Treat your family to a gratifying pasta bake with this chicken stuffed shells recipe. It's a fun way to shake up pasta night, easy to put together, and a filling one-dish meal when served with cheesy garlic bread.
The recipe stuffs a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, and shredded chicken into jumbo pasta shells. Herbs and garlic give it a familiar Italian flavor, while broccoli adds a serving of veggies. It uses jarred alfredo sauce, and it's a great way to use up leftover chicken, so it's a perfect pantry recipe for busy nights. Of course, you can cook the chicken, whip up a homemade alfredo, and use fresh herbs if you like. There are lots of variations and substitutions you can try, too.
Though it may not look like it, these shells will fill you up. When served as a main dish, four or five shells are about perfect for one person. It keeps, freezes, and reheats very well, and you may even have enough for lunch the next day.
- 1 (12-ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
- 1 (15-ounce) package ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon basil (dried)
- 1 tablespoon parsley (dried)
- 1 tablespoon oregano (dried)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
- 1 cup broccoli florets (chopped)
- 2 cups chicken (cooked, shredded)
- 1 (15-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Gather the ingredients. Heat oven to 350 F.
Cook the pasta shells according to the package's pre-bake instructions (boil about 9 minutes). Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to drain well.
In a medium mixing bowl, add the ricotta, egg, herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
Stir in the shredded chicken.
Spread about half the jar of Alfredo sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
Stuff each pasta shell with a heaping tablespoon of the chicken mixture. Place them right side up in the prepared pan.
Top the shells with the remaining Alfredo sauce, Parmesan, and all of the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle some extra herbs on top if you like.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is melted.
Serve and enjoy!
- One box of jumbo shells includes about 30 shells. It's likely that some will break; 25 shells fit snuggly in a 9x13 pan. Be gentle when cooking to minimize loss.
- One large or two smaller chicken breasts produces 2 cups of shredded chicken. Any cooked chicken, including leftover and canned chicken works. Use two forks to shred it.
- When cooking chicken for this dish, season it with a little salt and pepper or Italian seasoning.
- Frozen broccoli works great. Let it thaw first, then chop it into smaller pieces.
- Though 15-ounces is standard, use a larger 22-ounce jar of Alfredo for a saucier casserole.
- This is a great make-ahead casserole: Prepare and bake it, then wrap it tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Set it out to thaw the night before.
- To reheat, cover with foil and bake for about 25 minutes at 350 F, until bubbly. Add extra cheese during the last 5 minutes if you like.
- Microwave leftovers for about 5 minutes.
- Use 3 tablespoons of an Italian seasoning blend instead of the individual herbs.
- Substitute 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder for fresh garlic. For dried minced garlic, use about 4 teaspoons.
- Feel free to substitute in different types of cheese. Cottage cheese is a good ricotta substitute, while nearly any white cheese can replace the mozzarella. Use dried Parmesan if that's all you have in stock. Even sharp cheddar will work in this recipe.
- Add to the flavor with 1/2 tablespoon of paprika or Creole seasoning. Sprinkle a little on top for a pop of color.
- Mix chopped sweet peppers, mushrooms, or onions into the stuffing.