Unstuffed Shells | An Easy Pasta Casserole Recipe

Unstuffed Shells is an easy spin on the Italian classic, Stuffed Shells! Layers of savory meat sauce, and cheesy pasta creates a deconstructed version of stuffed shells in a delicious pasta casserole that’s great to make ahead!

If you love pasta, make sure to try my Creamy Beef Pasta Recipe too!

Unstuffed Shells Is An Easy Pasta Casserole Recipe!

Is there anything better than cheesy carbs? Pure comfort food at its finest. And today’s UNSTUFFED Shells recipe fits the bill. You have an easy, savory meat sauce, layered with cheesy pasta shells, and topped with more sauce and MORE cheese! Are you interested yet?

Classic Italian Stuffed Shells Deconstructed!

I am going to assume you are familiar with Italian Stuffed Shells. If not, no worries, they are are seasoned ricotta cheese mixture stuffed inside large pasta shells, topped with sauce, and baked! While they are fairly easy to make, I love the idea of a “dump and go” kind of casserole where everything is mixed together and every bit is perfection!

This recipe combines all the flavors and ingredients of the classic, without the fuss of stuffing the individual shells.

Unstuffed Shells Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Diced onion
  • Lean ground beef. You can use ground turkey instead if you would like!
  • Minced garlic
  • Marinara sauce. You can use any brand you prefer, and even switch up the flavor of sauce if you would like as well.
  • Medium shell pasta. Honestly you can use pretty much any small cut pasta in this recipe, but since it’s called Unstuffed Shells, I use shell pasta!
  • Cream cheese. You can use low fat cream cheese if you would like.
  • Ricotta cheese. You can use full fat or part skim ricotta.
  • Parmesan cheese. Use fresh grated and not the powdered kind. It’s just better!
  • Egg
  • Italian seasoning. if you don’t have Italian seasoning on hand, you can use an equal mixture of basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme…or really any combination of these. If you are missing one or two of these alternatives it really won’t make a huge difference.
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Low moisture mozzarella cheese
And unstuffed version of baked stuffed shells topped with mozzarella.

Make This Ahead:

This is a great make-ahead dish if you are planning ahead, or gifting dinner to a friend. You simply follow all the instructions up until the point of baking the casserole. Just pop it in the refrigerator overnight and bake it the next day. You might need to add a few minutes of bake time if you are baking from cold, but everything is cooked, so you just want to make sure it’s warmed through.

Can You Freeze This?

Absolutely! This is a great dish to freeze ahead for later. again, all you do is prep it up until the point of baking. Make sure it’s covered airtight and freeze it for up to 30 days.

I prefer thawing it out in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

Shell Pasta in meat sauce covered in cheese baked in a casserole dish

If You Love Baked Pasta Try These Recipes: