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SPINACH AND ‘RICOTTA’ VEGAN STUFFED SHELLS

Vegan stuffed shells are made with vegan ricotta, spinach, and flavorful pasta sauce that’s both heavenly and comforting! This Spinach-Ricotta Stuffed Shells recipe is easy to put together and on the table in about 40 minutes.

top down view of vegan stuffed shells in a baking dish.

Let’s make vegan stuffed shells!

This stuffed shells recipe is a winning medley of carbs, creamy cheese, spinach and your favorite pasta sauce. And don’t forget a slice of bread to get every last bit of pasta sauce, this No Knead Bread is perfect!

They make a perfect weeknight dinner and is 100% kid friendly! Plus, stuffed ricotta shells can be made ahead and are freezer friendly, making them a great recipe to prep and stock in the freezer for later.

If you love comforting Italian pasta dishes, you must try this Ultimate Vegetable Vegan Lasagna, Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells or maybe this Simple Cheese Manicotti, all use the homemade vegan ricotta called for in this recipe. This stuffed shells recipe is another classic Italian dish made vegan!

top down view of ingredients used to make ricotta and spinach vegan stuffed shells recipe.

Ingredients You’ll Need

In this recipe, cooked jumbo shells are stuffed with spinach ricotta cheese and baked with pasta sauce for a wonderful vegan Italian meal.

Here is everything you’ll need, including tips and variations:

  • Jumbo Shells: Source out large jumbo shells, cook according to package directions. The shells were super easy to fill, using a spoon, with none of them falling apart or breaking.
  • Vegan Ricotta: Making your own homemade vegan cashew ricotta or tofu ricotta is super easy, and only takes a few minutes. You can make it ahead of time, storing it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before using.
  • Spinach: Use fresh or frozen spinach. Both work well, so use whatever you prefer or is more convenient. If using fresh, simply steam the spinach until wilted, give a good chop to cut it up. Frozen spinach should be thawed and squeezed to remove excess water (you can do this right in the package by cutting the corner, and squeezing the bag.
  • Pasta Sauce: Make your own quick and easy Marinara Sauce or use your favorite pasta sauce.
  • Final Touches: Finish it off with a little fresh basil or oregano for a pop of color and another layer of flavor. A good dusting of Almond Parmesan is also a perfect garnish for these stuffed shells.
side by side photos of cooked jumbo shells and vegan spinach ricotta.

How Do You make Vegan Stuffed Shells

  • Cook the pasta shells according to the package directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, mix the vegan ricotta with the spinach in a medium sized bowl.
top down view of baking dish with vegan stuffed shells ready for the oven.
  • Add the whole jar of pasta sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread evenly.
  • Scoop out rounded tablespoons of ricotta mixture and stuff each pasta shell, placing it into the baking dish (shown above). I was able to get 3 rows of 6. Your results will vary depending on the size of your baking dish.
  • Bake, covered, for 15 minutes, sauce should be nice and bubbly. Remove cover and bake for 10 – 15 minutes more.
  • Let rest a few minutes and wipe clean the rim of the dish if you like (it will be messy from the bubbly sauce). Lastly, sprinkle with almond parmesan and herbs of choice.

That’s it, these spinach-ricotta vegan stuffed shells make a fantastic family style dish the whole family will love!

Top Tips

  • Baking dish. If you don’t have a rectangular baking dish, an oval or round baking dish will work too.
  • Top with sauce. Save a little sauce, or only pour 1/2 of the sauce into the dish, and top the stuffed shells with the remaining portion.
  • Adjust the spinach. Use fresh or frozen spinach, or omit it all together.
side angle view of vegan stuffed shells in a baking dish with items surrounding.

Can You Freeze Stuffed Shells Before Baking?

Yes! Simply prepare the stuffed shells according to the recipe up until baking, store in a freezer safe container, or cover tightly with cling wrap and foil, and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake as directed adding and extra 5 – 10 minutes at each temperature called for in the recipe.

How Long Can You Keep Stuffed Shells In The Refrigerator?

  • Make ahead: When making ahead, vegan stuffed shells can be filled and kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours in advance. When ready to bake, simply place 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 Do You Reheat Stuffed Shells?

Reheat leftover stuffed pasta shells by putting them into a shallow oven safe dish, cover, and bake at 350 degrees F. until heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove cover and serve. Alternatively, microwave serving size portions using 30 – 60 second intervals, until warmed through (be sure to cover with a microwave safe cover).

spinach-ricotta stuffed shells in a baking dish just pulled from the oven

Serving Suggestions

Stuffed shells are great alone or can be made into a full course meal. Here are a few of my favorite options:

More Comforting Pasta Recipes!

You can never have too many comfort dishes to turn to. Try these other delicious vegan pasta dishes to comfort your soul and make you feel at home. You may just find a new favorite recipe for the meal rotation!

top down view of plated serving of spinach and ricotta vegan stuffed shells.

