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Meatball stuffed shells is a classic stuffed shell recipe with a twist! Jumbo pasta shells are filled with a ricotta cheese mixture, topped with marinara sauce and stuffed with Italian style meatballs.

This classic, crowd-pleasing recipe gets an upgrade with the addition of high-protein and filling meatballs.

I don’t know about you, but I need to have protein at every meal. Stuffed shells on their own just don’t contain enough protein for my family. By adding a meatball to each pasta shell, stuffed shells become a complete meal for my entire family!

Recipe highlights

  • One dish meal
  • Filling and satisfying
  • This recipe calls for time-saving shortcuts like frozen meatballs!

Ingredients needed

Ingredients needed to make Meatball Stuffed Shells
  • Frozen meatballs – I used Bove’s Italian Style All Beef Meatballs. The size of the meatballs are perfect for this recipe and they taste delicious. Using a frozen meatball doesn’t sacrifice flavor and save’s so much time!
  • Jumbo stuffing shells – Pick your favorite brand. Any brand will work for this recipe.
  • Marinara sauce – As you can see in the photo above, I used Bove’s pasta sauce for this recipe as well! I have been purchasing products from this brand for several years. My local grocery store sells their sauce for around $3.50 a jar which I think is a great deal. Their products contain simple, whole-food based ingredients. They are also somewhat local to me! I am in upstate NY and they are located in the neighboring state of Vermont.
  • Ricotta cheese – What would a stuffed shell recipe be without ricotta cheese? Of course this recipe for stuffed shells contains ricotta cheese!
  • Mozzarella cheese – Mozzarella cheese goes inside the pasta shell AND on top.
  • Parmesan cheese – You can definitely save yourself some time and purchase parmesan cheese that has already been grated.
  • Fresh parsley
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt & pepper

Kitchen tools & equipment needed

  • Medium-sized baking dish
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Oven

As I mentioned above, save yourself some time when making this recipe and purchase frozen meatballs, parmesan cheese that is already grated and pre-shredded mozzarella. I think it goes without saying that I recommend purchasing a jar of pasta sauce, instead of making your own from scratch.

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Try out some of my other delicious and popular Italian styles recipes!

How to make Meatball Stuffed Shells

  1. Thaw – Thaw your frozen meatballs.
  2. Boil – Boil a large pot of water on the stove and cook your jumbo pasta shells according to package instructions.
  3. Mix – Mix together the ricotta mixture for stuffing the shells. Mix the ricotta, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, dried oregano, fresh parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Stuff – Spread a layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. Take a cooked pasta shell and stuff it with about 1 teaspoon of the ricotta cheese mixture and 1 meatball. Repeat the stuffing process until you have used all of your meatballs. Carefully place each stuffed shell in rows in your baking dish.
  5. Get saucy – Add another layer of sauce on top of the meatball stuffed shells.
  6. Get cheesy – Add some more cheese on top of the shells stuffed with meatballs.
  7. Bake – Cover the pan with foil. Bake the shells in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melty.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

What to serve with Meatball Stuffed Shells?

This recipe doesn’t really need any side dishes. It is filling and satisfying all on it’s own. However, you may be a veggie-lover like me and want to add some green vegetables to this dinner.

I recommend a simple garden salad, sautéed kale or swiss chard or steamed broccoli. A hot bowl of minestrone soup would also be delicious.

If you’re a carb lover, then you should definitely serve Meatball Stuffed Shells with some crusty garlic bread!

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Cooked meatball stuffed shells in a white casserole dish with handles. A chunk of parmesan cheese, an antique cheese grater, a small wooden bowl with marinara sauce, fresh parsley, a head of garlic and a kitchen towel surround the dish of pasta.

Meatball Stuffed Shells

  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Meatball stuffed shells is a classic stuffed shell recipe with a twist! Jumbo pasta shells are filled with a ricotta cheese mixture, topped with marinara sauce and stuffed with Italian style meatballs.


  • 30 small frozen meatballs – thawed
  • 1 package jumbo pasta stuffing shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese – divided
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese – divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce – divided


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Make the ricotta cheese mixture.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, garlic powder, dried oregano, fresh parsley, salt and pepper.
  3. Using a spoon, spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce in an even layer on the bottom of your baking dish.
  4. Stuff the pasta shells.  Stuff each shell with about 1 teaspoon of the ricotta mixture and 1 thawed meatball.  Place each stuffed shell in the baking dish in even rows.  You will end up with 30 individual stuffed shells.
  5. After all the pasta shells are stuffed, top the shells with the remaining 1 cup marinara sauce.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese on top of the marinara sauce.
  6. Cover the dish of meatball stuffed shells with foil.  Bake in the oven, covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melty.
  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!


  • If you are worried about your foil sticking to the cheese on top of the stuffed shells, lightly spray the underside of the foil with cooking spray.  This should prevent the foil from sticking.
  • Stuffed shells make for excellent leftovers!  Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: Italian American

Keywords: meatball stuffed shells

Why do I use frozen meatballs?

As I have already said, the #1 reason is to save time! Stuffed shells can already be a tedious dish to make. Stuffing every single shell takes some time. I didn’t want to add even more time to this recipe by calling for made-from-scratch meatballs. I also like that most frozen meatballs are quite small. They are way smaller than any meatball that I make at home. However, if you want to make your own meatballs for this recipe, then by all means go right ahead!

Ingredient swaps and additions

To add some more fresh, authentic flavor, I would add chopped fresh basil to my ricotta mixture. Adding a scoop of basil pesto sauce would also be delicious.

Do you want to make this recipe gluten free? Simply swap out a gluten based shell for a gluten free pasta shell. The gluten free pasta brand called Tinkyada, makes a gluten free brown rice jumbo pasta shell.

Are feeling creative? Swap out the marinara sauce for a butternut squash sauce of an alfredo sauce.

Did you make this recipe? Tell me all about it below!