Sausage Stuffed Shells
These easy-to-make stuffed shells have a light yet satisfying filling of Italian chicken sausage combined with ricotta and mozzarella cheese.
As a nice alternative to the plain ricotta-filled variety, this sausage stuffed shells recipe is made with crumbed Italian chicken or turkey sausage and a combination of three kinds of cheese.
In addition to a standard blend of ricotta and mozzarella, we mix in a small amount of cream cheese. This gives the filling a light creamy texture without adding much in the way of fat and calories.
Once filled, the shells are topped with a light homemade marinara sauce and some extra mozzarella before baking.
This dish is very easy to prepare in advance, which is why it’s one of our favorites to serve for a stress-free company dinner.
Sausage Stuffed Shells
- 24 jumbo pasta shells, about 6 ounces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb Italian chicken, or turkey sausage, removed from the casing
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese
- 1-1/2 cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- [Homemade] or store-bought marinara sauce
- Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the shells and coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage into very small pieces as it cooks.
- Add the onion and garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes longer.
- Transfer the sausage mixture to a bowl and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
- While the sausage cools, cook and drain the shells according to package directions. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, arrange them in a single layer on a flat surface.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Add the ricotta, cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella and parsley to the sausage mixture. Combine well, then fill each shell with about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the sausage-cheese mixture.
- Spoon a little of the marinara into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and spread it around as evenly as possible. Arrange the stuffed shells on top, then top with the remaining shredded mozzarella.
- Bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.