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

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SPINACH AND ‘RICOTTA’ VEGAN STUFFED SHELLS

Made with simple vegan cashew or tofu ricotta, spinach, and flavorful pasta sauce, it’s both heavenly and comforting! Easy recipe and ready in 40 minutes.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 (3 shells per serving) 1x
  • Category: Entree, Pasta
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Italian

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 18 jumbo shells
  • 2 cups vegan ricotta (Cashew Ricotta or Tofu Ricotta)
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained or 5 oz. box of fresh spinach, steamed
  • 1 jar (25oz) pasta sauce (or homemade Marinara Sauce)

To serve

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pasta: Cook pasta shells according to package directions.

Ricotta Stuffing: Combine the cashew ricotta with the spinach, set aside.

Prep the baking dish: Pour the entire jar of pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, spreading evenly to all edges. Alternately, pour half the pasta sauce, fill with stuffed shells, and pour the other half over top.

Stuff Shells: Scoop out rounded tablespoon of the spinach-ricotta and stuff each of the pasta shells, placing them in the baking dish. (I was able to get 3 rows of 6, your results will vary depending on your baking dish.)

Bake: Place baking dish, covered, in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, sauce should be bubbly. Remove cover, reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and cook for 10 – 15 minutes more.

Serve with fresh chopped herbs of choice and a good dusting of almond parmesan.

Serves 6 (3 shells per serving)

Store: Cooked, or leftover, stuffed pasta shells can be stored in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container, for up to 5 days.

Notes

Make ahead: When making ahead, stuffed shells can be filled and kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours in advance. When ready to bake, simply place in the oven and bake as usual.

If you’d like to add a layer of vegan cheese over top before baking, I recommend using Myoko’s Vegan Mozzarella. It melts great and tastes fantastic for a vegan cheese!

I love and recommend using this Le Creuset baking dish (<< affiliate link) with lid when making these stuffed shells or lasagna.

Updated: Vegan Stuffed Shells was originally published in February 2019. It has been retested and updated with new photos and helpful tips in February 2021.

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24 Comments

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! I made this for my family for Thanksgiving and doubled the recipe and it was a big hit thank you so much! We will be making this again and again!

  2. Tastes Amazing!!!

  3. Patricia Landolt says:

    What a terrific recipe! The ricotta was ahhmazing! I took it to a dinner party, vegans as well as non vegans loved it!

  4. YUM!! These were unbelievably yummy! We couldn’t find any large shells in any grocery stores near us for some reason, so we improvised and made lasagna rollups instead. They were delicious!! I found myself craving more even days after we finished them all!

    1. Amanda Snider says:

      I have the same problem! Giant Eagle is the only place I am able to find the jumbo shells

  5. Terri Fenwick says:

    Hi
    I’ve only just found you and I’m so excited to try your recipes starting with your ricotta “cheese” can I use the same recipe but for cannelloni tubes instead ?

    Terri xx

  6. The best stuffed shell recipe and instructions ever!

  7. Debra Perry says:

    Unbelievably good. Made just as described except I did use both the apple cider vinegar *and* the lemon. I love tangy things like sour cream and sourdough bread, so wanted the tang the apple cider vinegar would add, but also love lemon. Next time I would use both again for the stuffed shells, but if making the ricotta for another use, I would use half a lemon with the ACV–just think it does end up tasting a bit like lemon ricotta if you were using the ricotta on something that may not be hidden behind a sauce as much.
    I lost 3 of the 18 shells I cooked because my burner has a “High Boil” feature that I should have turned down to regular boil once I added the shells to the water. My baking dish also only fit 14 stuffed shells, so I ended up just not using one of my 15. If I were taking this dish to a party (if this weren’t amid Covid), then I would use a larger baking dish, cook 20 shells in case I lost any, and shoot for the 18. However, I found I only had enough filling also for just 14, so I would add about a quarter more of everything. I did only use 9 oz. of spinach, as I used a steamed spinach package, but next time would use minimum 10 oz frozen so that would help. I also didn’t like how the steamed spinach package I tried seemed to break down the spinach more than I wanted to, but the taste was still great.
    I used one large garlic clove (instead of small) and my favorite jarred sauce, which is Paul Newman’s Roasted Garlic sauce. I didn’t feel the garlic stood out too much so would do the same next time (love garlic). I also added a pinch of my husband’s dried oregano to the ricotta as well as to the final dish topping. It’s probably a bit stronger than the jarred kind, fyi. If I were making the ricotta for use in something more neutral, then I would not add oregano and stick with the recipe on that.
    I also added fresh basil and a toss of shredded mozzarella when plating. I love Mykenos shreds but don’t have it locally so used Violife. It didn’t melt on top much but was still good. If making this for a party, then I would get the Mykenos mozzarella or add the Violife kind before taking the aluminum foil off when baking, instead of after as I did.
    Solid recipe. Will be a definite hit if tried with nonvegans too.
    I am so excited to know now that I can make an incredible ricotta for other uses too: lasagna, calzones, spreads, on pizza … Was supposed to freeze the leftovers but between my husband and I both sneaking snacking on the leftovers the next day, they were gone by day’s end.
    Thank you soo much for this incredible and easy recipe!!!

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