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Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells (Vegan)

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with homemade vegan ricotta cheese, spinach, and roasted butternut squash sauce are simply amazing and so easy to make! Plus, no one will ever know they’re dairy-free!

up close, side angle view of a casserole with freshly made butternut squash stuffed shells.

Meet the new love of my life! These Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells are hands down the BEST!

Why We Love This Recipe!

  • It’s a perfect blend of sweet and savory. Butternut squash has a slight sweetness and the creamy tofu or cashew ricotta is salty and savory.
  • Great for both sophisticated and casual dining, and pairs well with a simple salad and vinaigrette. Add a glass of water or wine and enjoy!
  • It can be made ahead and is freezer friendly.
  • A nice twist on these delicious Spinach & Ricotta Vegan Stuffed Shells!

So without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff!

top down view of the ingredients needed to make vegan butternut squash stuffed shells.

Ingredients You’ll Need

There are only a handful of ingredients needed for this recipe; here’s a quick rundown of the list with tips and substitution ideas for your best-stuffed shells.

  • Butternut Squash – Use a 3 – 4 lb. butternut squash. For ease, you can always pick up pre-cut squash in the produce department. You’ll want about 6 cups—4 cups for the sauce and 2 cups to stuff.
  • Cashew Ricotta – We’ll use this easy cashew ricotta recipe which uses just a handful of ingredients. It’s totally amazing and will satisfy everyone! For nut allergies, use this delicious tofu ricotta!
  • Spinach – Use fresh or frozen. I used about 2 – 3 ounces of fresh, roughly chopped. You can use a 10 oz. package of frozen spinach, just be sure to let it thaw and squeeze it well to remove the water.
  • Jumbo Shells – You’ll need at least 18 jumbo shells, but it’s always best to make a few more just in case one falls apart.
  • Thyme – Use fresh or dried thyme. Feel free to change up the herb with sage or oregano.
  • Garlic – The ricotta contains garlic, so skipping this clove will not affect the taste. You can also use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in its place.
  • Red Pepper Flakes – Adds a little heat and pairs well with the sweetness of the squash, adjust the amount to suit your taste.
  • Salt – My all-time favorite salt is pink mineral salt (affiliate link) which naturally contains essential minerals and trace elements the body needs. It’s delicious and a little goes a long way.
  • Oil – Use your favorite oil, we’ll just be using it to roast the butternut squash.
  • Liquids – I simply used water for the butternut squash sauce and it was delicious! Feel free to use broth or a combo of broth and water.
side by side photos of butternut squash cubed and pureed.

How To Make Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Making butternut squash stuffed shells requires a few steps, but moves along pretty easily and is complete in under 1 hour.

  • Prep and roast the squash. Cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Make the vegan ricotta. While squash is roasting, make the vegan ricotta and mix in the spinach.
  • Cook the pasta. Pasta can be made while butternut squash is roasted and drained.
  • Make the butternut squash sauce. Once the squash has cooled for a few minutes, use 4 cups of squash to make the sauce, reserving the rest to stuff the shells. The sauce can be made in the same food processor/blender as the ricotta, or use a stick blender and the pot you cooked the pasta in.
  • Stuff the shells. Scoop one heaped tablespoon of ricotta filling and three pieces of butternut squash into each shell. Use a 12-inch round or 9×13 rectangular dish.
  • Bake. Spread the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish or casserole; place stuffed shells on top, cover, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, until warmed through.

As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward and easy to make. Plus, it’s worth every bit of effort – trust me you’re going to love it!

top down view of a casserole with freshly made butternut squash stuffed shells.

Can You Freeze Stuffed Shells Before Baking?

Yes! Simply prepare the stuffed shells according to the recipe up until baking, store them in a freezer-safe container (affiliate link), or cover tightly with cling wrap and foil, and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake as directed, adding an extra 10 – 15 minutes to ensure it warms through.

How Long Can You Keep Stuffed Shells in the Refrigerator?

  • Make ahead: Butternut squash stuffed shells can be filled and kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours in advance. When ready to bake, simply place them in the oven and bake as usual.
  • Cooked: Cooked or leftover stuffed pasta shells can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container, for up to 5 days.

How to Re-Heat Stuffed Shells

Reheat leftover stuffed pasta shells by putting them into a shallow oven-safe dish, covering, and baking at 350 degrees F. until heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove the cover and serve.

Serving Suggestions

This sweet and savory butternut squash stuffed shells can stand alone as a meal, but is also nice with a little something extra on the side. Here are a few of my favorite options:

top down view of butternut squash stuffed shells on a small plate with fork.

