Olive Garden Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells are one of their most popular dishes and one of my most popular recipes! Filled with four cheeses and topped with marinara and alfredo sauce – everyone will love it!
What You Will ❤️ About Olive Garden Stuffed Shells
- Copycat Perfection – this dish might even taste better than Olive Garden!
- Fancy Dish for Friends – this is a dish to impress – your friends will be BRAGGING about this meal
- Under an 45 Minutes – this is a big meal with multiple components – so for it to be from fridge to table in 45 minutes is pretty good!
Ingredients in Jumbo Stuffed Shells
- jumbo pasta shells – I like to mimic the Olive Garden ones by getting the most GIANT pasta shells I can find – these are the ones I like! (hard to find in store – so I get them online)
- ricotta cheese – You can use full fat ricotta cheese or part skim – either works. Pretty sure Olive Garden is always full fat! (I would avoid cottage cheese.)
- mozzarella/provolone cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- dried basil & oregano
- Minced garlic
- marinara sauce – you can make your own, use from a jar – or even use my copycat Olive Garden meat sauce recipe
- Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
This recipe also has you make your own creamy Alfredo Sauce – you can buy your own – but I really recommend making your own – and you can use the Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce recipe I have (seen above) – here’s what you’ll need for homemade alfredo sauce:
- garlic cloves – fresh is best in this recipe!
- half & half – you can use heavy cream if you like
- Parmesan cheese
- Mozzarella cheese & Provolone cheese – you could also use an Italian cheese blend but I prefer grating my own cheese vs a pre-grated
How to Make Stuffed Shells Recipe
My mom used to make stuffed manicotti when I was a kid – and it’s pretty much the same technique. Here’s how it goes:
- Boil your pasta until al dente (slightly underdone) according to package instructions – you want them to not be overdone so they fall apart when you pick them up – but not hard. Your pasta should tell you on the package time for al dente
- PRO TIP: Make extra shells – you’ll tear some when you’re stuffing – you can always feed extras to the dogs. (or is that just what I do?)
- While pasta is boiling, mix together your cheeses and herbs
- Rinse the pasta, preheat the oven and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray
- Pour a bit of the marinara into the bottom of the baking dish
- While the oven is preheating, stuff your shells with the cheese mixture. You can use a spoon but sometimes – it’s easier to use your hands. Just remember to be gentle so the pasta doesn’t split open.
- Lay the shells on top of the marinara and bake at 400 for 20 min
- While they are baking – you can toast your breadcrumbs for a few minutes with just a little butter and breadcrumbs in a skillet
- When there is 5-6 min left on the oven – prepare your alfredo – it’s so easy!
- In a saucepan, Melt butter and add garlic
- Slowly stir in cheeses and half and half – that’s it!
- Remove the shells from the oven – and turn the oven to broil
- Top the shells with your freshly made alfredo and more marinara
- Then, top with breadcrumbs and extra Parmesan cheese
- Broil for 2-3 min for toasting breadcrumbs and melting the cheese
- Garnish with a little fresh parsley and Serve! Devour!
Stuffed Shell Substitutions
You can make some easy tweaks to this dish to make it easier or more your own. Here are some ideas:
- Veggies – you could add sauteed mushrooms or spinach to the cheese mixture for more texture
- Store bought sauce – grab store bought marinara and alfredo to make it a little easier on yourself
- Manicotti – feel free to use manicotti tubes instead of shells – they’re going to cook and eat the same!
- Protein – you can also add browned Italian sausage, ground pork or hamburger to the cheese mixture
Tips, Tricks & FAQs
Yes! My recommendation for this would be to make the stuffed shells with the marinara – and freeze BEFORE you bake.
Wrap tightly with aluminum foil and/or put a lid on your baking dish and put in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to make them, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then bake per the rest of the recipe.
Yes – you can make the shells up to the point you’re going to bake – and put them in the fridge – then they’re ready to bake whenever you’re 20 minutes from starving!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. (I like these glass storage ones) You can either reheat in the oven or if you have an air fryer with a reheat/oven setting – around 300 degrees, covered – for 10-20 min depending on how much you’re reheating. (Air fryer is closer to 10 min). Or you can always microwave!
No – if you prefer one to the other – go with that – I love the combination!
What to serve with Stuffed Shells
Well – that’s easy! Of course you’re going to make the legendary Olive Garden House Salad with Italian Dressing! You could always try and make their breadsticks – but sometimes I like biscuits and butter with my pasta! Or you could switch it up and serve with Cinnamon Butter. Or even make some Air Fryer Garlic Bread or Texas Toast with Cheese!
Other Olive Garden Copycat Recipe Ideas
- Oven Baked Pasta Chicken Alfredo Tortelloni
- Creamy Mushroom Sauce
- Pasta Fagioli
- Olive Garden Shrimp Scampi
- 10+ Other Olive Garden Copycat Recipes
More Delicious Pasta Recipes
Copycat Olive Garden Giant Stuffed Shells
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- 3/4 cup half and half
- 1 cup Parmesan grated
- 1/4 cup mozzarella/provolone mix shredded
- Preheat oven to 400
- Cook shells 12 min (package said 9 but I felt like they needed longer)16 jumbo shells
- In a bowl, mix ricotta, mozzarella/provolone, Parmesan basil, oregano and garlic. Stir well.15 oz ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella/provolone mixture (or 1/2 cup of each), 1 cup Parmesan, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp garlic
- Rinse pasta with cool water
- Spray 8×8 pan with nonstick spray (I love this Rachael Ray baking dish)
- Add 1 cup marinara to bottom of pan15 oz marinara
- Stuff shells with 2 tbsp filling per shell – use small spoon or hands
- Place each shell on top of the marinara
- Cover with aluminum foil and Bake at 400 for 20 min
- In skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter – add breadcrumbs – stir until toasty brown 1-2 min – spoon into a small bowl and set aside.1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp butter
- When 5 minutes left on shells – In same skillet melt 6 Tbsp butter6 tbsp butter
- Add garlic and saute for 1 minute1 tsp garlic
- Slowly stir in half and half and both cheeses3/4 cup half and half, 1 cup Parmesan, 1/4 cup mozzarella/provolone mix
- Stir together until all cheese are melted and sauce is smooth
- Remove shells from oven
- Spoon alfredo sauce over top and around shells
- Add a little more marinara on top
- Sprinkle bread crumbs and any extra Parmesan cheese on top
- Broil on high for 2-3 min until cheese browns slightly