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Easy Italian Unstuffed Shells

All the flavors of stuffed shells, with much less work!!

Unstuffed Shells


Pam @ onceamonthmeals.com


  • 1 box medium pasta shells (about 4 cups, uncooked)
  • 1 pound Italian bulk sausage or ground beef, cooked
  • 40 ounces pasta sauce
  • 0.75 cups cream cheese spread*
  • 0.25 cup milk
  • 0.25 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 0.5 cups chopped fresh basil (optional)
  • 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
*I used Italian Cheese and Herb Philadelphia Cooking Creme, found near the cream cheese at the grocery store.


Cook pasta as directed on package, in salted boiling water. Add cooked sausage to pasta sauce; simmer on medium heat 2 min., stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Drain pasta. Whisk cream cheese spread, milk and Parmesan in large bowl until well blended. Add pasta and basil; stir gently until pasta is evenly coated. Spread half the meat sauce onto bottom of two greased 8×8 baking dishes. Cover with pasta mixture and remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella; cover with foil. Bake at 375F covered, 40 to 45 min. or until heated through, uncovering after 30 min.

Freezing Directions:

Prepare as above, but do not bake. Cover with foil, label, and freeze. To serve: Thaw in fridge. Bake at 375F covered, 40 to 45 min. or until heated through, uncovering after 30 min.

Servings: 12


**conversion chart image provided by Erik Spiekermann

23 Responses to “Easy Italian Unstuffed Shells”

  1. Pamela says:

    I agree, it took all day to make stuffed shells and was exhausted when I was done. I will have to try this one next week. Thank you

    • renee says:

      I like to stuff shells and have found that using a cookie scoop – sort of like an ice cream scoop but smaller and with an arm that ejects the food – make filling the shells quite easy and the portion in the cookie scoop is just the right size for the jumbo shells.

  2. Marie says:

    The picture looks like it’s in a disposable metal pan. Any problems with the tomato sauce and the metal? I usually use glass but I think I might switch to disposable for an event coming up.

  3. [...] Italian Unstuffed Shells by Carrie Found this great recipe over at Once A Month Mom. Can’t wait to try it this [...]

  4. Beth says:

    First off I have 2 little girls. My eldest might be the pickiest child on the entire planet. She LOVED (as well as inhaled this). I even snuck in some of my fresh fairytale eggplant chopped up in the sauce. Thanks for another great recipe.

  5. Jeanne says:

    Love this recipe! I have one son that prefers lasagna & one son that prefers spaghetti. This was the perfect mix of the two. Super easy to make and made a delicious easy dinner on a busy night. Thanks!

  6. Lacey Dawn says:

    What alternative would you suggest to the cream cheese spread? We’re not huge fans of it here. Thanks!

    • Kelly says:

      Do you like cottage cheese? That’s always a good substitute or ricotta cheese. Then just add a little italian seasoning to the mix.

    • Lindley says:

      I really couldn’t taste the cream cheese spread after it was baked. You could use some alfredo sauce and use less milk.

  7. Shelly says:

    How is this recipe considered vegetarian when it still incorporates “Meat” because of the sausage and the ground beef which you can always substitute it with the vegetarian types of sausage and ground beef but will it taste the same? And it also incorporates different types of cheeses which are also produced by animals. I don’t get it?

    • Tricia says:

      For the vegetarian version you have to access the Vegetarian September 2012 recipe cards as a member. And we use cheese on our vegetarian menus, they are not vegan menus.

      • Shelly says:

        Thank You.. How about if you lactose intolerance?
        I’m sorry I truly want to do this program because I’ve been looking into becoming a vegetarian due to health issues and it has been so hard for me to set menus and learning everything and with my busy schedule this seems like heaven. I was excited. But I was confused with the ingredients to some of the recipes I’ve seen. But thank you for the clarification. I just thought that vegetarians don’t eat cheese either as per what I have read.

  8. Shelly Betances says:

    How about if you also lactose intolerant?

  9. Bridgett Zaidi says:

    Is this recipe in a pie pan in the picture? Does it really feed 12? Making this for my large family and trying to decide if it needs to be doubled. I can’t imagine if it fits into a pie pan, it feeds 12. Thanks,

  10. Bridgett zaidi says:

    Does this feed 12? The pictures looks its in a pie pan which is pretty small in my opinion. Thanks

  11. Joy says:

    I am thinking about making this for a freezer meal exchange with friends. Do you think that one tray would be enough for a family of four? So do you think I could feed two families from one recipe?

    Thanks so much!!!

    • Kelly says:

      This fills two 8×8 pans or one large 9×13 pan. Depending on how big of eaters the kiddos are I think you could be fine with doing two 8×8′s and giving one to each family.

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