More Butternut Squash Recipes!

If you try this butternut squash stuffed shells recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.



5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

Celebrate the autumn with this easy Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells recipe featuring cashew ricotta cheese, spinach and roasted butternut squash!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 18 shells, 3 per serving 1x
  • Category: Entree, Pasta
  • Method: Oven, Puree, Boil
  • Cuisine: Vegan, American-Italian


Units Scale
  • 34 lbs. butternut squash (about 5 – 6 cups), seeds removed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 12 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups cashew ricotta or tofu ricotta
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach (about 23 oz.) or 1 package (10oz.) frozen, thawed and squeezed
  • 2022 jumbo shells
  • mineral salt, to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

Prep and roast the squash: Prep the squash, cutting into 1/2 inch cubes. Place squash on baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle of salt. Place the sheet pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Once done let squash cool a few minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Make the cashew ricotta: While the squash is roasting, make the vegan ricotta and mix in the spinach. Set aside.

Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Make the butternut squash sauce: In a food processor or high speed blender, add 4 cups of the roasted squash, reserving the rest to stuff the shells. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt and 1 cup of water, blend until smooth, adding more water as needed to thin. I used about 1 1/2 cups, you don’t want it too thin, but not too thick either, use your best judgement. Alternately, Sauce can be made using a stick blender and the pot you cooked the pasta in.

Layer and stuff the shells: Place the sauce at the bottom of your baking dish, spreading it from side to side to coat the entire bottom. Scoop one heaped tablespoon of ricotta filling into each shell along with 3 pieces of butternut squash. Ricotta will fill about 18 shells. Use a 12 inch round or 9×13 rectangular dish.

Bake: Cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, or until warmed through.

Serves 6 (3 shells per serving).

Store: Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 4 – 5 days, in a covered container. For longer storage, keep in the freezer in freezer safe containers (affiliate link) for 2 – 3 months.


In place of thyme, change it up using sage or oregano.

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: I switch between my Silpat or these parchment liners for lining this rimmed baking sheet. For baking the shells I used this versatile Lodge cast iron casserole (affiliate links).

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  1. I’m wondering if I would be able to assemble this a day or two ahead? I’ve made the tofu ricotta and baked the squash, also prepared the squash sauce. I plan on using fresh spinach, just unsure if this will get too watery in my fridge. I’d like to bake it fresh. If not, I guess I’ll just go with the separate pieces ahead, and fill the noodles that morning.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      We really love these stuffed shells assembled the day of and baked. Making the components ahead as you have done is a great time saver. You can assemble them ahead and freeze them, then bake from frozen, adding an extra 10 – 15. I haven’t tried assembling and keeping them in the fridge, so I can’t say for sure if they will become watery. You can always give it a trial run to see how it goes, they will still be delicious, even if not perfect. I hope that helps. Enjoy!

  2. My family doesn’t eat vegan, but I made this dish for them to convince them vegan foods are equally delicious….this recipe helped me succeed! LOVE. I made it with my dad, too, so it was a fun bonding time. Goes so well with the cashew ricotta cheese.

    1. Holy this looks simply amazing. Cashew ricotta, who would have thought? I can’t wait to try this dish.

  3. I’m trying to switch to a whole food plant based diet but finding it hard to locate recipes that I truly love. This is one that is spot-on! I halved the recipe to make 10 shells, made the tofu ricotta, and added fresh minced garlic to the ricotta. Simply delicious!

  4. What size baking dish is shown here with the 18 shells? Thanks.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Hi Sue, I’d say it’s a 12 inch round, the link to it can be found in the recipe card notes. You can also use a 9×13 for 18 shells. Hope that helps, I’ll add it in the recipe too. Enjoy!

      1. Thanks Julie. I did see the link to the baking dish and will order one. I’m going to make this recipe for a plant based potluck next weekend. My sister shared your recipe with me and says it is so good,

        1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

          Sounds wonderful, I am sure everyone will love it! If you need anything else, just ask. :)

  5. I did some alternations to this recipe due to my BF being allergic to all kinds of nuts. So I swapped the cashew ricotta for a mixture of oat based cheese spread and oat based creme fraiche, turned out to be delicious and with a great texture.
    I also swapped the pasta shells for pasta cannelloni that I stuffed with the ricotta/spinach mixture.
    I also topped the dish off with some roasted sunflower seeds.
    Thank you for the inspiration and a great recipe!

  6. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

    I’ve never seen them in stores, but you can order them online: Jumbo Shells

    Please use know how the recipe goes you! Enjoy :)

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