Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells (Olive Garden Copycat)

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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 the Olive Garden™ stuffed shells easily at home!

baked stuffed pasta recipe.

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

This recipe is proof that you don’t have to pay a lot of money for a restaurant meal – you can make it yourself for less money, and in less than an hour!! 

stuffed pasta shells recipe ingredients

Olive Garden Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells

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

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

filling for 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.
  • Ricotta, Provolone, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheeses – Four cheeses 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.
cheese sauced in skillet.

Recipe Tips

Need to serve a crowd? This giant cheese stuffed shells recipe makes enough to serve 4 people, with a serving size of 3 giant stuffed shells each.

If you want to make your filling last longer, or serve more people, you can cook more of the pasta shells, then 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. 

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

Go ahead and stuff them as the recipe describes before laying 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 them in the fridge overnight, then bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, like you would in the original recipe! 

Giant Cheese 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 an oblong shape, with ridges.

Is Olive Garden stuffed shells vegetarian?

Correct, there is no meat in the filling, just four types of cheese!! This recipe is all about the cheese and pasta – it’s in the name!

Olive Garden giant cheese stuffed shells

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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ricotta stuffed shells

ricotta stuffed shells close up

Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells Olive Garden Copycat

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 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Method Oven
Servings 4

Ingredients
 

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Assembly

  • 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.

Nutrition

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!
Olive Garden giant cheese stuffed shells

Originally published October 2022

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One Comment

  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!

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