shells with lemon zest, too! I thought I was all alone. If anyone reads this comment, I totally second the lemon zest.

Jessica@Honestly Good Food

Pasta is the perfect first night meal. The shells look so yummy and comforting. I always love the first meal in a new house. Now it’s your home!

la domestique

Stuffed shells were major comfort food for me growing up — I’d forgotten all about that, however, untill I read this post! I’m 99% sure our version was bought pre-assembled in the freezer section of the grocery store, to be covered in tomato sauce and baked. I’d never thought of making a homemade version ’til now — easy as lasagna and you get automatic portion control to boot! Now, to track down gluten-free large pasta shells . . .

Coco aka Opera Girl



Your recipes ALWAYS make me think – that’s what I’ll make tomorrow! Yum. Congrats on the new place!


Beautiful pics, even better recipe!

Blog is the New Black

I am crazy about stuffed shells. They look amazing! I like them straight up, too; sauce, ricotta, and a little mozzarella. So good! Haven’t had any in awhile, totally inspired to make them now.

J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)

This sounds like such a comforting meal. I’ve actually never made stuffed shells but you make it sound so easy and look so delicious – as usual! I’m trying to cook with as little heat as possible these days since it’s just so dang hot, but these just may be worth it 🙂
(And those snapshots of the apartment look absolutely gorgeous! Can’t wait to see more!)

Hannah at FleurDeLicious

Those stuffed shells look so cute! And what a simple, yet hearty and satisfying recipe. We’re going to an Italian themed potluck tomorrow night, maybe I’ll make these 🙂 Thanks!

Anjali Shah

Mmm this is such comfort food! Love this.


When I was a kiddo we used to have stuffed shells on a regular basis. My brother and I always got excited when we knew that’s what was for dinner. Ours had spinach stirred into the ricotta mixture back when we thought we ‘didn’t like spinach’. Best part about this dish is that componants can be made ahead. Love that.

mary (what's cookin with mary)

I forgot to sign in for the last post…

Sue Moran

What a wonderful post. I know what you are feeling…the thrill of the new apartment mixed with the angst of moving on from a beloved space. The stuffed shells seem perfect, and I love the photos. Good luck in your new home.


Heidi, so very happy for you. What a glorious place to call home. Much happiness to you and Wayne and all those you invite into this lovely space.
Baked shells, an old friend welcoming you into a new place. Perfect.


Stuffed shells are the reason I am thinking about making dinner now…I just don’t know if there’s anything else I could eat now that I’ve seen this!


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