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Stuffed Shells with Sausage, Pesto and Cheese

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Stuffed shells are filled with a sausage, pesto, and cheese mixture and baked.  This stuffed shells recipe is easily doubled or halved for a great and easy freezer meal.

stuffed shells

One of my tricks to not have to spend every night slaving in the kitchen making dinner is freezer meals.  I figure if I’m in the kitchen cooking, I might as well double, or halve, a recipe and freeze one for later.  I used to try doing a big weekend cooking spree to get freezer meals prepped, but it was exhausting!  I finally figured out I could just make two of something and freeze it for later. It works great!

I have always loved the idea of stuffed shells, but it took me a few years to come up with a stuffing I really love.  I found adding sausage to the stuffing recipe adding just the right amount of flavor.  Then combine it with pesto and oh yeah!  Stuffed shells do take some man power to make.  The shells don’t stuff themselves! So that’s why when I make this dish, I always make sure to freeze half the recipe for later.

stuffed shells

This single recipe will make two baking dishes of shells.  I usually bake one and freeze the other. This is also my go to dish for new moms who need a meal! I deliver the shells with a loaf of crusty bread and salad for a really nice meal.  Double the recipe if you need to feed a crowd and you will have tons of food.

You can use store bought sausage, pasta sauce and pesto or you can make your own!


Stuffed Shells with Sausage, Pesto and Cheese

stuffed shells
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 14 minutes
Total Time 54 minutes


  • 1 box of large shell pasta
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage (bought or homemade), cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 16 ozs whole milk ricotta
  • Shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, to taste
  • 3 cups homemade pasta sauce or 2 jars store bought


  1. Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot and cook shells until al dente, 12-14 minutes.
  2. Drain shells and set aside to cool. You can make these early in the day and stuff later.
  3. In a medium bowl stir together sausage, pesto, ricotta and any mozzarella or Parmesan you would like.
  4. Cover the bottom of two baking dishes (9 x 13 or a 2 quart casserole) with some pasta sauce.
  5. Stuff shells with cheese mixture and place in a single layer in baking dishes.
  6. Once all shells are stuffed, cover with remaining pasta sauce. Then cover with cheese.
  7. At this point you can either freeze the dishes or bake.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

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  • Jackie
    September 14, 2013

    Hi Camille

    Give me an estimate of how much mozarella and parmesan cheese you used in this recipe.

    • Camille
      September 14, 2013

      I probably use 2 cups of mozzarella and about 1/2 cup of Parmesan.

  • Pamela
    September 11, 2013

    I love me some stuffed shells, and I love the idea of adding pesto – I’ll definitely do that next time!

    • Camille
      September 12, 2013

      The pesto and the sausage definitely take plain old stuffed shells to another level of yum! 🙂

  • Susan
    September 6, 2013

    I love stuffed shells but have never had them with sausage. My family would like the addition of sausage, I’ll definitely give it a try. Thanks for sharing at Inspire Us Thursday on Organized 31.

  • Meghan
    September 5, 2013

    Camille, my husband’s all time favorite recipe is stuffed shells! I’ll have to make this for him. Love it!! Thank you so much for linking up to Wake up Wednesdays! This recipe is pinned to our Linky Pin Board!

  • Helen
    September 4, 2013

    Hi Camille,
    These look so yummy! I think this would be great for winter time as it looks so hearty and warm. I don’t have a lot of time during the week to make dinners so I love freeze friendly meals. I’m pinning and hope to try it soon!

    • Camille
      September 4, 2013

      Thank you, Helen! They are one of my favorite meals! I hope you enjoy them.

  • Kelley
    August 24, 2013

    Camille this looks so good! I just bought some shells to try a new recipe. I think Ill throw some sausage in with them now! Yum!

  • kelley
    August 24, 2013

    Camille these look so yummy! I love stuffed pasta anything!

  • Rachel
    August 24, 2013

    These look fabulous. I love pesto!

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