Stuffed shells are one of those comfort foods that everyone runs to the table for and during the fall it's delicious to add pumpkin and sage. Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells are filled with a creamy pumpkin puree and ricotta cheese mixture that brings all of the home-cooked goodness of stuffed shells into fall.
Creamy Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Last night I was craving stuffed shells and a nice glass of white wine for dinner. Stuffed Shells are such an easy and delicious dinner, it's hard to resist making them, especially in the fall.
Because I've been stocking up on canned pumpkin every trip to the grocery store, I decided to try adding it into my filling. I love pumpkin in savory dishes from Pumpkin Chicken Enchiladas to Mac and Cheese, so why not? Friend, let me tell you...this dinner was a rocking hit!
Ingredients in Pumpkins Stuffed Shells
- Jumbo Pasta Shells - you will need one big box for this recipe but it never hurts to have more on hand just incase some of the shells break.
- Ricotta Cheese - it just wouldn't be stuffed shells without this delicious Italian cheese.
- Pumpkin Puree - I use canned pumpkin because it's convenient and I always have tons of it.
- Jarred Tomato Sauce - use whatever brand you like but I recommend Rao's Vodka Sauce for this recipe!
- Egg - this is the binder for your filling.
- Lots of Cheese - you will need shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan.
- Seasonings - fresh sage, salt and pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg.
I promise that stuffed shells are far easier than they sound or look and I'm going to walk you through the steps because anyone can do this!
How to Make Stuffed Shells:
- Cook the Noodles. Start by cooking your noodles according to the box directions. You will want the shells to be firm (al dente) so that they are easier to fill.
- Cool the Noodles. After they cook, drain them well and spread them out on a sheet pan to cool. Drizzle them with olive oil and gently toss them to coat so that no noodles stick.
- Make the Filling. This is the easiest part because all you do is mix the filling ingredients together in a large bowl. Simple! (the full recipe is at the bottom of this post, don't worry.)
- Mix the Sauce. I add pumpkin and cream to my jarred sauce and set that aside.
- Fill the Shells. Add most of the marinara to the bottom of a baking dish. Spoon filling mixture into shells using a large soup spoon and place each shell in the sauce.
- Bake. Cover shells with foil and bake.
- Add Cheese. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and bake until golden.
Pumpkin Ricotta Filling
This creamy and cheesy filling is absolutely divine! You could also use the exact same filling recipe to make a pumpkin lasagna with layers of cooked lasagna noodles, this cheese filling, sauce and mozzarella cheese. Alternate and layer like you would a classic lasagna!
Tips for Making Stuffed Shells
- Don't overcook your shells. You want them firm so that they hold together when you fill them. They will finish cooking in the oven.
- To fill, hold a shell in the palm of your hand. Use a large table or soup spoon to fill with the pumpkin ricotta mixture.
- Place shells filling side up in the sauce. This will keep them from leaking everywhere while baking.
- Do not top with more sauce. I find this makes soggy shells. I drizzle a tiny bit of sauce over the top before adding the cheese!
- After melting the cheese, pop the entire dish under the broiler for just a few seconds to brown up the edges.
Can Stuffed Shells Be Made Ahead?
Yes! To prep stuffed shells ahead of time you will want to cook and stuff the shells and place them in a large Tupperware or covered dish up to one day in advance in the fridge.
When you are ready to bake, add sauce to a baking dish, top with the prepped shells, cover and bake according to directions in my recipe. Note: do not store them on top of the marinara as they will get soggy.
More Pumpkin Recipes You'll Love!
- The Best Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
- Baked Pumpkin Maple French Toast
- Pumpkin Spice Margaritas
- Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Pumpkin Chicken Enchiladas
Tips for Serving Kids
Millie loved these stuffed shells and ate them as is however Jackson was not a fan of the filling. For reference my twins are 5 years old!
This recipe will leave you with more of the pumpkin marinara than you will need for the shells so I recommend cooking a few extra shells or other pasta noodles and serving them unstuffed with the extra sauce. A sprinkle of parmesan on top and you are all set. No need to make an entirely different meal.
What to Serve with Stuffed Shells
This dish is very rich and cheesy so I recommend serving this with a big green salad like my Arugula Peach Salad! If Peaches aren't in season you could easily substitute apples.
If you make these Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells, I'd love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment and a review in the box below and makes sure to share on Instagram @freutcake! Happy cooking.
- 1 box Jumbo Pasta Shells (about 24 shells)
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage
- 1 Jar Rao's Vodka Sauce
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook shells according to the packaged instructions. They should be firm (al dente) so that they hold up when filled.
- Drain the noodles and transfer to a large baking sheet. Drizzle noodles with olive oil and carefully separate any stuck together noodles. Allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Make the filling by combining ricotta cheese, 1 cup pumpkin puree, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, salt, pepper, garlic, and fresh sage. Mix until combined and smooth.
- In a separate bowl combine jarred sauce, the remaining pumpkin puree, and ¼ cup cream. Mix until smooth.
- In a large 9x13 baking dish, spread ¾ of the sauce mixture.
- Fill cooled shells with the pumpkin-ricotta filling using a spoon. You will fit about 2 Tablespoons in each shell.
- Place shells, filling side up on top of the marinara. Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and sprinkle each shell with a bit of mozzarella cheese.
- Place back into the oven uncovered and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
- Optional: you can place under the broiler for a few seconds to brown up the cheese even more if desired!
- Serve hot.
Can Stuffed Shells Be Made Ahead?
Yes! To prep stuffed shells ahead of time you will want to cook and stuff the shells and place them in a large Tupperware or covered dish up to one day in advance in the fridge. When you are ready to bake, add sauce to a baking dish, top with the prepped shells, cover and bake according to directions in my recipe. Note: do not store them on top of the marinara as they will get soggy.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 345Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 872mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 21g