Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells Olive Garden Recipe

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My Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells Olive Garden copycat recipe pulls out all the stops this dish absolutely bursts with authentic Italian flavor! The pasta is stuffed with two cheeses, covered in creamy alfredo and zesty marinara, then topped with a crispy, crunchy breadcrumb topping. Keep reading — I’ll show you how to make Olive Garden stuffed shells easily at home!

titled: Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells Olive Garden


Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells Olive Garden

There is no shortage of scrumptious, satisfying pasta dishes at Olive Garden™, but eating out has become really expensive.

Copycat Olive Garden recipes are proof that you don’t have to pay a lot of money for a restaurant meal.

In fact, you can make a homemade version of the stuffed shells from Olive Garden for less money and in less than an hour!! 

Anything served in a dish full of marinara sauce is already delicious.

But these huge, stuffed Italian shells really steal the show with a luxurious alfredo and crunchy breadcrumb topping. 

If you need some protein for it to feel like a full meal, try a classic Chicken Parmigiana or the since-retired Chicken Vino Bianco — one of my personal favorite Olive Garden recipes!

ingredients to make giant stuffed shells

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Jumbo Pasta Shells – Smaller shells are nearly impossible to stuff, so if you’re really in a pinch, manicotti noodles are the way to go.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs – Sprinkled on top of your Olive Garden stuffed shells for a bit of crunch!

    For even more flavor, you can mix a bit of dry Italian seasoning in with the breadcrumbs.
  • Four Cheeses – Combine ricotta, provolone, mozzarella, and parmesan for a fabulous ooey-gooey filling!

    You can substitute with other Italian cheeses, but try and keep the ricotta – you won’t get the same soft, dreamy texture without it.
  • Half and Half – For a silkier, richer Alfredo sauce, replace the half and half with heavy cream.
  • Marinara Sauce – Any store-bought sauce is fine, of course, but I recommend making my copycat Olive Garden Marinara Sauce.
bowl of cheese filling for stuffed shells

Tips for Making Stuffed Italian Shells

  • Need to serve a crowd?

This giant cheese stuffed shells Olive Garden recipe makes enough to serve 4 people, with a serving size of 3 stuffed Italian shells each.

If you want to make your filling last longer (or serve more people in general), you can cook more of the pasta shells and use less filling in each.

Or, feel free to make a double batch of the filling!

  • Want a heartier meal?

Cooked ground meat and/or vegetables can be added to the cheese filling or the sauce for a more substantial meal.

Ground Italian sausage and mushrooms would be my choice, but get creative! These additions would also help to stretch the filling further. 

whisking alfredo sauce in a cast iron skillet

Storage and Make Ahead Instructions

Leftovers taste best reheated in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until warmed through the center. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.

But stuffed Italian shells freeze beautifully, so you can prep them ahead and bake later on!

Go ahead and stuff them as the recipe describes before laying them out on a sheet of parchment paper. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. 

When you’re ready to serve, just thaw stuffed shells from Olive Garden in the fridge overnight, then bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes — like you would in the original recipe! 

pan of stuffed italian shells over marinara topped with alfredo

Stuffed Shells Olive Garden FAQ

What are the huge pasta shells called?

Pasta shells are called conchiglie. The largest shells, like we use here, are known as conchiglioni. In stores, they are simply labeled as jumbo shells.

What’s the difference between manicotti and stuffed shells?

Manicotti are smooth hollow tubes of pasta. Shells, on the other hand, are curled noodles with ridges that make the perfect pocket for cheesy filling.

Are Olive Garden stuffed shells vegetarian?

Correct — there is no meat in the filling, just four types of cheese!!

This giant cheese stuffed shells Olive Garden recipe is all about the cheese and pasta, just like the name!

Serving Suggestions for Olive Garden Stuffed Shells

You’re in luck, because we have copycat Olive Garden recipes for their famous salad and breadsticks too!

Italian green beans or a refreshing cucumber tomato salad might be more your speed.

Either way, it doesn’t take much to turn these giant cheese stuffed shells from Olive Garden into a hearty meal!

baked stuffed shells with breadcrumbs

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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close up: cheese stuffed shells with marinara, alfredo, and breadcrumbs

ricotta stuffed shells close up

Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells Olive Garden Recipe

Donna Elick
Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells at Olive Garden are so delicious! With this Olive Garden stuffed shells copycat, you can make them in an hour!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Method Oven
Servings 4


  • 12 jumbo pasta shells, (about one half of a 12-ounce package)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded provolone
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, sliced and softened
  • 4 ounces half and half, or heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil on the stovetop; cook the jumbo pasta shells according to package instructions.
  • Meanwhile, melt one tablespoon of butter in a small microwaveable dish. Add breadcrumbs to the bowl and stir with a spoon until the panko is evenly moistened.
  • Spread breadcrumbs onto a small baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until toasted.
  • To a large mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, shredded provolone, shredded mozzarella, ½ cup grated parmesan, black pepper, and egg. Stir with a large spoon until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté minced garlic in the butter for 1 minute, until fragrant and slightly golden. Add cream cheese and whisk to combine. *The mixture will be lumpy.
  • While whisking, pour half & half or cream into the skillet, whisking until smooth. Add in remaining ½ cup parmesan cheese, and continue whisking until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.


  • Pour the marinara sauce into the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish. Stuff each cooked pasta shell with ricotta filling mixture, then arrange stuffed shells on top of the marinara sauce.
  • Drizzle the cheese sauce evenly over the shells. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling is hot.
  • Garnish the baked cheese stuffed shells with toasted breadcrumbs and finely chopped parsley.

Donna’s Notes

One serving equals 3 fully stuffed shells. To stretch the ingredients further or to serve more people, you can cook additional shells and use less filling for each.
Baked stuffed shells are best eaten the day they’re made – the cooked shells tend to get soggy in the fridge, and reheating doesn’t help.
However, you can freeze the unbaked cheese stuffed shells. Freeze them on a sheet of parchment paper in an airtight, freezer-safe container. They freeze well for a couple of months.
The night before you want to serve them, place the frozen stuffed shells in the fridge to thaw. When thawed, assemble the dish according to our recipe instructions and bake in a 350°F. oven until hot, 15-20 minutes.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 665cal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 52g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Cholesterol: 207mg | Sodium: 1233mg | Sugar: 6g | Fiber: 2g | Calcium: 686mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): giant cheese stuffed shells Olive Garden

Originally published October 2022, updated and republished August 2023

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  1. 5 stars
    Stuffed shells are my favorite at Olive Garden and this recipe is spot on! So easy to make and so yummy! Why would I ever need to go out for dinner again?!?! I will be making this all the time now, thank you!

  2. Donna and Chad have done it again! These Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells are absolutely scrumptious. I couldn’t believe how simple it was to make.

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve been a fan of The Slow Roasted Italian for a while now, and this recipe did not disappoint. The shells were so creamy and close to the Olive Garden version!

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